Our first time anchoring at night in Chiavari Italy

As the sun cast a golden glow over Porto di Genoa, our vessel sliced through the waters, carrying us towards an adventure as timeless as the sea itself. We were embarking upon a quest not just for new horizons but for a night’s safe harbor — a quest for anchoring at night where the only lullaby is the gentle lap of waves against the hull.

The challenge, as with many nautical tales, was finding that perfect spot. A haven where the anchor grips like a promise and the sea cradles you in its arms, away from the cacophony of civilization. For many a sailor, the art of nocturnal anchoring remains shrouded in mystery, an intricate dance with wind and tide that only the most seasoned hands seem to master.

In the ensuing tale, you will discover the nuances of this ancient ritual — the proper technique for anchoring that ensures your vessel stands firm against the push and pull of the nocturnal tides, the critical importance of anchor lights that wink in the dark like guiding stars, and the missteps that must be avoided to safeguard against the caprices of the sea.

Through my narrative, you will learn not only how to secure your boat but also how to find tranquility in the embrace of the night sea — a serenity that comes from the confidence in your anchor’s hold and the knowledge of being well-prepared.

Come join us on this journey. Cast off the bowlines of doubt and set sail into this story. Uncover the secrets of a peaceful anchorage and carry them with you into the nights you will spend cradled in the arms of the ocean.

sailing from genoa to portofino
Saying goodbye to Porto di Genoa and heading to Chiavari for our first night at anchor

Farewell Genoa, hello adventure

As the first blush of dawn painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, we untied our lines from Porto di Genoa, a bustling nexus of maritime history. It was not just a departure from the familiar waters but an embrace of the unknown that lay ahead. The anticipation was palpable, as tangible as the salty breeze that promised to lead us to our first night at anchor.

With Genoa’s storied port shrinking on the horizon, our sails billowed with the promise of adventure. There’s a unique thrill that comes with setting sail, a mixture of excitement and a twinge of nerves, especially when the sun dips low and you prepare to trust your boat — and your skills — to the anchor’s hold.

Anchoring at night is an art, a ritual that mariners have revered since the first soul dared to venture beyond the sight of land. It is a moment that is both intimate and immense, a test of one’s ability to read the wind, the water, and the whispers of the sea bed below.

As we sailed towards Chiavari, each nautical mile traversed brought with it a growing sense of expectancy. Would our chosen spot welcome us with open arms, providing shelter and respite, or would the sea test our resolve with its fickle nature?

Stay with us, as we recount our journey into the embrace of the Mediterranean, and share the serene beauty and quiet challenges of spending a night at anchor.

sailing in italy boccadasse
Boccadasse: The sight that caught my eye is Rocca Tirrena, the castle-like building from the right. It must offer a great view of the sea!

A quest for quietude from Boccadasse to Portofino

The Italian Riviera, with its seductive blend of culture and rugged beauty, has long been the muse for many adventurers. Our journey from Boccadasse to Portofino was no different, a quest for a tranquil anchorage, a night at anchor where the stars above would be our only companions.

As we sailed past the quaint village of Boccadasse, the charm of the old world was impossible to ignore. Once a sanctuary for fishermen, it now stood as a testament to a simpler time, its essence preserved in the embrace of modernity. The Rocca Tirrena, with its castle-like grandeur, caught our gaze from our starboard side, its silent strength a stark contrast to the fluidity of our passage. I could only imagine the view from its stony battlements, an unbroken vista of the sea that we were now part of.

sailing portofino italy
To be honest, our goal was to go for the first night at anchor by Portofino. Because Portofino, obviously.

Our hearts were set on anchoring near the fabled Portofino. The very name conjures images of luxurious yachts and an azure sea, a coastal gem that has lured the likes of artists, writers, and discerning travelers. Yet, our dreams of a quiet night nestled in the crook of its harbor were dashed by the reality of its popularity. The anchorage was a mosaic of vessels, each vying for a piece of the maritime idyll. The throb of generators and the distant echo of revelry were telltale signs that serenity would be elusive there.

It was a delicate balance — our longing for the exclusivity of Portofino’s embrace and the need for a night at anchor steeped in stillness. We sought not just a place to lay our anchor but an experience, one where the gentle hum of the sea would be undisturbed by the clamor of nocturnal festivities.

With sails billowing and hearts full of hope, we continued our quest along the Ligurian coast, our eyes set on the horizon and our minds filled with the teachings of the sea — where to cast our anchor, how to ensure our lights would guide us through the night, and the profound truth that sometimes, what we seek lies just beyond the next bend.

sailing rapallo italy
Impossible to stop in Rapallo. It was starting to annoy me that we couldn’t find a good, quiet anchorage during the pandemic

Our sails billowed with the promise of tranquility as we navigated past Rapallo, a coastal jewel that sparkled with the same fervor as the stars above. Yet, this evening, the allure of anchoring in its proximity was overshadowed by a symphony of sounds and a sea of vessels that spoke of anything but peace.

The waters near Rapallo were a mosaic of lights — each one a beacon from boats of all sizes, their laughter and music floating over the waves like confetti. We were on a quest for quiet, a slice of solitude, a respite from the revelry that defines Italian summer nights. We sought an anchorage not just to rest our vessel, but our souls, a place where the only conversation is the whisper of the sea speaking to the shore.

It’s a peculiar irony that the very beauty that draws souls to the sea also attracts the masses, turning havens into hubs of hustle. In our search, we learned a valuable lesson: the perfect spot to drop anchor is not just about sandy seabeds or the right depth; it’s about harmony — between our desires and the natural world.

The challenge of crowds and noise

Imagine you’ve set sail, the coast of Italy a fading line against the setting sun, and the promise of Portofino ahead, a jewel of the Ligurian Sea, famed for its picturesque harbor. It’s not just any harbor but the harbor you’ve dreamt of dropping anchor in for your first night at sea. The allure is irresistible — the same allure that beckons the mighty yachts and spirited sailboats that crowd its waters, each vying for a patch of the turquoise embrace.

But as the distance closes, so does the reality of the situation. The idyllic anchorage of your dreams is teeming with vessels, a floating metropolis where the hum of generators competes with the rhythm of the waves. Laughter and music drift across the water, a testament to the revelry that the Italian nights are known for. Yet, with the setting sun, the quest for quietude becomes as important as the search for safety.

The conditions we sought were simple in concept, yet complex in reality — a sandy seabed for good holding, protection from the whims of the wind and the swell, and a respite from the cacophony of nocturnal festivities. These are the criteria that every sailor holds dear, the unspoken checklist before we can truly say “Here, we will rest”. In the dance of anchoring, every step, from the drop of the anchor to the vigilance of the night, is a measure of comfort against the unpredictability of the sea.

And so, we sailed past the bright lights and the echoing music, past the laughter and the clinking glasses. Our course was set anew, in search of that elusive tranquility, that perfect balance between the conviviality of the Italian coast and the serene solitude of the sea. The journey, as you will see, is as much about finding that spot as it is about understanding what anchoring at night truly means — a tale of stillness, safety, and the sweet reprieve from the sea’s endless whispers.

chiavari marina and anchorage
A bit further away from Portofino & co., we found a wonderful anchorage in Chiavari. Right outside the Chiavari Marina.

Discovering Chiavari, an anchorage dream come true

The symphony of sails flapping in the wind and the rhythmic dance of the waves against the bow were our only companions as we sought refuge for the night. Our quest had taken us past quaint coastal hamlets and through bustling ports, but it was in Chiavari that we found our anchorage dream realized.

Chiavari, a name I now utter with a fond smile, presented itself as an embrace from the sea — an anchorage so serene that it seemed to whisper promises of rest and tranquility. As the sun dipped into the sea, painting the sky with hues of fiery oranges and pinks, we prepared to anchor.

Here, the sandy seabed welcomed our anchor with a firm handshake. The depth was just right, the protection from the elements like a gentle caress, ensuring a good night’s sleep. As the daylight faded, the twinkling lights of the town mingled with the stars above, creating a canopy of lights that mirrored our anchor light — a beacon of our presence and a guide for late-night wanderers of the sea.

Chiavari wasn’t just a spot on the map but a dear chapter of our journey, a story written on the waves and anchored in memory. It was here that we learned that a night at anchor could be as restful as any night ashore, with the added lullaby of the sea singing against the hull. And as I share this tale, I invite you to imagine that peacefulness, to understand that such moments are not just to be read but to be experienced, to be lived.

peroni italian riviera mathieu letailleur
After setting anchor easily (the first time’s a charm!), we finally sat down to relax and take in the views. We did our best to get local drinks and we naturally started with Peroni

Anchoring success — technique and tranquility

With the golden hues of the Italian Riviera fading into twilight’s embrace, we found ourselves nestled in the serene bay of Chiavari. Here, away from the day’s sailing escapades, we prepared for a ritual as old as seafaring itself: anchoring for the night. The technique, though seemingly straightforward, is an art perfected by few and envied by many.

In the calm that preceded the evening’s bustle, we began our anchoring dance. The anchor, our steadfast partner, was poised to plunge into the sandy seabed — a canvas waiting for its painter. The key was in the approach: a slow, deliberate glide towards our chosen spot, the engine humming a low note of readiness. Precision was paramount, and as the anchor descended, a silent prayer was offered to Neptune — may it hold fast and true.

Once the anchor kissed the seabed, we reversed gently, letting the chain out with measured care. This was the crucial moment, where technique met intuition. The anchor dug in, and as we felt the subtle tug, signaling a strong hold, relief washed over us. Our home for the night was secure.

As the sky donned its starry nightcap, we settled into our evening rituals. With the reliable anchor light illuminating our presence, we honored the unwritten rules of the sea: a beacon for others, a sentinel for our safety. We toasted with non-filtered Peroni — local flavors to enhance the local experience — our hearts as light as the breeze around us.

The evening unfurled with a tranquil cadence, a reminder that the right technique for anchoring not only brings peace of mind but also crafts moments of perfect stillness, where the only thing left to do is savor the tranquility of the sea.

anchoring at night italian riviera
At anchor, we always did our best to use as little electricity as possible, because the fridge was already using a lot on its own

Conservation at sea — powering our night

The twilight sky deepened into a sapphire embrace as we settled into our sanctuary for the night, off the coast of Chiavari. As the final sliver of sun kissed the horizon goodbye, our thoughts turned inward to conservation at sea — a vital practice for any sailor, especially when the night extends its quiet blanket over your vessel.

Anchoring at night, the dance of energy conservation becomes a more profound rhythm, an essential part of the nocturnal maritime ballet. With the stars as our canopy, we are reminded that the resources we carry with us are finite, as precious as the clear air that fills our sails.

On this particular evening, our focus was sharpened on what must be done to preserve our power reserves. The gentle hum of the fridge mingled with the whisper of the sea, a constant reminder of the power it consumed. Our solar panels and wind generator stood sentinel, harnessing the gifts of sun and wind, yet the batteries, weary from their labors, spoke of impending retirement.

In the dimming light, we embraced the ethos of minimalism, dimming cabin lights to let the moon’s silver glow guide us. It was an evening of reflection, of savoring the raw beauty of our surroundings without the veil of excess electricity. And in this conscious act, we found a greater connection to the sea that cradled us, a deeper appreciation for the simple power of nature’s night.

italian riviera sunset chiavari italy
Out of nowhere, we saw a couple of people returning to Chiavari on their kayaks.

The simple pleasures of local life and sunsets

As the sky melted into shades of orange and pink, casting a warm glow over the calm waters of Chiavari, we found ourselves anchored in a moment of sheer tranquility. The night at anchor was slowly unfolding, revealing the simple, yet profound pleasures of sea life.

From our vantage point, the interaction with locals added a rich layer to our experience. Just off our starboard side, a couple of people returned to the shore on their kayaks, their movements almost poetic against the backdrop of the setting sun. One, a silhouette against the fading light, had been fishing, his line dancing in the gentle swell. It was a scene that reminded us of the harmony between sea and shore, a balance we, as visitors, strived to maintain.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, a spectacular array of colors painted the sky — my second favorite sunset in our entire Mediterranean odyssey. The sinking sun seemed to signal the end of another chapter in our journey, a reminder of the impermanence of these moments we so cherished.

Nighttime at anchor brought its own set of rituals and responsibilities. As darkness enveloped our sailboat, the importance of proper lighting became paramount. Anchor lights for boats are not just a legal requirement; they are beacons of respect and safety in the nautical community. Our sailboat anchor light, a faint but steady glow atop the mast, served as a courteous nod to fellow mariners and a symbol of our awareness in the shared space of the sea.

The reduced use of electricity on board, a conscious choice driven by the limited capacity of our aging batteries, ironically enriched our experience. We found ourselves spending more time on deck, immersed in conversations that ranged from the trivial to the profound, occasionally punctuated by the sounds of the sea. This unplugged existence brought an unexpected intimacy with our surroundings, as we noticed details often overlooked – the way the stars seemed brighter, the gentle rocking of the boat, and the whisper of the wind.

In those moments, anchored under the canopy of stars, the night taught us its lessons in simplicity and serenity. It was a reminder that sometimes, the most unforgettable experiences come not from the clamor and glitter of crowded places but from the quiet, unassuming beauty of a night spent at sea, anchored in the embrace of nature.

sunset in quiet anchorage italian riviera
This is my second favorite sunset that we’ve seen during our Mediterranean sailing adventure.

Embracing the stillness when the sun sets

There’s a transformative moment each day when the chatter of daylight fades and the world is wrapped in the velvety cloak of dusk. On the sea, this moment is sacred. Anchored in the bay of Chiavari, we watched as the sun performed its final act, dipping below the horizon, and leaving a symphony of colors in its wake. As the light dimmed, a hush fell over the water, embracing us in the stillness that only a night at sea could offer.

Yet, with the vanishing sun, a beacon of safety must rise. The anchor light, a sailor’s nighttime sentinel, becomes the guiding star. As the darkness blankets the sky, these beacons flicker on, a testament to the anchor light rules that govern the safety of vessels at rest. These lights are not just a formality; they are the language of the night sea, communicating a ship’s presence to others whispering through the waves.

In this stillness, the world is simple, reduced to the elemental: water, sky, and the soft glow of our anchor light. It’s a time for reflection, for connection with the vastness of the ocean, and a time to respect the rules that keep us safe. In the gentle sway of our sailboat, with our light steadfast above, we are reminded that even the smallest light can pierce the darkest night, ensuring that we rise to the call of the dawn.

Nightfall festivities and the soundtrack to anchoring at night

As the cloak of evening descended upon our anchored vessel, the distant hum of festivity began to ripple across the water. It was a melody that seemed to dance on the breeze, a symphony of laughter, chatter, and the timeless tunes of Italian classics that reached us where we swayed gently on the waves. In the dimming light, our sailboat anchor light flickered to life, a soft beacon affirming our presence to the revelers ashore.

Nestled in our private cove, we watched as boat anchor lights punctuated the dusky horizon, creating a constellation of fellow seafarers against the darkening sky. The lights, a nautical tapestry of safety and camaraderie, served as a reminder of the collective respect for the sea and its traditions.

As the Chiavari festival onshore unfolded, the twinkling anchor lights for boats cast reflections like stars upon the water’s surface, enhancing the ambiance with a serene glow. This unexpected soundtrack to our anchorage, the blend of distant merriment and the soft lapping of water against the hull crafted an evening that was both lively and peaceful. It was a reminder that sometimes, the most memorable moments come unbidden, a serendipitous fusion of place, time, and the joyous pulse of life beyond the shore.

night at anchor chiavari italy
When you’re tired, you want a quiet anchorage. Our first night at anchor in Chiavari Italy was perfect!

The perfect ending for a night at anchor

As the last rays of the sun kissed the horizon goodbye, the sky adorned itself with a cloak of twilight blues and purples, setting the stage for our perfect ending: a night at anchor in the serene bay of Chiavari. Anchoring at night, a dance between the sailor and the sea had been mastered, and as our sailboat swayed gently on the tranquil waters, I reflected on the evening’s routine and the lessons learned.

Our day had culminated in a ritual as old as sailing itself but with a personal twist. As the anchor was dropped, the question lingered in the salty air, What should be avoided when anchoring? The answer learned not from books but from the whispers of the sea, was clear: avoid complacency. Every chain rattle was a dialogue with the depths, every gust of wind a potential test of our vigilance.

We had taken care to ensure our anchor light ruled the mast, a beacon warding off nocturnal collisions and proclaiming our presence to the world. The boat anchor light was not just a requirement but a sentinel, and our sailboat anchor light, a soft glow against the canvas of the night, reassured us of our visibility.

Avoiding the pitfalls of overcrowded anchorages, we had chosen our spot with care — away from the bustle, yet within the embrace of Chiavari’s protective arms. Here, the boat lights for anchoring were not just functional but rather they were part of a maritime ballet, choreographing safety and peace.

As the evening unfolded, the sounds of life onshore became a distant symphony. We were spectators to the twinkling lights of the town, the soft murmurs of other vessels at rest, and the symphony of the sea. It was here, in this quiet corner of the Mediterranean, that the essence of anchoring at night was found — a harmony between sailor, vessel, and the ancient, rocking cradle of the waves.

We settled in, the soft swell a lullaby, and whispered tales of the sea to one another, each word a thread in the tapestry of our night at anchor. And as sleep claimed us, carried on the back of Neptune’s chariot, we knew we had achieved more than just a night’s rest — we had embraced the timeless dance of anchoring, with the stars as our witness and the sea as our guide.

Enjoying the art of peaceful nights at sea

In the velvet blanket of night that envelopes the sea, there lies a profound peace and safety that can only be known by those who’ve gently swayed to the rhythm of the waves at anchor. It is a serene symphony for the soul, where each note is the sound of water caressing the hull, and the satisfaction of mastering the anchor drop is the crescendo.

Mastering this art is akin to a rite of passage. To know, as the anchor descends and finds its hold, that you’ve successfully courted the sea’s favor for the night is a triumph. It speaks of skill and an understanding of the sea’s depths — a harmonious relationship between mariners and the maritime world.

Yet, as with all great symphonies, there is an etiquette to be upheld. Respecting the anchor light rules, ensuring your sailboat anchor light is a beacon of safety, and adhering to the silent code of the sea are paramount. These are not merely rules but the hallowed threads that weave together the tapestry of seafaring camaraderie and conservation.

The night at sea, with its blanket of stars and the moon’s silver path, invites us to embrace these unique moments. It is in the quietude that we find ourselves whispering to the universe, our words floating on the breeze, our thoughts as boundless as the ocean.

I call upon you, fellow voyagers of the vast blue, to share the tales of your own nocturnal anchors. What secrets has the night sea whispered to you? What lessons have you learned from the stars? Join our community, and let us regale in the tales of the sea under the watch of the night sky. And remember, the journey continues as we chart a course for more seafaring adventures, where every sunset promises a new story and every horizon beckons with the promise of discovery.

After discovering the magic of anchoring at night in Chiavari, check out these posts
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Sailing to Marina di Loano — a coastal Italian adventure
Marina degli Aregai: sailing from Menton to Spiaggia Aregai