Captains Blog 33 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We left Arbatax as the wind got up, gliding along at 5 knots for a whopping 5 miles before engaging the colossus that is our 30hp diesel engine for the rest of the journey to Cala Luna. As we got closer, we could make out Koru, anchored alone in this beautiful bay. We’d soon spoil their peace and tranquillity!  We explored the bay in mighty Hannibal, then joined our neighbours on the beach for a chilled-out drink and a lesson in how to fly a drone properly.  

It’s often the weather that determines the length of a stay and we needed to move if we were to make progress before things got heavy. We sailed 23 miles North to Spiagge delle Dune, nestling behind a small island and reef, being joined by a steel blue hulled boat who we’d later get to know.

Both Koru and Gianti left the anchorage at the same time the next morning with sails set from the off. The wind and seas were building quickly and it wasn’t long before we were flying along with reefed sails and a near following sea.

We rounded the headland after around 20 miles heading towards the chosen anchorage. By now the winds had increased to where we were on our limits with reefed sails, so it was a relief to reach the anchorage, but short lived!

The spot was untenable and it wasn’t long before we were on the move again. Our 2nd choice anchorage was no better. We’d no option but to head back a short way to where we thought conditions would be more favourable. After motoring into a 30 – 40 knot wind at 1.2 knots there was a tinge of jealously as Koru, with her 2 engines, eased away from us though our efforts would be rewarded with two cracking days in the lovely Cala Girola

After a couple of nights, we needed to relocate or be prepared to sit out a 4-day blow. No brainer, we set off for the old harbour wall in Olbia. Champagne was already there together with Patrick and Sabine, who’d anchored behind us in Spiagge delle Dune.

We managed to squeeze Gianti into a good spot after Fou charmed a fisherman into relocating. It was pretty well protected and would provide a good base for the next few days.

But no, the boat parking attendant had a different idea. It was not an easy chat but the gist was that we needed to leave by 8am on the second day. Captain Vic wasn’t happy.  With big winds forecast to last 4 days we tried to reason, but the bod with the badge wouldn’t budge. Thankfully we met someone with a lot more stripes and bradding who spoke good English and managed to extend our stay by an extra day.

We left Olbia under sail after 3 days, the winds taking us nicely out of the harbour and bay. Just before we reached the peninsula, we received some horrible news. Our friend Karin had passed away. We were dumbstruck and just wanted to stop but were rounding the headland, trying to beat into 30 knots in a frantic sea determined to draw out the pain. Eventually, we reached the anchorage where Koru was tucked up nicely and anchored nearby.

We were both exhausted and when everything was secure, sat down slightly stunned. We’d not been able to fully absorb the news we’d received. We gave one another a long hug, cried and toasted Karins life with a glass of wine. She’d been such a big part of our adventure together with Erling and will continue to be so, in our hearts.

The anchorage was in a great spot, well protected with bags of room. First mate must have liked it as she cast her prized Russian wedding ring into the water as some kind of sacrificial offering to the anchoring gods. It was swallowed up immediately and despite the combined diving efforts of Captain Fou and I, could not be found, unlike Hannibal, which she’d tied up with her special overhand, rolling dinghy slipknot. She recovered it after diving in and swimming over to it.

We’d decided to have a night in a marina to replenish water supplies and clean the boat down. No no, I’d previously vowed never to wash down the boat if we planned to head out the following day. True to form, we left straight into big winds and a pounding sea resulting in a lovely salt baked crust glistening beautifully all over Gianti’s topside.

Koru was in a bay not far off so we decided to cut our journey short and anchor there. It wasn’t planned but we successfully sold them the idea by bribing them with one of the first mates famous chicken curries. They were heading to Genova the next day as they needed to return to Switzerland for a few weeks, so it was a great to wish them a proper bon voyage.

The Maddalena’s are a lovely group of small islands just off the N/E Sardinian coast and we planned to chill out there for the next week. We focused on the two biggest islands, Maddalena and Cabrera and had a brilliant time swimming, exploring and relaxing there. We were lucky to be able to anchor where we wanted with very few others around. We knew it wouldn’t last so made the best of our time.

A week on and we were sailing across the Straits from Sardinia to Corsica, Bonifacio being our destination. The approach takes you past cliffs with badly eroded lower sections. Old buildings line the cliff tops above arched hollows which, despite their dubious foundations, look stoic and solid. You enter a narrow channel between the cliffs that leads you to Bonifacio. It was chaotic with boat traffic and my first thought was is there still a worldwide pandemic?

We were allocated a birth and after waiting 10 minutes, realised that we were mooring on our own. Thankfully a day tripper boat had just moored behind us so lent a hand.

The town was a fascinating place with stacks to explore. The town defences had more staircases, walkways and tunnels than you could shake a stick at. We could even speak a few words of French without getting tongue tied and having to resort to English spoken slowly and LOUDLY. And then there were the croissants. Lovely lovely croissants.

It felt good to be back in Corsica. We’d spent our honeymoon there 13 years earlier, in a converted chestnut mill, nestled amongst Le Calanques Du Piana. We didn’t sail then, preferring to rock climb and walk, so we knew that the scenery was spectacular. The plan was to head up the west coast enjoying this beautiful island, taking in the spectacular mountains from a different perspective.

We set off for Porticcio, a small anchorage affording some protection from the westerly swell. It was a good stop that provided a tempting glimpse into the rugged interior of the island. But that wasn’t our goal this time, so we left for Ajaccio the following morning.

We planned to head into one of the marina’s so that we could really explore without leaving the boat at anchor. We sailed slowly out of the bay and once around the top of the headland, really picked up speed. As we scud across the Golf du Ajaccio at between 6 to 7.5 knots, we realised we’d have time in hand so ventured further across the bay to check out an anchorage. It wasn’t particularly busy, though you had to stay in deep water to avoid the buoyed area, so we wimped out and returned towards the cosy marina.

Next time we have the best boat chips (fries) ever and head across to mainland France, zut alors!

Captain Mac

2 Replies to “Captains Blog 33 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

  1. Hello there, First Mate here … there was a beautiful video (if I do say so myself) to go with this post.
    The more observant will notice there isn’t a video … and that’s because I decided to run completely ‘deliberate’ experiment to see the effects of salt water on IPAD pros and phones.
    The results are in … it absolutely wrecks them. Killed
    Stone dead
    And any other descriptions you care to add.
    Normal service will be resumed once the appropriate mourning period has been observed & I’ve managed to sort everything out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Sailing Éalú

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Skipper Jenn

POOP DECK: Because we give a SHIT

S/Y Maggie

Living the dream onboard our Beneteau 473 with our sailor dog

%d bloggers like this: