From Port St. Louis to Darsena Traiano/Fiumicino canal


Now the time had arrived! We had decided to turn left and not go towards Spain and the Balearics.Lots of thoughts went through our heads: Were we properly prepared? Can you ever be prepared enough?

 We have talked to a lot of people who have been to the Mediterranean and we have listened carefully. We have heard stories about terrible winds that had blown boats over – or of no wind at all. We heard about greedy Europeans who were only interested in our money. Not to mention the risk of being robbed! In Greece a couple in a sailing boat were murdered… And one piece of advice was not to be too Swedish! I´ll let you interpret that one. We heard of other stories too; about lovely sailing and other experiences. About seeing other cultures and meeting other sailors. In the Canal de Bourgogne we met an English couple, Gary and Debbie Day. We only had time to talk for about a quarter of an hour, but their advice got stuck: “Don´t listen too much to other people, follow your own instincts and enjoy yourselves!” They were on their way home after 14 years in the Mediterranean.

 We have nevertheless prepared ourselves as much as we can. The boat is equipped the way it is and we are continuously maintaining it. Then we have got the human factor. To prepare ourselves as much as possible we bought two books whilst in Paris. “Imray Mediterranean Almanac” and “Imray Mediterranean Cruising Handbook” written by Rod Heikell. We thoroughly recommend these books. They cover everything! From descriptions of harbours, seven language dictionary, description of countries and what documents are needed, weather service, contact information to all sorts of authorities, description of the marine life (with pictures of fish,etc.).  Even first aid! You also find descriptions of prevailing winds around the Mediterranean and how they are formed.  Very good! If a low pressure is passing over central France you can expect a strong Mistral wind through the Rhône valley and out to the sea. The cold air has nowhere to go but through the valley between the mountains and the  Central Massif. It is narrow and the wind  increases in strength. There are a lot of different winds with many names, which behave in certain ways. The book describes why. It is good to know why the weather is behaving a certain way and maybe you can be a step ahead in your planning this way. There are also National Parks described, i.e. where they are, what you can and cannot do there, etc.

Very good books and we are happy to have them, but now to some of our own experiences so far.









On the 19th June we left with hardly any wind as the Mistral had blown itself out. Excited we motored out into the bay outside of Port St. Louis. We were met by a huge swell and a sun haze. We were not at all prepared for all the merchant ships at anchor all over the place. We saw at least 30 of them. We had to zigzag between them and have eyes in the back of our heads as we crossed the fairway. It took a good while before we were through to the other side of them. The Mediterranean is quite a small sea compared to others, only 3 700km long and has an area of 2,974,025 km2, the average depth is 1 429m and the deepest part is 4 648m. Would there be a lot of ships on these waters?





We set our course just south of Marseille and its´ little “fjords” or “calanques”  as the French say. A tip from Karl-Olof and Barbro (Thank you!). We didn´t see any more big ships on this leg. We went on the engine all the way as the wind died completely. In the end we got to the area we were looking for and started to search for the entrance to the fjord Sormiou. It wasn´t easy to find, but if you know it is there, you will see it when you get closer.







There were already several boats anchored there. In the end we found a place we thought was safe enough. The anchor seemed to hold at the first attempt and we were checking our bearings to keep a close watch that it was. The water was completely clear and we could see the bottom and all the fish swimming around. A whole shoal of fish swam under the boat, which I, after looking in the book, think consisted of sardines. Now it really felt as if we were in the Med. To make sure that we didn´t drift during the night, we programmed our anchor watch on our portable GPS. Satisfied we settled for the night after seeing a fantastic moon rise.






What a night! A lot of swell came in and we were going around our anchor like a merry-go-round. But it held! We had just fallen asleep when our anchor alarm started bleeping and we shot out of bed to check the situation. We were still in the same spot. This happened several times during the night.  Later we have been told that sometimes when the satellites are looking for us there might be a moment between them before they get a fix on us. That is when our alarm goes off. Or perhaps we programmed it wrong…  In any case, we hardly got any sleep at all.





When we were in Avignon we talked to a French man who described the island of Pourquerolles as a Paradise. We decided to make a stop there on our way towards Corsica. The promising wind soon died again and we put the engine and autopilot on. We were sitting in the cock pit enjoying the view. The mountains we saw were part of the “Massif des Mures” and it was fascinating to see how the clouds formed over the peeks.




In our “Almanac” there are harbours described with different charge bands, i.e. how much the approximate harbour fee is. They varied between 1-5 and 5 being the dearest. Pourquerolles was a 4, so we expected quite an expensive fee. We were quite surprised to find that it “only” cost us €19/night. We decided to stay for a couple of nights and take it easy.



The island really is like a Paradise island! The area is a National Park with certain restrictions, but there are several bays where to anchor apart from a guest harbour.







We went to the beach to have a swim, but after sitting on the beach for four hours we couldn´t take any more. We strolled through the lush trees back to the boat. Later we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying a nice meal (filled mushrooms au gratin with a nice wine) when we saw a rubber dinghy coming our way. It was the skipper from “Dream of Baladin” who´d anchored just outside. It was nice to see him again and see that he was recovering from his earlier injuries.



Later in the evening we planned our crossing to Calvi in Corsica. We expected the trip to take us 23 hours taking certain conditions into account. The weather report sounded good with some wind, so we were hoping to be able to hoist our sails. This would be the first time we were on a longer trip than just for the day.




In the morning there was a good breeze blowing and we were looking forward to hoisting our sails. We had the sails up for about three hours before the wind died again. It was lovely to be able to switch the engine off and let the wind swish you along. We enjoyed it while it lasted.




The auto pilot got switched on again. Now we had something else to look at as several dolphins swam and tumbled around the boat. It was fantastic to see them jumping before the bows of the boat. It isn´t easy to catch them with the camera, but here is a little bit of one.





The water settled more and more with a few swells as the evening wore on to a fantastic sunset. It was surprising how fast the sun went down. It didn´t take long before we saw Venus shining like a bright lamp in the sky and soon afterwards all the other stars. And so many! And they felt so close!







The boat made steady progress forward and I went to bed to catch some sleep before my watch started. Mike´s watch was between 22.00 – 02.00 and mine 02-00 – 06.00. I asked Mike to wake me when the moon was coming up – and what a moon rise it was! Breathtaking. Our camera isn´t good enough to get a good picture, unfortunately. The radar worked very well and you could easily see how fast larger ships were traveling so that you had time to change course if need be. We saw a few ships, but not many. I was sitting there dreaming under the stars when a huge splash made me jump out of my skin. It was a dolphin jumping just next to me…



We saw the mountains of Corsica early in the morning and when we got closer we could see the snow on the top.




We moored on a buoy in the bay by Calvi Citadel and that was 24 hours after we left Pourquerolles.







We didn´t need to change our courtesy flag here as we were still in France. We arrived in Corsica on the 23rd June and left on the 19th July. We didn´t intend to stay so long, but the island was very fascinating and we wanted to see as much as possible of it. We therefore decided to make our way almost around the whole island before we crossed over to Elba and Italy.




We stayed three nights in Calvi. Mostly to recuperate after the crossing as we didn´t get much sleep and also to look around. We rowed in with our little dinghy as we didn´t get ourselves an outboard – but all of a sudden that seems like a good idea.





The man in the boat next to us gave Mike a lift in.




Here I saw this statue – a working woman. The first time I have seen one like it.

 Calvi was built at the beginning of the 13th century and is divided in two parts. The Citadel and the harbour area. Without delving too deep into history we can mention that the connection to Genoa as a trading centre has been very strong. The influence of Genoa over Corsica has been very significant over the years.


 The harbour area, where the guest harbour is, is a big tourist area with a lot of restaurants and shops. You get quite astonished about what tourists are expected to buy…

 In Calvi we met a Swedish couple on their boat “Tranquility”, Lennart and Rosie. It was nice to say “hello” as we didn´t have time for any socializing.



The west coast of Corsica is very mountainous with steep rocks going down to the sea. There are a lot of coves and bays where you can anchor. The next port of call for us was Galleria where we tied up on a buoy. Here we really enjoyed ourselves swimming and reading good books. We also slept well here.




We planned to find a lot of little coves on our way down to the southern parts of Corsica where we could stop and enjoy ourselves. Our next destination was Girolata where we were swinging on the anchor. Several other boats were already there when we arrived. The anchor held this time as well and we programmed the anchor watch very carefully. It beeped only once and when we checked we hadn´t moved at all. But what kept us awake was something completely different.







Swell. It felt as if we were inside a tumble dryer! Everything around us was stowed away, so we didn´t have things flying about our ears. But, what we had in the cupboards wern´t stowed more than the fact that they were put in there. Plates, glasses and other things were rattling around in there. It took us a while to get everything stowed and quiet. Then we laid there and listened – what was that noise and where did it come from? When day light eventually came we were absolutely exhausted.




There was a westerly wind blowing right into the cove which also increased the swell. We felt that we couldn´t stay where we were, but we were too tired to cope with sailing. It was now blowing a good sailing wind. We decided to leave on the engine and put the autopilot on. So we sat in the cockpit and kept watch instead of sailing. It was a shame – but safer.




The mountains we were passing were majestic and changed colour as the sun shifted. The mountains of western Corsica are of granite and several peeks are over 2000m - Monte Cinto is the highest at 2 710m.




There was a strong westerly wind that day and the coves we were looking at didn´t look very sheltered. When we looked closer on the charts it said in blue writing. “Houle fréquente”, which means “frequent swell”. The decision to go to Ajaccio was not difficult to make.




Apart from being a very old ancient town from the Roman times Ajaccio is also known as the town where Napoleon was born. Today it is a very busy port. There are two guest harbours, one commercial port and two ferry terminals. And one railway station…




We stayed one week in Ajaccio and took the time to go on an excursion up to the mountains. Ajaccio is a very beautiful town with a lot of exotic flowers and plants. It feels strange to see our little house plants as big trees. Here is Mike in front of a mixture of flowers and plants.




We caught the train from Ajaccio to Vizzavona which is more or less in the middle of Corsica. The train consisted of two carriages and was an old diesel train. It was huffing its´ way up the montainsides to about 900 m high. The service goes between Ajaccio and Bastia. Sometimes it felt as if we were traveling on air as we crossed narrow bridges. The windows were very dirty so we couldn´t take any pictures. 



We were just beneath Monte d´Oro, 2 389m high. We didn´t intend to climb all the way up, but decided to make our way to the Cascades de la Anglais, the English waterfalls. We were curious of course.



We followed a path into the forest. The forest consisted mostly of beech and larch trees. It was lovely trekking along in the cool shadows of the trees listening to the birdsong.





We had a fair way to go before we got to the falls. Here we saw the first animals we´d seen in Corsica – little lizards.







All of a sudden we saw lots of people sunbathing and swimming in the pools beneath the falls. There wasn´t just one fall, but several – one after the other.


After a while the path disappeared and we had to start climbing “for real”.





The water was icy cold so we didn´t swim, but dipped our feet whilst we were eating our picnic. You could almost hear our feet sizzling…





The view was fantastic up here. Vizzavona lies in between two Corsican regions, i.e. the north west mountains and the southern massif. 1300 hectares of forest grows here. It is a big contrast to the barren cliffs by the sea.



I just had to take this picture of roots. It is amazing how the tree has survived in these stony surroundings. It only goes to show that you cannot grow without strong roots…







It really felt in our bodies that we had been trekking best part of the day, but we were happy and pleased that we had experienced another side of Corsica.



In Ajaccio there is a very good service. When you go shopping at the SPAR shop they will deliver your goods to the boat. We stocked up with heavy goods such as water, milk, juice, etc and it felt good not having to carry all this lot back.



Here we met up with Lennart and Rosie and their boat Tranquility again. Thank you for a very nice evening and “Congratulations!” Lennart. Better late than never.





We were very happy with our stay in Ajaccio when we hoisted our sails on the  4th July. It was a fantastic feeling to sail! The boat is actually a sailing boat, but  several people have told us that a lot of time is spent motoring to get anywhere. We have to agree.



The wind started to pick up and it didn´t take long before we heard a gail warning on the VHF. We were on our way to Bonifacio, but decided to go into Propriano instead. We were going on a reaching course tack without any problems, but the waves were getting bigger. The entrance to the harbour was difficult to maneuver, but well described in our book. The harbour was full but we were allocated a place on a disused key with several others who had reached Propriano as a port of refuge. There was no electricity or water, but the fee was still €28:40. A bit expensive we thought…



We stayed only one night in Propriano and headed for Bonifacio. On this southern tip of Corsica you can see the limestone cliffs with its´ caves from a long distance away. You can see the town of Bonifacio high on the cliffs. – but how do you get into the guest harbour?




We found the entrance at long last.



The guest harbour was full, but we got the advice to go to one of the coves we passed on the way in. One of them seemed full up, but in the other there were only two boats. After a lot of work we got tied up aft and two anchors at the bows.  We slept well that night, but in the afternoon the next day both anchors drifted and we made our way into the harbour.



There was a nice surprise in store as we moored. The “Kings Ransom” was moored at the same quay!  In almost all the places we have been to there is an Irish Pub – and there is one in Bonifacio too. We tested it together with John and Amber and found it to our satisfaction. John and Amber left Bonifacio before us and as they were going south towards Sardinia we didn´t expect to see them again. They were going to the Golfe de Rondinara first.


The countryside around Bonifacio is quite spectacular with the limestone cliffs and is of course very popular. The quay was full of restaurants, bars and tourist shops. In the evening and during the nights the music was sounding with its´  base sound of  “dounk dounk”…  We can´t say that it was a quiet harbour – but it was a safe one. We took a few pictures here…




When we rounded the southern tip of Corsica and went up the east coast the landscape changed dramatically. The coast line flattened out and we saw long sandy beaches. This leg wasn´t going to be a long one. We planned to make our way to Golfe de Rondinara, which was supposed to be a good anchoring bay. The bay was exactly what you would expect an Mediterranean bay to be like. When we got closer to the beach we saw that the “Kings Ransom” was still there. We had a lovely day with a lot of swimming and nice company with John and Amber.




The bay soon filled up with all sorts of boats as it was very popular and had a lot of space. Everybody was swinging on their anchors and we didn´t see anybody who had problems with crossing chains or such like. During the night the wind turned from having been westerly to being easterly. In the morning it was blowing right into the bay. We decided to make tracks.




The sails were hoisted and we were making good speed as we were making our way towards Porto Vecchio. We had to get hold of a dentist as Mike had problems with a tooth. The guest harbour staff were very helpful and booked us a time for 16.30. This was a Friday afternoon in the month of July – quite fantastic. The tooth was fixed and we carried on the next day.



Porto Vecchio is a very old port which in ancient times was called Syracusan. During some of its´ time it was considered dangerous during certain times of the year as malaria and other fevers were rampant. Today the whole area is popular with tourists for its´ beaches and other activities.


As we were leaving the bay we could hear on the VHF: “Securité Securité Securité” and something about work carried out and that we had to keep a sharp look out. All of a sudden we see two airplanes swooping down towards the sea and filling their tanks up. We felt more that it was up to the planes to keep a sharp look out as they were coming down. We could just accept that they were there.



We wanted to be out sailing again and during this trip we got to try out our “spanker” (spinnaker). It was great when it filled out and you felt the boat getting an extra surge. It doesn´t seem to be common for boats to put their spinnakers up judging by the appreciative comments we got when we moored at Solenzara.



We planned to stay two nights here but ended up staying three. The second of these nights was the 13th July and the national day celebrations started already in the evening. An incredible fire works display broke loose at midnight and after that the celebrations continued. We rested on the 14th (as did everybody else!) and carried on the next day.






The east coast consists of a completely different landscape. The hills were green, there were long sandy beaches all along the coast and there was also farmland to be seen. Corsica has a very complex structure with mountains, a flat delta between the mountains and limestone cliffs in the north and south. A long sedimentary area along the east coast creates this low lying region we can see in the picture.  The island has two unusual resources for this area in the Mediterranean. Forest and water. More than 40 rivers from the mountains irrigate the landscape and create these conditions. Beech-, larch- and chestnut trees are abundant here and of course olive trees. We would like to come back to this island at some time.



Port Taverna was a very pleasant stop. Here you could find everything a sailor could wish for. We did our laundry, went on the internet (€1/hour), did some shopping and went swimming on the nice beach. The whole complex was very professionally organized. (At a distance they all look alike)







On the 17th July we set off on our last leg in Corsican waters and our destination was Bastia. There are three harbours there and two of them are for pleasure boats. We went to Port Toga which is a little bit north of the town. It was a nice harbour where nothing was a problem and the staff were very nice. There is a huge supermarket just by the harbour, so we stocked up again. Here they also had “dounk dounk” music, but it stopped at midnight. (Are we getting old?)





On the 19th July we were on our way to Elba and Italy. We saw Corsica disappearing in the sun haze behind us and were pleased that we spent some time there. Unforgettable experiences and lessons learned. We took our French courtesy flag down, which had been there since the 12th October 2007 and replaced it with the Italian one. Always feels like a solemn and ceremonial moment…






We didn´t have any wind this day so it was engine and autopilot on. There were a fair few boats out and you had to keep a look out. Apart from boats we saw quite a lot of fish jumping about.  Big silvery ones that came down with a great splash. It was difficult to see what they were – perhaps tuna? Or swordfish? As a matter of fact we were having fish for lunch that day. Fried salmon in lemon pepper, pasta and cheese sauce. Very nice too! After six hours we reach Marina di Campo and anchored in a nice cove.



We were so busy swimming and having a nice time so we didn´t take any pictures! We took our snorkling gear out (bought at a boat fair years ago!) and started practicing. A fantastic experience. Mike got the hang of it in no time, but I – well, I don´t like getting my face wet. So there you are! But I have been practicing putting the goggles on and breathing through the tube. I am getting better at it and it is quite fantastic to see the under water world.





We had the wind against us on our leg to Porto Azzuro so we were tacking. It was blowing quite a bit so we put our life lines on for safety. The tacking went well and we were making good speed. We didn´t go to the guest harbour straight away, but anchored in a little bay some way off. Later in the evening we moved closer to the town and anchored in a big bay with several other boats. Here we stayed two nights until it was time to fill up with fresh water, etc.  Now we understood why there were so many boats anchored outside. Our boat being 9,36m long cost €43/night.





We wanted to get ourselves an Italian sim-card for the phone. We soon found out that we couldn´t get this at Porto Azzuro but had to go to Porto Ferraio for this. We jumped onto the bus and had an interesting experience traveling on bendy roads winding along the “inside” of Elba. We got to the shop and explained what we wanted. All we had to do was produce our phone and passports. Passports?? These were safely still on the boat, so we caught the next bus back. Without an Italian sim-card.


  Porto Azzuro


Elba is a beautiful island with nice beaches and a varied countryside with mountains amd lowlands in the middle. Now we wanted to carry on our journey and decided not to explore Elba anymore. The guest harbour fee also influenced our decision…



  Anchor fishing!

 On the 25th July we hoisted our sails and turned our bows towards Talamone on the mainland. It was beautiful sailing weather this day and as our course was southeasterly the northeasterly wind was perfect for our purpose. The wind rudder worked like a dream and we are just as fascinated every time we set it up. Later in the day the wind died down and we hoisted our spanker again. It is very hot here now and the sun is very strong. Both of us get brown very easily, but we are not interested in sunbathing. What we are interested in is to protect our skin as much as possible. Every day we smother ourselves in sun factor 20 and we haven´t got burnt yet.



Talamone is a nice little place with picturesque houses and beautiful views over the sea and also the Tuscany hills. We stayed here two nights and were working with practical tasks. We also got ourselves a new battery as one of the batteries in our bank didn´t seem to charge properly. We took the old one with us as we didn´t find a place to leave it.




It was a beautiful evening and the local boat club had a party on the quay. The party continued in the boats with music, song and laughter. Now it wasn´t “dounk dounk” music, but music from our own era. We were sitting there enjoying it and thinking “this is what we call music”, and we weren´t thinking at all about it getting late.






The following day it was nice sailing weather again and we made our way to the island Giglio. We were up to 7 knots by the time we reached the island and the cove we were looking for. There were boats everywhere (Sunday) and at first we didn´t see anywhere to anchor, but in the end we found a nice spot. We have a little bearing compass, very good, which we used to check our bearings. We stayed here for two nights and we didn´t move at all when we  did our checks.



During this stay we swam a lot, relaxed reading and did some cleaning. We also baked bread and pizzas for the next day. It started to get dark so I hurried to get an evening dip to cool down. Lovely.  The next thing I knew was my arm was stinging. I had swam right into a jelly fish. I had seen them earlier in the day and could establish that they were called “Pelagia nocticula”  (Mediterranean Cruising handbook). In the book it also tells you how to treat burns from these. As I climbed back up into the boat I called out for Mike to mix up a paste with bicarbonate of soda and water. This we spread over my arm which now started to blister. After about 20 minutes the stinging started to subside. Half an hour later I showered and what was left on my arm was big raised welts. Now they look like little pencil marks on the skin. We will see if they will disappear.  Our daughter suggested that it would have been better if Mike had urinated on my arm. Apparently another kind of cure. I shall make sure that we have bicarbonate of soda on board…






It was a nice sunny and windy day as we left towards Riva de Traiano. Unfortunately the southwesterly winds subsided during the day. We tried all sorts of combinations to try carry on sailing, but to no avail. We had to put the engine on in the end with the autopilot. It started to get late and the sun was going down. All of a sudden all our electrical equipment ceased to work. We had about an hours travel left to do. The most important thing to get to work were our running lights. Mike dug our old battery out and connected it to our service battery. The lights came on. The next day we had to find out what was wrong.


  Riva di Traiano

We are no experts in electrics, so we spoke to the harbour master about our problem and that we needed an electrician.  It didn´t take long before we had contact with a man called Paolo who within 15 minutes could see that we had a short in the circuit caused by a duff light bulb. He changed this one and gave us two spares. All for the cost of €10. We had had nightmares about having to change the generators and other things costing us a fortune. The relief was great.

We have two books about electricity on board. One English one called “The 12 volt bible for boats” and a Swedish one which Magnus Sterky has written called “Elsystem för båtar”. Magnus´s book we bought at a lecture and it seems to be easier to understand. Here are two people who are going to study that book. The rest of the day we were looking for a supermarket and found one miles away. The little shop in the harbour has prices that are day light robbery.





There was no wind at all as we left the following day. We put the engine on and carried on along the coast southward. It was an incredible feeling motoring on the surface as you could see the bottom 35m beneath you. It was enough to give you vertigo. The coastline was like one long beach with sun parasols everywhere. We decided to go to Darsena Traiano in the Fiomicino canal. This little harbour is north of Lido di Roma and is a lot cheaper. Here is a boat club that hires out places when they are available. We negotiated a good price for a weeks stay. Apart from doing this writing for the web we intend to look around in Rome.



We have access to water/electricity, a toilet with a shower and there is a gate which is locked at night. It feels adequately safe. The place itself is full of litter and you can find all sorts of things floating in the water. I wouldn´t want to fall in. Here we have experienced the daily routine with a siesta. Quite necessary with temperatures reaching +39oC in the afternoons. At about 8 p.m. everybody seems to go out for a walk and talking. Young and old the same. Sometimes to 1 O´Clock in the morning.



 So here we are planning to go to Rome in the next couple of days. The trip and everything we have experienced so far has been quite fantastic. We have seen and learnt new things, met interesting people and made new contacts. This was the purpose of the trip. I have even dipped my face in the water!

Take care and keep smiling till we get back to you again!