Porto Vecchio Corsica - Sardinia

Sat 6 Sep 2014 08:21
We brought the hook up very slowly for at least twenty metres of chain had been buried deep in the mud of our Porto Vecchio berth, the anchor wash had to jet many litres of water to clean the crud off the incoming chain. We were right over the anchor but the windlass groaned with the effort of hauling up not only our forty five kilo Rocna but also the mountain of sea bed attached to it. Much pushing and prodding with the boat hook and many more jetted gallons of water finally saw it clear and after a wash down of the foredeck we motored over to the fuel dock in Porto Vecchio marina and topped up our one thousand three hundred litre fuel tanks, delighting in the realisation that since we last topped up in La Lavandou in early June we had only used three hundred or so litres of fuel in two and a half months of cruising, running the engine, generator and water maker.

Fuelled up we quietly motored out of the bay of Porto Vecchio into a gentle breeze. The light airs prevailed as we motor sailed southwards down the Corsican coast but freshened to a gusty force six westerly as we sailed past the Iles de Levessi at the southern tip of Corsica. and across the Straits of Bonifacio. Passing the Isola Maddelana on our port side we entered Italian/Sardinian waters, courtesy flags were changed accordingly the Italian national flag being hoisted above the four Moors of Sardinia. We had a pleasant sail into Bai Liscia, a large attractive bay, much of it beach lined with no development at all. We found good shelter at the western end anchoring in 14 meters. Here we stayed for two nights enjoying the peaceful setting and watching our neighbours come and go. For one night we were joined by a very beautiful Norwegian flagged super yacht of about one hundred and forty feet and the next evening Oyster 625 Vamos (she was launched with Pamarzi at St Katherine's Dock on 26th April last year), their crew gave us a wave but they obviously had charter guests aboard.

I secured a berth at Cannigione Marina at the head of the Golfo Arzachena. Leaving Bai Liscia on the 20th August we had a wonderful sail between Sardinia's north eastern islands to our berth in Cannigione where we secured stern to to the outer pontoon behind a substantial breakwater but with only .3 of a metre under our keel. I managed to arrange a flight to Leeds/Bradford airport leaving on Saturday evening and a return flight to Olbia from Luton early on Wednesday morning. Cannigione turned out to be a charming little town and we enjoyed it's unpretentious restaurants and nightly street market which filled the little town with colourful stalls and amusing street musicians and entertainers. Bicycles were hauled from the lazerette and I enjoyed a pretty tough twenty miles or so touring the surrounding area. The land relatively lush around the head of the Golfo di Arzachena but the mountains beyond, though for the most part clad with vegetation deriving its living from the thinnest scrape of sandy soil or tiniest fissure in the rock was barren. Many of the huge stark rocks remained bare of even the faintest covering of soil had been scored, shaped and in some cases driven through by the powerful and frequent (all too frequent this year!) grit laden winds. Maquis, cacti, prickly pear, stunted holm and cork oak accounting for much of the vegetation. Cork still being a substantial industry on the island.

It was the local bus that took me to the airport on Saturday and I enjoyed the circuitous route around the Costa Smerelda where the shimmering waters of blue, green and turquoise were an amazing sight. Home at Meadscroft by 02.30 on Sunday morning, the next three days a pleasant whirl of visits to family and friends. Business and domestic matters dealt with EasyJet had me back in Olbia by 09.15 on Wednesday. This time I opted for a taxi the driver taking the more direct inland route across the mountains. My driver I can only assume to have been an ex rally driver by the style of our progress along these precipitous roads and it was with a sense of relief that forty minutes late he pulled up on the broad paved concourse of the marina. The cost of the nerve jangling ride only slightly more than the flight from Luton!

A fairly relaxed few days followed as we prepared Pamarzi for sail, cleaned and polished and topped up our stores. Our charming German neighbours Peter, Beate and their family whose company we had enjoyed left on Friday evening for Rotunda a marina further down the coast which we will pass on our way to Olbia. We had a final evening in Cannigione enjoying simple local fare and the evening street scene before casting off our lines at 11.30 on Saturday morning for the voyage to Olbia. Champagne sailing in calm seas with a moderate breeze along a stunning coast line was further enhanced by the sight of numerous carbon sailed super yachts, their crews of thirty or more exercising the vast acreage of laminated cloth, hauling halyards up their towering masts and on occasion passing close enough for us to hear the metallic clang of their sheets as the grinders wound them bone tight. Then the most glorious sight as one of the remarkable J boats Lionheart beat down towards us dozens of crew sitting out on her windward side. They passed within hailing distance, we gawped at the magnificent and vastly expensive (running costs typically in excess of €100,000 per day) spectacle perhaps the most spectacular in the yachting world.

We arrived at Marina di Olbia at 16.30 where we shall stay to await the arrival of Rob and Liliane on Sunday and stay tucked away from the ferocious blasts of the Mistral which is forecast to jangle our nerves again from Sunday evening to Tuesday afternoon. Rob and Liliane enjoyed a restful day after their early hours flight whilst I took to my bike a recced the area for a few hours returning late afternoon when we all decided to eat at the floating restaurant in the marina which was fun. My sea food risotto whilst not pretty in its squid ink was very tasty. As forecast the Mistral returned in the early hours, no sleep followed as it buffeted even the largest of boats and ripped the headsail of one poor souls boat to shreds. Around 03.30 I braved the gale and rigged additional mooring lines as the gusts (for us) reached a new record of seventy two knots. Bleary eyes it was that arranged a hire car and we spent Monday afternoon exploring the Porto Cervo the exclusive and hideously expensive(one nights mooring here for a boat our size comes in at well into four figures in July and August) marina development built by a consortium headed by the Aga Khan. Work started in 1962 and although tastefully done to resemble an extended Sardinian fishing village it has something of the film set about it. A bit too bling and fake for the taste of the crew of Pamarzi. All the big fashion names were there as were Harrods and some of the major super car manufacturers. I decided not to buy the Bugatti Veyron, a snip at €1.6m (although I was sorely tempted by the Lamborghini) and instead toured the pontoons whereupon we came upon the awesome presence of Shamrock. Her fine narrow beamed hull a blaze of emerald green, her decks awash with varnished wood and every winch (and there were twenty of them!) and fitting gleamed in their polished bronze magnificence. Her towering mast boasted two sets of running back stays and her enormous boom lay at rest supported on a cradle of more glistening wood and shining bronze.

We were still talking of her as we dined in town that night, an assiette of local delicacies followed by an excellent peppered steak and later ice cream as we wandered about the gently fading, ancient, granite paved streets. We bought cheese and salamis and cleverly fashioned wooden toys from street vendors and retired to sleep deeply and soundly as the Mistral for the time being had run out of breath. Hoses, wash mitts and leathers out on Tuesday morning as after delivering the girls to the shopping centre to provision Rob and I set to cleaning and readying Pamarzi for our voyage towards the mainland tomorrow. We are planning to explore the Isola Ponza one of the Pontine Islands a group about two hundred miles from Sardinia and then go on to Isola Procida at the northern end of the Bay of Naples.

Apologies for the late filing of the blog but communications, no doubt due to the mistral have been difficult in Sardinia.