We had very light winds on our passage back to France, so we had to motor a fair bit. The sea was perfectly calm though, which made for a very relaxing passage.
We stopped in at Bandol this morning to get some diesel since we were getting pretty low, then we continued on to La Ciotat where we will stay the rest of the day today and will continue on to Marseille tomorrow.
No wind forecast again tomorrow, so more motoring required, but we have to be back on Sunday before the Mistral arrives on Monday. We will try and stop for lunch at one of the calanques near Cassis on the way.
It’s our last night in Corsica. Tomorrow morning we begin the voyage back to Marseille and soon we will return to life on land, which makes me sad.
Robin tells me that Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom were on a super yacht in Sardinia this month, and judging by the huge number of super yachts we saw while in Sardenia, it is certainly the trendy thing to do, but let me tell you, Sardinia has nothing on Corsica. Sardenia is OK, don’t get me wrong, but Corsica is WAY better.
Here are some of the things we found in Corsica that we thought were better than Sardinia:
The huge variety of beautiful countryside, the excellent wine, the friendly people, the beer, the olives!!! (Just kidding, Sardinia has great olives too 🙂 The beautiful beaches, no mooring police! No hooligan boat drivers trying to run us over! The great food (Corsica belongs to France after all!)
We loved Corsica and will be coming back for sure!
We left Sardinia yesterday, and had two perfect days of sailing up the west coast of Corsica. Winds were 8-12 knots and we were close reaching a little under the true wind speed.
Aside from the rolly sea between Sardinia and Corsica, the water was very calm. Ideal sailing conditions!
We decided to spend our last few days in Corsica at Sargone beach, about halfway up the west coast of the island. The wind is forecast to start blowing 30+ knots in the northern part of the island this afternoon, so we will wait here until it calms down a bit before sailing back to the French mainland.
As usual, while I was writing this post in our peaceful anchorage, some dude shows up and decides he has to anchor RIGHT NEXT to us, while there’s plenty of space all around. This happens so often that Robin and have started placing bets on how close someone is going to get to us.
We left Tunisia on Friday morning, after making a donation to the border police’s drinking fund! We had a nice sail back to Sardenia with fair winds and smooth seas. We decided to stop for the night on Saturday after making it to the NE coast of Sardinia. Strong westerly winds 25-30 knots were forecast to arrive by midnight, and we decided we didn’t want to deal with those until morning.
This morning was dead calm so we motored for a while until we rounded the cape and hit the westerlies. By 2pm we had gusts up to 35 knots, and since they were forecast to drop early the next morning, we decided to find shelter for the night (again) before heading across the straight between Sardinia and Corsica.
And then the fun began!!!
We had a double reefed main and single reefed jib and we were scooting along at 10+ knots, then when I went to turn to starboard to tack, the boat would not come up into the wind. Damn!
I tried everything I could think of to turn us, but the helm would not respond. I turned on the port engine, furled the jib and tightened the mainsheet to create some weather helm, but nothing worked. The 30 knots of pressure against us was too much. We were fast running out of room and we had to either tack or bear off before we hit the coast.
The last thing to try was to drop the mainsail and use the engines to turn us. Since we were at 45 degrees to the wind, I had Robin put the traveler down to leeward and I rotated the mast. We could then drop the main and I was finally able to get turn us to starboard using the engines, but the steering was all messed up! I could turn just to port but not at all to starboard.
I aimed us at the right hand side of the anchorage, which was jam packed with boats, so I could turn up to port and try and find a place to anchor. We found a spot inside the mooring field between two super yachts. As we moved into position, the mooring field police came up in their Zodiac to tell us we were not allowed to anchor here. I told them I had no choice because we have lost our rudder. I would need to anchor long enough to fix it and the we would move.
After illegally anchoring, I worked on the rudder problem and found the rudder linkage had slipped on the rudder shaft, so full starboard helm was giving us a centered rudder! No wonder we had problems. I thing the rudder linkage was not tight enough, so I realigned everything and tightened it up REALLY well. With our steering restored we could relocate out of the super yacht moorings, which made the mooring police dudes very happy!
The winds should calm down tonight so we will be able to continue on to Corsica tomorrow.
We arrived in Tunisia early this morning. It was a pretty uncomfortable sail across from Sardenia because we had wind at 15 knots off the port bow and we were close hauled the whole trip, punching into the now all too familiar short, steep waves of the Mediterranean Sea. I found that slowing us down to around 8.5 knots made the ride a bit more comfortable than bashing into the waves at high speed. This required a double reefed mainsail and single reefed jib. Wildling was perfect the whole trip!
There was a lot of boat traffic as we approached the African coast around midnight, and we had one scary incident where we were chased by a fishing boat during Gavin’s watch. I took the helm as the boat came alongside us and started shining his spotlight on us. I changed course multiple times and he kept turning with me. Then I jibed and bore off quickly in the opposite direction and he eventually broke off and went back to whatever he was doing. It was pretty scary and made us realize how vulnerable we are, just a family of four people on a sailboat!
Robin and I didn’t get any sleep after that, as we were dodging around fishing trawlers and tankers all night, but we had no other issues. It was a relief to see the sun rise as we entered the Gulf of Tunis with no other boats around and a short 15 mile sail over to the Gammarth Marina.
The marina is essentially brand new and the people here are very friendly. It’s also a relief to be able to speak French again after all our language struggles in Italy! It’s hot and humid here, so everyone on board was happy to plug into the shore power and fire up the air conditioning. The first time we’ve needed to run it this year!
We cleared into the country of Tunisia with the help of the border police and customs officials who both have offices at the marina. The process was quick and easy, with just a small “tax” payment required to complete the affair.
Tomorrow we have arranged for a guide and driver to take us into the capital city of Tunis.
We are at the south eastern tip of Sardinia tonight after a perfect 55nm day sail. We motored for about an hour this morning until the winds reached 6 knots, and then we sailed the rest of the day in SE winds at 6-7 knots and calm seas. We had the main and code-0 up and were doing about half a knot under true wind speed at 38-40 AWA. A very relaxing day!
We leave tomorrow morning for Gammarth Tunisia, which is just north of the city of Tunis. It’s about 150 nautical miles and winds will be light and coming from the direction we’re headed so it might be a slow journey. We’re a bit nervous about visiting Tunisia given the recent strife, but other folks we have talked with who have been there recently say it is really nice, and they had no problems. It will be amazing to sail to the north coast of the continent of Africa!
Problems in Ajaccio
We left Ajaccio on Tuesday. To keep on schedule we want to get to Tunisia by the middle of the month, so we had to keep moving. Things didn’t go so well for us in Ajaccio, our port engine driven 110 Amp Mastervolt alternator that charges our main lithium battery bank stopped working. Outremer arranged for parts to be sent to Ajaccio for us, so we waited there 3 extra days, but they never arrived and we needed to keep going, so we had to leave without them. Our starboard alternator is working fine, and pretty much all our power needs are handled by the solar panels and the hydro generator, so it’s not a huge issue to be without half our engine charging capacity.
We had an accident at the Ajaccio fuel dock before we left. I was pulled up well forward of the dock and we had the fuel fill hoses extended out to top up our tanks, when a power boat came in behind us and lost control of his boat in a wind gust and smashed his anchor into the back of our transom. The damage isn’t severe, but we exchanged insurance info and he called his insurance company to tell them it was his fault. We will have to deal with the repairs and claims once we get back to Marseille.
This accident happened the day after Gavin and I had to push off another boat that was about to run into us in the anchorage as they were pulling up their anchor. It’s just too crowded here and too many of the people have very little experience.
We stopped on Tuesday night in another crowded anchorage 20 miles south of Ajaccio, and after having to adjust our rode twice during the night so other boats wouldn’t swing into us, we decided we had had enough of crowded Corsica and it was time to move on to Sardinia.
The passage to the NE coast of Sardinia involves traversing the Bonifacio straight which was pretty sporty as we had 25 to 30 knot winds and 3m seas. We had a very fast sail over to Sardenia and found a nice anchorage just south of the islands.
Another 25 knot wind from the NNE yesterday brought us to Porto Frailis on the SE coast of Sardenia. It’s one of the only anchorages we could find that gives protection from northerly winds. We are staying here an extra day as it’s blowing a gale from the north again today. The strong winds have given us some excellent, fast sailing days, but the crew is getting a bit tired of all the motion.
Things that have broken
Ocean cruising boats have literally thousands of systems and components and for the most part everything works great, even in such a harsh environment of wind, motion and salt water. But stuff breaks all the time and that’s just part of the experience when cruising. The trick is to have enough spares, tools and MacGuyver skills to fix or work around the problems as they occur.
I’ve really benefited by talking to other sailors about problems they have experienced and how they solved them, so I’ll do the same and list the problems we encounter on Wildling as we go along.
Mastervolt alternator failure. I’ve already talked about this, see above.
Sea water pump failure. The pump stopped working because the internal pressure switch broke. I can’t find a replacement switch so this remains out of action until we get back to France.
Starboard shower drain pump failure. It looks like the pump got stuck and the nylon gears stripped out. There was nothing unusual about how we were using the pump so it’s a fault in the pump. We can’t get a replacement until we get back to France so we are all sharing the port side shower.
The water level gauge in the port fresh water tank is broken, it constantly reads 100%. I will need to get Outremer to look at this as it’s the second time it has happened.
The top batten on the mainsail has snapped at the back of the fitting that attaches to the mast track. This is not a new problem, I think it happened during the Outremer cup, but I didn’t realize the issue until yesterday. We can still sail but I’m a bit worried about why it happened and how we can fix it to be sure it won’t happen again. We will have to talk to Incidences, the company that made the sail.
Getting Ready for Tunisia
Corinne, our guest for the last week, is leaving tomorrow morning to go back to London. She has been a lot of fun to have on board and we will miss her a lot!
Once the winds ease a bit we will continue on to Tunisia. It looks like the weather will be good the next few days, so we will hopefully leave tomorrow.
We arrived in Ajaccio this afternoon. The sailing today was perfect! Winds 18 to 20 knots true at 50 degrees apparent. The forecast was for 20 knots by 10am, but as we left at just after 10, it was only 5 knots. The forecasts in the Med are pretty accurate though, so we raised the sails with 1 reef in the main and full jib and sure enough, within 30 minutes we had 18 knots just forward of the beam. We spent a very fun couple of hours between 10 and 12knots boat speed.
After leaving Calvi we stopped in an anchorage under some cliffs, just west of Porto for a night, and then spent the next night off the beach in Sagone. The Porto anchorage was very deep and very rocky. We arrived as it was getting dark, which was not great because we couldn’t tell where the rocks were. We took a guess, dropped the anchor, and then I had Gavin shine a flashlight into the water while I snorkeled around the boat. The water was so clear, that I could see a lot of big boulders around us but they were deep enough that we weren’t in any danger of hitting them.
Tonight we are in a very crowded anchorage just beside the port of Ajaccio. It’s deep again. We are anchored in 17m which is right at the limit of our 50m of chain. I really should have ordered 75m of chain when I purchased the boat, 50 is not enough. I do have more nylon rode attached to the chain, but it’s not very useful because I can’t attach the bridle to it.
There are a lot of boats in this anchorage, squeezed in like sardines, and they have been arriving steadily all afternoon. I suspect many are looking for a refuge from the 25-30 knot winds forecast for the next few days. It seems pretty calm in the anchorage, but the winds are swirling around and everyone is swinging all over the place. It’s a bit of a worry because in deep anchorages like this with lots of boats, there’s more likelihood of someone swinging or dragging into us.
We are going to a restaurant tonight for Robin’s birthday celebrations, and we are very excited to have Corinne, a family member from Australia joining us on Sunday, for the rest of the trip down Corsica and then to the south end of Sardinia.
We arrived in Calvi just after 21h00 and anchored in crystal clear water with a sandy bottom 9m deep. It is incredibly beautiful here! There is a field of mooring bouys on the south side of the bay close to the entrance to the Port of Calvi, but we decided to anchor to the north as there was more room and it was quieter.
We’re exploring the town of Calvi this morning then will be sailing to the south this afternoon.
We’re about to arrive in Corsica after four days of sailing.
We left Bandol on Saturday and motored for an hour until the wind lifted and settled in at to 10 to 12 knots. We sailed with Code-D and mainsail to the island of Porquerolles where we spent the night. Porquerolles is nice but VERY crowded. We managed to find a place to anchor on the edge of the anchorage. The bottom was weed, so not the best holding, but the wind was light so we didn’t have any issues.
On Sunday morning we sailed to St Tropez. We had wind at 8 knots on the beam so we were sailing with the main and Code-0. I really like the Code-0. It’s a very easy sail to handle and allows us to sail upwind in anything above 6 knots TWS.
We stayed overnight in St Tropez at the anchorage just north of the port, which is an easy dinghy ride into the town. The water level gauge on the port fresh water tank broke again. It is constantly reading 100% but the tank is half full. The same thing happened last year, so something is not right!
Our sea water pump also stopped working last night. I pulled it apart and found the pressure switch is not working. Hopefully I can find a new pressure switch when we get to Corsica. We use the seawater pump to save fresh water when we do the dishes, so I’ll just have to run the water maker a bit more until I can fix it.
We left St Tropez at 5am on Tuesday (today) for the 105 nautical mile passage to Calvi on the west coast of the island of Corsica. The winds were 3-5 knots the whole day, aside from a few hours when we had 8-10 knots and were sailing nicely, so we spent most of the day motorsailing. Not much fun, but the warm weather and calm seas made up for it!
The chart plotter says we will arrive in Calvi in less than 1 hour at 21h00 which should give us enough light to find a place to anchor.