Sunday, 15 August 2010

Hi from Clare Calvi Corsica to Italian Island of Elba 14th August 2010 Photos to be posted soon POWER BOAT HEAVEN We left Calvi Saturday morning to travel 35 miles north to Saint Florent. We motored for the first couple of hours but then sailed, arriving late afternoon. We anchored away from town to escape the wash made by numerous power boats coming and going from the marina. The marina has a river estuary at the end of it. This is a safe haven for literally hundreds of small power boats. I think just about everyone in town must own a boat. With perfect weather they were out in full. DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE Sunday morning after washing the boat and making her look beautiful, we moved closer to town and took the dinghy ashore. We intended taking the 2pm bus to the large town of Bastia on the eastern side of the island. However, we quickly discovered that the bus doesn’t run on Sunday. We felt pretty proud of ourselves because a week ago we couldn’t read that much French. Woo Hoo there’s hope for us yet. BOOM CRASH OPERA So with the Bastia trip postponed we spent the afternoon having a look around the busy town of Saint Florent. They were setting up for a music concert that evening which might explain why the place was crowded. It was difficult to walk through town and almost impossible to get served in the shops. It was all a bit overpowering and so we had a quick look around and headed back to the boat. That night the concert filled the air till 3am and ended with a fireworks display. The music wasn’t too loud and we managed to sleep but the fireworks woke us with the first boom. In my disgruntled state I remember thinking “What sort of place has no public transport on Sunday but fireworks at 3am in the morning.” We had the alarm set for 5.30am so we could catch the early morning bus to Bastia. FANGIO The trip to Bastia is supposed to take one hour. The winding road goes up over the mountains and down into Bastia. We had Fangio at the wheel and the trip took 35 hair-raising minutes. Fangio came into corners fast, hit the brakes hard, jerked the wheel a lot and ran off the bitumen twice. Oh, I nearly forgot, much to Andrew’s alarm, he also managed to lock up the front wheels going into one corner heavily under brakes. The scenery from up high was spectacular, beautiful valleys, steep rock faces and great ocean views. I thought about our little boat down in the bay and wondered if I would ever step foot on it again. We arrived in Bastia feeling ill and it took an hour or so to fully recover. THE BIG SMOKE The town of Bastia is the largest in Corsica and has three ports: the commercial and ferry harbour, the modern yacht harbour and the picturesque old fishing harbour (Photo 1) surrounded by the old town and citadel. The modern part of town is a hubbub of activity and dominated by the large commercial and ferry port. It has excellent facilities, smart shops, a pretty town square (Photo 2) and lots of traffic. For us, the old town dating back to early 15th century was more appealing. We went on a tourist walk taking in the old fishing harbour, winding streets, houses, (Photo 3) to churches and up to the citadel. We only had a few hours as we planned a return trip to Saint Florent in the late morning. Fangio drove a little more sedately on the way back taking the full hour to complete the trip. There was a lot more traffic which slowed him down. However we could still hear passengers sucking air through gritted teeth as he approached corners. PEACE AT SEA So after a very busy morning in Bastia we set off and sailed 30 miles to Macinaggio on the north east tip of Corsica. It was very peaceful on the water and after a stressful morning we both had a nap along the way. RENEWED FRIENDSHIPS Wednesday morning we set off to travel 37 miles to the Italian Island of Elba. There was little wind and although we did manage a bit of a spinnaker run we motored for most of the trip. We arrived in Marina di Campo on the southern side of the island in the late afternoon. We had been in radio contact with American friends Sam and Bill on “Blue Banana”. Two years ago we spent eleven great days with Sam and Bill in Milos. We have crossed paths a few times this year but on each occasion we have been in the company of other people. We had drinks on “Eye Candy” that evening and happily planned a week of traveling together. I COULD LIVE HERE Elba is a very pretty and mountainous island with numerous attractive harbours and anchorages. The slopes are terraced and the island is always green even in the middle of summer. Palms, eucalyptus, cedars and pine grow everywhere and olives and vines are cultivated. We decided to slowly circumnavigate the island stopping off at the main tourist towns. Our next destination was Porto Azzurro at the eastern end of the island. The town has a lovely citadel built by the Spanish in the middle of the 16th century. We had a look at the town and the beaches before spending a quiet night onboard. On Friday morning we headed around to Portoferraio on the northern side of the island. This is the main ferry port for the island and an amazing number of ferries (Photo 4) come here daily from various neighboring European countries. We went into town (photo5) and bought a sim card for our dongle. So once again we have access to Internet and Skype. In the evening we spent a very enjoyable few hours on “Blue Banana”. HOW SAFE IS SAFE? Portoferraio is reported to be one of the safest anchorages in the Mediterranean as it has good protection from almost all wind directions. We came here because strong south and south east winds were forecast for Saturday. By Saturday, the harbour near town was very crowded and so we decided to move over to the less crowded south east corner of the bay and await the wind. The Italian boat in front of us was dragging and almost hit “Eye Candy” before he took action and re anchored. That was fine until the wind kicked in and the rain started. The next thing we knew he was on top of us again. His boat was lying across our bow and he managed to get “Eye Candy’s” anchor chain wrapped around his propeller. Both boats launched their dinghies and second anchors while the mess was sorted out. The thunder storm hit with the vengeance, thunder, lightening and torrential rain. It was a complete white out. No damage was done to “Eye Candy” but our bow roller bent and broke one of the Italian’s stanchions, severely mangled one of his life lines and crunched his carbon-fibre spinnaker pole which was lashed to the life lines. After the Italian re anchored he dragged out of sight heading towards a much larger yacht which fortunately also dragged in anticipation before any damage was done – wise move! Well it is now late Saturday and our Italian friend has just come over with an apology and a chilled bottle of champagne. We will save it for tomorrow – Andrew’s birthday. SO WHERE TO NOW We will be in Elba for the next week doing some land travel and exploring the island. love Candy