Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Corsica's Wild West Coast ..... July 2010

Gone with the Wind pulling in front of Eye Candy
21 - 26 July 2010

Unfortunately we couldn't stay anchored in the crystal clear waters at Cala d'Orzu forever, there were some stronger winds forecast offshore which would send in a unwelcome swell. We headed north in flat seas and a light seabreeze, it was race on again. When Eye Candy popped a coloured sail they started to gain on us slightly, skipper trimming constantly to stay ahead, Gone with the Wind came up from behind, overtaking Eye Candy, then us and surging forward, Australia wins again! We did however go off course a couple of times to allow the leaders of fleet of high performance race boats through, seemed the gentlemanly thing to do even if we forfeited our lead position.
Time out for cafe au lait in Ajaccio
We had decided to take shelter in the harbour at Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica. On entering the anchorage area it seemed everyone else on the west coast had seen the weather report and were in there too, it was very cosy but everyone was sensible with their anchoring and it all worked ok. Ajaccio's a busy city with some rather ugly highrise apartment blocks on the foreshore, a noisy road runs along the waterfront and hearing the constant hum of cars and seemingly endless wails of sirens made us appreciate our previous anchorages even more. It is a functional working town however, with a pleasant old town area complete with twisting alleys and crumbling buildings, excellent daily morning market and the best supermarket right at the anchorage we have seen possibly since we started cruising.

After two nights the winds had passed and we hoped the swells had eased with it, it was hard to tell as we were very protected by 2 headlands and a small group of islands. The skies were steely grey and it really didn't look like a nice day to go sailing. We were eager to keep heading north, ever consious that this is not a coastline you want to be on in unfavourable conditions as there are few all round anchorages.
Feasting on king prawns at €9 a kilo, yummy
Rounding the first headland the seas were still quite flat, we set sails and headed for the pass through the islands and out into open water, and then we hit the swell. A big long lazy ocean swell, unlike any we had experienced in the med before, comfortable enough to sail in but it did not bode well for our chosen anchorage for the night.

The swell was crashing up against the shear cliffs and bouncing back out, we were amazed at how close some yachts were inshore, we gave ourselves plenty of sea space and enjoyed the scenery, even in its gloomy state, from afar. Our first anchorage option at Cargese was basically untenable, we would have got seasick at anchor from the roll and the small marina was too shallow for us, so we backtracked into the bay of Sagone, looking at the chart we didn't have too much hope for anything better but it was a bigger bay and our only other immediate option. We passed two small headlands before entering the bay, and after each one the swell abated some, then the final turn into the bay seemed to cut out most of the roll and we had a reasonably comfortable night. We said our goodbyes to Andrew and Clare on Eye Candy, they were waiting for a guest to arrive and probably wouldn't catch up with us again this season. We had been in their company on and off since Sicily at the end of May and will miss having them around.
Cheese, cheese and more cheese

Next morning we left again in similar conditions, large swell, a sky still laden with threatening clouds but no wind. We bypassed the famous Golfes de Porto and Girolata and just imagined how grand they would look, the rich red sheer cliffs reflected into a glassy sea, brilliant blue sky above - maybe next time. We motored for 6 hours to cover the final 38 miles up Corsicas wild west coast and were relieved to turn the corner of the north east point and find flatter water. At La Revellata we found further shelter tucked behind a small island for the night. We were just a mile from ancient Calvi and much appreciated our flat anchorage, the bar was opened and we sat back and admired the vista of the setting sun shining onto the cream stone citadel at Calvi. We have cruised Corsica's west coast, enjoyed it immensely even if we couldn't stay and explore everywhere we had planned, and we have lived to tell another tale.

Cruising info for Ajaccio and Baie de Sagone, Corisca:-
Anchorages -
Ajaccio 41 55.828N 08 44.955E 16m mud. Tight anchorage and very busy, stay clear of where gas white buoys are, boats were in the no anchorging zone and didn't have problems
Baie de Sagone 42 06.665N 08 41.683E 8m sand. Thought we would roll all night but much better protection from the swell that it looked
Golfe de Revelatta 42 34.301N 08 43.665E 8.5m weed, rock with sand patches
Communications - No unlocked WIFI signals. Vodafone Maltese roaming and GYMSIM worked on SFR signal
Ashore - Didn't go ashore in Baie de Sagone. Ajaccio has the best Carrefour, it huge and has everything right at the anchorage (check out the fresh king prawns). Also a Le Clerc next to it. Excellent market in old town in the mornings,. Banks, ATM's everything you need. Fuel station ashore but didn't need diesel
Formalities - none

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