Vulcano, Aeolian Islands

Photo: Passage to the Aeolian Islands with Stromboli visible in the distance. Credit: Lisa Borre.
The beginning of an overnight passage to the Aeolian Islands with Stromboli visible in the distance. Credit: Lisa Borre.

Logbook Entry

Dates: 06/15/09 – 06/17/09
Distance: 84 NM
Lat: 38°25’N
Long: 14°57.6’E 

On an overnight passage last night (06/15/09), we had front row seats to an awesome fireworks show: Stromboli. Our cruising guide notes that the island of Stromboli is known as the oldest lighthouse in the Med because of its regular lava eruptions. At night, the “fireworks show” can be seen for miles around, a fact Lisa can confirm after a recent passage to the Aeolian Islands on a friend’s boat where they watched the same volcano erupt every 10 to 20 minutes for eight hours while approaching from the north.

It is possible for yachts to pass close to this active volcano, located on an island that about 500 people call home, so this is what we did. As we approached the island from the west, we watched a beautiful bright red-orange sunset over a hazy, purple horizon. As the sun went down, the afternoon haze cleared off and this is when we saw the first eruption. Still more than 15 miles from the island and with just enough daylight, we saw a large puff of dark gray smoke and ash erupt from an area near the peak on the north side of the island.  This puff joined a cloud of smoke which streamed off to the south. As darkness fell, the eruptions turned into a brilliant orange explosion of lava which then tumbled down the steep slope as a glowing cinder-like debris flow. With no wind on a clear night, we drifted along about a mile offshore and watched the show until well after midnight. We then continued on to Porto di Levante on the island of Vulcano and anchored just after sunrise.

Photo: Vulcano's Grand Crater in the Aeolian Islands, Italy. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Vulcano’s Grand Crater in the Aeolian Islands. Credit: Lisa Borre.

(17 June 2009) –The alarm sounded at 5:00 a.m. today, and we stepped ashore half an hour later. We were determined to hike to the Grand Crater on the island of Vulcano before the scorching sun turned us back. The guidebook says that it is a one-hour hike from the trail head to the rim of the crater, so we added an hour considering we had to row ashore and walk at least 30 min to the trail. Even at our usual snail’s pace, it took us only five minutes longer than the guidebook estimate, and we found ourselves gazing into the depths of the crater before the morning mist had burned off the surrounding mountains. The crater was venting steam which added to the surreal landscape. The views from the top were spectacular. Lisa summed it up in one word, “Wow!”

Here’s a short video of our hike to Grand Crater:

Here’s a photo gallery of Leg 2 of our cruise through Southern Italy and Sicily: