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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
To Cavallo

Our anchor was caught under a rock and it took a little effort to free it. But soon enough we had made good on our early start. We were only going three miles but wanted a shot at a good anchoring position. Our destination was the Cala Zeri, on the north-eastern tip of Ile Cavallo.
Sure enough, when we got there, others were preparing to leave, and we inched into a nice place by 0930. The water is clear, the sand dazzling white, and around the rocky bay are the discreet homes of the tribe known as celebrities. This islet is home to the rich and famous: apparently Princess Caroline of Monaco has a home here. We're so disconnected from such things that we wouldn't recognise most of them. We figured that Tom Cruise or Tony Blair might be faces we knew, but otherwise we'd just say a polite bonjour!
But it's beautifully quiet. Boats do anchor close but there's so little movement in the water that there is no real problem. Tripper boats don't visit.
To get into Cala Zeri position yourself at a point 41:22.2N by 009:16.35E. Then come in on a bearing of 240 degrees true. This will keep you safe of the many rocks, though a good lookout forward will help and be comforting to the helm. You can edge in close to where the water turns dark again, as the rocks begin off the beach. There is still 4m of water here, even over the rocks themselves. Do not go east of the line of rocks: we explored in Bridgit and even where there's enough water, the bottom is hard, unforgiving rocks which no anchor could love.
The picture is taken from the road behind the small dinghy dock, looking north across the cala. Roaring Girl is hidden behind the white catamaran.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Rocky islands and tiny anchorages

Come Monday, we slipped our lines and departed Bonifacio. A couple of extra words: that disco is LOUD. And if you go there and take a tripper boat, don't use the Thalassa company. Not only were they rude and ran their engines for hours, but they're disruptive in other ways too, as you will see.
Bonifacio cost us EU53 a night, including power and water but showers were EU2 for five minutes. The calanque de la Catina, the second on the left as you enter, we discovered, does have chains on the seabed and on the cliffs, so you can pick up a buoy and tie your stern to the cliff. This is free, but there are no facilities and you must dinghy into town. If we had known this, we might have spent one night there. But it has been great to get the salt off our decks, get everything clean and provision very easily.
Our destination was Ile Lavazzi, and specifically the tiny Cala Lazzarina. This is the largest of a group of tiny islands, all covered by marine protection, at the eastern end of the Bouches de Bonifacio. Two years ago, yacht Peregrine told us of Lazzarina, but warned that it gets full. And indeed it was. Too full! We looked at the boats and turned away.
Instead we came round to the eastern side of the island and have anchored in the Cala di u Grecu (or rather the nameless bay just north of it) in 6.9m of clear water. The anchorage here was fairly full, but many boats have left. We will go in the morning as it is main through route for the trippers dropping people off to saunter the beaches. Some are considerate, but a few, notably the villainous Thalassa, are not. They came rocketing through recently, with no passengers aboard and set us all tilting as if a squall had hit. Completely unnecessary.
The administration of the National Park also came calling. In mid-July a new regime will be introduced here. In the various calas, they will mark off areas with bouys. You will be required to drop your anchor within these areas, and nowhere else. They did not have a chart of the new areas, but were scooting around warning mariners of the changes.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Bonifacio calanque

The entrance to the harbour is a tiny slit in the cliff wall of south Corsica, barely visible until close in. The easiest way to spot it is the constant traffic of pleasure craft, tripper boats and ferries. There is big red light to port and a large cemetery on the high headland to starboard.
Entering the calanque is reminiscent of a Sussex twitten, a tiny alley between high walls, with a strip of blue sky above. Remember to drive on the right! We met the ferry coming out, which we found unnerving, but the pilot was obviously used to fretting helmspeople and was slow and careful.
To port there are two smaller inlet calanques. Of these the first looks too small ever to anchor in, though it's not prohibited. Our French chart shows the second as prohibited for anchoring, and there is a pontoon with laid lines there. Allegedly this is charged for, though we know someone who overnighted there last week, for free.
Inside the harbour, which is about half a mile long, the walls are lined with pontoons. We were met by the lads (and these are young!) from the capitainerie swanning about in aluminium boats with big grey fenders on the bows. They led us to a spot, but offered zero assistance. Later we saw them helping various yachts tie up, including large motor-yachts with dual engines, bow thrusters and paid crew. Obviously, despite our significantly lower manoueverability, we didn't qualify. Generally, we are not impressed by these guys, who generate a good 80% of the wash in here and seem d - n all use to most yachts.
As the pontoon lines are led to rings below the walkway, they're not easy to get to. We were very grateful to the boat next to our berth, who gave us a lot of help to arrive safely. We very quickly lowered Bridgit and removed her bow-cap, making her very short and much safer. We haven't forgotten our problems in Ostia!

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Baie de S Reparata

North of Capo Testa, the chart and pilot book suggest a couple of possible anchorages. The actual series of rock-strewn tiny indentations are more than a little intimidating. In the end we rounded Pte Acuta and came to this excellent little anchorage just north of the narrow isthmus. There were two other boats anchored there and we were very comfortable in 5m of water.
The forecast suggested a F6 westerly in the straits of Bonifacio this afternoon, so we got up very early to cross. In fact there was virtually no wind at all and after doing two of the eight and a half nautical miles in about 90 minutes, we gave in and switched the engine on.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)

The town here is very easy to recognise from the extraordinary castle and belfry atop a great wall cascading down the steep promontory. This picture is taken looking sou-sou-west from the castle walls. The marina is actually slightly southwest of the headland and the entrance is difficult to see till you are quite close. As you can see, there are lots of rocks under the headland so although the entrance is very straightforward once you have it clear, do not close the shore to less than 20m depth till you are sure of your position.
Incidentally, one suggestion for getting into town is to take your dinghy to the town beach, at the bottom left of the picture, and walk from there. We wouldn't advise this. The beach is a crowded place to leave your dinghy unattended. And you still have a fantastically steep walk. Instead, take the 70 cent bus from the port to the castle. The capitainerie will give you the timetable.
The marina is simple, and ormeggiatori were on the dock to call us in, although we had got no answer on the VHF. Tailed lines lead from the quay and there was certainly plenty of space for us. On 1 July we paid EU40 for the night, including water and power.
There are reasonable showers as well, which were a great luxury. This is the first time Pip has had unrationed water (not fees, not buttons to push, no Navy showers) since leaving Ostia two months ago.
Although the marina staff were friendly, we were sadly taken aback by the unabashed snootiness of the blue-ensigned UK yacht berthed next-door but one. We have never been cut so dead before. They lived up to any and every comment we (and others) have ever made about yachties who feel such a sign of prestige makes them senior to rest of us. No wonder so many other countries think pommies are so stuck-up!

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
The moorings themselves

Once round the beacon the mooring field is clear. There are about 20 yellow buoys, all of which (except possibly number 9) have 3-10m of water all around them. They have long trailing lines, which are easy to pick up but have rather a small loop on the end. Too small for our samson post or cleats, anyway. That's what all our other ropes are for.
The mooring field lies inside a large jetty, to which a twice daily ferry to Porto Torres ties up. It's also the base for the very active diving business. Alongside this jetty is a small pontoon which does have electric and water points., We saw a catamaran lie alongside briefly, but it would be challenging to make sure a yacht of Roaring Girl's size and draught got in there safely.
It is a reasonable dinghy dock, however. We motored ashore, as we have seen many others do, only to be told off very sternly by the Parks police. Our timing was poor, and with the threats of fines, we have quietly rowed ever since.
The picture is of Roaring Girl in the crystalline water, taken from the small nature trail that runs along the edge of the low cliffs. The orange beside her is the Wala Wahini, our inflatable kayak, on her first outing of the summer.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Past the reef

To get into the Realle mooring field, you must then round the Neri Reef, the western (inland) end of which is marked by this big beacon. It may be possible to go between he reef and Pte di Trabuccatto, but if so it will be in 5m or less. We saw one yacht arrive by this route. We went round the outside.
The beacon should be bearing not less than 305 degrees, and on that heading you will see at least 13m of water along the fringe of the rocks.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Pte di Trabuccatto

We started in Cala della Reale, not least because it's the only mooring field, of five on the island, where you are officially allowed to motor onto the mooring buoy. Anchoring is strictly prohibited everywhere. Approaching from the North, you must found round the low headland of Pte di Trabuccatto with its tower. There is a mooring field close in under the northern edge of the headland, which looked quite full the day we came in.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Changes afoot

Our elderly version of the pilot book was obviously written when you could anchor close to the beach. Today this is all heavily roped off and a lot of work is going on. Ashore there are plentiful planning type notices announcing a new mooring field, but we couldn't tell when this will be ready, whether it will cater for larger yachts, and what sort of charges will be levied. The picture is the map attached, which is oriented so west is up.
There will also apparently be a ban on anchoring at the eastern side of the bay. It's not clear when this comes into effect (the notices refer to a decision of July 2009) as we saw a couple of boats over there overnight.
There are two channels for motorised vessels (including outboarded dinghies) through the moorings. At the western end of the very fine beach there is a tiny jetty. Obviously used by the local fishing boats, to which people had tied some tenders. We used anchors to moor Bridgit off the beach, and later saw some local boats doing the same thing.
There are excellent waste and recycling facilities ashore and a number of cafes and so on. The village is covered in admonitory signs and is extremely clean. This may be necessary with so many visitors to a small place at the end of the road, but it felt very unfriendly compared to the laid-back friendliness of Porto Pollo, or the amiable stewardship of Girolata.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
To Campomoro

It is only about four miles across the bay. After returning from Filitosa we slipped our lines. We'd hoped to sail away, but Roaring Girl paid off in the wrong direction and we used about two minutes of engine power to get us safely out of the mooring field.
We then bowled across the bay. Our chatty taxi driver had told us to look out for dolphins, but none came to play with us. The lunchtime westerlies filled our sails and it only took us 45 minutes.
The bay at Campomoro is beautifully sheltered under a headland with an inevitable tower on it. There is a reef of rocks running east-nor-east from the headland. The rocks do show above the water line.
It is, though, quite deep, at least in the area of best shelter at the western edge of the bay, outside the mooring buoys. We anchored in nearly 18m of water, and have seen several boats come in and move elsewhere, disappointed. The water nearer the reef is obviously shallower, but is slightly more exposed to the prevailing westerlies.
You can see in the photo that this area is very crowded, and that's after some boats had left first thing in the morning.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Onwards at last

On Thursday morning we brought the anchor up again, and all went smoothly. We headed off to Porto Pollo. It was a pleasant passage, and we sailed most of it. We stopped short of sailing onto the mooring buoy (though we want to practice), but only just.
The whole anchorage within the 20m contour is now covered in mooring buoys. We completely failed to find anyone to pay, or indeed to check the holding weight of the buoys. However, there were bigger boats than us tied up. In the end we left without paying at all, but we would not like to say they were in principle free moorings. Aquila used them last year and advised they were 'cheap', but we do not know the 2010 prices.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Staying put

On Monday we upped our anchor. Or tried to. Attached was this ghastly tangle of wire wrapped through and around the chain. In the end with bolt cutters, two pieces of rope, a boathook (now interestingly kinky) and a lot of swearing, we got it off. It took 30 minutes.
After a long wait we then filled up with fuel (EU1.28 a litre), and went to the laughingly named welcome pontoon in the port of Charles Onanosp. It's a joke, because it's actually very difficult to use. In any swell, which there was, there's a rocking surge onto the dock, which sits high enough that Aquila's sugar scoop could slide beneath it! To hold yourself off there are buoys, to which you hitch a line as you pass (or fail to in our case, necessitating several goes). We were very glad Mike and Linda were still there, also filling up with water, so that Mike could take our lines to help us in.
But we filled up with water, for free, and that can't be bad.
Both Roaring Girl and Aquila then headed south-west across the Golfe d'Ajaccio towards Porto Pollo. After an hour or so, once out of the lee of the Iles Sanguinaire, we found a 2m swell and bitingly cold southwesterly, making for an unpleasant trip. Aquila has a schedule, but after half an hour or so we decided that Porto Pollo would probably be uncomfortable, and we do not have any deadlines - so we returned to the comfort of the Ajaccio anchorage.
Over the next couple of days we talked to several boats coming north from Porto Pollo, Bonifacio and elsewhere. All had tales of howling winds (115km per hourreported in Bonifacio) and rough nights. We were grateful for the shelter of Ajaccio, despite the fouled anchor chain.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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