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!
On the way to Bastia we saw Yacht A again.
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!
From here we headed west, visiting St Florant, Iles Rouses and 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!!!!
We arrived back in the late evening having had a lift from our Roman friend Michele. We were so excited to see Linea again. We took all the clutter out of the front bunk so that Erin had a sliver of space to sleep in and we all crashed out.
We retrieved the bikes from their spot in the marina and began to put the boat (Bavaria Lagoon 430) back together. Sheena came down from Rome for a night and we cycled about and swam. We re-acquainted ourselves with Pepe from the vegetable stall and the vini sfosi (Wine on tap shop! £2.10 per litre, bring your own bottles!) I bet his sales had gone right through the floor since our departure in November.
Erin was a joy to have on board. She got stuck in to the many tasks we threw at her. She produced some videos for her You Tube Channel The Travel Tapes, too. We played Rummykub. We had our own mini lock down/bubble.
We had a day trip to Rome. Due to the Covid situation the city was virtually deserted. Here are some incredible pictures taken on the day.
Soon we were ready for a shakedown sail and this years’ blue water cruising. We decided to go to the Pontine Islands about 35miles southwest of Gaeta. We were due to be lifted out of the water the following week to have the hull cleaned and to fit the newly refurbished and shiny Max Prop propeller and fancy new rope cutter, so a few days away would be great. On the 1st July we headed out of the marina to the anchorage. We finished off the remaining jobs and checked the wind. We were off with our buddy boat TakaMaka. Initially, we were heading for Ponza but the wind angle was better for Ventotene so we headed further south. We anchored off between Ventotene and San Sebastion.
The next day things had calmed enough for us to get the dinghy off and go ashore. Ventotene was delightful. We liked the old Roman harbour hewn out of rock and the town square perched up high on the rock above. We had a people watching coffee in the square.
Later, we sailed over to Ponza, seeing a huge pod of dolphins on the way which lifted our spirits some more.
The anchorage in Ponza was spectacular. Sheer cliffs line the shore. Fallen arches remain stranded in the water. Caves and tunnels abound. We explored the next day and Erin and Ian bravely dived through the tunnels with the numerous jelly fish whilst Maik and I manned the dinghy.
We then moved round to the west side of the island as the wind was due to change in the middle of the night and boy were we glad we had. By 0200h there must have been at least 20 yachts coming in to escape from the wind and the waves that must have been pounding the eastern shoreline!
Later in the morning, my friends Sheena and Cecilia came into the bay on their friend Lorenzo’s beautiful yacht which they had chartered for Cecilia’s birthday. Erin and I paddle-boarded over and we had a lovely chat and catch up.
Then it was time to leave again. We went back round to the east side and anchored just north of the harbour at Ponza. We took a trip to shore but Ponza town was nothing like as charming as Ventotene, so after having a coffee and purchasing some delicious pizzas and breads for lunch (£27!) we went back to Linea to do an hour’s bottom scraping. Sheen arrived and came over for a chat. It has been so nice to see more of Sheen since we have been in Italy. It is almost 40 years since we first meet at Carnegie College of PE and HMS, Leeds.
We still had things to do and soon it would be my birthday.
I had a fabulous day. Some gorgeous pressies, a lovely lunch at Le Macellerie in Gaeta old town and then film night on board Maik’s spacious catamaran TakaMaka!
The lift out never actually happened as it was postponed again until Tuesday and we had to catch the wind for a suitable crossing to Sardinia.
We waved goodbye to Maik and the next morning at 0600h we motored out of Gaeta for possibly the last time.
Our sail across to Sardinia was fantastic and stress free. We arrived in pitch dark and had to hove to just off the anchorage until dawn when we could safely go in to Brandinchi bay and anchor. It is nice to be back in familiar territory. We chilled for a few days. Marvelled at the visiting dolphin and took a walk along the beach. Ian and Erin practiced their SUP (stand up paddleboarding) techniques.
We moved to San Paolo bay with a stunning view of Tavolara mountain and met up with Heatwave, Heiko and Birgit, friends from MDR.
Chores to be done: laundry, shopping and trying a Sardinian beer, Ichnusa.
We managed to get our gas bottle refilled here by the delightful Stephano who came down to the small marina to deliver it!
Next stop was Olbia Town quay where we were to pick up Josh. All went smoothly except that I needed to go to the dentist to sort out a sore tooth after I bit on a very hard piece of dried fruit in my muesli!!
One root canal treatment later all was good. We had re- provisioned, fuelled up, and filled up with water. Fantastic – good to go!
Or maybe not.
During the last few days Ian had noticed that the house batteries were not keeping their charge. We really need their power to pump water to the taps, provide light and power for phones and charts etc.
So the decision was made that they needed to be replaced. We sussed out where we could get them. The lovely Claudio at EuroNautica organised everything and delivered them to us on the quay in Olbia. We tested them and winched them on board. We winched the old ones out and he took them away for disposal. Ian connected them all up and we have full power again.
Next time we head north to Corsica.
Upon our return from Abruzzo, we set about completing all our winter jobs and making repairs and changes as necessary to Linea our Bavaria Lagoon 430 . Kim drew the short straw and volunteered to come out to Italy and give us a hand. We didn’t make her work all the time though! We squeezed in a day trip up to Rome to see Sheena and had a wonderful day strolling round. Whilst I was there Erin phoned from India to say that she had contracted typhoid! It was not a good to feel so helpless. All I could do was give her calming advice and hope that she was receiving good care. She has since fully recovered after strong antibiotics.
We had visits from Gaye and Chris, Sheena, Shaun and Jack. We met up with and Bill and Susanne in Rome and I had a blissful spa evening and dinner catch up with my dear friend Ali.
We enjoyed showing our visitors around Base Nautica Flavia Gioia and the delightful town of Gaeta which has it all. The marina is right in town, the town is a thriving place summer and winter. There is a medieval area around the old castle and cathedral; a huge sandy beach on the north side of the isthmus; the beautiful Parco Orlando to wander around ; the spectacular ‘Spacata’ split in the cliffs cradling a church and the Turks Cave where you can watch the waves crashing in.
Being only an hour and a half from either Naples or Rome it is a great place from which to explore the mainland. From early November there is a huge light festival with Christmas stalls and events, an ice rink and animated illuminations on buildings. It is a truly magical festival. We loved being here, and felt almost like locals.
Gaye and Chris came to visit and we went to Pompeii and had a lovely few days with them, including having an Italian cookery lesson with a local chef where we enjoyed making succo, meatballs and saltimbocca. We learnt new tips and I was especially happy to learn how to pile spaghetti on a plate in a cone shape!
We drove into the spectacular mountains to the south of Gaeta to do a hike up to a massive statue of Jesus on the top.
We learnt to play Rummykub with our American neighbours Bob and Robyn on Windarra and had a few nights out with the marina liveaboard gang.
All too soon it was time to go home where we were looking forward to celebrating Angela’s 60th birthday in the Lakes.