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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Round to Le Grazie
02/09/2009

We went on after lunch of foccaccio and fresh tomatoes, passing the beautiful villages that give the area its name. This is Corniglia, which hangs in the hammock of its valley, but is apparently home to the best beaches on this bit of coast.
The passage between the end of the isthmus, at Portovénere and Isola Palmária opens up quite suddenly in the cliff wall. You can see the further gap between Palmária and Isla del Tino from miles away, so it's a surprise to find the shorter way. We motored through with least depth of 5.4m. Heikell says that he found least depth 2.4m in (we think) 2005, and we've seen another blog which records seeing 2.2m. We stayed on the more mainland side and had no problems at all.


Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
An excellent anchorage
02/09/2009, Le Grazie

For two years people have been telling us to come to this area for a great sailing ground and excellent anchoring. This is all true.
You come through the channel from Portovénere, or up the inside of the islands. There is a great breakwater at the mouth of the Golfo. Come through the western entrance. The first bay is a military area, and cordoned off. The second is Le Grazie.
Here is a very well sheltered spot, with excellent holding. This is written after three nights here, seeing katabatic gusts off the hills of about 25 knots, driven by a south westerly at least F7 going on just the other side. We have swung about a bit, but not shifted at all. (Roaring Girl is the small blue dot, with lots of empty space around her. This was Friday afternoon: on Saturday, the bay was much fuller!)
There is a small chandlery ashore, which sells charts (not that common in Italy), a supermarket, lovely walking in the hills and buses to La Spazia. All you need really.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Serendipitous moorings
02/09/2009, Vernazza

We had thought of going to Monteresso al Mare for lunch, but read that Vernazza is even prettier, has no in-shore reef of rocks and appeared to allow anchoring. It is about another nautical mile further beyond Montresso. When we got there we had a very pleasant surprise. In a little cove just off the town, a series of mooring buoys have been laid.
We don't know their strength or what weight they're set up for; the lines on them are strong, but they may only be rated to 10 tonnes or so. However, for a lunch stop in a dead calm and only very slight swell, they were more than strong enough for us. We were not charged for using them either (though you might be overnight). What a treat, in a spot of great beauty.
The little town of Vernazza itself is charming but absolutely overrun with tourists. We rowed into the harbour, and pulled Bridget up on the beach. (The kayak guys cheerfully nodded agreement to keeping a languid eye on her.) Heikell acknowledges it's a small and crowded harbour: and it is. If anyone would take a large (9m+) cruising yacht in there and drop an anchor to keep off the quay, we take our hats off to them. We're not sure it would be permitted; the entrance was policed for both speed and size. We wouldn't dream of trying it in Roaring Girl.

Lovely swim
2/9/09
Vernazza

After the rowing we swam off the back of the boat, underneath this glorious cliff. The train runs through it and you can hear it's echoes as it passes.

Round to Le Grazie
2/9/09


We went on after lunch of foccaccio and fresh tomatoes, passing the beautiful villages that give the area its name. This is Corniglia, which hangs in the hammock of its valley, but is apparently home to the best beaches on this bit of coast.
The passage between the end of the isthmus, at Portovénere and Isola Palmária opens up quite suddenly in the cliff wall. You can see the further gap between Palmária and Isla del Tino from miles away, so it's a surprise to find the shorter way. We motored through with least depth of 5.4m. Heikell says that he found least depth 2.4m in (we think) 2005, and we've seen another blog which records seeing 2.2m. We stayed on the more mainland side and had no problems at all.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
The Cinque Terre
02/09/2009, Punta Manara


After that excitement, we motored south, in no wind at all. So difficult to know what will happen on this coast!
The Cinque Terre are (another) World Heritage site and a nationally important marine park. And stunningly beautiful. Our first particular marker was Punta Manara, which you have to round before getting to Portovénere. This is conspicuous for its saw teeth, which are a useful marker on an otherwise beautiful but similar set of headlands.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Anchoring at the eastern end of Rade di Portoferraio
02/09/2009, Elba

The next couple of days we played in the sizeable Rade di Portferraio. At the eastern end are a couple of bays where you can anchor, notably Ottone, which has the little strip of beach and a hotel bar where you can buy a drink and admire your boat gracing the scene. Dense vegetation circles the bay: pines, bamboos, cane and palms.
Just north of this is Cala di B. This is marked in the pilot book as an anchorage, but is no longer accessible. The Port Authority guidance clearly excludes it, and there are no boats anchored there. Close in there are some small mooring buoys, and there are lots of dinghies, but anchoring is now off limits. This is understandable as it is small and would get incredibly crowded in summer, but a shame as a lifeguard told us that it is always calm in there.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Anchoring at the eastern end of Rade di Portoferraio
02/09/2009, Elba

The next couple of days we played in the sizeable Rade di Portferraio. At the eastern end are a couple of bays where you can anchor, notably Ottone, which has the little strip of beach and a hotel bar where you can buy a drink and admire your boat gracing the scene. Dense vegetation circles the bay: pines, bamboos, cane and palms.
Just north of this is Cala di B. This is marked in the pilot book as an anchorage, but is no longer accessible. The Port Authority guidance clearly excludes it, and there are no boats anchored there. Close in there are some small mooring buoys, and there are lots of dinghies, but anchoring is now off limits. This is understandable as it is small and would get incredibly crowded in summer, but a shame as a lifeguard told us that it is always calm in there.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Anchoring at the eastern end of Rade di Portoferraio
02/09/2009, Elba

The next couple of days we played in the sizeable Rade di Portferraio. At the eastern end are a couple of bays where you can anchor, notably Ottone, which has the little strip of beach and a hotel bar where you can buy a drink and admire your boat gracing the scene. Dense vegetation circles the bay: pines, bamboos, cane and palms.
Just north of this is Cala di Bagnaia. This is marked in the pilot book as an anchorage, but is no longer accessible. The Port Authority guidance clearly excludes it, and there are no boats anchored there. Close in there are some small mooring buoys, and there are lots of dinghies, but anchoring is now off limits. This is understandable as it is small and would get incredibly crowded in summer, but a shame as a lifeguard told us that it is always calm in there.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
A spell or a harbour?
01/09/2009, Riva Trigoso

This anchorage is marked by Heikell as open and risky in poor weather, but we had a slight offshore breeze and no swell. We anchored comfortably in about 9.8m in sand. We couldn't help laughing at the name: imagine Hermione Granger pointing her wand: Rive Trigoso! - and her subject shrinks to a third its normal size!
It is one of the ugliest towns you could wish to see in such a beautiful area, and, as you can see has this enormous shipyard. Heikell doesn't mention this but it's very conspicuous at any time of day or night and so a useful marker. This ship in the yard was due to be launched the next morning, and we got a ringside seat. A great floating dock was brought in by three tugs and carefully manoeuvred into position in front of the dry dock. We assume that the floating dock can be sunk at sea, to allow the main boat to be fully launched.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Golfe de Galeria
31/12/1969

On Thursday morning we pulled up our anchors and headed south. There was a cold northwesterly blowing off Punta Revellata which of course turned into a cold south-westerly once we rounded the point and headed south. (For those of you without a detailed chart of Corsica, you can click on the location link to the right of the page. We have entered the lat and long of a point one nautical mile north of Revellata for this post, and this will show you how we had to get round the headland to start the next leg.)
This is the real start of the famous west coast, often talked about by sailors as one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the Med. It also has a sore reputation for weather, being fully exposed to the mistral and prone to katabatic winds falling from the heights. This is a place for vigilance of sea and wind, and preparedness to move on hastily if the wind shifts, making a safe place untenable. Aquila took this picture of us with the hills in the background.
Our first stop was Galeria, a small town on a bay with yet another Genoese tower. It has a peculiar dark-sand beach, the colour of a dun horse, and shoals of hungry mullet swimming around our hull. We played cards on Aquila and endured yet another rolly night before hauling up the anchor early in the morning.
The pilot book warns clearly about rocks in the centre of the bay. There is now also a north cardinal mark. This does not seem to be close to the rocks but instead protects an underwater fish farm shown on our charts. The safest way in would appear to be to head to the beach north of the Genoese tower on a 90 degree course, then turn along the shore line in 10m depth until you are close enough to the beach to clear both dangers.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)

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