In 2016 the wife and myself, together with a few friends did a sailing trip around the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It was the first time for all of us to do this sort of thing except for one person who had done a similar trip in Greece a few years earlier. She argued that she really enjoyed it and we should do the same in Italy. We were actually looking for a villa on the Amalfi Coast that could house us all for a week or 10 days. I will now save you a lot of time and tell you to forget it. The prices asked are astronomical. If you're a millionaire then there's no problem, otherwise it'll be out of your league. And it's because of these prices that our friend mentioned the sailing trip she did.
If you would like to read about that trip here's the link:
Enjoy, because we really enjoyed it!
We enjoyed it so much that we booked immediately for 2018. We couldn't do 2017 because of other commitments. Same boat, same captain, same hostess. If you're not really an experienced sailor I suggest you hire a Captain too. Ours turned out to be the owner of the boat so it was really kept in immaculate condition. One luxury we did grant ourselves was a hostess. She would do all of the cooking etc and we deemed it to be an excellent idea. Believe me, cooking for seven or eight people on a boat while it's moving is no easy feat. Something that people often forget.
The boat is a 54 footer and can accommodate up to 6 guests plus the Captain and hostess. On the initial trip, most of us were quite sceptical if it was going to work. Not only about seasickness etc but because of the close confines you have to share for a week or longer. Don't underestimate this. I would only do this sort of trip with people I already know and get on with. If you don't get on with someone for an extended period of time, this is not a holiday for you.
So, where did we go this time around? We decided on the Aeolian Islands. Don't worry if you don't know where these islands are, we didn't either before looking at a map of the Italian coast. They lie off the northern coast of Sicily and is a group of 8 islands, the largest being Lipari. Two active volcanoes, Volcano and Stromboli are also a part of the islands. Because you need some sort of vessel to get from one island to the other, I was quite surprised to find out that these islands attract some 250,000 visitors yearly. We also found out that most vessels were hired ones (and an extremely high amount of Russians with extremely large catamarans). We doubted very much if some of those so-called captains had their ticket. A lot really didn't know what they were doing, it was plain to see. You have to be in a marina each evening (a must), so going ashore for some food is a nice change.
Our last trip was only 6 nights on the boat so this one was going to be 10. I would suggest 10 days because once you're on the boat and sailing from one island to the other, or even down the Italian coast, you tend to lose track of time. Nothing else exists and I can now appreciate why some of the sailors do this permanently. There is really no stress and unwinding from your daily workload is guaranteed after only a days or two on a sailing boat.
What I haven't mentioned yet is the time of year we tend to go. September. Two reasons, it's a little outside of the main tourist season so the native Italians have gone back to wherever they came from. And two, the temperatures are more bearable. Having said that, we still had temperatures of 30 Celsius on both occasions, but you are on the sea so you always have a breeze. And, if it gets too hot, you just stop off at an island and cool off in the sea. Even the Mediterranean Sea has a temperature of around 28Celsius at that time of year but it does cool you down. Such clear water have I rarely seen. You can actually look down some 40 meters and is such an eye opener. It is just amazing!
Photography side of things.
In 2016, being unsure what I would need on this trip I decided to take 2 x Panasonic GM5 cameras. One with the small 12-32 f3.5-5.6 and the other with the 35-100 f4.0-5.6. For this trip I decided to change my setup and I took the Panasonic LX100 and the Panasonic TZ101.
The reason for the TZ101 is the large 1" sensor and the 25-250mm lens range. The LX100 was used mostly as a backup camera or when it took my fancy to use. Well, it actually has a 4/3 sensor in there (17mm x 13mm) and has a nice 24-75mm lens range. It should produce nice images, when looking at the specs but for me the range is not long enough. I tend to see the world through a longer lens. The LX100 did produce nice images when I used it, but the TZ101 got used most of the time. Although slightly soft at the longer end, It did produce some nice images overall.
What I like about the LX100 (like the Panasonic LX5 which I still have and use) is the ability to change aspect ratio via the lever on the lens. This to me was a masterpiece stroke by Panasonic and I wish all their cameras would have it or something similar. I use this function very frequently.
Most of my images are web use only so you might not see the real quality of the images because they will be scaled down to 1200px on the longest side. I suppose you have to take my word for it that they would be acceptable for printing at not too big a size.
I did not take a tripod, even a small one. Just no point. Took a small shoulder bag with enough space for the two small cameras and a spare battery or two. That is all. No filters either but next time I will take a polarizer with me to eliminate the glare off the water.
Battery use was fine and I never once had problems. Of course, both cameras use the same battery which was a positive thing to have. If needed, I charged my batteries while we were in harbour when the boat was hooked up to mains. I took around 5 spare batteries with me and they were sufficient for the trip.
While writing this it dawned on me that I've only used Panasonic cameras for my two trips. You'd think I was a Panasonic fan but I just think that they have the small travel camera market cornered. The GM5 is simply superb; I'll never understand why Panasonic stopped making them. Have you tried to buy a GM5 lately? Hardly available on the second hand market and when you find one the prices are sky high.
I don't remember the daily visits we did to each island because it's so long ago now. As you can see I've been offline for some time due to illness. Hopefully, I'm getting over this cancer. I wouldn't wish this illness on my worst enemy. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Things are looking up, think about the future and think positive. It wil be a couple of months until I'm ready for the road again but I will get there and hopefully I'll be able to post again about my photographic journey.
Anyway, here are some of my images taken during the trip. If I remember where they were taken, I'll write some notes following the image. Enjoy. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
On the flight out to meet the boat. First stop Palermo.
One of the most beautiful sailing ships I've ever seen.
Fantastic colours on these islands
Taken inside one the many caves. Look how clear that water is.
I couldn't resist this on seeing the sail being lit up.
I'm a sucker for sunsets too.
A cliff reflection on the water.
Another cliff face reflection. Just a different colour.
Just the other side of the sea stack, the ground just
drops to a depth of 3km. You shouldn't think about things
like that when you're sailing. Well I try not to anyway.
Somewhere on the Med, another boat approached us.
Apparently the two captains had set this up and hadn't seen
each other for some time. So off they went in a little row boat for a chat.
To see how big this hole in the wall is, you can just see a
person on the right in a white t-shirt and red shorts.
The Mafia Brides.
We anchored off a beautiful sandy beach. What you're looking at here
is the sandy bottom which looks to be only a couple of feet deep.
It was actually in the region of 10m deep. Amazingly clear the water.
Our Hostess, Carla.
This is the side of Stromboli where the ash comes down to the sea.
It was only a couple of years ago that a German woman in a kayak
was hapily paddling along when a rock came down the side and
killed her. It is now forbidden to go near the shore.
This is abut a third of the way up Stromboli. We decided to walk
up it. You have to join a guided group and wear all the gear.
At the bottom of the incline is the group ahead of us so we
could see where we still had to go.
This is about half way up. Still following the groups in front.
Depending on what time of year you go, you start up late
afternoon so that when you get to the top, it's dark.
There are many, many groups going up at the same time.
The food was simply fantastic. Everything was bought fresh on
a daily basis. Be prepared to put on weight :-)
A little refreshment with the food.
Nice concept this. The hotel couldn't be seen from the coast, it was
hidden in a little valley in the center of the island and built into
the rock face. Rather impressive.
Doesn't matter how small or isolted the village, you can guarantee
there wold be a huge church there somewhere.
Since our visit to Stromboli a massive erruption has taken place killing at least one person. I think it will be some time before people will be walking to the top of the volcano again. It really was an experience of a lifetime for me personally. I hope all turns out well for the people of Stromboli.