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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Capo Testa

The wind faded until we got to Capo Testa, the extraordinary weathered promontory that marks the narrowing into the Bonifacio Strait. Our first thought had been to anchor in Baie Colba to the south of the headland, but found it much more open to the west than the chart suggests. The northwesterly was also curving around the rocks, creating a strong breeze into the bay.
So we jibed round and stood well off to clear the rocks. Of course, once we were more than half a mile out, the wind died again. The picture is actually from Baie s reparata looking west back to Capo Testa.

Life on Roaring Girl
The travelling bear

It was a very Mediterranean passage. No wind at all. Then we reached the point where the small northwesterly breeze cleared the point of Isola Asinara and kicked up a fetch across the bay. After ploughing into that a bit, we came past Capa Vignola and were able to sail for a while.
Sometime ago Pip acquired Gullivette, a fluffy white mascot who lives in our cockpit. Here she is, helping with the helm, andin the album you can see her participating in several activities aboard ship.

Life on Roaring Girl
Heading north again

From Castelsardo we turned north. The coast is not particularly exciting, but for this rather undistinguished small range with the suggestive name of Sarra Tamburra. The Sardinian version of the skippers name?

Life on Roaring Girl

The Golfe de Roccapina has a glorious mile-long curved beach, backed by dunes covered in sea lavender and whirly blue thistles. The water is turquoise and refreshingly cool, and the whole cove is ringed by ornate rock formations in rosey, sparkly granite. The picture is from our aft deck, where we are about about 50m off the beach anchored in 9m of water.
It is only accessible by an unsealed road, by boat or foot, so even on this beautiful June Sunday, it has a bare smattering of people dipping in and out of the sea. (In the evenings, though, it does have mosquitoes.)
We decided to try and walk up to the tower, which is at the other end of the beach. Although we left quite early, it turned into a hard slog along the sand, which is quite pebbly and rough, and mostly very soft. The soles of our feet are unused to such treatment, and our calves will feel it tomorrow. At the other end of the beach, we could not discover which of the many paths in the maquis led to the peak with the tower on. Lots od ead ends and wee temptations only got us to the very tip of the headland of Roccapino. This was lovely too: great boulders of pink stone glittering in the sun, surrounded by fantastic beasts and birds moulded in rock by wind and water. Rhino, hippogriffs and eagles abound.
The boulders lead down to a tiny cove of rocks, where the water is so clear, you only know it is there by the ripples that shudder across the bottom and the gentle rustle as it meets the shore.

Life on Roaring Girl
Round Senetosa

After a coffee ashore, we headed on south. By 1300 we had a light breeze and we optimistically started sailing. As we crawled at under 1kt we put up the cruising chute and this time had a magnificent sail. Even with the chute we rarely topped 3 knots but that was enough to keep going. We jibed south of Pte Senetosa and turned into Golfe de Mortoli. Although it's satisfyingly empty we weren't quite comfortable with the sea-state in the by-then-brisk westerly breeze. Although this generally dies down at sunset, it didn't feel right to us. So we turned onwards round the headland into the Gulf of Roccapina. This bay has a glorious stretch of sand with a spectacular backdrop. It is quite open to the southwest, and there is absolutely nothing ashore, so there are relatively few boats here. Tomorrow we aim to walk up to the tower on the headland, which promises some great views.
In the meantime, this is the small rock known as Ile d'Eccica, just north of Senetosa, with the lighthouse high on the hill behind.

Life on Roaring Girl
Stormy fingers

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday in the western Med has been absolutely appalling. Rough, force 8 and higher, swells of 3m. So we've stayed firmly put.
Actually our very first arrival wasn't so firm. It was raining so we had the cockpit cover up with the Velcro sides on. A black cloud swelled over the headland and then bam! A strong down draft, over 35kt, took us on the beam. For the frist time, the rocna shifted. It very quickly caught again and reset, as it's designed to, but we were then a bit too close to the harbour wall for comfort. So we moved out a bit, and became glad of it. Over Friday evening and Saturday morning this wee anchorage filled right up, but we kept enough clear water around us to be comfortable.
Late in the afternoon, the black clouds reached over the western hills, and we settled back on our chain. The forecast had been so emphatic you could sense the apprehension on all the boats. But then we were let off lightly and the wind didn't go over 20 kts all night, and we slept well.
This has given us a chance to catch up on this blog. We know people prefer a daily load, but it is a challenge what with power demands and a string of poor internet connections! If you don't already, then use the RSS feed on the blog, which will alert you when we make new posts, without you having to come back and check!
Tonight is still predicting strong southerlies (to which we are more exposed here) so we will stay another day, fill up with fuel and water in the morning and then see if the predicted nice northerly will take us to our next destination.

Life on Roaring Girl

We got into Cargese as it was getting dark, and anchored close to Aquila. Too close as it turned out, when the boats swung to a southerly breeze. We hauled up the hook and reanchored - enjoying a spectacular thunderstorm which got going whilst we were fossicking about finding the right spot. There's quite a lot rocks thereabouts and even our trusty rocna took a while to be well dug-in.
We then had a rocky, swelly night and were both stiff and bad-tempered in the morning. We decided not to go ashore but head for Ajaccio ahead of a nasty forecast.
In a way that's a shame. Cargese, as you can see from the photo, has two huge churches, one Roman Catholic and the other Greek Orthodox. There is a long history of an orthodox presence and Greek community here. At times there has been tension between them and the Corsicans, but this is all now resolved (at least according to guide books), and Cargese is home to a devout congregation and an important annual festival for St Spiridion.

Life on Roaring Girl
Capu Rossu

From Girolata, we headed South again. First of all we had to round Capu Rossu, the western-most point of Corsica, and to do that we started off by beating back to Pte de Scandola in order to lay one straight tack sou-sou-west. That all went very nicely till the wind died completely. We even put the cruising chute up, for the first time this year, but were still only making 1kt. At that point, we gave up and turned the engine on.
The picture is the cape wearing a fetching cloud ring.

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Sunrise in Macinaggio

On Sunday morning, there was hardly a breath of air on the north-eastern tip fo Corsica. A stunning sunrise greeted us, on what will be our last east facing anchorage till we return through the Straits of Bonifacio.
This was the weather we wanted for our passage around Cap Corse. This jutting finger has a formidable reputation. The waters are shallow, filled with rocks, and the headlands whip the wind to frenzy which in turn creates mountainous seas very fast.
The reputation of the cape had had us watching the weather carefully for days, and it was a great relief to see the day dawn as calm as predicted. It meant motorsailing, but we prefer that to fighting such a headland under sail in bigger winds.

Life on Roaring Girl
Anchoring rant!

OK - we've been in Portoferraio anchorage more than two weeks. We've moved a couple of times for various reasons, but last Saturday (today's Wednesday) we had our anchor firmly down in a nice bit of the anchorage, close-ish to San Giovanni but not too close. At that time there were half a dozen boats here and plenty of space.
Late yesterday afternoon, there were twenty boats in, but still loads of space. But one stupid little French motor cruiser, the Dae, sneaks in just beside us. What's the need to snuggle up, hein? But it's not too bad while the wind remains out of the south east.
Come this morning, that's where it's coming from and he's right under our stern. We call out to him and politely remind him we've been here since Saturday and that he should let out more chain, or (preferably) move. By this time several other boats have left and there's plenty of space. For the non-yachties - it is normal etiquette that the first boat gets to stay where she is: it's the later arrival that should hoik up his anchor and get somewhere safe.
But no. Our French friend argues that we should reduce our chain. We have about 35m out, in 8m of water. After a bit of toing and froing, he says that he thinks he is in only 4m of water so his 20m of chain is plenty. We retort that we are in 8m of water, and we're not taking in much. In the end, we do reduce our scope by 10m, and he lets out a very little more chain.
The rain sets in and the wind gets up. You can see from the picture that he's really close. Much less than a boat length. If our snubber had come off the chain (it can happen) and we'd bounced backwards the extra 5m or so, we'd could have hit him.
But he wasn't moving. In the end we got so twitchy we pulled up the anchor and moved elsewhere in the bay.
We don't get it. It's just such poor seamanship. We've got used to the Mediterranean habit of mooring much closer than the UK comfort zone - what with no tides and all. We are happy to use a chum at times. But what makes skippers think they can just put their boat and that of others in danger and then just refuse to move?
We should also report that our much-loved rocna has really been doing the biz. Every time we've pulled it in, it's been well in the mud. We certainly weren't going to drag anywhere.
It's only the second time such poor behaviour has happened to us - and the last time it was Italians here in Italy. But he's as much a foreigner here as us! So we are very grumpy and it's still pouring with rain. We had planned to sail to Marciana Marina today but have decided to stay given the heavy winds forecast by Italian Meteomar for tomorrow. If they don't materialise (and other sites are not forecasting them) we'll head off.
As a final word on this rant - we moved to a nice empty space, and three boats promptly came in and anchored in our vicinity. One of them was definitely too close, but after he'd finished his conversations on two separate mobile phones (he was Italian) he politely moved somewhere safer. Roaring Girl is obviously a magnet for other skippers!

Life on Roaring Girl
Power generation

How to produce electricity, as well as having energy efficient appliances, is always a hot topic amongst cruisers. We've been asked to say a bit about our approach.
Many boats have a fossil-fuel based generator, but we got rid of the old petrol Suzuki we had and never replaced it. This is partly green snobbery, but also meanness. We'd love a diesel generator but they're very expensive. Petrol ones are noisy and unpleasant.
We have three solar panels, one large one on a pole across the davits and two flexibles. These live on the sprayhood normally, but when at anchor for long we move them around for the best sun.
The mizzen sports an elderly Rutland wind-generator, which is a good generator in low breeze but makes the mizzen mast shake and sounds like a low-flying helicopter in anything above a F4. At the moment we have 2 new blades to install but are wondering whether to take it off completely and instead buy two additional solar panels, to mount each side of the cockpit on our steel rails. And possibly even a mizzen staysail, which would not be safe to use with the generator where it is.
At anchor, we are also glad to use our ampair 100. This small generator can either be towed, or put up in the rigging. Hoisted on lines, it makes little vibration and produces power in 6knots plus of breeze. There are undoubtedly wind gennies with better output but they often make a dreadful hissing noise (we call them kinky as they sound like whips). We find the dual mode and flexibility of the ampair suits us fine. On a breezy, sunny day we easily charge at 10aH plus. Though the cruising community is split on the issue, we like having both forms of power available and today (windy and pouring with rain) we're generating well without relying on a generator or the engine.
The picture above shows the ampair hoisted. The picture gallery, in addition to the solars, tries to show how we hoist it. We put the inner forestay out, and then run a snatchblock up it, using a spinnaker halyard. The red line is the downhaul. The other spinnaker halyard runs through the snatchblock and attaches to the top of the wind genny. It is absolutely crucial that the blades are above head height, and also cannot reach other lines at all.
The lower arm of the genny has three lines acting as guys (two round the pulpit to forward cleats and one back to the mast). The blade at the back has a long, light piece of line attached which we can hold to pull the propeller away from the wind if we need to. The blue wire is the power cord which plugs in to a socket on deck.
To stow it, you take off the blades and the tail, and if you wish to the two legs top and bottom. Then it all fits in a shopping bag. The heaviest bit is the central generator itself, and the bulkiest is the ropes we use as guys. The blade itself is easy to deal with, being dead flat. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to set it up, so we only bother if we will be in one place for several days, and otherwise we rely on the solars and the charge we will get from the engine while anchoring and getting the sails up.
It sounds very complicated but it's simple enough once you have it worked out.

Life on Roaring Girl
Police behaviour

We have been boarded only twice in Roaring Girl (so far). Once by the UK Customs, in 2005, in the Thames Estuary, primarily as a training exercise for some newbie who'd never been on a blue-water yacht. They were very polite, but it was still four men with guns. The second time was in France, in the Ile Porquerolles, when they checked our registration papers.
Otherwise, we've shown papers at various ports and that's it.
This week the Cabinieri have been very busy in Elba. T'other day they boarded another boat in Portoferraio. That vessel doesn't carry a captain's licence of any sort: they're not required in their home country. The police told them that they should have such papers here in Italy and threatened them with a '3000 fine! Fortunately they decided the paperwork wasn't worth the hassle and left them alone, leaving the crew pondering their approach to such things.
We checked our papers and dug out our International Certificates of Competence, just in case.
We saw the same vessel visiting a yacht anchored off Biodola when we walked there. And yesterday they visited an Italian yacht right next to us in Portoferraio. He didn't have an anchor ball up, and was fined and made to hoist something. (He chose a black bin bag stuffed with something and tied up like a toffee.) The police ignored the several other non-Italian yachts flagrantly disregarding the rules around about and returned to harbour.
We'd got our paperwork ready and were happy to be visited, but obviously we weren't interesting.
So, if you're sailing to Italy be prepared with the documents and have an anchor ball to deploy.

Life on Roaring Girl

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Who we are
Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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