20 July 2012 | Corsica
Before we left St. Jean we went to a large supermarket and stocked up on food and beverages. Andrew, Nick, and I filled up 4 carts with food. Actually it was 1.5 of food and 2.5 carts of beverages as we needed beer, wine, milk, juice, and soft drinks for the next two weeks. They deliver from the market for free if the bill was over a certain limit which was convenient. It was quite a large bill for the food and diesel refueling so my credit card went ouch. The only other event worth noting was when I got out of the dingy my Standard Horizon VHF radio popped off my belt and fell into the water at the marina. I could see it go down and made a nasty decision to swim for it. Nasty as the boaters in this area all dispose of their waste overboard. To add insult to injury, the “submersible rated” radio filled up with water and was ruined.
On to Corsica
What a difference 100 miles makes. We left the mainland of France at 5:30pm on Monday with calm winds. We motored all the way to Corsica and made landfall at 7:00am the next morning. Jeanne and I did the first watch until midnight and then Nick and Andrew took over for 4 hours. Elaina and I did the last watch and witnessed the sunrise which was beautiful with the mountains of Corsica as a backdrop. We spent the day swimming and enjoying Calvi, the principle town in this area. There is an old fortress to explore and a nice waterfront. Calvi is where the French Foreign Legion is stationed and they had a small museum depicting their various missions. For dinner we had gargantuan prawns and salmon with a nice salad and Jeanne’s famous coconut curry rice.
This morning we rented a car and drove to the interior of the island. Corsica has had a hard history with pirates and invading armies so their ancestors built towns that are “Perched” on the pinnacle of mountains. One is called St. Anthonio and was excellent for wandering around. We had a very good lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the sea. A problem developed when we went to pay and their credit card reader wouldn’t accept our Visa. The closest ATM was about an hour drive away but that was the only option as we didn’t bring enough cash. After getting the money, we decided to tour around the region and Nick took on the job of navigator. We got lost and ended up on a goat path of a road in the mountains. I should have known we made a mistake when we passed a guy walking a donkey to his hut. Anyway, we did finally make it back to pay the bill only to find the restaurant closed so we left the money in their mailbox.
We started to sail South from Calvi in 25 knot winds and then decided that it was too risky to find a safe anchorage so we returned and spent a third day in the area. Finally we sailed down to La Scandola Nature Reserve which was beautiful with red colored mountains falling straight into the sea. We went swimming in 70’ of water and could see our anchor clearly on the bottom. This is the clearest water we have found so far on the trip.
The excitement for the day was negotiating the passage between Ile de Gargalu and Punta Palazzo. To quote the pilot book I use, “For the most part there are depths of 3 meters, but on the W side of the channel there is a rock. Yachts should have someone up on the bow to con your way through. The passage is spectacular with red rock cliffs on either side and clear turquoise water under the keel”. Elaina and Nick positioned themselves on both pontoons and as we started to go through were yelling “Left” and “Right” simultaneously. I figured they canceled each other out, went straight, and started to pray. Let it be documented that the channel is at least 28’ wide as our 26’ beam did fit through. The guy who followed me either thought we were the best or stupidest boaters around.