Sunday 8 July 2012


The most southerly of the Aeolian Islands is called Vulcano, and it lives up to its name. Approaching the island we see smoke drifting from the top of the crater as we round the top of the island and into the bay where we drop anchor. Kerry and I go ashore in the rib looking for fresh bread and we walk along a beach of black sand which looks like mud but behaves like sand. People lie on the black sand on their towels and deckchairs but the sea looks inky black even though it is clean and clear - all very odd. We ask the way to the supermarket and we are directed down a small lane where a powerful whiff of sulphur greets us.

The following day we make the short journey north to the island of Lipari, the largest island in the chain, and as we motor along the town quay, boat boys beckon us to their pontoon, but we decline and motor on to the marina at Pignatori which is sheltered from the wash of ferries and hydrofoils which thunder in and out of the port. After dinner in the centre, we close the hatches, plug into the shore power and turn on the air conditioning reducing the ambient temperature from 30 degrees down to a refreshing 21 and we sleep like logs. In the morning we take Kerry to the ferry port where she catches the Hydrofoil to Milazzo and on to Catania Airport and back to the UK. Having prmised Kerry two volcanos we didnt manage to get her to Etna or Stromboli - maybe next time. We load up with provisions from the supermarket and leave the dock in the baking midday sunshine.

We anchor on the south eastern tip of Panarea in a bay called Baia Milazzese. We are about 400 metres off the shore in 8 metres of water, so clear that I can see our anchor buried reassuringly in the sand. We swim ashore to the beach with soft brown sand and a taxi rank of golf buggies. No cars are allowed on the island so its either a buggy or a donkey - and we haven't seen any donkeys. After breakfast we motor round to the port in the rib and true to its reputation, Panarea is bohemian laid back chic and very expensive. Almost closed through the winter, the island opens for business at Easter and restaurants and exclusive boutiques blossom around the port in perfect whitewashed buildings with bean bags on manicured lawns and turquoise murals decorating the gleaming white walls. The port itself has just a concrete dock where the hydrofoil charges in every so often and uncomfortable looking newcomers unload, with long trousers, suitcases and furrowed brows. They haven't been here long and are still wound up from the stress of timetables and deadlines and wheeling suitcases. But we are sure that they will soon ease into the rhythm of Panarea.

Powerful ribs driven by yacht crew in regulation white polo shirts and khaki shorts deposit their masters on the dinghy dock. Women wear diaphanous tops over bikinis with brightly coloured cotton trousers and gladiator style sandals, while men wear the same old weathered cargo shorts and faded t shirt that they have worn on every holiday that they can remember. We walk through the labyrinth of lanes which criss-cross the port, and at each turn there is another boutique with eye watering prices and the occasional tantalising glimpse of blue swimming pools through bursts of pink bougainvillea. I ask where I can buy fish and I am directed to the fuel dock where the attendant makes a telephone call and Caramello appears in his buggy. He hacks off two huge slabs from the remnants of a large swordfish lying on a bed of ice and charges me an unspeakable amount. Despite the expense, we love Panarea, and as we motor back to our anchorage in our rib I am sure that the fact it rhymes with Panacea is no coincidence.


  1. once again you've captured what i believe to be the essence of the idylic cruising lifestyle.
    your blogs are mesmerizing, please keep them coming...

    1. thanks for your kind comments. are you on a boat or on land somewhere?

  2. And you can spell panacea... yay

  3. my mind is on a boat, but my body is on land. haha. i live in a small town in central Ontario, Canada (google maps Callander Ontario if you like). i do get to sail on a freshwater lake aboard my brother's c&c 25 fairly regularily, but share the dream of casting my lines off and pointing the bow towards the horizon.