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!
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.
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 had a lovely downwind sail with the gennaker flying all the way back to Gaeta only to be told that the lift out had been postponed. Hey ho!
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.
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.
Since the failure of the engine, it was with some trepidation that we set off to head north through the Messina straits. This was to be our first leg of seven as we headed to our winter berth 250nm north.
We timed our departure so that we would have the least tide/current against us. We were also lucky with the wind, although some of the time the wind was on the nose.
In order to ensure that the gunky bits from the bottom of the tank had less chance of being sucked into the fuel pipe and delivered to the engine we wanted to keep the fuel tank full. The nearest fuel dock being just north of Messina, at a place called Paradiso.
As we approached the traffic separation scheme in the straits, I had to radio the marine traffic controllers in Messina to explain our intentions. The officer instructed us, in no uncertain terms, that we MUST make an appointment to go to the fuel bunker and MUST NOT hang about in the area, and MUST NOT cause any obstruction to passing shipping.
Next challenge: Phone the fuel dock to make an appointment. In my faltering Italian, I spoke to the very understanding Mario Rainieri at the fuel dock and managed to book in for 1500h.
However, we arrived earlier than expected. We hovered off the long, sharp, pointy, metallic, ugly, fuel pontoon, unsure about where exactly to moor up, or indeed if we even could. We knew that we couldn’t hang about as the Coast Guard would be after us!
I phoned Mario again, slightly panicky and I explained that we were early. He said he was at his house having lunch and would be there at 1500h as agreed and that we should tie up to the pontoon.
We approached the south side of the south pontoon and realised as we neared the structure that, a) it was high; and, b) it had railings all round.
The long and short of it is that we managed to tie up, bruised thighs resulting, and awaited Mario’s return from lunch.
Soon, Mario arrived and was very friendly. He chatted away and forced me to speak Italian. He gently corrected my grammar and pronunciation and was at pains to explain his opening hours, summer and winter.
(June 30 – August 30th open all day. Outside of those dates it is imperative to make an appointment and remember that he will be at home for his long lunch!)
We wanted to go to Scilla on the mainland. This involved crossing the traffic separation scheme. Again, we had to radio the traffic controllers. They told us when it was safe to cross and off we went. We marveled at the weird eddies and whirlpools shimmying and dancing around us. The water was practically boiling. We saw a dolphin swimming in the turmoil and wondered how they manage. We laughed giddily as we surfed one of the currents at an incredible 8kn!
Suddenly we heard ‘Linea’ being called on the radio.
‘There is a ship approaching from the south! Would we like to pass to its bow or stern?’
‘Ummm,’ I pondered, thinking quickly, ‘To its stern I think would be better!’ We altered our course and all was good.
We spent the night on a mooring buoy in Scilla, rocking and rolling behind the breakwater of the small harbour. The town is supposed to be worth seeing but, sadly, since it was raining heavily we decided to stay on board.
Next morning, we set off for Tropea. The swell from last night continued all day today and so when we arrived at the anchorage we knew that it would be a very bumpy night on a lee shore. We elected to continue on to the marina Stella del Sud in Vibo a further 10nm east.
We had a pleasant night here with free showers, welcoming people (the marineros even come on board and tie off your lazy lines for you – LUXURY!) and a bar.
The next day was a biggish hop north to Cetrara. We anchored off and Ian and David went ashore to the fuel dock to replenish the jerry cans. We had a super calm night as the swell had mostly dissipated by then.
The following day saw us head further north to Palinuro. A beautiful anchorage off a National Park. We went ashore and found a beach bar and discovered that it was only a short walk from here to the village from where David could find his way to Naples airport and his flight home.
From Palinuro we planned to do the remaining miles in one hit to get to Gaeta before a few days of thundery and rainy weather were due. However, the swell that had eluded us yesterday evening tucked in as we were in the Bay of Good Sleeps, reared its ugly head and the wind decided to do the opposite of what was forecast. We tacked endlessly across our desired course and made virtually no progress.
Plan B…We headed to an anchorage off Ogliastra and picked up a mooring buoy.
Next day, we headed for Capri where we could anchor off the Grande Marina. We intended to anchor, rest, eat and then set off to Gaeta at 0000h.
However, best laid plans and all that. We anchored in 15m of water. Soon, an Australian yacht arrived and anchored nearby. We decided to go ashore and have a quick look at Capri, since we were here. We set off in the dinghy and were invited onto Ari and before you could say, ‘G’day, mate.’ we were drinking a glass or two of vino with them.
We dodged the numerous ferries charging into Capri and found somewhere to dock the dinghy. The outside pontoon No 1 was bouncing and wobbling like crazy with all the wash from the ferries. One yacht that was moored there decided to leave since it was so uncomfortable.
We walked into town and were shocked at how many tourists there were even in late September. We quickly bought a few supplies and left. I think it is a place to visit in the very low season only.
Back on board we had a quick supper and then grabbed forty winks before upping the anchor at 0930h and setting off into the night.
We were in a race with the inbound bad weather.
We negotiated ferries and fishing vessels, small Spanish sailing boats and the narrow straits of Ischia with its buoys of special purpose and finally we were heading across the Bay of Gaeta. Nearly there now, but would we beat the rain and storms?
We both had a couple of hours sleep in the cockpit and I woke Ian when we were 10nm off. At the speed we were making we would arrive in the dark. We cut our speed to 3kn and doodled along killing time.
Eventually the dawn broke and sunlight peeked over the mountains to our east. We had plenty of time to ready ourselves with fenders, lines and lowering the dinghy.
The marineros came out to greet us as we rounded the bow of the USS Mount Whitney that is stationed in Gaeta Military base.
We were guided calmly to our berth with no further incidents!
PHEW! and BREATHE! After a shower, snack, and sleep we needed to stretch our legs. Then, feeling peckish, stopped for some comfort food. No sooner had we sat down than the predicted wind, rain, thunder and lightning came in just as predicted.
And then the sun came out!
Next time, read about our discoveries in our new place of abode.