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Overview: Sailing, Elba-Corsica, Sep 2009

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The following is a chronicle of our sailing vacation/adventure from Elba, Italy to Corsica, France and back. 

Let me start with a short introduction on how we finally decided to undertake such a trip.  First of all,  this vacation was Christel’s 50th birthday wish and dream.  Even though neither of us had really ever sailed before, least of all as “active crew members”, it was something that both of us wanted to do. 

Ich hatte schon immer eine Schwäche für Schiffe (insbesondere Segelschiffe) und Meer. Als Teenager verbrachte ich eine 14-tägige Jugendfreizeit auf einen 2-Master vor der Südküste England’s.

Daraus entwickelte sich der Traum, einmal die Welt zu umsegeln ….

Nach einigen Jahren verblasste der Traum zusehends mit jedem Lebensjahr … bis Sommer 2009. Ross fragte mich, was ich mir zu meinem runden Geburtstag wünsche – und setzte alles daran, diesen Wunsch zu erfüllen.

Wir haben nicht die Welt umsegelt, aber ganz großzügig Elba – ein wundervolles Geburtstagsgeschenk.

When we started our initial research into the subject of chartering a sailing trip, we quickly realized that this is not something you plan a few months ahead for.  You really need to start booking at least 6 months to a year in advance.  Initially we searched the internet for skippered Catamaran charters in the Mediterranean, preferably in the Aegean Sea or the Greek islands.   The reason we searched for a Catamaran charter is because we felt it would behave better on the sea, thus lessening the possibility of getting sea sick, even though neither of us knew whether or not we had a tendency towards sea sickness.          

 

Trip overview with the number of Sea Miles (SM) per day.

 TripOverview

The following table are the Harbor costs

Harbor Price € Toilet/Showers Comment
Marciana Marine 44.00 ??, never opened in the morning  
Porto Capraia 55.00 1 € WC 
4 € WC/Shower
1 x WC, 2 x Shower
Macinaggio 49.25 Inc 2 x WC, No Toilet seats
unk. Showers
Bastia 60.00 WC free
2 € Shower
No Toilet seats,
1 x WC, 3 x Shower
Porto Azzurro   Inc. with the charter 1 x WC, 1 x Handycap
2 x Shower

 

A Special Thanks:

Thomas Schlereth:  His encouragement, his sailing bag with everything a sailor needs.

Jen Zacharius: His humor, encouragement and hooking me up with the right contact.

Christian Huhmann:  For being the right contact.

Petra Wahl;, huw yachtcharter, for her efficient and organized support with all the forms, information, etc.

A very special thanks to:  Hannes Hayoz (our Skipper) for his patience with us and bringing us back safely.

Arrival – Sailing, Elba-Corsica, Sep 2009

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Saturday:

We arrived on Elba late Friday afternoon and quickly found a room (low season) in a local hotel in Portoferraio where we spent the night.  On Saturday we arrived early in the afternoon at Porto Azzurro where our sailboat, a Sun Odyssey 43 DS (DS: deck salon), was moored.  Unfortunately, it was still being cleaned after a charter the previous week so we were asked by Theo to come back after 1600 and it should be ready.  We didn’t mind since we needed to do some grocery shopping for our trip.

Samstag: Regen, aber nach dem Frühstück klart es auf und wir besichtigen die Altstadt von Portoferraio, nebst Napoleon’s Stadtvilla, bevor wir zur Basis aufbrechen.

Das Boot wird noch gereinigt – folglich fahren wir um die Bucht in den beschaulichen Ort Poro Azzuro. Nach einem Imbiss wollen wir Lebensmittel aufstocken – aber jetzt ist Siesta :-) für die nächsten drei Stunden!

Wir nutzen die Zeit, um den nordöstlichen Teil von Elba zu erkunden: San Marino und den nordöstlichsten Ort Cavo. Elba hatte einst grosse Eisenvorkommen und überall stösst man auf verlassene Minen und Hinterlassenschaften des Eisenabbaus.

sat_firstlook

Our first look at the sailboat we would spend the next 6 days in.

Unser Boot ….

  sat_christel_likes_the_boat

Here Christel is so happy she can hardly believe it is true.

In der Marina, gegenüber dem Hafen von Porto Azzuro, haben wir unser Boot, die “Go West” , quasi geentert. Theo war mit anderen Kunden beschäftigt und wir haben die Zeit genützt.

 

sat_unpacking

Unpacking our gear and groceries.  This view is from the main cabin looking into the kitchen area. (sorry for the poor lighting, I didn’t use the flash)

Das ganze Zeug muß irgendwie und irgendwo seefest verstaut werden. Nur wo ???

Der Kühlschrank ist von oben zu befüllen, ohne Regale, das wird eine lustige Sucherei werden.

Day 1 – Sailing, Porto Azzurro – Marciano Marina, Sep 2009

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Sunday:

 

PortAzzurroDock

This is where our boat was moored.

Der Ausgangspunkt unseres Segeltörns, die Marina gegenüber dem Hafen von Porto Azzuro.

 

sun_meet_hannas

This is Hannes Hayoz our skipper making his last minute checks before we get underway.

Hannes, unser schweizer Skipper, bei der Bootsübernahme.

 

MarcianaMarinaDock

  This was our destination for the first day, Marciano Marina on the northwest part of Elba.

Das Tagesziel: Marciana im Norden Elba’s.

Unser erster Schlag sollte zur Wassertaufe werden. Es regnet … Frühstück, Sicherheitseinweisungen, Formalitäten erledigen, … es regnet immer stärker.

Törnabsprache – es schüttet. Um 12:45 legen wir ab. Unter Motorkraft umrunden wir die zwei östlichen Halbinsel von Elba, dann klart es auf.  Hannes setzt das Vorsegel, aber der Wind reicht nicht.

Um 16:00 erreichen wir Marciano – Überraschung, da steht niemand am Pier um unsere Achterleinen aufzunehmen :-)

Unser erstes Anlegemanöver (!); achtern festmachen ist mein Aufgabenbereich, Ross muß sich  mit der Muring beschäftigen und vorne Festmachen. 30 Minuten später sind wir sicher vertäut – Mit zwei Murings.

Zum Abendessen koche ich Spagetti und Spezialbolognese.

Ein Absacker an Land und müde fallen alle in die Kojen.

sun_docked_in_marciana_mari

Day 2 – Sailing, Marciano, Elba – Porto, Capraia, Sep 2009

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Monday:

After leaving Elba Christel takes over the steering.

 Traumhaftes Wetter – aber kein Wind.

Leinen los – Hannes drückt mir das Steuer ind die Hand:     “ sobald Du aus dem Hafen bist, nimmst Du Kurs auf 312 Grad.”

Auf halber Strecke setzten wir Segel – und Ross übernimmt das Steuer. Mit 2.5 – 3 Knoten machen wir nicht wirklich Fahrt und nach 1 1/2 Stunden geben wir auf.

mon_christel_steering

 

mon_sea_splash

 Beschaulich plätschern wir durch das Meer.

ChristelJellyFish

Before docking in Porto, Christel goes for a swim in the sea after we anchored in a nice protected cove southeast on the Island of Capraia.

Bevor wir auf Capraia festmachen, ankern wir in einer Bucht zum Baden. (Stand auf meiner Wuschliste).

Das Wasser ist 23 Grad warm und das Meer traumhaft.

mon_christel_swimmimg 

While Christel was swimming around the boat she ran into a Jellyfish.  At the time we were both not really aware that in this area of the Mediterranean Jellyfish have become a real problem over the past several years.

Auf der zweiten, sehr ausgedehnten Runde um das Boot streift mich eine Qualle. (Stand nicht auf meiner Wunschliste)

 mon_christel_jellyfish_stin

This how the sting from a Pelagia Noctiluca looks.

mon_sailing_to_porto

   Underway from Christel’s meeting with the Jellyfish to the  Porto harbor.

Wir nehmen Kurs auf den brandneuen Hafen von Capraia. Dieser ist in den Seekarten noch nicht verzeichnet! Ross sichtet einen Fender im Wasser. Diesen zu bergen gestaltet sich äusserst schwierig. Nach vielen Mühen – es war keiner der unsrigen.

 

CapraiaIslandPorto

Note:  We saw first hand how dangerous night sailing can be.  Returning from dinner in a village on top of the cliffs we had a spectacular view of the harbor below at night.  We noticed how two sailboats were trying to enter the harbor but couldn’t find the opening.  The newly built dike which was built to protect the harbor was not on any map and there wasn’t even a light on it.  Unbelievable, during the day it was not a problem but at night the opening was just a black hole.  They both made it safely.  I spoke to one of the skippers and he was pretty pissed about the situation.

 

mon_ross_mooring

Ross securing the mooring.  This was one of my primary jobs whenever we docked in a harbor.  Normally the mooring line or lazy line is attached to the quay by a smaller lead line.  Sometimes there was a person from the Marina who would hand me the line or  I would take the boat hook and fish the lazy line out of the water from the stern and quickly bring it along either the port or starboard side of the boat to the bow and feed it through the bow chafe and secure it to the cleat.   This was not as easy as it sounds.  The lazy line or mooring line is thick, heavy and usually covered with mud or algae from laying in the water.  Normally I always wore my sailing gloves for this job.

Zu Ross Aufgaben gehörte es, das Boot vorne mittles Muring zu sichern.

 

mon_docked_in_porto

Here our “Go West” is nicely docked stern-to between other sailing charter boats. 

Mediterranean Mooring: stern-to or bow-to is the most common method used in the harbors we visited.

Heck neben Heck, festgemacht im Hafen von Capraia.

Day 3 – Sailing, Porto, Capraia – Macinaggio, Corsica Sep 2009

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Tuesday:

 

 

 

MacinaggioMarina

 

Ross sailing to Corsica.  Finally we were sailing with wind from our stern.

Steuern unter Segel hatte Ross schnell heraus und es hat ihm viel Spass gemacht. Aber es fordert eine gehörige Portion Konzentration. Man muss immer die Wellen und Segwl im Auge behalten und dabei den angestrebten Kurs nicht vergessen.

tue_ross_sailing_to_corsica

Hannes enjoying the sound of the wind in the sails and sunshine.

Hannes vertraut seiner Crew!

tue_hannas_sleeping

View of Hannes & Christel preparing dinner

tue_christel_hannas_cooking

Es ist gar nicht so einfach in der kleinen Kombüse zu kochen. Da der Kühlschrank gleichzeitig als Arbeitsfläche dient, muss sich gut organisieren.

tue_hannas_cooking

Navigation and GPS systems.

Der Kartentisch.

tue_navigation_center

Ross & Christel’s bedroom.  Since it was just the two of us we had Theo remove the partition from the middle of the room to create one large bedroom.

Wir haben die  zwei Achternkajüten zu einer Liegewiese umfunktionieren  lassen. :-)  Normalerweise ist in der Mitte eine hölzerne Trennwand. Dann wird es enger und der Stauraum minimal.

 

tue_master_bedroom

Day 4 – Sailing, Magginagio – Bastia, Sep 2009

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Wednesday: Christel’s Birthday

Ross weckt mich gegen halb sieben, damit wir den Sonnenaufgang beobachten können.  Doch der ist erst 20 min später und ich verbringe ihn auf dem Klo mit der Toilettenspülung.

Ross ist inzwischen Croissant kaufen und wieder zurück löst er das Toilettenproblem mit der Klobrüste.

Ein wundervolles Geburtstagswetter:  blauer Himmel, Sonne -> das vorspricht in der Regel wenig Wind.

Nach einem leckerem Frühstück brechen wir so gegen 10:15 auf.

 

Christel looking concentrated while steering to Bastia.

wed_christel_sailing_to_bas

Our destination, the “Old Harbor” in Bastia.

BastiaCorsicaOldHarbor

 

We arrived in Bastia around 1500 so we could be sure of getting a berth in the Old Harbor, which is the nicest harbor on Corsica.  Unfortunately, there were only a few places left and they were in a very old and unimproved part of the dock.  All of the Lazy Lines had already been taken by the boats which had arrived before us leaving only a few Buoy Moorings for the bow and very poor facilities for securing the stern.  As part of the normal docking procedure, Christel and I would deploy 4 fenders on each side of the boat and 2 on the stern. There is always a little stress when docking under very ideal conditions, but with 2 inexperienced crew members and the need for skilled improvisation, Hannes our skipper was more than a little stressed, to say the least.  First of all, my only experience to date (a couple of days) had been with relatively easy Lazy Lines for mooring.  I had no idea what to do with buoys and when docking there is no time for lengthy discussions about how to do something.  Anyway, Hannes was yelling something to me from the stern in “Schweitzer Deutsch” about using the boat hook to grab the buoy.  I thought he wanted me to grab the cable attached under the buoy and pull that up and tie it to a bow cleat.  No, he wanted me to pull the buoy up with the boat hook and run a line from our boat through the loop at the top of the buoy and secure it on the bow cleat (now I understand :).  Unfortunately there was still too much slack in the buoy mooring to keep the boat’s stern safely off the quay.  See: the pictures below.  The first buoy mooring is pulled so tight it has come out of the water.  So we lowered the dingy and Hannes paddled out (with his hands) to a second buoy and we secured the boat to it with a second line from the boat.

 

wed_bastia_bouy1 wed_bastia_bouy2

Now that the bow was secured we started to secure the stern as well.

The next problem was with electricity for the boat.  Because of our location on the pier we were required to run an extension cable for about 6 meters, however, the extension cable was missing the required plug adapter.  I decided to go to the harbor master and inquire if he had such an adapter.  He spoke no English nor German and my French was not to the level where I could describe the part we needed, so I drew a picture of an adapter on a piece of paper.  He recognized what I wanted and after a bit of searching returned with just what we needed.

Anyway, the docking procedure had lasted about an hour and we were all tired and frustrated, so Hannes and I went to a bar and had a couple of beers and Christel went sight-seeing in the old town.

Das langwierige und unnötig umständige Anlegemanöver im malerischen alten Hafen von Bastia betrachte ich als besonderes Geburtstagsgeschenk von Hannes :-)

wed_basia_night 

thur_bastia_morning

Die “Go West” vor der malerischen Altstadtkulisse von Bastia.

thu_basta_morning2

Day 5 – Sailing, Bastia, Corsica – Lacona Cove, Elba, Sep 2009

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Thursday:

 

LaconaCoveElba

Auf der Wunschliste stand auch: einmal Ankern und die Nacht in einer Bucht verbringen. Unsere letzte Nacht gingen wir dann in der Laconabucht vor Anker.

thu_ross_sunshine

One of Ross primary jobs was hoisting the main sail.

thu_sails_bastia_elba

…  :-) …  wo bleibt der Wind?

thu_ross_sleeping

 

Container ship & Ferry traffic was heavy between Elba and Corsica.  You always have to have someone watching the horizon.  These big ships can come out of the distance at amazing speeds to cross your course.

In den Gewässern zwischen Sardinien, Korsika und Elba ist schon Verkehr. Wir mussten einige Schiffahrtsstrassen kreuzen. Da heisst es aufpassen.

thu_shippingtraffic

 

That afternoon Hannes received a call from Petra Wahl that there was a severe storm warning for Friday, with extremely heavy winds expected.  Our initial choice for an anchorage site was too exposed to the wind and waves so we checked out the charts and selected Lacona Cove.

thu_Anchorages

Ross & Hannes going ashore to buy some groceries for the evening meal.  Getting the boat back into the water from the beach became a very difficult task, both of us were completely soaked and the boat full of water before we could get out past the incoming waves.

Ross und Hannes machen das Dingi klar, um an Land Wasser und etwas für’s Abendessen zu kaufen. Ich bleibe an Board und mache es mir  bei einem Glas Geburtstagssekt gemütlich in der Annahme, das ich viel Zeit habe.

Doch nach einer knappen halben Stunde sind die Männer wieder zurück, kltschnass, das Dinig halb voll Wasser und eingekauft haben sie Wasser und Bier.

Da hätten sie doch gleich an Land schwimmen können :-) Nur mit Mühe kann ich mir das Lachen verkneifen – die beiden hätten mir das wohl sehr übel genommen :-(

thu_going_shopping

 

Anchoring:

We had anchored several times over the past few days but only for 1-2 hours.  It was my job to let the anchor out and back in.  The skipper would monitor our depth and signal me how much to let out and I would let him know how many meters we had already laid by watching for the 10 meter color markings on the chain.  I would then signal the skipper when I thought the anchor was firmly set.

One of the important lessons I learned was how to tell if the anchor is really set by gently pressing my foot against the anchor cable as it stretches over the anchor well. 

For overnight anchoring especially with other sailboats in the area, it became much more important that the anchor was really set well and that we knew how much anchor we had laid.  This would have an impact on how much potential travelling motion we would have around the anchor.

thu_anchor_strategy

The Storm:

The storm that was supposed to hit on Friday actually came Thursday evening.  Several other sailboats came into the same cove to anchor out of the storm as well.  We watched very carefully to make sure they didn’t drop anchor to close to us.

After dinner that evening we sat upon the deck and enjoyed the moon and stars and the warm wind that was getting noticeably stronger and the rocking of the boat from the waves.  We could see that our boat as well as all the other boats were travelling around the anchor.  Thank God, we had all kept a good distance from each other because serveral times during the night each of the boats had travelled 360’ around their anchors.

Christel and I finally went to bed around 2300 but I could barely sleep.  Christel managed to sleep like a baby through the whole storm. By 2400 the storm was finally on us.  I had never experienced anything like the rocking from side to side in a sailboat before. The gale force wind made an howling sound as it past over the mast and gear on the sailboat.  Not even the rides at the Oktoberfest can compare and they last only 5-10 min, this storm lasted for 3-4 hours.  On the other hand we had paid a good deal of money for this ride :) The severe rocking from port to starboard and back created a loud sloshing and booming sound from the wave action in the water and diesel tanks, which made it sound as if the boat was going to literally come apart. I kept thinking about what Thomas Schlereth had told me before we began this trip, that theoretically modern sailboats were almost impossible to sink. At this moment I really had some serious questions about this theory.

Around 0100 I tried to get out of bed and go up top side but the rocking motion made it extremely difficult to walk and keep my balance, throwing me against doors, frames and walls.  I finally made it top side to see that Hannes was still laying there but with his eyes open.  He too was nervous about our anchor holding and the other boat’s anchors as well.  The crew of one of our neighbor’s sailboat had set two anchors in the evening, one from the stern and one from the bow but the rocking from the wind and waves had changed their minds and during the night they had removed the stern anchor and let their boat run free.  Hannes admitted to me that this was probably the worst storm he had ever been through on a sailboat.

Then in the morning the storm was gone as if it had never happened, and it was hard to believe how peaceful the sea could be.

Die ganze Geschichte kann ich nicht in deutschen Worten widergeben – ich habe geschlafen. Zwar bin ich 2-3 Mal etwas orientierungslos aufgewacht, aber sobald die Hand meinen Ross fand,  habe ich selig weitergeträumt …

Day 6 – Sailing, Lacona Cove – Porto Azzurro, Sep 2009

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Friday:

After the tremendous wind and waves last night it is hard to believe how calm the water is Friday morning.

Keine Ahnung wovon die Männer an diesem Morgen redeten, ich habe geschlafen wie ein Murmeltier :-)

fri_after_breakfast

 

  Takelage der “Go West”

thu-Takelage

 

Morgentoilette: Statt Duschen ein langes erfrischendes Bad im Meer und danach mit Süsswasser abbrausen …

 

tue-after-swimming

Other boats in the cove start taking off ….

Tue-boats-start-taking-off

 

tue-boat-takes-off

 

This was by far the best sailing day.  After breakfast, swimming and breaking anchor at noon time we caught some great winds from the NE and finally reached 8-9 knots.  This was my first experience steering with such speeds, and I must admit it was extremely challenging. The boat was leaning into the starboard almost to the deck.  Holding the boat steady against the wind with the oncoming waves required more concentration and strength than I had ever imagined.  Christel was scared with me at the helm and wanted Hannes to take over control.  Actually I too was a little nervous as well about the sailboat capsizing if I lost control (I know this can’t happen) and didn’t mind to much when he finally took over the helm.  It was still a fantastic experience.

Der letze Törntag und endlich ausreichend Wind. Wir konnten die ganze Etappe segeln, teilweise zwischen 8-9 Knoten. Mit der starken Schräglage des Bootes war mir erstmals mulmig zu Mute, aber man gewöhnt sich daran und es macht Spaß. Die letzten Seemeilen mussten wir kreuzen. Das gefällt mir mit am besten.

Das vorletzte Anlegemanöver: Tanken.

Hier wird das Boot seitlich an der Pier festgemacht. Hannes Hoffnung, der Tankwart würde uns zur Hand gehen zerschlug sich – von diesem war keine Spur zu sehen.  Auch die Öffnungszeiten der Tankstelle waren nicht klar ersichtlich. Nach des Tankwarts Siesta konnten wir aber den Diesel aufnehmen.

fri_day6_map

Everything secured and the boat inspected and handed over to Theo, we have a last picture together.

Die Besatzung der “Go West:

Skipper Hannes und die Crew: Christel und Ross. 

 

fri_lastfairwell

Die “Go West” wieder sicher vertäut in Ihrer Heimatmarina.

fri_lastview