Cruising from France to Italy on a Princess 54

After 20 years of boating in the south of France, Princess owner Robert Prevezer decides to relocate to southern Italy

Words & pictures Robert Prevezer

As we edged out of our mooring in Beaulieu in the south of France, our excitement at heading off for pastures new was tinged with trepidation and a little sadness.

Beaulieu had been our home base for almost 20 years and the scene of countless happy memories. Although we had enjoyed numerous cruises to Corsica, Elba and along the Ligurian coast during that time, we had always returned to our home berth in France.

Now, inspired by Peter Cumberlidge’s dreamy cruising articles in MBY, we’d decided to take the plunge and relocate to the Naples area. After much research, we’d settled on the Port of Gaeta as our new home berth. This would allow us to explore Capri, Ischia, the Pontine Islands and the Amalfi Coast. Not a bad cruising area!

Some months earlier, we had flown down to Naples to recce the various marinas in the bay of Naples. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything in the immediate vicinity that suited us. Leaving your pride and joy, sometimes for weeks or months on end, you need to be sure that she will be safe and looked after in your absence.

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Gaeta is 50 minutes north of Naples on a fast train, but we fell for it the minute we saw it. The marina is run by brother and sister Luca and Anna Simeone, aided by an extremely helpful and friendly team, including English-speaking Jayne Koehler.

Princess 54 from France to Italy

The skipper takes a well earned rest in the sun

This, and an adjacent boatyard with authorised Volvo Penta mechanics and full repair facilities swung it for us. Plus, the mooring charges are significantly cheaper than the south of France.

Over the years, we had progressed up the boating ladder from a 21ft Chris-Craft sportsboat to a Cranchi Endurance 41, culminating three years ago in the purchase of a Princess 54, all sharing the same name of L’Amitié (friendship). Our intention had always been to use this larger flybridge boat for more extended cruising, and now we were finally putting our plan into action.

We’d had the liferaft serviced, the fire extinguishers tested, and replaced our flare pack. We’d also treated ourselves to a brand new Torqeedo electric outboard for the tender. After years of fighting with our 9.9hp Yamaha, pulling away at the wretched rope to try and start it, the absolute joy of instant, silent, reliable starting proved too enticing to resist!

It’s also wonderfully light compared to the Yamaha, and the lithium battery is removable and easily charged off the boat’s mains plugs or the 12V sockets.

Before leaving, I’d downloaded the Garmin app to my iPad as a back-up for L’Amitié’s built-in chartplotter and planned a leisurely route south, based around four hours of cruising a day.

I wanted us to be able to enjoy the experience of motoring along Italy’s beautiful coastline, stopping where we wanted to and making the most of the occasional long lunch or lazy start.

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