Brindabella

Vessel Name: Brindabella
Vessel Make/Model: Najad 405
Hailing Port: Suffolk Yacht Harbour, UK
Crew: Simon, Fiona and Daisy the dog!
About: Simon and Fiona had Brindabella built in Sweden before she was launched in 2009. They sailed her from Sweden back to Suffolk in the UK. They are now exploring the Mediterranean.
13 September 2021
10 September 2021
09 September 2021
06 September 2021
03 September 2021
01 September 2021
30 August 2021
27 August 2021
21 August 2021
19 August 2021
17 August 2021
15 August 2021
14 August 2021
12 August 2021
08 August 2021
05 August 2021
03 August 2021
30 July 2021
Recent Blog Posts
13 September 2021

Varazze

Position update: Marina di Varazze

10 September 2021

Rapallo

It was very calm when we left Le Grazie, but there was a lot of swell that had come from wind further south. This made the motion of the boat uncomfortable during our journey. We spotted two dolphins swimming in the opposite direction.

09 September 2021

Le Grazie

On Thursday we were intending to depart and head north. We had a leisurely breakfast ashore and took Daisy for a walk. Once back at the boat we paid the marina and refilled the water tanks. The water pressure was extremely low and the tanks took over an hour to fill. Eventually we were ready to depart, [...]

06 September 2021

La Spezia

Le Spezia is a medium sized town with a large harbour. There is a large naval base, small container port, cruise terminal and two marinas. We chose to go into Assonautica, the smaller of the two marinas and the one close to the town. In season, this is normally fully booked as they only have a small [...]

03 September 2021

Porto Venere

When we left Pisa we had a fair amount of wind for about 2 hours, then it completely died and we motor sailed the remainder of the journey to Porto Venere. In front of the town, there is a fish farm in the bay with floating buoys. We anchored in line with a hotel.

01 September 2021

Porto di Pisa

After leaving the island of Capraia we returned to Porto di Pisa. We visited here on the way down. We left in little wind, but during the day the wind built to a steady 16 knots and was perfect for sailing. We had a great sail up to the entrance of the port.

30 August 2021

Isola di Capraia

We had a calm journey to the Isola di Capraia. The backdrop of the mountains was stunning as we approached the bay. Although there was a small anchorage, we decided to tie onto one of the buoys. We called up the capitaneria and a man turned up shortly in a dinghy and tied us onto a complex system of [...]

27 August 2021

Marina de Medici

After our very unpleasant night for the second night in Porto Azzurro, we decided to leave for the mainland at Marina de Medici. Due to the continued strong winds, we had a great sail and very fast! The swell was pushing into the entrance at the marina, and you need to turn side onto the swell for the [...]

25 August 2021

Isola d-Elba - Porto Azzurro

After anchoring in Portoferraio, we moved around the island to the anchorage in Porto Azzurro. This is a large anchorage and although not busy in the day, it filled up by the evening. There is a lovey harbour here which was immaculately clean and lined with small shops and restaurants.

24 August 2021

Isola d-Elba - Portoferraio

We left Porto di Pisa bound for the island of Elba. Due to variable winds, we sailed some of the way and motor sailed the remainder.

Varazze

13 September 2021
Simon
Position update: Marina di Varazze

Time: 5:15 hours Miles: 32nm Total Time: 88:45 hours Total Miles: 532nm

Rapallo

10 September 2021
Fiona
It was very calm when we left Le Grazie, but there was a lot of swell that had come from wind further south. This made the motion of the boat uncomfortable during our journey. We spotted two dolphins swimming in the opposite direction.

On arriving at Rapallo, we saw a little castle raised up in the water and decided to anchor close to that. It was an anchorage away from the local ferries and boats using the small harbour.



There used to be a marina here, but it is currently under redevelopment, as it had suffered severe storm damage a few years ago. A lot of boats were moored on floating pontoons, instead.

At first, we were unsure as to whether to stay at this anchorage. There was some swell rolling into the harbour. Simon decided to deploy the kedge anchor at the stern of the boat, which held us into the swell. We had an uncomfortable first night as the swell was still present, but with the help of the second anchor, it reduced the effect of the swell. We were kept awake by some vicious mosquitoes living in the nearby river and although we had nets over the windows and hatches, they still managed to find a way in!

Once the swell had died down the following day, it was hot and settled. We had a relaxing time, swimming from the boat and exploring the town. There were several beach clubs at the resort, all with matching umbrellas and a section of the beach cordoned off for each club.

Rapallo had some good shops, cafes and a lovely park. When we were walking at the top of the park, we looked down and saw the Coast Guard rib visit our boat.

It turned out to be a great anchorage. After the first night, it was very calm and we had the place to ourselves. No worry about other boats anchoring near us, so we stayed for three nights.



On the last night we went ashore to a bistro where they cooked pizza in a wood fired oven. We had a bottle of Chianti which was chilled, unusual but good.

Time: 6:30 hours Miles: 34nm Total Time: 83:30 hours Total Miles: 500nm

Le Grazie

09 September 2021
Simon
On Thursday we were intending to depart and head north. We had a leisurely breakfast ashore and took Daisy for a walk. Once back at the boat we paid the marina and refilled the water tanks. The water pressure was extremely low and the tanks took over an hour to fill. Eventually we were ready to depart, untied the boat and started to leave the pontoon. However, the bow thruster was struggling and then the battery alarm went off. By this time, we had left the quay. Stopping the engine and restarting it cleared the alarm, only for it to go off again a few minutes later. I decided to return to the quay and sort the problem. Poor Fiona had just finished putting the fenders and ropes away only to set them up again to return to the quay.

Upon further investigation, a 100A fuse had blown. We replaced the fuse, and we were on our way again. It was now about midday and a bit late to be leaving for a 6-hour passage, but we departed and motored out of the harbour. We passed the anchorage at Le Grazie, which looked particularly inviting. After a few minutes of debate, we decided that onwards travel could wait another day. We turned the boat around and anchored in the bay. We anchored here on our way south. It's a great stop and very well protected. We had a relaxing afternoon, went for a swim, and had a BBQ that evening.

Time: 1:00 hours Miles: 4nm Total Time: 77:00 hours Total Miles: 466nm

La Spezia

06 September 2021
Simon
Le Spezia is a medium sized town with a large harbour. There is a large naval base, small container port, cruise terminal and two marinas. We chose to go into Assonautica, the smaller of the two marinas and the one close to the town. In season, this is normally fully booked as they only have a small number of spaces for visiting yachts. In September, we got a berth. On arrival, we radioed the marina, and the chap came out to greet us and walked along the marina to show us to our space. As soon as we saw it was an along side berth, Fiona was running around adjusting all the fenders and taking ropes to the bow as recently we have been used to med mooring which requires a different configuration.

We really liked La Spezia. It was very low key but lots of shops and a very good market selling good fruit, veg and great local fish. The fish shops often sell fish from faraway, but at a market they normally only focus on the local fish.



The second night, I wanted to make Spaghetti Vongole. The market sold the important vongole which came from just across the water from our last anchorage. Another stall sold Spaghetti. Not just one size but about 8 different sizes of Spaghetti. I chose number No 7 which seemed about right. With cherry tomatoes and parsley from another stall and the wine onboard, we had everything needed. I cooked the dish that evening and it turned out rather well. It's one of those easy Italian recipes that's simply delicious.



There are about 12 trawling boats that go out from La Spezia. They depart at 5am and return just after dark. A couple of nights we went along to the fish quay to watch them unload their catch.

We saw a few anchovy boats and realised that the anchovies being sold in the market were very local. Most came from Monterosso, one of the villages just up the coast. Back at the market, we got a good helping of fresh anchovies for our next evening meal. I coated them in flour and cooked them in about 1cm of olive oil and served them with a light salad.



Time: 1:15 hours Miles: 4nm Total Time: 76:00 hours Total Miles: 462nm

Porto Venere

03 September 2021
Fiona
When we left Pisa we had a fair amount of wind for about 2 hours, then it completely died and we motor sailed the remainder of the journey to Porto Venere. In front of the town, there is a fish farm in the bay with floating buoys. We anchored in line with a hotel.

The following morning, we took the dinghy ashore, for an early breakfast and explored the small town which is very pretty. There are two churches, one of which is close to a sheer drop of jagged multi-layered rock, down to the water. There is a small gateway here to the sea and it is busy with pleasure boats entering and leaving the narrow channel.

The streets are narrow and cobbled with well-maintained apartments, some interesting small shops selling focaccia, fresh pesto and local wines from the Cinq Terres. This is a UNESCO site and attracts many tourists, who mainly visit by ferry from La Spezia, the local town.

It was very calm the following morning, so we decided to cross the channel in the dinghy and explore the opposite island. It was very quiet and as there was a little beach there with nobody on it, we decided to let Daisy have a run off the lead and a swim. The locals were sunbathing on the rocks and swimming near the channel entrance.



Time: 5:30 hours Miles: 30nm Total Time: 80:15 hours Total Miles: 488nm

Porto di Pisa

01 September 2021
Simon
After leaving the island of Capraia we returned to Porto di Pisa. We visited here on the way down. We left in little wind, but during the day the wind built to a steady 16 knots and was perfect for sailing. We had a great sail up to the entrance of the port.

We were here for 2 days and used it a base to clean and restock the boat and get some smaller maintenance jobs done. It’s noticeable how the marina rates have dropped from August to September. They have dropped about 1/3 since we were last here.

Time: 6:45 hours Miles: 42nm Total Time: 74:45 hours Total Miles: 458nm

Isola di Capraia

30 August 2021
Fiona
We had a calm journey to the Isola di Capraia. The backdrop of the mountains was stunning as we approached the bay. Although there was a small anchorage, we decided to tie onto one of the buoys. We called up the capitaneria and a man turned up shortly in a dinghy and tied us onto a complex system of ropes on a floating buoy. Each buoy has 6 trailed lines to mooring ropes for the bow and stern. It would be impossible to tie up without assistance.



We took the dinghy into the charming port. The pace of life here is slow and relaxing. There are two very old churches on the island, a lighthouse, a castle and a few shops and restaurants. We had a swim from the boat the first afternoon, but the second afternoon we gave it a miss, as the bay was infiltrated by brown spotted jellyfish!



We took the bus to the top of the island and walked to an old convent. There was a citroën van conveniently parked, that had been converted into a snack bar. The lady serving, made us a fresh ham panini and cone of chips, which we enjoyed for lunch, while we overlooked the sea.



We stayed two nights on the buoys, surrounded by about 25 other yachting people, from Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. We had to leave the buoy at 9am the next day, as the divers were coming to take the buoys ashore for the end of the summer season. We needed to be up early anyway, as we were intending to travel the long distance to Pisa, the following morning.

Time: 6:00 hours Miles: 33nm Total Time: 68:00 hours Total Miles: 436nm

Marina de Medici

27 August 2021
Simon
After our very unpleasant night for the second night in Porto Azzurro, we decided to leave for the mainland at Marina de Medici. Due to the continued strong winds, we had a great sail and very fast! The swell was pushing into the entrance at the marina, and you need to turn side onto the swell for the final entry, just as it gets shallow! This made for an interesting final few minutes.

Marina de Medici is a new marina and very well run. The sand on the beach was a dark brown colour and the locals were sunbathing on, what looked like vulcan rock. There is a very small town at the back of the marina with an excellent wine shop and ice cream cafe and there was a large Coop supermarket.

Time: 6:30 hours Miles: 40nm Total Time: 62:00 hours Total Miles: 403nm

Isola d-Elba - Porto Azzurro

25 August 2021
Simon
After anchoring in Portoferraio, we moved around the island to the anchorage in Porto Azzurro. This is a large anchorage and although not busy in the day, it filled up by the evening. There is a lovey harbour here which was immaculately clean and lined with small shops and restaurants.



While at Poto Azzurro, we had a lunch out. The spaghetti vongole was excellent and we also sampled some of the local red wine from Elba. The first night was wonderfully calm but the second was a different story.



We knew there was some strong winds coming. The anchorage is protected from the west but exposed to the east. The wind was going to be moderate from the east on the second night but backing to the west and increasing. Our initial plan being to sit out the moderate wind in the hope that once it swung around and increased, we would have protection from the island. However, overnight, as the wind increased, the swell rolled in! We were up at 3am watching another yacht that had anchored too close to us. Eventually at 7am, we decided to move into the centre of the bay, clear of all other yachts.

Unsettled by the fact that every weather app (Predict Wind, Meteo Consult Marine, XC Weather and a GRIB file viewer) showed something different, it was difficult to plan what to do next. Some even showed the wind strengthening from the east, which was not good. We contacted 5 or 6 marinas, but all were full. We think this was due to it being a weekend and the wind. One marina - Marinda de Medici responded and had space. It was about 40nm north and back on the mainland, so we decided to cut and run!

Time: 2:30 hours Miles: 16nm Total Time: 55:30 hours Total Miles: 363nm

Isola d-Elba - Portoferraio

24 August 2021
Simon
We left Porto di Pisa bound for the island of Elba. Due to variable winds, we sailed some of the way and motor sailed the remainder.

As we approached Portoferraio, which is the main town on Elba, there were many ferries both entering and leaving the port. There is a large, well-protected anchorage opposite the main harbour with plenty of space available. We anchored in 4m and took Daisy ashore.

Elba is the largest of the 7 islands that make up the Archipelago Toscano. These are a group of islands that lie between the mainland and Corsica. They are nearly all mountainous, rising sheer from the sea. Monte Capanne on Elba rises to 3,343 ft. The island is covered with palms, eucalyptus, cedars and pine trees. They also produce wine on the island, which we tried in one of the restaurants in another port.



The following day, we took the dinghy to the harbour to visit the town of Portoferraio. You take your life in your hands doing this, as you need to cross the line of ferries which sit in the commercial port like the start of a race. There seems to be one ferry leaving or entering every 15 minutes and we were in a tiny dinghy with a 2.3hp outboard crossing them.

Portoferraio is a small town and the harbour is lined with restaurants. We had breakfast in one of them and after walking around the town, then returned to the boat to move on.

Time: 8:00 hours Miles: 53nm Total Time: 61:00 hours Total Miles: 347nm
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