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Winners 2010

“Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”Moored in Naples Harbour

We never dreamed that we could win the inaugural HERO CUP but a very successful 2010 made it possible. Winning the Scottish Malts in September, coming second on the Throckmorton Challenge and finishing our 10th Le Jog made the dream come true. And so it was, with a certain amount of disbelief, that we were presented with the cup at the finish of Le Jog last December in Wick by Simone,  the skipper of the classic sailing yacht, “ORIANDA”.

Over the early months of 2011 we made the arrangements with the skipper, Simone, and agreed a date for the last week in May. We would pick up ORIANDA in Naples on the Friday and over the next week make our way south to Sicily. We invited Susan’s parents, Jean & Eric Hubbard and Peter & Jen Leary, a couple who have helped us tremendously over the last 20 years with our rallying.

We flew from Liverpool to Naples very early on Thursday morning and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in the city centre. I mention this as this was the most terrifying taxi ride of my life. Weaving in and out of the traffic, ignoring traffic lights, mounting the pavement to get around buses. It was unbelievable. It will come as no surprise when I say that every car, new or old, had extensive body damage. Dodging in and out of all this traffic were thousands of suicidal scooter riders. However, we made it to the hotel safely and explored the city for the rest of the day. Naples has to be one of the dirtiest and most run down cities in Europe. It really needs a lot of money spending on it!! Having said that the people were very friendly and we never felt threatened even late at night. Dining on deck

The next morning, Friday, we had another exciting taxi ride to the old harbour where ORIANDA was moored. We boarded the boat just before lunch and were greeted by Simone, Viera & Matteo with champagne. Viera was our chef and Matteo was “first mate”. Once we had sorted out our cabins we had lunch on deck under an awning to shade us from the sun. Being from deepest Cumbria we’re not used to sunshine for more than 1 hour, once a month in June and July!! This set the standard for all the meals during the week which were terrific, lots of fish and seafood as well as Viera’s home made cakes baked on board.

After lunch, Simone gave us the grand tour of ORIANDA and told us of it history and his involvement in its most recent restoration. The quality of this restoration is outstanding. Much of the original wood has been used and the effect has retained the original 1930’s feel of the boat while providing all the modern conveniences. The standard of the workmanship is extremely high.

With the tour over we set sail from Naples and once out of the harbour the sails were hoisted. What a magnificent sight this was. With all the sails hoisted, Orianda cleaved through the water beautifully. Susan & I have done a bit of sailing in the past so found our sea legs almost immediately. Some of our other guests, however, did take a little longer to adjust.Leaving Naples

The first port of call where we anchored in the bay was the Isle of Capri. Did you know Gracie Fields lived there? (Sorry, private joke). With our first night at anchor we enjoyed a delicious dinner on the deck with the wonderful views of Capri. The next morning we went ashore to the main town on Capri. I was somewhat disappointed with island as it was totally given over to tourists from all corners of the globe. A bit like Blackpool with no tower! The funicular railway up to the upper town was rather good, though!   

Although the weather was clear and bright, there was quite a swell on the sea, so Simone suggested we head for Amalfi on the mainland and spend the night in the port. Having moored up in the harbour we went ashore to explore the town before another wonderful dinner served on board.

The next morning we explored the town and visited the oldest papermill in Europe, now a museum. I even got to make some paper, a bit of a busmans holiday for me! After lunch we set sail once more, hoisting the sails as soon as we had cleared the harbour. We were now heading south down the west coast of Italy for the Aolean Islands. Because of the distance this would be an overnight passage with Simone & Matteo taking turns at the helm. Unfortunately, after 3 hours of sailing the wind dropped and we had to continue on the engine. As the night wore on Susan & I sat on deck and had a fabulous view of the stars. A view made much brighter by having no manmade light to dim the experience and enabling us to see lots of shooting stars. Eventually we turned in and to the melodic beat of the engine, the original Cummins diesel, I soon fell asleep. I found the engine noise quite soothing, something to do with spending many years on sea trials on Royal Navy ships. Others didn’t find it quite as comfortable!Under full sail

The first island we visited was Lipari, where we anchored in a bay opposite a derelict pumice stone quarry. This may sound a bit strange but it was a fascinating place and had been tidied up quite well. We spent the day reading and chatting as well as eating and drinking! The water in the bay was a wonderful turquoise colour and looked so inviting. So, Susan, Jean and myself went for a swim. I’m not fond of swimming it the sea (too cold in Barrow) but this was just right. Really refreshing.

Towards the evening we sailed into the harbour and moored up for the night. Before another beautiful dinner we explored the town. Very few tourists but lots of ferries bringing locals to & from the other islands and the mainland. One of the islands, Stromboli, has an active volcano and we could see the smoke rising from it. One of the tourist attractions was taking a ferry to the island and climbing to the top of the volcano at night! We decided to give this attraction a miss.

By now we were getting used to the relaxed way of life on board, wonderful meals, exploring the towns of the islands, swimming in the beautiful turquoise waters in the bays. The only downside was the lack of wind to go sailing! On the Wednesday night we anchored in a bay just off the main town of Lipari and as darkness fell we sat on deck and watched the volcano on Stromboli emitting red hot lava from its summit. A fantastic sight!

Thursday was our last full day on Orianda. After another leisurely breakfast we set off for the southernmost island of the group, Vulcano. Yes, it does have a volcano. Not as active as Stromboli but emitting lots of smoke. However, the islands real claim to fame is its volcanic mud pool and hot springs. Susan and Jean were very brave and sampled the mud pool but I chickened out. They both said it was very refreshing if rather messy!!Moored off Lipari Island

Our final day arrived and we left the harbour in Vulcano. We did have an amusing incident just before we left when a very large German power boat forgot to cast off from the jetty and almost took it with him! The harbour master was not amused and made his anger very clear by swearing at the crew in perfect English!

Despite this being our last day we managed one more treat. The wind had picked up sufficiently to do some sailing. So the sails were hoisted and we had 3 hours of cruising under sail. I even got to helm the boat for a good hour. A real treat.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and we arrived at our final destination in Portarosa on Sicily in the early evening. We said farewell and sincere thanks to Simone, Viera and Matteo and also to Orianda for giving us a fantastic week.

We travelled to the airport on Sicily to catch a late flight back to Naples and had another nail biting ride back to the hotel. Due to the flight connections we were not due to fly out until Sunday morning so we took the opportunity to have a look around Naples. We even encountered a wedding in one of the beautiful churches.

In the evening we had a meal outside a great restaurant and watched the locals practicing their suicidal driving techniques!Moored in Lipari Harbour

Sunday morning we took taxis to the airport, a much gentler ride this time for the flight back to Liverpool. On the journey back to Barrow we talked of the fantastic week we’d had, the scenery, the food, the people but most of all the wonderful way the crew of Orianda had looked after us.

 Whoever wins the HERO cup this year is in for a real treat.

Our sincere thanks to HERO for providing this fantastic prize and making it a dream come true!!


Robert & Susan McClean

Winners of the HERO Cup 2010