Alone Like a Rolling Stone

The Aeolian Islands

Stromboli emerged from the morning mist and lay 10 nautical miles ahead of us. As the wind was blowing with only five knots from northwest we reached the island in the late morning. We reached the Aeolian Islands. We searched in vain for the otherwise available buoys and so we dropped the anchor at seven meters and had a good grip. 


We were a little surprised to hear the rumbling of Stromboli, which was heard about every quarter of an hour and thundered like a thunderstorm. Surely we knew that we had landed at a volcano and that it was active, but this regular thundering was a little unusual. Nevertheless we wanted to have a look at the island of course and so we prepared the dinghy and drove to the loading dock for the ferry, hoping to find a way out. On the side we found a staircase and a ring to which we could attach our dinghy. We strolled through the narrow streets of San Vincenzo and Piscita.

San Vincenzo Stromboli

Our destination was the observatory on the edge of Sciara del Fuoco, the ramp where the lava flows into the sea. We hoped to get a view of the activity of the volcano from there, but this was not possible from this position. So further up. Gaby was enthusiastic and I wanted to keep the necessary safety distance of 20 meters to avoid the nagging during the ascent, but she remained relatively calm. Maybe it was because she needed the air she had at her disposal for other things than scolding over the path. We reached the ramp at 400 meters, just as the volcano started to thunder again and threw a fountain of rocks into the air. We were impressed and waited to see the spectacle again. Since it had already become quite late and we didn't want to make the descent in the dark we hurried and reached the village in time for dinner at 8pm.

Pizza Stromboli

In one of the few restaurants that was open, we ordered a pizza and what was much more important was a big bottle of beer, I was thirsty. From the terrace we could see down to our anchorage, which we reached again in total darkness.
The next day we had northwest wind with 15 knots, up to 17 knots predicted. A wave was building up, most of it already showing whitecaps. We sailed with first reef in the mainsail past the Sciara del Fuoco and picked up speed. The next destination was Panarea, a small island between Stromboli and Lipari. In the Calleta dei Zimmari we anchored after a rough crossing on five meters and had a good grip in the sand. Again and again gusts of up to 25 knots whistled into the bay, which only subsided a little during the night. As there was no reasonable landing place for our dinghy, we packed a waterproof backpack with the essentials and swam ashore. After a 20 minute walk we reached the beautiful village of San Pietro.

San Pietro at Panarea

We really liked the houses, the narrow streets and especially the gardens with lots of flowers. In addition, there are many cacti on Panarea, some of which are also in bloom. At the harbour we had a break and watched the unloading of a ferry. Only about 10 nautical miles further is Lipari. We only made a stopover here to continue to Vulcano the next day. Not that Lipari is not worth seeing, on the contrary, but there are not many possibilities to anchor or only a few places that are shallow enough or you have to pay a lot of money for a buoy in a rocking harbour basin. We made a bathing stop and then sailed on to Vulcano. In the bay Porto di Ponente we dropped the anchor on five meters of sand. Vulcano is only half as high as Stromboli, but has the unpleasant smell of sulphur that comes from holes in the ground. We started the ascent when I heard the thunder of Stromboli again, oh no it was Gaby, because it was going up the mountain again. We reached the crater rim after about an hour.


Like a moon landscape we looked into the crater. To the left of us sulphur vapours rose along the slope. A penetrating stench lay in the air. It reminded me somehow of my chemistry experiment kit, which was no longer sufficient and I bought some ingredients in the pharmacy to make gunpowder myself. Well, back then it still worked. In the end I almost burned down the whole place when I tried it. I somehow got the whole thing under control again, but for three days the place stank just like here on Vulcano. After the descent we found a nice bar on the way to the harbour where we hydrated our dehydrated body again and found a supermarket to buy some fruits and vegetables so that we didn't miss out on vitamins. Tomorrow we leave for Sicily.

Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands are a beautiful but also demanding sailing area. The main wind direction here is west but is deflected by the closely spaced islands, so you're always busy. You can always add one or two knots to the forecast. So always remember to reef in time. At the moment there is still a lot of space here, although the anchor bays have filled up in the last few days. Also on Vulcano most restaurants are still closed. Hotels are for sale, or most of them are not open yet. We are curious to see what it looks like in Palermo. We will tell you about that next time. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.