Monday, September 26, 2011

Northern Corsica Sept. 10

Northern Corsica       Sept. 10

We left Elba on an early Saturday morning and set sail to French Corsica. This was likely going to be our last cruising stop at Italy, and we left with many fond memories. We spent most of the summer in Italy: the bottom of the ‘boot’, Sicily, Sardinia, and finally Elba. It was truly a memorable experience.

In the morning we had a light breeze behind us and we made good progress to Corsica, only about 40 miles away. By early afternoon the wind died completely, and we had to resort to the iron sail. Our destination was Bastia, the old capital of Corsica until Napoleon moved the capital to Ajaccio. But when we arrived we found that the small outer harbor was not suitable for anchoring. There are two marinas in the area, but calling them on the radio met with no response. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to come here on a Saturday afternoon. So we fell back to plan B, which was to sail north by another 15 miles to Macinaggio, a fishing village with a marina habour.  According to the plagues on the quay, Napoleon landed here, and so did the empress Eugenie on her return trip from the Suez Canal inauguration in 1869. 

Bastia Harbor

We made it to Macinaggio as the sun was setting, and an evening onshore breeze was building. It wasn’t dangerous, but with waves rolling into the anchorage, the boat was pitching up and down and it was uncomfortable. Compared to Sardinia and Elba, the east coast of Corsica has relatively few protected anchorages. Now we understand why some cruisers simply go and stay at a marina and do sightseeing by land!

Rounding Cape Corse

The next day we left the rolly anchorage and continued north-west around the northern tip of Corsica. Cape Corse is known to be challenging if there’s a strong west wind, but this morning we had a favorable breeze from the south behind us, and we sailed around the cape in good time. Here tall mountains drop steep into the sea, imposing and rugged. The land is green and covered with trees. Hill-side villages dot the landscape, but mostly this part of the island is uninhibited. And then, with the south wind blocked by the mountains, the wind completely died once we rounded the cape. One minute the blue sea was covered with white caps, and the next minute the sea was flat and smooth as glass. 

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