Tag Archives: Dolphins

On course, en Corse, of course! July 2020

Well, we managed to walk but in rather a roundabout, hot and sweaty way.  We arrived dripping and desperate for liquid refreshment without the energy to walk all the way round the bay to Porto Cervo proper!  On the way back we tried again and discovered a route back that only  took 15mins! Although Erin did have to swim across a narrow bay to retrieve the dinghy.  All was well and we arrived back to Linea just as the last light was disappearing from the sky and all had a refreshing dip to cool off.

We were excited to be visiting the National Marine Park of the Maddelena Archipelago for the first time.  We paid our fees for two nights online with no hassle (40% discount for sail boats) and then we were good to go. We enjoyed an almost deserted anchorage in Cala Stagnali on Isola Caprera which we had to enter using transit markers as there are rocks and hazards in the very narrow entrance.  Once in, we went ashore and were lucky enough to enjoy an informative talk from Luca of the Dolphin Research Centre

finding out all about the Whales and dolphins in the marine park. 

Next stop was Isola Santa Maria, which was a beautiful bay with crystal clear waters.  However, there were so many boats anchored there that it rather spoilt the ideal we had in mind and in the morning the trip boats arrived, disgorging hundreds of people on to the strip of beach.

Our first night on Corsica was in Rondinara bay          which had over 50 boats anchored in it.  It was quite a blowy night and other ‘No Foreign Land’ friends had an incident in the night when the anchor of a neighbouring boat caught their chain as it dragged in the wind.  All was well for us.

We continued to hop north and en route met up with Nic and Sandra on Seulle.  They have exactly the same model of yacht as us.  We spent a happy time comparing notes and boats! 

Erin with sail assisted motor Yacht A in the background.

On the way to Bastia we saw Yacht A again.

A view of the coast of Corsica where Erin and Josh worked in a hotel a couple of years ago.
Bastia from just outside the harbour.
Bastia harbour is an intriguing jumble of old and new, boats and cars, shops and restaurants.
Statue in a Bastia square.
Old billboards painted on to buildings.

We had an uncomfortable beat into the wind and waves. Although the anchorage was very swelly, it was free of charge, handy for town, spacious and had good holding.  

We enjoyed Bastia very much.  We did the laundry and collected more water.  It was very quiet in town and the temperature was perfect.  The mistral wind was blowing hard out to the northwest and cooling everything nicely so we were able to explore in relative comfort.  We liked Bastia very much.

Leaving Bastia, we stopped en route for coffee and croissants in Erbalunga and then again for a swim and lunch in Pietracorbara.  The final few miles took us to a beautiful, wild anchorage in the north of Cap Corse.  Iles Finnochiarola.  The string of islands offered good protection from the swell and we had our first decent nights’ sleep for days! 

There are some lovely coastal walks here and it is very peaceful and unspoilt.

From here we headed west, visiting St Florant, Iles Rouses and Calvi.

Looking out to the anchorage from Calvi.
Interesting doorway in Calvi.

All beautiful places tucked in under the imposing backdrop of the Monte Grosso Mountains which loom above.

Already we are loving the French supermarkets, the organisation of the anchorages and moorings, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the marineros. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful France.  On course, en Corse, of course!

Next stop, mainland France where we meet up with Keira and Sam!!!!

The Medicane – sound like a drug, but isn’t.

The Medicane as it was formed on Thursday 13th September off the coast of Libya. Pink, mauve, orange, yellow and green are not good!

Looking at the weather forecast, it became clear that a ‘Medicane’ was swirling towards us.  This is a warm air cyclone and measures up as a Category 1 Hurricane.   The size of this twirling depression is massive.  Currently, gathering sand and speed north of the Libyan coast it was due to enter the Aegean and fly between the Peloponnese and Crete.  Initial forecasts predicated that it would follow the north coast of Crete and then head off to the east making landfall around Kos and Turkey.  Kos was probably not the best place to be in a boat.

We decided to leave.  We sailed very fast to Astipaliea, an island between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.  (We had a couple of dolphins playing on the bow for about thirty minutes as we rounded the southern tip of Kos which was a great bonus.)

Look carefully, there is a dolphin there!

We anchored in an enclosed bay (Vathi Bay) on the NE side of Astipaliea.  The next day,  we re-checked the forecast and the Medicane was now predicted to track more to the north and west of us. We decided to stay put as the bay we are in offers great all round protection.   We expect that we will be whipped by the tail of the depression as it spins past.

 

Vathi Bay on the NE side of Astipaliea. Totally surrounded and sheltered. We hope it will prove to be a good hurricane hole.

So, we prepared for the storm to arrive.   We laid all our anchor chain (85m) and put on a double rope snubber to help absorb shock on the chain. We removed any items that might catch the wind, (bimini, sprayhood, etc.)  and lashed down the sail bag.  The dinghy was placed in the water with its engine removed.  We had plenty of food and water and another four yachts for company.

The only taverna in the tiny hamlet ashore was closed as the owner had to go to a Baptism in Athens.  Since there were no ferries running due to the weather forecast, it seems likely that it will remain closed all weekend.   There was only one other resident as far as we could see.  He seemed unperturbed.

A goat on a boat.

The rest of the place was occupied by goats and even their bells went quiet…did they sense the approaching storm?

 

 

The very rustic little church at the top of the hill overlooking Vathi Bay.

In the mean time we enjoyed a walk up to the church on the hill and a chat with a German tourist.

You can just see our mast poking up behind this billy goat’s horn!

Malta 2018

Setting off and slightly ‘hanging’.

We left the comfort of our winter home base of the Porto Turistico di Marina di Ragusa, sad to say goodbye but pleased to be off adventuring once again.

I can now vouch for the fact that setting sail after a big night out is not the best preparation for a wallowy crossing from Sicily to Malta.

Mind you, we had had the best time!  Thanks to Jacqueline and Peter on Dolce Farr Niente for great chat, nosh and ‘Farr’ too much wine, and to Gwen and Glen on Pardella for a tremendous sing-a-long!   Ian, although tempted to try his own ‘party piece’ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, settled for the no less dramatic and perplexing ditty (for the foreigners in the party) of Ilkley Moor Bah T’at!  It was stunning!  You can see how the evening had progressed!  Such fun!

We completed the last minute jobs of charging all electrical items, filling up with water, raising the dinghy on to the davits and changing the lines to slips.  By 0900h we were ready to depart.  We glided out of the Marina just as the daily Marina Radio Net was in full swing and waved to the few of our friends who were up out of their duvets at that time.

We look forward to drinking, chatting and singing with them all again in future.

We had a fairly uneventful crossing although, of course, we did manage to break something.  The block attaching the main sheet from boom to deck came asunder so a quick fix had to be arranged.  It’s only been on for six months so there will be investigations in order.

Later, we were met by a pod of five common dolphins as we approached Gozo.

High up at the citadel in Vittoria.

Colourful fishing boats in Mgarr, Gozo.

We decided that the southern anchorages would be best so we headed for Mgarr and anchored off the breakwater.  It was a bit rolly in there but we were fine.  We were able to leave the boat the next day and go off to Vittoria the capital town on Gozo and see a little more of the island.

The views from the citadel were incredible and the town was bursting with cultural possibilities.  The most intriguing of which (for me) was the showing of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film.

 

There had been performances of Jesus Christ Superstar earlier in the month a show produced by Hugh Wooldridge, the very same man who produced the Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall, which I was lucky enough to be involved with in 1997.  Small world!  On Malta itself this week there is a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto and a recital by a brilliant pianist.

Life is busy on Malta.

Ian firing up our latest purchase, a Lotus barbecue. Cooking up a storm.

We spent a nice couple of days in anchorages on Comino Island and had a lovely time exploring the caves and arches nearby.

We even had our first barbecue.

 

We said a quick ‘Hello’ to friends from MDR, Karen, Patrick, AJ and Esme on Laurin and gave a jaunty wave to Lynita and family on Dizzie. I am sure that we will meet up with more of our fellow live-aboards as the season continues.

Phone box in Vittoria, Gozo.

So, we are heading into the marina near Valetta, Msida Marina, for a few nights so that we can pick up crew (David Heane and Chris Plumb) and get organised for a long crossing to Cephalonia.  This is likely to take place on Monday as that seems to be when there is the best weather window.

2017 – The Stats

Total nautical Miles 2488

Sailed miles 1212 –  49%;  Engine miles 1276   – 51%

Engine Hours 319;  Total nights at sea – 6                                                              Nights anchored – 92;  Nights on a town quay or in a marina – 72

Nights in the boat yard – 9

Our final crew, David and Michael.

Most frequent flyers!

Number of guests – 21 – Bill, David, Ang, Lizzie, Alice, Ian, Sam, Rory, Bryn, Jill, Louis, (plus the rest of the family for dinner and drinks,) Jane, Alice, Ian, Erin, Josh, Keira, David, Michael, Alice, Ian

 

Litres of wine consumed – Gallons!

Yacht A – 340million Euros to build. The masts are 90m tall.

Number of Super Yachts seen – 1 – to beat all

Days of sunshine – 168  Days of rain – 12

Deepest water  – 3600m;  Highest waves – 4m;   Strongest wind – 38kn

Hottest temp – 36;  Lowest temp – 24

Fish caught – NONE;  Dolphins seen – Lots;  Turtles seen – 2;  Star fish seen – 1

Pitta Gyros consumed – Far too many!!

Times up the mast – Ian Masta-Climbing;  me pulling!  11

Genaker out – 15

Number of boat mechanics met – 10 plus the crane driver

Our Yorkshire Flag after a season in the windy Cyclades!

Number of flags and pennants shredded – FOUR –  Greek flag, Cruising Association Pennant, British Ensign, Yorkshire Flag.

A memorable year!

 

 

 

 

Hauled out

We sailed early from Rhinia and arrived in Siros to be hauled out.  Since we have a winged keel

Great shot of our winged keel on the trailer – 20cm to spare!

which measures 140cm across we need a trailer wide enough to motor onto with a bit of wriggle room.

Stavros from Atlas boat yard has just the right piece of kit and we were hauled out smoothly and professionally.

We trundled across the Lidl carpark and into his boat yard.  It is safe to say that Stavros would be world champion caravan manoeuvrer should he be inclined to enter such a competition. 

Stamatis and Georgios Gyparis, Volvo Penta engineers in Ermoupolis (father and sons team) quickly appeared and parts were ordered to arrive on Thursday

 

 

 

 

That gave us five unadulterated days for partial winterising of Linea, removing scruffy lettering and for cleaning her dirty bottom!

We booked into an Air B n B house high on the slopes of the Chora and experienced vertigo from being so far above sea level.

Having a Greek lesson from my new friend.

We spent a few very busy days scraping, polishing, sanding, cleaning and dusting.  I even fabric-conditioned our lines to make them soft and pliable again  – and they smell lovely.

Robert and Ian discussing boats.

We met Robert Brons in the yard.  Robert owns Morning Cloud 4 (a sailing yacht previously owned by Sir Edward Heath who was a world class sailor, as well as being leader of the Tory Party during the 1970s.)  Morning Cloud 4 has been stored on the hard in Siros for twenty years.  Robert showed me round this amazing vessel:  Built for speed and efficiency and able to sleep ten people in various cleverly designed bunks.  It has lots of ingenious original features and various improvements, it would be wonderful to see it restored to its former racing glory.

Ian with the ‘wild dogs’!

Robert was currently living on his yacht Saquila which he had sailed from Italy.  We spent a couple of evenings swapping stories with him and really enjoyed his company.  We were so impressed that he still had the enthusiasm and vigour for sailing at his age – 78 years young.  He cycled around town, sorted out his yacht and shinnied up and down the high ladder to Morning Cloud with the nimbleness of someone a lot younger.  He is often on the look-out for crew to help him sail his new yacht, so if any of our sailor friends might be interested please get in touch for more information.

One of the best things about being somewhere for a few days is that you really get to explore and find out more about the place.  During our stay Siros was hosting the All Greek volleyball championships and an international animated film exhibition and competition held in the beautiful Apollon Theatre that is modeled on La Scala.

We discovered a free shuttle bus that ran all day between the town centre and the sports centre, going right past the boat yards and Lidl – perfect!  And we explored the two hills of Siros; one topped by an enormous Greek Orthodox church and one topped with a huge Catholic church.  We wandered around the Choras and marvelled at the breath-taking scenes around every corner; the colours, the quaint doorways and the twisted bougainvillea blossoms like an umbrella of fluttering, bright butterflies.

We really enjoyed finding new routes to walk to and fro the boat yard and every day we were rewarded by some new and interesting sight.  I particularly loved the completely intact old (but functioning) pharmacy on the main street, which still has all the original mahogany cabinets, shelving, canisters, jars and enamel labels from when it first opened in 1837. (The first pharmacy in Greece.)

We also enjoyed the Industrial Museum which houses an interesting collection of items that reflect Siros’ manufacturing, glass-making, lace-making, printing and shipping past.

Georios, Stamatis and Vangelis Gyparis. The Volvo Penta Team in Ermoupolis, Siros.

After strong winds had passed it was time to be put back into the water.  We said thanks and farewell to Stavros, and the Gyparis family who have done such a great job on our sail drive, stainless steel and helm repairs.

Stamatis joined us for the ride across the bay to check that all was well with the engine and the gears.  It was all good.  We were making 7.5k across the bay because of our gleaming hull, so that made Ian very happy.  We parked on the town quay again and were, once again, warmly greeted by the lovely Thanasis.

Thanasis the most stylish and handsome harbourmaster in Greece!