We didn’t leave Olbia until 2 o’clock on Friday 21st September so we headed to the La Maddalena Islands for a stopover on the way to Bonifacio on Saturday morning. We saw a quay on the Island of Santa Stefano that someone else was tied alongside so Ian being Ian thought we’d moor up there too. So having moored up I went for a walk around, very eerie as there was no one around. Whoever was on the other boat was not coming up on deck. The Island was a NATO base up until 2008 when the Americans left. There was a hotel resort there on the other side of the hill, we only knew this because of the booming of the music that played into the early hours. This is one of the downsides of these remote areas you often find there is an “exclusive” resort which equals loud music!!
Our sail was lovely, light winds and hot, just how I like it, not quite so much to Ian’s liking. We had a number of super yachts pass us. To put it in perspective how big the one below is you need to look at the helicopter on the top deck. It is the fourth longest yacht in the world and considered to be the largest yacht by volume in the world.
There was nothing pleasant about the trip to Bonifacio the following morning. It was one of those moments, rare admittedly, when I (obviously I being Lorraine. Ian thinks not pleasant but not so bad) thought what the f**k am I doing here!! The Straits are known to be windy as it funnels between Corsica and Sardinia and the seas are short and sharp. Should have dug back in my memory to last years’ experience of coming through the Straits of Gibraltar when I had the self same thought. “Straits” should set the alarm bells ringing. We are due to go through the Straits of Messina in the next week or so (late October 2018), so fingers crossed it won’t be third time unlucky! Oh well I survived. The entrance to Bonifacio was stunning.
Bonifacio isn’t that big a marina but it is popular and they do get their share of superyachts, just a few can moor up on the main quay in the centre of town. They come in, turn around, where there is some room to do this and then reverse in and drop their anchors to hold them off the quay. It is quite narrow, so much so they are a few feet away from you when they come past. When the normal sailboats come in (ie not superyachts) it can be quite chaotic. The marineroes push boats into the moorings with the bow of their rib and then roar off. People are reliant on others already moored up to help with lines to shore as all mooring is stern to, with the exception of us catamarans who moor alongside the ends of pontoons which are only 6 ft wide so that’s also a mission in itself. This is the only place we’ve been where there is no assistance from Marina staff. Whilst doing these manoeuvres you also have the day tripper boats weaving in and out, they can’t wait you know they have a schedule to follow. There’s plenty to see here!
We had only planned to stay in Bonifacio for a couple of nights to collect our guests then go off. However, this was not to be, as a Mistral was forecast which brought winds of 50mph for several days. So, we were “Port Bound”. Gary and Shelley arrived and we found a restaurant that had been recommended called the “Kissing Pigs”. It was a good recommendation.
Bonifacio old town sits up high above the marina. We took the land train up but we did walk down. The citadel was originally built in the 9th century and overlooks the harbour.
Gary and Shelley had hired a car as transfers from the airports were extortionate. A taxi (no buses available) for a 15 minute journey was €55. This meant we were able to visit some other areas and we spent one day on a secluded beach on the east side of Corsica where we were out of the wind. We also drove to Porto Vecchio, which was where we had originally tried to get a mooring but it was full as there was a regatta being held. The wind was whipping through the bay.
After four nights we did eventually manage to escape Bonifacio and we took a sail across to La Maddalena islands, Sardinia and had a bay all to ourselves for a couple of nights. Going across the straits this time was great. We then took ourselves back to Bonifacio as it was time for Shelley and Gary to go home. A great week.
We were going to spend a few days exploring more of La Maddalena Islands and cross over to Rome on the Tuesday (2nd October) but yes the wind again, was coming in strong so a night’s stopover there and then we headed back to the shelter of the Town Quay in Olbia where we stayed until Saturday 6th October before we departed on our overnight trip to Rome.