Monday, June 18, 2012

The adventures of Lisa Jo

Lisa flew into Ajaccio airport in Corsica and we whisked her off into the countryside, we had a scenic drive up the west coast of Corsica to reach Les Calanques which are spectacular cliffs along the coast over 400m high.

Les Calanques have a lovely red glow

We also found a pretty picnic spot in the Spelunca canyon, we hopped over some rocks and sat by the side of the crystal clear river and then followed this up a walk along the gorge until we reached a stunning Genoese style bridge over the river Porto.

Lisa sporting the holiday look

Amanda & Mark - taking it easy as always

Lisa and Amanda sat on bridge

Mark & Amanda sat on bridge
The next day Lisa had to quickly find her sea legs with almost a 50 mile sail from Ajaccio to Bonifacio, annoyingly we left with a rolling swell and no wind! The wind did pick up although it was still very light so progress was quite slow but the sun was out and it was good to be making progress knowing that the next 2 days were going to be howling.  It was lovely to take Lisa to Bonifacio as it is such a pretty place and we treated ourselves to 2 nights in the marina as we knew the following day would be a bit breezy for us to sail to Sardinia.  We had a nice explore of the town and out along the headland battling the with the wind and we were treated to a delicious Ice-cream - big thanks to my lovely Auntie Janet who sent Lisa over with cash to treat us J

Mark & Lisa overlooking the Sraits of Bonifacio

Amanda's hair obscuring Marks face!
The sail from Bonifacio to Sardinia was a lively one, it had been pretty blowy the previous day so the sea had time to grow and it was bumpy leaving Bonifacio with the swell side on which is never ideal.  By the middle of the Straits we were battling into 25-30 knots of wind which was not very relaxing! We were all battered by the wind, Lisa had left Bonifacio optimistically wearing a pair of shorts, we were soon all wrapped up in our fleeces!  It was a quick 20 miles sail and we hit a top speed of 10.1 knots surfing down the waves.

This does not do justice to the white horses and this was in the shelter of the islands 
We were glad to get the shelter of Cala Spalmatore which is a sheltered anchorage on the north coast of the Isla Maddalena which is the largest of the Maddelena archipelago.  The islands are a nature reserve and we have had to buy a permit (available online) to be able to cruise the islands although as yet this has not been checked!  We did get to step on land in Sardinia but the Cala was very sparse with no shops but a small beach bar and restaurant. The snorkelling was a bit disappointing, expectation were high with the fact it is a nature reserve.

Cala Spalmatore
Next stop was Cala Garibaldi only 2.5 miles away but on the Island of Caprera, we do not think this is related to the biscuits but Giuseppe Garibaldi who is a professional revolutionary and a bit of an Italian hero who bought part of the island.  Our pilot book stated that there was a Club Med in the Cala, this was actually very derelict and creepy with a whole range of straw huts sat on a hill! We had good shelter in the Cala but unfortunately we tried to go ashore but it was impossible to find a path away from the beach so we never manage to explore the island.  The views from the Cala across to Isla Maddalena and across to the mountains of Corsica were stunning especially at sunset.

Sunset at Cala Garibaldi
With time constraints to get to the airport there was little time to sunbath and relax and we needed to sail onwards Olbia.  The good news was we had wind, a force 3 easterly was just enough for a leisurely sail along the coast, Lisa had a chance to practice her helming skills whilst we all looked out for dolphins – no luck.

Lisa at the helm
We anchored in Golfo di Olbia rather than heading into the town and in the morning we were treated to seeing one of the sailing cruise ships, funnily it looked like they were having a naturist week which we initially spotted when we saw a naked man dive off the back of the boat - yes we were pretty close as we sailed over to take a better look, at the boat, not the naked people!!

Nudist cruiseship!
Olbia is quite an industrial harbour and the approach is long and not very pretty but good news for us is we have been able to tie up to an old commercial port which right in the centre of town and free.  It is a bit derelict and probably not too secure but very close to the town which is only a short bus journey to the airport.

The town it self is one main street with various restaurants (mainly pizzeria’s), bars and shops but oddly when we explored on a Saturday afternoon there were only a handful of people around but by the evening it was really busy and had a nice atmosphere. We had a lovely Italian meal of Pizza and ice cream – yummy and far too much of the local white wine – Vermentino which I can highly recommend.

Look how happy we are to have an icecream!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunset in Sardinia

We (Mark, Lisa & I) have had a few stunning nights at anchor including this beautiful sunset at Porto Garibaldi. More to follow when I can get online.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Corsica in the mountains

We decided to treat ourselves to a few days in a marina in Ajaccio which was primarily so we could explore a bit more inland so we also hired a car.  We did however forget that being in a marina in the summer is very warm! The lack of breeze and proximity to the town makes a real difference.  The other thing we forgot was that you often have the noise of the local bars/restaurants.  Ajaccio Tino Rossi marina is not different but generally the marina is really nice, the staff a very friendly and it is just on the outskirts of the old town, Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica is so is quite a large city.

We had a day out in Corte which is the main town in the central mountains of Corsica and was a one point the capital of Corsica.  The drive up through the mountains was beautiful with some spectacular views  down to the valleys below, the road twists and turned through the mountains and is the major road which runs north to south of the island.

Drive full of views
Corte is perched on top of a cliff and full of rustic looking buildings, with plenty of little shops selling delicious Corsican produce, we indulged in a flan made with Brocciu (goat or ewe milk cheese) plus a can of Pietra which is the Corsican beer made with chestnut flour, both very yummy.



View from the top
From Corte we drove through Valle de la Restonica along by the river and up into the mountains, I do think the photos can do justice to the view.  We stopped by the river for our picnic, followed by a dip in the chilly but crystal clear mountain water.

Lovely place for a dip

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rolly Porto Pollo

Our sail from Bonifacio west out of the straits & north around the coast of Corsica was as expected, a bit frustrating. Good news was we had force 4 when leaving & had an hour of sailing but as we sailed out of the Straits the wind dropped of & we motored sailed the remainder of the journey - 35 miles in total.

On arrival we looked to anchor but all other boats were on buoys as the water was over 10 metres even quite close into shore (ideally we anchor in 5m of less) In the pilot booked it mentions red or white buoys depending on boat size but instead there were around 50 blue buoys! But as there were boats similar size to Magnum we decided to pick up a buoy & then wait to see whether we were thrown off or charged.

As the sun had been baking all day we were keen to cool off & with a sea temperature of over 20 degrees it looked like we would venture in without wetsuits. The swim was brief but refreshing.

The next day brought the wind as forecasted, over 25 knots in the anchorage for hours on end. We did manage a trip ashore & Porto Pollo is a small holiday resort with a couple of low key hotels, one was particularly rustic & pretty. The beach is sandy, peaceful & the sea is clear & warm. There is a small slightly over priced supermarket but also a yummy boulangerie & little shack selling local produce.

Back on the boat the rest of the day was uncomfortable the north west wind brought the swell into the anchorage & all the boats were swinging like pendulums. By the morning the wind had dropped but the swell remained & we were worn out, so we left the boat & spent most of the day at the beach which was lovely. By the evening luckily the swell had calmed & we could finally get some sleep!

The other good news was no-one collected any charge for using the mooring buoy so :)

Photo are of beautiful hotel, overlooking beach with Magnum at anchor & looking back at beach from Magnum.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wandering & wildlife in Bonifacio

We had a couple of lovely walks from Bonifacio. You can walk from the town east along the cliffs to Cap Pertusato & it's lighthouse. There are fantastic views back towards the town which looks like it is clinging to the edge of the cliffs. We also had views over the Ile Lavazzi where we had been anchored & over to Sardinia although visibility was not great.
The round trip took about 3 hours, luckily we set off early as by our return journey we had a stream of French tourist battling up the path towards us but we had only seen a handful of people in the morning.

We also walked out to Cap Pertusato which is on the west side of the harbour & meanders through a nature reserve. Along with some great views of Bonifacio you walk to a couple of almost deserted bays. Although this best part of the day was definitely spotting a tortoise, we never knew Corsica had tortoise but spotted one rustling close to the edge of the path, lucky us! The walk again is about a 3 hour round trip but felt like about 20 hours with the heat on that day! We both feel asleep after lunch!