Thursday, 19 August 2010

Rainy days with Friends and Candlelit Port Venere

Sipping on Rothschild Champagne with Helen and David
13 - 18 August 2010

We were still in La Grazie, and despite the recent dreadful weather, still enjoying it. After the mega thunderstorm we hoped things would improve but we awoke Friday morning after just a couple of hours sleep to overcast skies, drizzle, the muddiest anchorage you have ever seen, but rather a nice clean boat! By midday our friends Helen and David arrived, the skies had cleared enough to have a catchup cafe latte ashore and dinghy back to the boat without getting wet. This was not quite the experience we were hoping to give them, and late evening they learnt first hand that this is not all "boozing, cruising and snoozing", when a nearby yacht took off in a violent gust of wind and all hands were required on deck to fend them off.

Saturday's weather was no better, but we are all waterproof so before cabin fever set in we headed around to Porto Venere in the rain. It was chaos ashore, the roads were washed out in several places with landslides and flooding, large trees had fallen, everything was covered in mud - the storm had been very severe. We soldiered on in the rain, amazingly there were other hardy tourists out as well, and we enjoyed our excursion despite the weather. We even ventured out again for pasta in a local trattoria for dinner, making the best of the inclement weather. On Sunday it was marginally better, sadly this hadn't been a great long weekend break for Helen and David but they excepted it well and it was great to have time to catch up with them. Next time we promise them sunshine and clear blue seas.
The best ever pesto in Porto Venere 

We thought about leaving but there was still quite a swell running plus a festival advertised on Tuesday night in Porto Venere, such a shame to miss out, so we had a couple of days at leisure. So on Tuesday we joinedJohn and Robin off Panthera and their guestsRoger and Judith, all kiwis from the Waikato, and we got the bus back around to Porto Venere and joined in the festivities. We started with happy hour on the waterfront, it was very big mistake to order the drinks without checking the prices first but you learn the hard way (we really all should have known by now), 2 rounds of drinks comprising in total of 6 medium tap beers and a litre of house wine set us back 66Euro, but you should have seen the nibbles - they were amazing, we had a great drink, in a lovely setting with excellent company and didn't really need dinner so we didn't moan .... too much!!!
Judith, John, Mark, Robin and Amanda, Porto Venere

It was a religious festival involving the carrying of cross through the candlelit village, but it wasn't just the village lit by candles, it was all the headland, down the cliff face to the water, out to the church and up to the castle, it just looked like a fairyland. We were so lucky with the weather, although still very cloudy there was no rain or wind. We decided on a picnic dinner and while we queued with hundreds of others for takeout focaccia slices topped with various tasty ingredients the men bought local wines, had them opened and even got plastic glasses. We found a spot with a great view of the celebrations, settled in and enjoyed the evening. Stopping for gelatos on the way home finished off an excellent night out.
Porto Venere by candlelit, magic

There were no more excuses to stay, we had spent 10 nights in La Grazie, the worst of the weather had passed and there was enough wind forecast on Wednesday for us to sail up the coast. We said our farewells to all aboardPanthera we had very much enjoyed their company but we were heading in different directions, sadly more ships that pass in the night! Wednesday morning was gloomy again but it was time to move on so we lifted anchor and headed once again for Porto Venere, this time by water. We had already watched many yachts go through the pass there but it was very shallow so we took it slowly and made it through. Unfortunately we were then out of the shelter of the land and hit the swell and waves which had definitely built on those we had seen the the previous night. We motored out to sea, raised sails and headed north up the Cinque Terra coast. The wind was on the beam and the seas not so bad once we cleared land, so we sailed the 33 miles to our next destination of Santa Margherita.

Cruising info all on previous post

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