Aeolian Islands Nautical Guide


The Aeolian Islands Nautical Guide, a mix between a pilot book and a travel guide, is dedicated to boaters who sail in this archipelago. It is clear and precise with useful information to explore the islands in a safe and law-abiding way, avoiding obstacles and fines. The book starts off with a general introduction to the archipelago: the regulations, weather, hazards, anchorages, moorings, environment, marine life and advice. Subsequently, a chapter is dedicated to each of the main islands in the following order: Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi. Each chapter begins with a description of the island and its primary tourist attractions, where visitors can appreciate the traditional Sicilian aspects and immense natural beauty. Detailed explanations are then given of the main ports/coves/bays with numerous photos and maps: representations aimed at illustrating anchorages, moorings and buoy fields. Also highlighted throughout the guide are regulations, hazards, useful numbers, and advice. At the end of the guide there are several pages dedicated to example itineraries, with numerous alternatives to discover the most beautiful parts of the islands based on individual preferences.

Carolyn Berger was born and raised in Honolulu (Hawaii) and has always been passionate about the environment, dividing her time between her studies (degrees in Environmental Sciences and Political Science from the University of Hawaii and a Master's degree in Chemical Oceanography from the University of California at Santa Cruz) and her hobbies (hiking, running, yoga, snorkeling).

She moved to Milazzo, Sicily, in September 2006 and found herself immersed in the world of sailing. She has an Italian nautical license and is an expert on the Aeolian Islands thanks to 12 years of experience in the yacht charter industry in this particular archipelago.

She is currently the Educational Director of MuMa Milazzo Sea Museum.


Information about the Nautical Guide of the Aeolian Islands:

This guide is not only for boaters

While the guide was created with boaters in mind, it is also very useful for land-based tourists: surely at least one day of the holiday will be dedicated to exploring the islands by sea to reach isolated and pristine corners of the archipelago.

This book is also useful for seasoned Aeolian Island boaters and tourists, that maybe come annually and have never been informed about the rules and regulations, making it a useful addition to the chart table and an eye-catching book to share with guests and friends that come aboard.

It is a special book, because the author is ….. one of a kind

To understand why this book is unique here is some background on the author:

Carolyn was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii (USA), a dream destination for everyone with white beaches, palm trees, good weather and surfing. She was always passionate about the environment and particularly fascinated in anthropogenic impacts on islands, a passion that has guided her through life.

While studying at the University of Hawaii, in Honolulu (the capital on the island of Oahu), she had the crazy idea to complete two undergraduate degrees, completing a double major in 5 years and with High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa. She has two degrees: a B.A. in Political Studies and a B.S. in Global Environmental Sciences - an intensive combination of Meteorology, Geology and Oceanography. At the time, her dream was to become an environmental lawyer, however, she received a Graduate school opportunity which altered her life course. She completed a Master’s in Chemical Oceanography from the University of California in Santa Cruz.

During her time in Grad school she worked extensively as a researcher and participated in numerous conferences to present her work. Carolyn realized two things about herself through these experiences: 1) that she loves adventure, being in the middle of the sea and discovering and learning new things (she dove in the ALVIN submarine down to 1600 meters depth to take water samples with robotic arms directly from the hydrothermal vents along the mid-ocean-ridge of the Pacific Ocean - the pilot was the same man who "discovered" the Titanic) and 2) she loves teaching, explaining concepts but also creating material to communicate ideas in clear and concise images and text (ex. this guide).

Carolyn had always wanted to live in Europe as she has several relatives in Vienna. During her vacations to visit relatives she would do side trips in the neighboring countries and the summer before she started Grad school she bought a Eurail pass and spent a month traveling around Europe. It was during this trip that she discovered the Aeolian Islands. She had read in the Lonely Planet guide that the island of Vulcano was a short hydrofoil ride from Sicily and with very unique characteristics: mud baths, hot springs, and a hike up a volcanic crater! She was very curious to explore this fascinating island and, in an amazing coincidence, within two hours of her arrival, she met a group of scientists also from the University of Hawaii! In fact, there are many similarities between the two archipelagoes: both have 7 inhabited islands plus smaller offshore islands, both are volcanic in origin, and both are world famous destinations for tourists and scientists!

The biggest difference between the two archipelagoes is the type of tourism. Carolyn realized the Aeolian islands were an important meta of yacht tourism, something she was not familiar with. While the Hawaiian Islands are a popular destination for yachts crossing the Pacific, very few boats do nautical tourism, which on the other hand is very popular in the Mediterranean. The Hawaiian Islands have steady trade winds great for sailing, however, the most beautiful aspects of the islands are on the windward coasts, which are often impracticable due to strong winds and big waves. Carolyn, who was experienced in surfing and canoeing, adapted to the adventurous life of sailing once she moved to the Mediterranean and even got an Italian coastal sailing license.

Carolyn was very active in the yacht charter industry of the Aeolian Islands, leaving the sector in 2018 after 12 years of intense work. Now she deals primarily with environmental education and Ocean Literacy. She is the Educational Director of MuMa – the Museum of the Sea of Milazzo – an exhibition that revolves around the skeleton of a sperm whale, known as “Siso”, that died due to an illegal drift net and plastic it had ingested. The museum is located inside the castle of Milazzo, and combines art and science to explain the anthropogenic impacts on the sea.

The “Aeolian Islands Nautical Guide”, along with the Italian edition “Guida Nautical Isole Eolie”, are Carolyn’s first publications. These books are special because they combine her unique talents: a mix of love for the environment and the Aeolian Islands, in-depth knowledge of the natural sciences (Meteorology, Geology and Oceanography), and years of sailing experience in this archipelago and listening to stories of locals and professional skippers. These books represent Carolyn: a humble yet ambitious person, simple yet precise, who loves educating, who wants to raise awareness, and who firmly believes that knowledge is power … “Scientia potential est”.

Questions for the author:

What inspired you to write this book?

When I moved to Milazzo, Sicily, in September 2006 I found myself immersed in the world of boating. As a hobby, I started creating images and writing about sailing in the archipelago. After 14 years of slowly developing the guide I finally managed to publish it, and the final product is much more complete and beautiful then I could have ever imagined at the beginning of this journey.

There are other pilots and nautical guides about sailing in Sicily and Italy, what does your guide have that makes it special? Why should someone buy yours and not one of the others?

This guide is different from other pilot books available on the market. Over the years I realized that the existing guides covered large areas, all of Sicily or the entire peninsula of Italy, which is great for cruisers that have the entire summer to sail. However, for the charters with one or two weeks of vacation time in only in the Aeolian Islands, these references have several limitations:

- they only have a few pages dedicated to the Aeolian Islands;

- they are written by people with limited experienced in the area;

- they do not indicate all the nautical structures present in the islands;

- they do not refer to all the laws and regulations issued by the local Coast Guards offices.

I wanted to make a guide specific for the Aeolian Islands. It had to be complete, without a page limit and it needed to confront and overcome the shortcomings I had noticed in other publications. By focusing on the Aeolian Islands I was able to include more information, more maps, more details on the maps, more photos and more space for tourist attractions. Furthermore, I was able to dedicate an entire chapter to each island and concentrate on the important, safety aspects including careful planning based on the weather forecasts. In summary, for the summer sailor that only has one or two weeks of free time, this is the fundamental guide that will help them explore the Aeolian Islands. It allows boaters to prepare for their holiday ahead of time, enjoy the islands during that precious window of time, and also have a memory and reference afterwards to share and relive the experience back home.

The most important factors that I kept in mind while I wrote the book were:

1) it had to be a fair and neutral guide, without advertising and it needed to include all the nautical structures that are currently present;

2) the text needed to be large and easy to read;

3) it needed lots of photos;

4) it had to indicate the hazards (with an aim to reduce the number of boating accidents);

5) in needed to help boaters organize their route respecting the weather forecast;

6) it had to explain the laws and regulations (in order to help boaters avoid fines).

The laws and regulations of the local Coast Guard offices are made to protect the safety of boaters, however, the numerous ordinances are listed in chronological order on a website and are not simple to read. The Hydrographic Institute of the Navy produces pilot books “Portolano” that refer to the ordinances (the edition P6 includes the Aeolian Island), however, they are rarely used by pleasure boaters as there are few photos, dry and short explanations and limited maps. The “Avvisi ai Naviganti” or “Notices to Sailors”, periodically issued by the Coast Guard, contain updates on all Italian waters and it is challenging to find information only on one specific area. These three sources (local Coast Guard website, Portolano P6 and the Notices to Sailors) are also only available in Italian language. Hence, one of my main driving factors behind how important it was to publish this guide was to help English speakers have access to all these important regulations, not only to avoid fines, but mainly to promote safe sailing.

How do you create a nautical guide?

My primary objective was to create a tool that would help boaters, and the first drafts were a few pages written in WORD and then converted into Pdf. My intentions have always been to create a guide that would promote safe and secure navigation, avoiding hazards and fines, so as to truly enjoy the beauty of the Aeolian Islands.

I first thought about publishing the book in 2011, but the timing wasn’t right. Finally, in the spring of 2019 I was ready to take the leap and contacted Antonio Lombardo, the owner of a family-run publishing house in Milazzo, who immediately encouraged me to complete and publish the guide. At this point I took the material I had already created and started working with Enzo, the graphic designer. Within a year the layout was perfected, the text revised and corrected, the images retouched, and the photos taken and inserted and the Italian edition was ready to go to print, with the English version to follow. However, unfortunately coronavirus put a halt to everything with Italy going into a full lockdown in March 2020. My book was supposed to start being printed the day everything closed and so I had to wait two months before the publishing house could even turn on the machines again, and the Italian version of the book was finally in my hands in July 2020. I am very grateful to the team at the publisher house of Lombardo Edizioni in Milazzo, and also for all my friends and family that helped me with the revisions, in particular, special thanks goes to Gabriella Sartirana, Maria Pia Mistretta and Bronagh Slevin.

Throughout the guide there are numerous images and maps that I created to help illustrate moorings and anchorages. At the suggestion of Antonio Lombardo, I also included a lot of photographs of the islands. I took most of the photos in the spring of 2019 prior to the arrival of the summer boating season. However, I was not able to reach the islands of Filicudi and Alicudi that spring so the shots from those islands are a mix of my older photos and those from friends: Gina Campagna, Dario Lopes and Carmelo Isgrò. The photos from Ginostra, another place I was not able to reach in the spring of 2019, were taken by two friends of Lombardo Edizioni: Gianluca Giuffrè and Monika Supicova. The sea stacks around the archipelago were photographed by the skipper Emanuele Scura. Special thanks goes to these photographers for their contribution to the guide.

In order to accurately describe the regulations of the Coast Guard I frequently studied their references (Ordinances, Portolano, Notices to Mariners) and questioned them regarding zoning and how to best illustrate their regulations in a clear and concise manner. I am very grateful for the time and patience the Coast Guard offices dedicated to me whenever I needed clarification, in particular, special thanks goes to the Circondariale Marittimo di Lipari and the Capitaneria di Porto di Milazzo.

This guide was made for and dedicate to all those who choose to sail in the Aeolian Islands: I hope it will help you discover the many hidden aspects and priceless beauty. Please feel free to contact me with comments and advice so I can improve future editions of the guide. My objective has always been to help boaters experience the islands in a safe and law abiding way, avoiding hazards and fines. Hence, while the guide was originally published in Italian in July 2020, it was always my number one priority to publish it in English (as well as in other languages hopefully to follow), so that even foreign sailors can sail safely in the Aeolian Islands.

How do you communicate any updates or corrections to the guide?

The volcanic Aeolian Islands are constantly changing, so I knew from the beginning that it was fundamental to have a support system for the guide where I could list updates and corrections. This website was created for just that purpose, to keep readers up to date on Coast Guard regulations and any changes to the coastline or updates regarding nautical structures present in the islands.

You are now the Educational Director of MuMa, the museum of the sea in Milazzo, an exhibition that focuses on environmental education. Do you address environmental issues in the guide?

Indeed, I included a section about the environment in the introductory chapter of the guide. Several associations are also listed that contribute locally to raising awareness to anthropogenic impacts, promoting biodiversity and preserving habitats in the islands. In addition, there are rich and thick seagrass meadows of Posidonia oceanica, an aquatic plant that not only is essential for the ecosystem but that also stabilizes the seabed and produces oxygen. Throughout the guide I highlight areas where boaters need to pay special attention to not anchoring on these important habitats as it damages the plant and is also not a suitable hold for the anchor. This blue-green guide combines my passion for sailing and the environment with lots of tips and useful advice for being Sustainable Eco Tourists.

What did you learn by writing the book?

Anything is possible if we don’t limit ourselves. What is important is to believe that our dreams are attainable and then achieve them. I used to work on the guide in my spare time, often staying up late into the night to improve an image, map or text. However, what drove me was this inner desire that this guide would help not only boaters but also the environment.

Were there any unexpected surprises?

While I was writing the guide I took special care to highlight all the hazardous shoals, rocks awash, and dangerous areas, however, when I went to the Lipari Coast Guard office to ask for a report regarding the site of the greatest number of accidents their answer was completely unexpected. In fact, the main cause of rescues in the islands wasn’t the hazardous areas, rather, it was a lack of foresight regarding the weather. Every summer the Coast Guard receives numerous distress calls from boaters that leave port in fair weather and then find themselves in need of assistance due to rapidly deteriorating conditions. The rescues could easily have been avoided if the boaters had simply paid attention to the weather forecast and either stayed in port, or organized their route staying on the leeward side of the islands. Here is an excerpt from the introductory chapter of the book: “Every summer the Coast Guard assists numerous vessels due to rough weather. Boaters need to keep up-to-date on the weather forecast and should plan their route accordingly on the leeward side of the island. In addition, vessels should not leave secure moorings if rough weather is arriving. Strong easterly and southeasterly winds are the most problematic.”

The guide indicates the hazardous areas, most of which are illustrated in Giuseppe Novara’s booklet "Le Secche nelle Isole Eolie per navigare sicuri", which was a useful reference as I studied the coastline. Yet, as suggested by the Coast Guard offices, I didn’t concentrate only on the underwater hazards, but also gave special attention to indicating how and where to navigate based on the weather forecast. In addition to indicating the sheltered and exposed areas for each mooring and anchorage the guide also has special pages, at the end of the chapters on Vulcano, Lipari, Salina and Panarea, that show through illustrations where to go based on the forecast wind direction. In this way, the concept is explained not only with text, but also with an image. Throughout the guide I try to balance text, images, and photos and as always, with particular attention on being clear and concise.

Why are the Aeolian Islands so special?

The Aeolian Islands have, in a certain sense, stolen my heart, with their natural beauty that runs from the top of the peaks down the gentle slopes into the stunning waters, with their breathtaking viewpoints around every corner and with their infinite beauty that extends to every horizon. Particularly notable are the panoramas at Quattrocchi (Lipari), Punta del Corvo (Panarea), Strombolicchio with the Sciara del Fuoco of Stromboli in the background, and the 360° view between La Canna and Scoglio di Montenassari (Filicudi). I also love the colors and shapes from the white, curved Aeolian architecture to the faded pastel colored, traditional wooden fishing boats, the vibrate flowers that change with the seasons, capers, lemons, olive trees, vineyards, it all comes together in an amazing work of art that Nature and Humanity have created together. A masterpiece that conveys peace and happiness, the same sentiments that I hope to have instilled in this book. In addition to concentrating on how to help boaters navigate successfully, I have also filled the guide with tourist information for several different personal preferences.

In the years that I worked in tourism, and primarily from my experience as a charter base manager, I noticed that most tourists are interested in exploring a certain aspect of the archipelago based on what they are interested in, be it archaeology, volcanoes, swimming, peace and quiet, party scene, trekking, etc. In addition to indicated the main tourist attractions there are example sailing itineraries located in the final chapter of the book, from the standard charter week visiting 5 o 6 of the islands to more genera specific itineraries focusing on hiking, snorkeling, etc. There are also itineraries for boaters that want to return to port every night, or families sailing with children, or in the case of Sirocco southeasterly winds. I hope to have shared a little insight about these immensely deep, profound, special and unique Aeolian Islands.

Do you think the Aeolian Islands should be part of a Marine Protected Area?

The Cape of Milazzo, where I live, has recently become a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and from my experience the biggest problem is that many tourists visit the pristine environment yet are unaware of the regulations. In addition, many locals are aware of the new zoning yet are unwilling to change old habits. Thus, it is not only the creation of an MPA that makes a difference, but it is just as important to educate, inform and raise awareness regarding how to respect the environment.

The Aeolian Islands already have an ordinance in vigor with restrictions that resembles those found in a MPA. The zoning in place to preserve “Siti Archeologici Marini” (Marine Archaeological Sites – Lipari No. 8/2016) includes areas where anchoring, diving, and fishing are not permitted (equivalent to a MPA “zona B”) and other areas where also navigation is banned (equivalent to a MPA “zona A”). However, many boaters continue to anchor in the waters around the Islets of Panarea (Dattilo, Bottaro, Lisca Bianca, Lisca Nera, and Panarelli) probably because they do not even realize they are infringing a regulation, and it is for this reason that I believe education is key. We need to raise awareness so that boaters respect the rules that are already present, and at the same time the regulations should also be enforced with greater vigilance from the Coast Guard. Through a stronger collaboration between community and law enforcement these areas could benefit as if they were a MPA, without the title.

Indeed, one of the driving factors that pushed me to finish the guide was I knew it could be a tool to protect and increase respect towards the environment simply by raising awareness about the current laws and regulations. I strongly believe in the power of education, not only in schools, but within the community in general. I am convinced that most boaters do not intentionally anchor in an area where it is banned, they just simply do not know. I hope this guide, by promoting correct and respectful anchoring, will also have a positive feedback on the marine ecosystem.

Where can you purchase a copy of the Aeolian Islands Nautical Guide?

Both the Italian and English versions of the Nautical Guide are available online and in bookstores.

The Publisher Lombardo Edizioni sells the book directly on site, in all the local bookstores in Milazzo and the Aeolian Islands, as well as online.

The Italian Distributor “Il Frangente” sells the book either on their website or on Amazon. They distribute the book to specialized nautical bookstores, nautical suppliers, nautical clubs and charter companies throughout Italy. They also have established a collaboration with an International distributor that will distribute the English version of the guide worldwide.

It is a real honor for me to see my book alongside the guides of Rod and Lucinda Heikel, top authors in this field! I am extremely grateful to both "Il Franente", for the opportunity to expand the diffusion of the guide, and Lombardo Edizioni, for believing in me.

What comes next? Will you write another book?

Yes, however, it probably will be something very different than the Nautical Guide. I am currently the Educational Director of MuMa – the Museum of the Sea in Milazzo. In my role I have had the opportunity to work with students and teachers to raise awareness about the Ocean and anthropogenic impacts. I have developed several educational worksheets, activities and participated in numerous conferences. My next project is to create a workbook revolving around the principles of Ocean Literacy, the anthropogenic impacts on Marine Ecosystems, the role of Marine Mammals and threats to their existence, and our Ecological footprint.

Contact me for more information: