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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Iles Sanguinaire

These 'bloodthirsty islands' are like dinosaur's teeth chewing at the water off Pte de Parata. There is a pass, just beneath the point which is well marked on the charts and easy to see in calm weather. Note it is right under the tower on the headland, not between the next two islands. See the photo album about the headlands defencest for some further pictures. We wouldn't go anywhere near this headland in a strong wind!

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Gulf of Girolata/Ghjirolatu

At the southern edge of Scandola lies the Golfe de Girolata. This wide mouthed bay hides at its eastern end a splendid little harbour. The eponymous fishing village is only reachable by boat or foot and remains very isolated.
Entering the Gulf you just have to believe there is a harbour at the end. From the Pte de Scandola it just looks like a series of small coves and reefs which, even in calm weather, show white with surf. Aim just south of the tower standing proud on its rock. You will begin to see boats popping in and out. When you call, on channel 9, a reassuring voice tells you to come towards the harbour, where you will be met. (The voice speaks excellent English: almost all the staff here do!) You may have to wait a while, especially if you are just behind a tour boat, but they take new arrivals in strict rotation and they will get to you.
Girolata is no longer an anchorage but an extremely well organised operation where yachts are placed on buoys. The outer line are swinging to one buoy, but further in, there are fore and aft moorings. The efficient young men in their RiBs tell you where to put your ropes (fore and aft, port or starboard) and then lead you to your assigned spot, taking the route that suits the conditions and other boats in place, as well as your draft. He takes your bow rope, threads it through and tosses it back before heading to nudge your stern into place to repeat the operation. It really is very easy. But do not try this at night: this is a very dark harbour and there are no lights. There are some pilotage type pictures inthe album. The one above is taken from the top of the hill 150m east of the harbour: the tower is hiding behind the bush on the left. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain that day!
The moorings are not free. At just under 12m we are paying 26EU a night, which will increase to 32EU at the end of June. If you spend 6 nights, the 7th is free.
Wintering here would be extremely cheap, but demanding. In the winter there are 12 to 15 permanent inhabitants in the village. Almost all food comes in by boat, and it would be dark under the surrounding cliffs. The wifi is flakey and phone signals (for data) are poor. But it could be rewarding for those with projects which did not rely on extensive infrastructure.
Right now, though, it is a lovely spot to relax. Not least, there is no swell, a blessed relief after a few bad nights sleep. When the sun comes out, the water (5m where we are moored) is pellucid down to the sand.
Incidentally, this harbour was founded by Andrea Doria - the man who salvaged Genoa's fortunes by creating a mercenary fleet. He needed somewhere on this coast as a haven for his shallow-draft fighting galleys, and Girolata served the purpose very well. Before it was just a small fishing village, and, out of season, that's what it has become again.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Calvi anchorage

The bay off Calvi, within the hook of the rock on which the famous citadel sits, is enormous, fringed by a stunning white beach. Until 1 June you can anchor pretty much anywhere, and be close to the town. After that, till mid-September, a very large mooring field is laid out, and you cannot anchor within it. The buoys cost half the rate it would be for your vessel within the marina.
Alternatively you can anchor on the eastern end of the bay. This is a long way to town (about two miles), but free. We found a wicked swell got in there one night, a wave coming in deflected off Ravatella to the north west. But otherwise it was very pleasant.
Around Calvi, there is snow still on the mountain tops as you can see from the picture. We gather that winter here (as in the UK) was uncharacteristically wet and cold, and the snow has lingered at least a month longer than usual. The water is certainly still very cold, fed by the run-off from the white peaks.
For business reasons, Sarah had to go back to the UK for a few days. We moored Roaring Girl in the marina, and Pip stayed aboard while Sarah flew north. It wasn't a holiday for Pip either as she fixed our errant water tank, resealed the surfaces in the galley and a range of other jobs.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Passage to Calvi and the Danger

We were up very early in the morning given a forecast of stronger winds later in the day. After rounding the big red rock which gives Ile Rousse its name, we headed west. It's only about six miles from the rock to Punta de Spagna, where you turn into the Gulf of Calvi, but in between lies the Danger de Algajola. (There's a picture of it in the album about Ile Rousse). This terrifyingly named reef is only 0.8m below the surface and about a mile off shore. It kicks up a wicked froth so can be hard to see. It is unpleasant enough that the charts call it a Danger, rather than the much more common 'rock' or even 'roches'. We were very keen to get past it before the wind increased.
In the event, as we passed the lonely cardinal mark that indicates the offshore edge of the Danger, the sea was calm. But half an hour later, as we reached Spagna, the promised south westerly had arrived and indeed there were white caps everywhere and Roaring Girl pitching hard. It was a relief to round the finger of rocks pointing at the next headland and turn south into the protected waters off Calvi. Once deep in the bay, protected by the encircling mountains, the water was calm. We dropped anchor at 0800 with the whole day left to explore.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
St Florent

This is another touristy town. The Nebbio region is well known for wine and charcuterie, and the gulf is famous for its fish. But to eat ashore is scandalously expensive, or very poor quality - or both. We have managed to find a laundry, and enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with French boulangeries. Pip has put her baking away until we return to Italy.
Dinghy parking isn't simple in the marina. We went up the river Aliso a little distance, to find it packed with small power boats, and a new basin for them is being built. However, every spot is spoken for. We finally parked Bridgit under the bows of an elderly, pretty gaff rigged boat sporting a huge pirates flag and alobster pot hanging off the port bow. Nobody seemed to care.
The town has always made itself a bit flash. The name derives from the Bishop Florent who served as Bishop of Nebium following his exile to Corsica from North Africa by King Huneric of the Vandals in the 5th century. Florent's remains were taken to Treviso, and in 1770 the Bishop of the Nebbio asked the pope for a skeleton. He took what he was given, and on it he built up some features in wax and dressed the body, which now lies in a glass casket, as a Roman soldier.
Today the town has two poles (about 200m apart). One is the glitzy seafront with its cafes and strollers. The other is the 15th century Genoese citadel which you can visit and where they put on various events during the year.
At the time of writing, we are still at anchor across the Golfe: the picture shows the wee beach which is part of the coastal path. The weather forecast was a libecchio - the western Mediterranean south-westerly - driven both by a diminishing depression traveling north of us to the Ligurian Sea, and another depression south of the Balearics. Despite the forecast and pressure charts, the reality has given us a nifty north easterly, gusting up to about 20knots and blowing straight into the bay. We are perfectly comfortable, and it's very hot in the cockpit. We're generating enough energy to keep the laptop powered and get this blog up to date. But it's very strange, given the data, and so we're staying on board till the wind dies

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Arriving at the Golfe de St Florent

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

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

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

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

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)

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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