|Calvi to ….. well Calvi, but via the north coast of Corsica!|
The stay in Calvi was planned for one night, maximum two. That said I was in for a very relaxing time as, although single handed for the next twelve days, I only had to travel 11 miles along the coast, to Ile Rousse, before picking up Christoph on his return from UK. For this reason I decided to strip and inspect the windlass which had been playing up for some weeks; slipping unpredictably but not making any strange or agonising noises. I suspected the inbuilt clutch was slipping for some reason but to get access to it the whole unit had to be dismantled within the locker, underneath the foredeck, where it resides. Not an easily accessible task! That said it came apart reasonably readily, the only difficult part was not spilling the lubricating oil in the unit as it dropped away from the deck-head. Once inside the gearbox the next challenge was to dismantle the clutch unit, easier said than done. The entire thing was held together by a sizeable circlip, too large for the circlip pliers I had onboard to cope with and it absolutely refused to be extracted using long nose pliers, my fall-back method. After a very frustrating afternoon of trying every method I knew it still hadn't budged. Eventually I managed to borrow, for a few minutes only, a pair of large circlip pliers from a technician who worked for a local boat hire company; success! Once inside the problem was obvious, a bronze ring forming part of the clutch had fractured and was only allowing the clutch to engage intermittently. How to get it fixed? The chances of finding a suitable spare part in Corsica, let alone Calvi, were remote. The only option as to repair the existing. After asking all and sundry where I might find a small engineering company with the necessary capabilities I was eventually directed to Philippe Marie, who runs a small workshop near Calvi airport (behind garage Ferretti) tel no 06 07 89 01 07.
|The old and the new!|
By now it was Monday evening and in a phone call Philippe suggested bringing it to his workshop Tuesday morning 1000. Next problem was how to get there? An enquiry at the taxi rank produced a figure of €20 each way, i.e. €80 for delivery and collection. My next option was a hire car, €65 per day for the cheapest; better but not if I needed it for two days. Whilst there I enquired the price of their cheapest motor scooter, €35 per day. I opted for this despite the fact that I hadn't ridden a motorbike since my university days in 1968! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! The delightful young lady at the desk assured me that if I needed the scooter for a few more hours and not a full day we could come to an arrangement; excellent service. The company is 'Tra mare e monti' right by the marina. Next morning I set off and, after a slightly wobbly start, arrived at Philippe's at 1000 precisely. We agreed he would 'braze repair' the original clutch ring and he would phone me when it was ready. I telephoned him that evening to check on progress and he assured me it was 'in hand' and would be ready tomorrow at 1000. At 0945 I set off on my trusty steed and headed back to his workshop. On arrival he presented me with a clutch ring that looked brand new; not only did it look brand new, it was brand new. Philippe explained that when he had tried to braze repair the old one it had cracked again on the opposite side. As a consequence he had set to and manufactured a brand new replacement part! What a hero. Although an expensive option, €400, it was probably cheaper in the long run than trying to get the part shipped in from the manufacturers in Italy. Even better, on my return to the marina, the staff at 'Tra mare e monti' would accept no additional money despite the fact that I had had the scooter well over 40 hours; there's service! By the end of the afternoon I had managed to track down and buy a pair of robust circlip pliers, the unit was reassembled and all was back in place awaiting a load test at the next opportunity to anchor. That evening I went ashore for dinner to celebrate!
Next morning I headed for the supermarket to purchase some victuals etc., then watered ship and did all the preparations for leaving. By 1300 I was set to go and decided to move east into Algajola where there is a beautiful beach and good holding; it was only some 7 miles away and an easy sail. By 1500 I was anchored in the bay, enjoying a late lunch and contemplating how long the light south westerly wind would last. The bay would be untenable in anything with an element of northerly wind in it. As it was I stayed here three days. The weather was good, the water crystal clear and the beach uncrowded. What better!
On the third day the wind moved round to the west and was threatening to go north west. On this coast it is difficult, but not impossible, to find anchorages offering shelter from northerly winds.
|Anse de Lozari|
I chose to sail along the coast to the far side of Ile Rousse and anchor in the bay at Lozari which is sheltered from the WNW if you tuck yourself in far enough. That said, although the bay provides shelter from the wind it does not stop the swell curling round the headland and causing you to rock and roll! I tolerated it for two days by which time the wind had abated again and I was able to move to the quieter bay at Peraiola where I spent the next two nights. At this stage the time had come to return to Ile Rousse to pick up Christoph who was arriving on the early morning ferry from Nice (It is frequently very much cheaper to fly to the south of France and then take a ferry to Corsica); thus it was that I weighed anchor on the Wednesday evening and set sail for Ile Rousse, three miles to the west.
|Anse di Peraiola|
My last single handed sail this year! On arrival at Ile Rousse it was evident that there were no easy slots in the marina to moor up in and so I decided to pick up one of the moorings for the night and sort out the problem of getting alongside the next morning.
At 0800 next morning I received an SMS from Christoph to say that he was on the jetty and ready to be picked up. Fortunately a very accommodating Italian skipper, who was already moored stern to on the outer wall of the marina, invited me to simply back in and go alongside his boat, thus sharing the one holding-off line available. A really kind gesture and one which was much appreciated.
|Sunset at Anse di Peraiola|
He later explained he was cruising the area with a group onboard who suffered from various form of mental disability and this for them was a real mind broadening and affirming experience. Both the skipper and his mate were patently providing an opportunity which few could match, two of the world's good guys! Two hours later, after a rapid raid on the local supermarket we were off again and headed back to the anchorage at Lozari for the next night. The forecast was for thunderstorms and they were absolutely right. We enjoyed a brilliant light show in the early hours of darkness, followed by torrential rain and a WSW wind which set us rolling around again for the rest of the night. The joys of this coast, very few places to shelter fom the swell.
|Remains of "original" Martello tower, Golfe de Saint Florent|
Early next morning we had had enough and motored, in no wind but a heavy sea, towards Saint-Florent where we hoped to find a bay on the west side of the Golfe de Saint-Florent which was sheltered from the swell. In fact we were lucky, in the Baie de la Mortella we were able to anchor, close-in, in the shadow of the remains of the Genoese Tower on the Punta di Mortella. This tower was the pattern on which all of the Martello Towers, built later to defend England's south coast, was based. Here we remained for two nights, latterly listening to the wind howling above us but in calm waters at least.
Having enjoyed the anchorage for two nights we decided that the next day we would go into Saint Florent, to see the town and to get some fresh victuals aboard. The town itself is nothing special, pleasant but not greatly impressive.
We found the local Spar supermarket at the same time locating the boulangerie and boucherie ready for an early dash the next morning; after which we decided to eat ashore that night and enjoy a night off from cooking for ourselves. Having searched the town for a quiet, backstreet restaurant we ended up eating on the waterfront, right in front of the marina. The town had nothing better to offer. It was OK but not good enough to recommend and at €19 for menu compris it was the best value on offer. It is interesting to note that wine in French restaurants has gone up in price considerably over the past few years. My memories are of “Vin de Pays” at a very reasonable price and very drinkable with an average meal, costing the equivalent of less than €10 a carafe, now it is nearer €20 and yet Supermarket prices for wine are unchanged.
After a quick raid on the bakery and the butchers we set off, refuelling as we departed from the fuel point at the entrance to the marina Initially we were motoring in no wind towards the entrance of the Rade de Florence, complimenting ourselves on our timing as Saint Florent disappeared behind a big black rain cloud.
|Departing Saint Florent|
Half an hour later we were sailing out of the bay, under “Solent Rig” (Genoa alone) and enjoying a easy and speedy sail west. Thirty minutes after that we had furled away the genoa due to lack of wind and were motoring again in a westward direction. It was not to last! Within the next hour the wind came from every direction possible at wind speeds of 0 to 45 kts eventually settling to a bitterly cold NE wind of 35 to 40 kts, combined with heavy rain. We continued downwind, under bare poles, in full foul weather gear, with the engine only ticking over and doing 6 kts westward. Our plan had been to anchor in one of the bays between Isle Rousse and Calvi, this was obviously not going to happen.
|Snow on the mountaintops of Corsica|
We now had a 2m sea running from the NE and any bay on the north coast would be untenable, including the moorings at Isle Rousse. For this reason we headed west, past Isle Rousse and Calvi and turned south towards the bay at Crovani which faces west and was well protected from the bitterly cold NE winds. As we approached the bay we saw, on the mountain tops of Corsica, the first snowfall of the season; the peaks were all covered in white: no wonder it was so damn cold! Rather than brave the cold and high seas again we stayed at Crovani for the next two nights sheltering from the north-easterlies, ultimately heading round to Calvi again for a final visit before our crossing to the French Riviera coast.
|Baie di Crovani, L'Argentella|