our Journey

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

New blog site

We have renamed our 2013 site to http://australsailing.blogspot.com.au/.  This site currently contains our 2013 blog and will record our 2014 blog and future years.  Happy reading.

In 2014 we start blogging on 15 May and will be in the Ionian islands for the entire time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Solenzara will be home for 'Austral' for 9 months. 
We spent three days preparing the boat for storage, wandering around the village and eating out every night.  We were winding down; it was hot and humid and we lacked the motivation to do anything but take it easy.   
Approaching Solenzara
a birds eye view of the marina
Anne up the mast  securing the wind cups for winter
Nevertheless all was in place and well stored when the boat was lifted out of the water for a 2 month stay on the land followed by 7 months back on the water. This was brought about by a confusion about just how much it was going to cost to store the boat for the whole time on land.

looking down the mast

A sad last look at the Austral before it went onto the hard.
Ready to be 'wrapped' for winter
We moved into a nice room at the Maquis et Mer hotel with a pretty view of the sea and the marina and slept in a real bed for the first time in 3 months - heaven!
The houses of Solenzara
The scene from our hotel window
 On Sunday we caught the bus back to Porto Vecchio and boarded the Pascal Paoli, a small ferry for 500 people.  We had an comfortable inboard cabin and although the motor vibrated away all night, we still got some sleep.

We arrived back in Marseille at 8 the next morning.  It was a comfortable trip and really quite economical.  It was not difficult to catch the Metro from Jolliette to Gare St Charles, board the fast train and 3 ½ hours later arrive in Paris.

'Au revoir' France, we'll miss you!


Or in the Corsu language, Santa Ciprianu. 

From Porto Vecchio we sailed to this beautiful bay. This stay was one of the highlights of our travels.  It felt like we had anchored in a bay on a tropical island.  The water was perfectly clear, the sand was white and wavelets lapped the beach.  Children played on the beach and in the water.

Families rested under umbrellas or in lounge chairs as they sipped strong coffee or cocktails.  Some women, old and young, wandered around topless. Everyone was pleasantly relaxed (including David).

We took up the challenge of catching the fish that milled around our boat when we threw bread morsels into the water.  We caught a couple and enjoyed them for tea. 

Our first night ‘on the hook’  was calm and uneventful.  We are now determined to spend more time in places like this.


The sail to Porto Vecchio was as usual motoring and sailing. It seems we've managed to miss just about every beam wind on offer, which was disappointing to say the least. At least we made it through the dreaded Bonifacio Straits unscathed.

yachts moored in the bay

Slowly contemplating the approach

 The approach to the Marina at Porto Vecchio was a little tense. There only appeared to be a very narrow channel from the outer heads to the entrance. Either side, the channel was apparently quite treacherous (3-4 meters) and entering at night time could be deadly for the inexperienced. It happens to be the same channel that it used by the ferry we would later return to the mainland in.

We made it ok then entered the marina.

A minor catastrophe when David fumbled the reversing into the mooring and clipped a boat.  Austral now has a few scars to remind us of the event.

Once more a marina facing a string of restaurants  on the esplanade, a tourist village high on the hill, but with a couple of huge supermarkets on a Greenfield site just out of town.  In the village we stopped at a bistro whose sign said it was a fast food shop.  We entered, sat down, waited, went over to the waitress, placed an order, watched the staff float around talking to each other, after 20 minutes, asked if we could have our food and got told off because we are on holiday and should relax.

We walked the 2 km to the supermarket.  It was huge, bigger than what we have in Aus.  It was packed with fellow tourists pushing around trolleys packed with huge quantities of food.  Everything was very reasonably priced, sometimes even cheaper than mainland prices.

leaving in the early morning


The approach to Bonifacio from the sea.

The view to the sea from above the cliffs
 This is a real ‘hole in the wall’ calanque.  Discovered over 800 years ago, this finger of sea that extends 2 kilometres inland and must have been a safe haven for many old sailing boats and pirates.  Today it is a striking tourist venue. The old High Village is surrounded by a towering wall.  Inside it is a captivating blend of ancient housing and shops. It is perched on a limestone cliff, part of which has eroded away under some of the houses.

The entrance to the city and marina
Boats lined up at the entrance

 The port was busy and from the size of some of the yachts, a popular place for those special people to drop in.  On the afternoon of our arrival,  two huge yachts, one a ketch and the other a motor ship reversed all of the way into the marina leaving about 6 metres on either side for the many tourist sight-seeing boats to whizz by.

The view from above the marina

The quay side was one long string of restaurants with other shops immediately behind them.  That night and the next night at 10 pm, the local DJ cranked up his dance music to full volume and didn’t stop until 2 am. It didn’t leave us with a positive memory of the place.

Looking down from the city perched high above

A restaurant in the old city

Ancient doorways and entrances in the hilltop city

The ancient wooden ceiling of a lane in the city

As we motored out, we could see relics of  old ports and fish processing plants carved into the limestone. One mooring cleat was an ancient anchor half buried vertically into the quay.
Our journey through the Straits of Bonifacio was full of tension. All of the pilot guides warned of the funnelling effect of the gap between Corsica and the nearby Sardinia.  There are islands, rocks and wreck buoys aplenty.

Fortunately there was no wind and we motored all of the way to Porto Vecchio.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


We chose to tie up to a mooring bay at this holiday village rather than go on to Propriano.  The sea was calm and the water clear, ideal for snorkelling which we did.  Once more, we put-putted around in the dinghy.  We motored into shore to do some shopping but found that lunch went from 12:30 to 4:30! This certainly was a place to relax. 

The clear water surrounding our boat

 We enjoyed watching children being coached to sail little Optimus and Hobie Cat sail boats.  The sandy beach stretched around the entire arc of the bay and was lightly populated with sun lovers and swimmers. 

We stayed for 2 days and simply relaxed.

Leaving Porto Poll

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica.

 The sail from Cargese allowed us to experience some of the most beautiful coastline of Corsica. Winds were fairly light and as usual they came from the south most of the time. Only as we turned into the Bay near Ajaccio did we experience winds slightly on our beam. Still We looked forward to being in the large capital city.

 The high rise apartments are somewhat of a confrontation after the rustic villages we had already visited.  As we approached we could see what looked like a perfectly preserved ancient village, but as we came closer it became obvious that it was in fact a cemetery full of family crypts.  These continued all along the coast to Ajaccio

The crypts by the sea as we approached Ajaccio
The boats in the marina dwarfed by a huge cruise ship
 We moored in the marina in the shade of an ancient citadel and soon got into a daily routine of wandering down the nearby streets full of shops selling everything the tourist would want.  We were surprised by the range and quality of the art work in the Fesch Art Gallery, especially the lively and well composed paintings by Corsican artists.

 Once more the huge cruise ships dominated the harbour;  they certainly were amazing to watch as they ‘steamed’ off their moorings out into the bay.

the harbour

net repairing
Surprisingly, there is still a lot of fishing activity at the harbour. Fresh fish is then sold at the fish market at fairly reasonable prices.

Bouganvillia everywhere

The city is well developed and appears to be in a renovation phase. Many buildings have been recently decorated with friezes that stretch around the eves, while massed plantings of bougainvilla are scatted around public buildings and private homes.

We walked a lot, taking in the sights and smells of Ajaccio. Once again we were amazed to see orange trees fully loaded with fruit untouched in the streets.

Ajaccio's favourite son, Napoleon Bonaparte is celebrated everywhere in the city. Without knowing the itinerary, we visited his memorial as part of our "petite train' tour (my legs had given up and appreciated a rest). Apparently he was born in the town and this has now become Ajaccio's claim to fame. Napoleon did not have the same fondness as he visited the town only once after he found fame.

The crowds of visiting French tourists were obviously very impressed buying souveneirs and trinkets from the many 'Napoleon' stores around the streets.


The little train passed so many small fruit and veg shops, all selling produce at excellent prices.

My last indulgence - a chocolate crepe , with, chantilly of course!
The weight is starting to go on as it's so tempting to regularly snack on patisseries and coffee.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Delightful Cargese!

Thank goodness we found this place after the awful time in Calvi.

Once again, the wind was hopeless, so we sunbaked and fished, although seriously there are no fish in the Mediterranean! Still it kept us busy.

Once we arrived, everything was back to perfect again. The marina was very small, quiet and so peaceful. Again we used the dinghy to get around (it's now permanently stored at the back of the boat) and life was easy. Services were excellent, WiFi strong and free and good coffee was had at each of the 4 restaurants on the marina's edge.

looking from our boat to the shore

 The town itself was up the hill about a kilometer walk away, so we made the trek up the road behind the marina, past the quaint cemetery with little mausoleums and into the busy town.
the family mausoleums and graves above the marina

 Coming up the path you past between two churches either side of a small valley, one Greek orthodox, the other Roman Catholic.

As usual, we stocked up on drinks, fruit and delicacies, had coffee and panini and wandered around the busy narrow streets. I cannot imagine doing this walk too often.

oversized panini lunch

The views from the top of the track were incredible. Our boat is lined up against the breakwater wall with only a dozen others. In high summer it would be impossible to get in.

The view from half way up the mountain.

It seems some well meaning person has introduced prickly pear and now it's all over the hill.