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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Arriving at the Golfe de St Florent
25/05/2010

All of these headlands and buildings are useful landmarks on the way to St Florent. The gulf, about half a mile wide, is fronted to the east by the little resort town, and to the west by the hills that begin the Desert des Agriates. The pilot book makes it clear that you must leave the red beacon Tignosa to port, but it can be difficult to pick out. Keep your heading well westerly until you have it firmly in your sights.
You can anchor pretty much anywhere in the bay, as it is less than 10m from a long way out. From the 5m contour, it shallows sharply though, so make sure that you have enough depth for any swinging room.
We have anchored on the western side, off the tiny beaches that run towards the headland on which perches the green beacon of Cap Fornali. Good holding in mud and weed and reasonable shelter from south and west. Easterlies are okay, although you might want to move across the bay, and the whole area is open to the north.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Rounding Cap Corse – the pilotage
25/05/2010

After all that, the actual cape is stunningly beautiful and, in settled weather, could offer several days delightful cruising along its five mile breadth. It is very reminiscent of Scotland with one key difference: at 0800 it was 23 centigrade in the cockpit. Not imaginable in the Western Isles on 23rd May! We took over 70 photos - you'll be glad to know they're not all in the album in the gallery.
From Macinaggio, you go northeast past the pretty Baie de Tamarone. This is a popular lunchtime anchorage, but no-one seemed to have spent the night there. The first milestone is rounding Ile Finocchiarola, which has a distinctive Genoese ruined tower on it. There is plenty of room between it and the Sante Marie Beacon which marks a dangerous reef some 400m eastwards.
From here your turn just west of north and cruise past some beautiful bays, where the grass slopes across the hills to rocks that are smoothed and folded till they resemble an elephant's skin. The pilot warns of rocks and reefs across the entrances, so you would not want to enter at night. There was an intrepid yacht anchored in there though, and the shelter looked excellent.
After about three miles, you must decide whether to go between Pta d'Agnello and Isle de la Garaglia, or outside; the pass between the two is the photo above. The island has a very distinctive white tower on it. The headland on the south side of the channel is also crowned with a Genoese ruin. Heikell suggests least depths of 10m, and the chart showed 11m. Mid-channel, we never saw less than 17.8m. Looking back through that channel, we could just see Isola Capraia underneath the rising sun.
Directly beneath the pointed rocks west of Pta d'Agnello, we saw a boat nose into the tiny cove beneath the tower - so it's obviously deep enough and would be a fantastic spot in settled weather; definitely one for local knowledge or a reconnaissance in the dinghy! Further along there are several excellent bays and anchorages, plus two tiny fishing villages.
At the western end of the Cap is Capo Grosso, which has a very prominent white radar tower on it. It's not mentioned in any of the pilotage notes, but is a great landmark. Just as we were coming past it (but had stopped taking photos) a coast guard vessel roared up and took a good look at us. Without saying a word they then buzzed off again: we obviously don't look like drug-runners, and we even had our motoring cone hoisted!
The eastern side of the Cape is dramatic. Ile de Centuri sticks out clearly, sheltering the tiny port and anchorage. The steep ravine of Marine de Giottani sits behind the Roche de Magliarese, and the bays at Albo and Nonza are also possible stopping points. On this side of the Cape, the cliffs are steep and often bare rock: a completely different landscape from the softer east. The quarry and factory at Albo show that, in addition to the fertile farmlands of the Nebbio sub-region, there have been other sources of prosperity in this remote area.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Marciana Marina – notes on the harbour
25/05/2010

bAs noted before, there are now no free quays in this port. A lot of money has been spent on new pontoons, power and water all the way along the breakwater. It's run by a very competitive sailing club, not a marina company, and the showers are dire. However, electricity and water are included in the price (36EU up to 12m for one night in May).
The picture above is taken from the western end, looking east at the entrance. There is an album in the gallery, showing some details of the port, including the conspicuous tower at the western end. To get from the outer breakwater, where we were moored, you walk the whole way round the harbour to the office of the club, where you pay.
A small catamaran anchored the night in the middle of the harbour, apparently without interference or charge, so that is still possible. There is not a lot of room though and you would only want to do this in calm weather.
Entrance is extremely simple, during office hours an ormaggiatori comes to help you and there are trailed lines from all moorings.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Back in France
22/05/2010, Macinaggio, Corsica

We sadly waved goodbye to Elba this morning, and will post some final piccies shortly. After a motorsail WNW, with little breeze most of the way, we have dropped anchor in the Baie de Macinaggio on the north-eastern tip of Corsica. We're probably not going to both to untie Bridgit and go ashore, as tomorrow we are heading off round the pointed finger of the island, given the predicted calm.
It's a lovely bay though, and beautifully sheltered from the north-westerly that has been blowing in our faces all day.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
A short passage
20/05/2010, 42 48.514'N 010 11.872'E

We have moved to Marciana Marina today, nestling at the foot of Mt Capanne. It's a touristy little town but there's a nice walk to do tomorrow, and we desperately needed to fill our water tanks.
The pilot book suggests it is possible to moor for free on the quay, using your own anchor. Not any more! We''d reconciled ourselves to paying (for the access to water) but otherwise the 36 euroes a night would have been a nasty shock. At least we also have mains power, giving us enough to time to upload all the latest posts on this blog.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Portoferraio update
19/05/2010

We wrote last year about this excellent anchorage, which is easy to find and big enough to hold many boats. At that time, we were told by the harbour office that you had to call ahead in your dinghy and we recorded this advice. (See the photo gallery for the latest pix.)
This spring, life has been a little more relaxed. As you dinghy into the harbour, keep to starboard (to avoid the fishermen's lures). Then swing in to port and tie your dinghy to the chains in the south western corner of the harbour, directly under the office. There are several dinghies and RIBs there semi-permanently at the moment, and Bridgit has been fine there. The ormeggiattori will move your boat if they need to (as they did to Bridgit one day), but nobody has given us any grief or charged us money.
They may be more rigidly controlled in the high season.
Otherwise, subject to our comments on police regulation and poor anchoring in later posts we have had an excellent revisit here.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Ile Rousse
27/04/2010

From St Florent we headed for Calvi. Leaving the Golfe St Florent we saw a tall ship under sail approaching, which then did some exercises. What fun! They are so big you can imagine how extraordinary they must have seemed to the expert navigators of the Pacific, who could sail anywhere but whose resources constrained them to relatively small craft.
We had hoped to enjoy an anchorage on the west coast of the Desert but as we came round the corner the breeze got up to a south-westerly F4 with a nasty choppy sea. And cold! So we reshaped our plans to spend the night in the shelter of the islet at Ile Rousse. This little town was built by Pasquale Paoli when the citizens of Calvi refused to cooperate with his plans for independent Corsica. So he made Ile Rousse as competition. All our guide books are sniffy about it, so we didn't bother to sort out Bridget and go ashore.
The pilot book is wary about rocks, and the bay looks quite different from you expect from the chart . You go further west than you anticipate and the main reef off the beach is very visible. The smaller reef on the west side is not as clear but there are lots of moorings there. The gap between the two is large enough for several anchored boats. Between the beach and the western rocks is a large, high quay, but we saw no signs of it being used. The marina is then straight ahead, and to the north is the ferry terminal, which is surprisingly busy with some very large vessels and a hyperactive pilot.
The pilot kept us amused for quite a while. The little blue boat swarmed around the big ferry for a bit. Then it went out into the open sea about half a mile off and twisted round in small circles like an angry hornet for no obvious reason. For several minutes! Then it came back and meandered around the ferry again. Eventually, an orange lifejacket was passed up to a waiting crewman. What a to-do!
The wind did calm down in the evening but we stayed put, quite comfortable and enjoyed a lovely sunset. We have made a small album with some pictures for pilotage value.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Getting to Rome from Ostia
02/10/2009, Ostia

From the Porto Touristico, it's about one hour into central Rome. Although it sounds complicated, it's actually very simple.
From the boat you leave the marina at the southern end; by bike or on foot, this takes you up a pedestrianised slope onto the long promenade that runs along the shore. Turn left, ie back away from the sea and follow the road round. Take the first road on your right, where you will see immediately ahead of you a bus stop. From here take the number 01 bus, which runs about every 10 minutes from early morning to midnight. You will not need a separate ticket - see the comment on tickets below.
The marina gave us a rough map of Ostia, with bus-stop and station marked, and also two good maps of Rome, which have been very useful.
The other end of the 01 circular route, about 15 minutes away, is the station at Lido Centrale; the bus drops you right outside the station. Almost everyone gets off, and the driver turns the engine off.
Here you buy a ticket. Rome has an excellent system throughout the city (which includes Ostia); you buy a pass which covers all metro, tram, suburban rail and bus. One euro gets you 75 minutes (enough to Termini station), and 4 euros gets you all day and is very good value. If you're coming back to the Lido buy one of these (unless you want a multi-day pass). The ticket machine is right outside the barriers and will give instructions in English.
Also in the station is a small office which sold us a map of Ostia for 50 cents, and on the doors of which is displayed the bus timetable for Fiumicino airport.
Through the barriers, stay on that platform for trains to Rome. All trains through this station go there. (Coming back you simply get off, follow the crowd and emerge outside the station by the 01 bus-stop.) The stop at Lido Centrale is very short: get on the train sharpish!
The station Porta St Paolo in Rome is the end of the line. From here you can catch buses or metro all over Rome. (Avoid our mistake: we decided to walk to the Colosseum, and a boring trudge along busy roads it was!) A bus map can be bought from tourist offices or tobacconists. We got a little one of central Rome but also a bigger one covering the whole suburban area which we've found helpful. There are only two metro lines in Rome (A and B) which cross at the main railway station of Termini, and in rush hour the trains are horrendously crowded. The bus network runs everywhere, and is also crowded but has good views.
To get back to Porta St Paolo, be aware that it has several possible names. On the metro map the connected station is Pyramide. This landmark (a 6th century tomb in the adjoining cemetery) is conspicuous from the buses and a useful marker. On the bus stops, looking to see if a bus is going to the station, the names Pta St Paolo, Pyramide, Ostiense or Ple dei Partigiani will all take you where you aim to be. Ostiense station is another suburban railway, connected to St Paolo via the Pyramide metro, and Partigiani is the square in front of it. From Ostiense you can get a train to Fiomicino, and in theory to Ciampino airports, though we haven't tested either. (See note on airports below.)
The main railway station in Rome is Termini, started in 1870 by the Popes when they still ran Rome, and completed by the new Republic in the early 1950's, after war, kingdoms, facism and the confinement of the Papacy to the Vatican. It's also the main (but far from the only) bus station.
Airports represent a particular challenge. The nearest and biggest is Fiumicino, just the other side of the Tiber from Ostia. You can get a bus direct from Ostia and it's on the train line. However, nobody flies from there to Stanstead (our preferred destination this time), so we are flying the dreaded Ryanair from Ciampino. There is a train station called that, but we are advised it is still some way from the airport. Alternatively, get a bus from Termini; we spent some time trying to find the appropriate bus stop but never did locate it; we'll update the info when and if we fly in that way and find where it drops us! So, taking marina advice, we are taxiing to the airport from the marina. It will still be a cheaper journey than flying to Gatwick or Heathrow and travelling to Ipswich, but it isn't a cheap ride. If you can arrange to go via Fiumicino, that would be preferable.
Coming back into Ostia, or for a first arrival by public transport, it's simply a matter of getting the 10 bus back from Lido Centrale. It heads north(ish) and you will see ahead of you a big block of flats still under construction. At night, you see nothing, because there aren't any lights or habitation! The bus stops, then turns left, and left again very soon after, essentially marking the U at the end of its run. You get off at the second of these stops, take the few steps back to the road you've just turned off, and turn left towards the sea. After about 20 paces, the slope down into the marina opens up on your right.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Carry on up the Tiber
29/09/2009, On the Tiber

As you go further up the river, both banks are lined with rafted boats. Thousands of them, up to four in each raft. This picture is taken at the eastern end of the isola which runs for about 1.5km in the centre of the river, and ends just before the main motorway bridge which closes the river to anything sporting a mast.
The isola itself has yachts rafted along it. We went up the north side of it, and chickened out of the south side when the depth got to 5m even before we entered the channel proper. Otherwise we carried at least 6m pretty much all the way to the bridge.
Most of the yards lining the banks are private, many of them clubs. You might wangle a berth for a while with fluent Italian and good connections, neither of which we have. We had booked ourselves into Nautilus Marina, about a third of the way up the island, on the north bank. We arrived just before dark and were told to raft to a boat and we'd sort out the paperwork in the morning. In the dark, the place was rather eerie. We found the toilets, but no shower. Only one other boat (a posh motoryacht on the hard) seemed to have anyone aboard. A peek outside found a busy road with no signs of shops, houses or any other life.
In the morning we met the helpful Oliva, with whom we had been exchanging emails. How do we get into Rome? Ah - you go the bridge, about 2km away, and get the bus. And to get to the bridge? Walk, or take the dinghy. Laundrette? No. Shower? No. Clearly this would not be an easy place to spend much time. It's not their business model: these marinas are really boat warehouses, where nobody expects to spend their leisure hours. Instead they untie their lines and go. It's a shame really as it's quiet, very sheltered and the island is pretty. No-one seemed to be anchored anywhere in the river, which isn't that wide; it would need a mooring to reduce your swing, and we don't know if it is permitted.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
The old lighthouse of the Tiber
28/09/2009, Approaching Rome

We had booked a place at one of the marinas on the Tiber itself. At its mouth, the river (Tevere in Italian) is called the Fiamare Grande. This distinguishes it from the Fiomicino canal which cuts through the back of this cape and joins the river further inland. We have read of many boats which have wintered in the canal, but we had not been able to get a place there. Also it is very close to Fiomicino Airport, and, although we had not seen it commented on, thought that would be unpleasant.
This lighthouse is now out of use, showing how little large shipping now uses ports on this coast. There is a big ship anchorage, and some offshore platforms, in the vicinity, but inshore it's only small fishing boats and pleasure craft.
Entering the river is very straightforward in calm weather. There was a red beacon marking the channel, and we saw least depth 6.3m. The banks are lined with substantial shacks and fishing gantries, but its not an impressive riparian entrance to such a great city, more its neglected back door. Rather like London's attitude to the Thames in that respect!

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Isola di Giannutri
26/09/2009, Giannutri

This is the smallest visitable island, and the furthest south. The picture shows the northern tip, where there is a small anchorage. We went round it, trying to keep outside the protected Zone 1 area, where navigation is prohibited. Our target was Cala Spalmatoi, shown as a well-protected inlet in the eastern coast.
The Cala is indeed well protected, but has not only mooring buoys but a ferry dock. Not much room for bigger boats, though a small yacht could pick up one of the buoys. Outside the inlet itself, the water is very deep, almost all over 25m and in many areas over 30m. Although quite a few boats were there when we arrived, many left, presumably with only enough scope for a lunchtime stopover. Despite our 80m of chain, we struggled to find a good spot where it was shallow enough to anchor but we felt far enough off the rocks, particularly given a forecast north easterly. In the end the best place was in the south of the bay, at a spot marked in the pilot book at Cala Volo di Motte. Here we found a ridge of less depth, about 20m, which was much more manageable. Along with six other yachts we had a pleasant, still evening in a gentle north westerly.
Shortly after dark, the wind came round towards the east. So long as it stayed far enough north that our bows pointed not more than 035 degrees, we were comfortable. Any further and the swell came round the point, and the boat started pitching. With memories of our CQR dragging very quickly in pitching waves at Villefranche last year, we were both a bit nervous as the bows rocked up and down. But the new anchor held absolutely solid although the night. The wind never got above a force four (about 18knots), but the pitching swell made everything less than relaxing.
When the dawn came, we saw the three of our companions had gone: the big superyacht had left about 2300. The two smaller boats (both less than 27 foot, who had been our neighbours in Giglio) had wisely retreated into the Cala itself. By 0900 everyone was yawning on deck, pulling up anchors and scattering to look for more restful places.


Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Isola del Giglio
25/09/2009, Elba

It's a wee step, about 30nM, to Isola Giglio, the next accessible island in the archipelego. Both Montecristo and Pianosa lie temptingly to the south, but neither can be visited in your own boat, as they are protected marine reserves.
There are a couple of suggested anchorages on the island, both just south of the harbour. We nosed into them, to find them deep, over 25m of water until you are very close in. One yacht appeared to be using one of them, but possibly only as a lunch stop. So we turned into the harbour, which was its own adventure.
Definitely a stern anchor stop. This was the first test of our new set up. Mostly it worked absolutely fine, although we discovered that the shackle connecting the 10m of chain to the warp will need to be changed, as it didn't fit through the roller. Ho hum: some minutes spent getting the split pin off whilst tethered off the stern in the centre of the port. A very interested audience gathered!
In the end, however, we made it all work, dropped it in good time and, for our first time, spent the night with our own stern anchor holding us off the quay. And it even came up again in the morning, which was a relief! Still some fine-tuning to do, but the basic principle works.
You can see here that you come through the entrance, and the quay is to port. The pilot book suggests a visitors pontoon ahead of you: the pontoon is still there but was stuffed full of what looked like permanent boats. The quay itself does get busy with lots of fishing boats, and we can imagine the place is packed in the high season.
Several ferries come in here, presumably from Porto San Stefano. One, a small Torremar, does a three point turn in this harbour, a spectacular sight. It would be something of a deterrent to a boat much bigger than Roaring Girl, especially with a long line out astern,

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)

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