Captains Blog 34 – Jelly Fish and Chips

We called the marina in Ajaccio as we approached. No response, so we tried again, nothing! And then again, and again. We tried again. And bingo! Contact was established.

“Do you have a reservation?” they asked.

“Well, we tried to e-mail but didn’t get any response”.

“You should have used the online booking system, it’s the only way to book a mooring!”

We were starting to lose patience and hope, but then, after a short pause came the message “Don’t worry, we can find you a place, just come into the marina and someone will meet you to direct you to your place”. Top blokes.

I liked Ajaccio. Crossing the road could be fraught, but once you’d dodged the traffic it was good mooching territory. We made the most of our stay by digging out the folding bikes and braving the roads for a trip to see the Isles du Sanguine. We watched boats heading from big confused, rolly seas on one side of the islands to flat calm waters on the other. We were feeling very smug!

We were quite the popular in the marina. Firstly, we were visited by Astrid and Rasmus, who we’d meet in the Maddalena’s off Sardinia. Theirs was one of the few boats we saw while there and we were really taken with their Wauquiez Pilot Saloon, Gullvika. It was a serious sea going boat that had all you’d need for comfortable ocean passages and circumnavigation.

It was great to see them and we all enjoyed a few drinks onboard Gianti whiling the evening away before they headed off and back towards Bonifacio the following day.

The next morning, we were visited by Patrick and Sabine who we’d seen at Spiagge delle Dune and then met at Olbia a few days later. They were cruising around Corsica in their lovely blue steel hulled boat Makeva. They were anchored just outside the marina and, like the rest of us, trying to avoid the heavy swell from the west.

At the first chance we headed out of the marina, straight across the bay to join Patrick and Sabine at Anse de Sainte Barbe. We’d been invited over for chicken and chips that evening. Chicken and chips? Doesn’t sound very French. “How, in gods name can man produce chips that taste like this?” They were astonishingly good. The Smeagol in me came to the fore, they were my precious and nobody was getting their greedy paws on what remained. It was a moment of chip self-actualisation. Patrick, I salute you.

Next day we returned to the anchorage outside Ajaccio. Big winds had been forecast so we hunkered down all snug and secure for a day or two. We used the second day to stock up with provisions before sailing to Isles du Sanguine and meeting up with Patrick and Sabine.

After the second night it was time to head north again and so we set out for Cargesse. We’d visited there before when on honeymoon, but it was very different seeing it now. It was spookily quiet and not at all as we’d remembered. We’d anchored in the bay just east, so after exploring returned to Gianti and went for a swim. Lovely temperature, umm bit choppy but otherwise good. Bit of breast stroke, bit of back stroke, bob on. Ouch, what the f#@*, one solitary little jelly had stung me across my back. Before long I could see them everywhere. I’d have given Michael Phelps or the man from Atlantis a good trouncing in the race to get away.

I wasn’t keen on the transparent alien take over so decided to run away, around the next headland to Plage de Ficajola. It sits below Piana, right next to the old chestnut mill where we’d spent our honeymoon. It was lovely, though very busy and, due to swell direction wouldn’t make a good overnight anchorage, so we flew across the bay to Cala Vecchia where we tucked in with 3 other boats for a good night’s kip.

The next day we met a Lee and Lindsey who’d anchored nearby in their yacht Brit. We were invited onboard for something to eat and a tour of this huge, bespoke sailing vessel. She was a very impressive ocean-going boat, although I imagine would have been quite an undertaking to sail.

We enjoyed a couple of nights there before heading a mile or so further into the bay to Girolata, where we planned to relax in this beautiful spot. There was some good walking around the bay and I needed to deploy my legs for something other than swimming. Covid restrictions didn’t dampen the charm of Girolata. It’s a small, barely accessible coastal village that you’d imagine on a tiny desert island rather than Corsica. It’s charming and chilled, but very pricey!

So, after 24 hours we set out to anchor just off a beach a short distance away before heading back to Cala Vecchia for one last night.

We were on our way to Calvi by 9am the next day and once out of the bay had the sails up and were flying towards our destination. We were making good time and as we passed Scandola nature reserve, had a following sea and were galloping along at 6 knots.

“This wind’s pretty good, do you think it carries on through tonight?” I asked the first mate.

“Dunno, I’ll check as soon as we have an internet connection, why?

“We’d be on a beam reach if we changed course and headed over the France.”

After umming, frowning and nodding a bit, decided to turn left for France. We were flying along at 6.5 to 7 knots on a beam reach, which was veering towards a close reach as we progressed. The swell was constantly building and was now side on making for an increasingly uncomfortable passage. We were making good time and at this rate would be well ahead of our predicted arrival time, the next morning.

Corsica remained prominent for many hours. The mountains form a spectacular vista and only disappeared from view around dusk. Blackness descended as waves either lifted Gianti or crashed against her showering crew with salt water.

We were making really good time with reefed sails and had now shifted to being close hauled. It was clear that if we continued at this speed, we’d reach the French coast in darkness. We dropped the sails and continued under engine, not only to slow things down, but get some charge back into the batteries.

It wasn’t a relaxed voyage. Lifejackets with lanyards were donned while big winds, big seas and pitch blackness made for an unnerving transit. Lights began to appear in the distance! Zhut allors, It’s France. Just as the sun started to appear over the horizon, we arrived at Menton Garavan, pretty much as far East as you can get before crossing into Italy.

And so, we were back in France and ready to explore fancy smanshy destinations like Monaco, Antibes, St Tropez and Marseilles. click the link to view the video that accompanies this blog 👍

Oh la la, best leave it there then.

Captain Gollum Mac

4 Replies to “Captains Blog 34 – Jelly Fish and Chips”

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