Entering the Arno
08 September 2009 | Arno River
The Arno is the river which runs up to Pisa and Florence. We've always been curious to go there as a base to visit those cities, but were nervous given reports that it can be very shallow. The only boat we found that had been there was Mudskipper, but even they had advised caution. Mudskipper anchored in the river, but we had phoned ahead for a berth, concerned about possible overnight stays away and whether we would find enough depth for anchoring.
As it turns out, changes here have made this an excellent destination, which deserves more cruiser attention.
The entrance, shown here is between two breakwaters; the northern one has several breaks in it which small boats do use. These would appear high risk for a keel boat, so don't just follow any local RIB you see. The north breakwater in particular has a lot of gantries with fishing nets that fish shallow water, presumably for whitebait type fish. Further up-river, there are many more such nets, highly reminiscent of the fishing nets of Cochin, but operated by machinery rather than muscle.
On the south side, the pilot book shows a factory building. This has been razed, and huge development is going on here. Right now it's flat, but obviously won't be for long. The next cruisers who pass this way should post updated pix. From a distance, the campanile in Marina di Pisa is the most obvious conspicuous marker.
More important is the depth. The pilot book suggests 3 to 4m on the north side at the best. We saw least depth 6.1m going in, and 5.4m coming out. We stuck well to the north side; the outer edge of the gantry nets are marked with small buoys.
We may have benefited from the long periods of north easterlies which have cleared the silt away, but we did wonder if they have started dredging here as we saw a dredger moored in the river.