Bonifacio – Villefranche 6– 13 J une 2010 - The final chapter
Bonifacio – Villefranche 6– 13 June 2010 - The final chapter
Sunday 6 June 2010. Left stern-to
mooring just outside Bonifacio harbour to watch the Louis Vuitton final between
Emirates Team New
The afternoon’s excitement was too much to
go anywhere else and we anchored up in Golfo Saline, Sardinia ready for an early
Monday 7 June 2010. Up anchor at
0645 to sail 48 miles before the WNW wind finally died at 1640. Fishing gear was
deployed but Corsican fish seem uninterested in our Atlantic lures. The final
two hours were under engine as we rounded Capo di Muro into the Golfe d’Ajaccio.
In the only three-quarters full
You know you are back in home waters when Jeremy and Sally know the restaurants again, and past knowledge led us to La Napoloeon up in the main town. Surroundings of faded splendour combined with food of imperial richness from the foie gras to the trifle to leave us slightly low in the water.
Tuesday 8 June. Motored round
to Sagone, where conditions were calm enough to anchor overnight. In fact a rare easterly resulted in
minimal swell in the bay, which is rather exposed to the west. As we anchored we
could already see
Wednesday 9 June. An early rise for provisioning, then persisting calm conditions meant that unfortunately it was bus-driving all the way to Calvi. What little wind there was came round on the nose at every right-hand turn. Calvi has an impressive mediaeval castle and walled town on a rocky promontory that can be seen from well out to sea, and behind it there is a jolly holiday town with its promenade of bars and restaurants facing over the sheltered bay to the east.
We decided to pick up a mooring buoy as we suspected the rates in the small marina would be ruinous, and the decision seemed justified when we were charged €34 just for that! Paul went for a scout in the tender and returned with the view that it was imperative that all hands immediately repair onshore for a few swift ones in the waterfront bar. This turned into rather more than a few, while the comings and goings of innocent promenaders became increasingly hilarious. Finally we sent ourselves back to the boat, where after a simple supper we were rocked to sleep by an increasing swell.
Thursday 10 June. The strongest winds of the week coincided with Paul and Norah getting a soaking while going ashore in the tender to get the bread, walk up to the castle, and, ironically, get the local weather forecast. Conditions had already eased by their return, and were forecast to reduce further overnight, though the timing of this was rather vague. After a light lunch and afternoon chill, in the event a 1700 departure left only enough wind for two hours’ sailing out of seventeen. A still and, it must be said, lovely night offered few distractions other than ships crossing our path and shooting stars.
Friday 11 June. With first
light the coast of
Yves, Laurent, Stéphane and several others from the Swan yard were there to meet us, interested to see what three years’ sailing had done to their workmanship, and to hear from those who know, that Villefranche really is the trickiest harbour to enter in the entire world! Luckily a quick sluice down by Sally prior to entering had restored the back end of Astra to her former glory and all were impressed (or politely said they were) by her shining topsides and gleaming brightwork. A quick glass of champagne on arrival was as nothing to the reception laid on at lunchtime, when a trestle table laden with goodies appeared on the pontoon and most of the Swan boatyard became not very productive for a while. The crowds were parted to make way for the world’s press, in the form of a nice young man from Nice-Matin who wrote a sympathetic article appearing the following morning and said he’d like to do a trip like that some day.
So in a haze of champagne bubbles this particular voyage of Astra draws to an end as she returns to her home port from the other direction two years, ten months and one day after leaving. It has been a great trip, complicated, frustrating and challenging at times but intriguing, rewarding and always interesting.
We leave you now with a competition. An Astra T-shirt to the closest estimate received by 15th July 2010 to our round-the-world nautical mileage. It should be the Nautical Miles travelled by Astra from leaving Villefranche in August 2007 till we returned to Villefranche this week. Answers by e-mail to Astra.