07 July 2008 | Girolata
We arrived in Calvi, Corsica at 0930 Friday morning after a good trip over the Ligurian Sea from the Riviera. It was an uneventful passage other than the number of boats in crossing situations. We had to dodge boats twice and I bet we had 20 boats on the AIS over the 14 hour passage. You have to be on your toes here! We anchored in about 26' on hard packed sand off the beach in Calvi and held firm. Corsica is a nature paradise with deep coves, secluded sandy beaches and lots of hiking in the valleys and mountains. Calvi is very beautiful-it is surrounded by high mountains, some still with snow at the peaks. An old citadel is perched at the edge of the water (this is where Admiral Nelson lost an eye) and a sandy beach backed by a few campgrounds and cottages stretches for about five kilometers along the water. No sign of the Corsican mafia yet!
On Friday, the Gulf du Lion did its thing and blew the Mistral, which spilled all the way over to Corsica. As a result although the day started calm and hot, by 11:00 am it was blowing 20 knots in the anchorage. Over the rest of the day and night the winds built to sustained 30-35 knots with gusts to 45 knots. Through all of this, the sun shone brightly, there was not a cloud in the sky and the water was the usual intense blue. Even in the protection of Calvi bay , quite a chop developed and the boat was doing a lot of yawing and pitching. As you can imagine, it was not very comfortable, but we made it through without budging. We had 150' of chain out, giving us a 6 to 1 scope. In the middle of the blow, the wind generator strut holding the directional fin broke in two and started making an awful racket. It was a bit tense getting the the generator stopped in 35 knots!!The next morning we woke to bright sun, light winds but still a big roll, so we decided to move over to the mooring field, which was a bit more protected. After some debate about what the word for buoy is in French (it's buoy) we called and booked a mooring at 30 euros a night, which is double what we paid for a place at the dock in most marinas in the south of Spain.
After two days of boat cleanup and exploring of the citadel, we decided to move on. We left at 12 noon yesterday, motored around the point and started our trek down the west coast. It is very rugged, with tall cliffs to the edge of the sea and mainly only the "maquis" (scrub) for vegetation. Apparently Napoleon claimed he could smell the maquis from the sea, but we can't. On the way we passed Jim and Katie on Tenaya (friends we met in Almerimar) on their way to the South of France. We hope to run into them again, perhaps in Italy. After four hours, we arrived in Girolata, where we spent the night. It is a small harbour, surrounded by mountains, inaccessible other than by boat or a mule path, with clear sparkling water. Picture one of the outports on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, warm up the water and air temperature by about 20 degrees celsius, throw in an old Genoese fort and a collection of French and Italian yachts and you'd have something pretty close to Girolata. There are a few small beachside cafes and a tiny store on shore, which seem to cater mostly to the passengers of day tripper boats and a few hikers during the summer months. In winter, this must be a very quiet spot.
We are tied bow and stern to buoys in the compact little harbour. It was very hot even at 6.00 pm so we took the dingy ashore and went snorkeling. The visibility was so good that we could see even the tiniest things on the bottom- it felt good to be in the water. Back at the boat, we could see the fish swimming alongside almost as clearly as if we were in a big aquarium.
We are heading to Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, today.
All the best from Aisling I
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