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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Adieu to France (perhaps)

From Cavallo, we had a splendid, fast sail south east to the archipelago La Maddelana, famous as a playground for its beautiful beaches, clear seas and myriad coves. It is all national park, with a permit required for navigation (available online), and different zones where activities are regulated.
En route, of course, we passed from France to Italy, leaving French waters for the last time in the planned future. (All plans can change.) This meant handing our French courtesy ensign. As you can see it has done sterling service. Yes, the French ensign should have a red vertical stripe as well! If we do go back to France, we'll need a new one.

Life on Roaring Girl
Ashore on Lavezzi

The worst loss of lives to shipwreck in the Mediterranean happened here on Lavezzi, when troop ship La Semillante went down carrying soldiers to the Crimean War in 1855. 773 lives were lost, and the bodies were so badly mauled that only the captain was recognisable. There is a pyramid monument to them on the south-western headland, and two cemeteries. The graves are, of necessity, unnamed, and presided over by silent chapels within low stone walls.
Roaring Girl's masts are just visible beyond the grasses. At night it is very dark here, with only the lights on the next island visible, and the anchor lights of nearby vessels. It would be quiet, but there is a colony of birds who shriek like tortured children, a demented wailing enough to give rise to legends of hauntings and worse.

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Aboard in harbour

Our neighbours in Bonifacio were Juli and Maurazzo, on their sloop Ninan. They are Italian but keep the boat in St Florent, northern Corsica. That's not surprising: they live in La Spezia and, as we know from visiting there, the sailing's not great, certainly not compared to these islands. They also say it's much cheaper to run the boat in France. Juli spoke exquisite French and was both chatty and kind. She gave us a special bottle of olive oil as a memory of Italy, for which we send many thanks.
She also took this pic of us against the busy harbour backdrop.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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