corsica
By Thomas P.

Our bow turned to 270 degrees and was heading Lavezzi islands, which are located at the Strait of Corsica, at 173 nautical miles.

Archipelago of Maddalena

The weather forecasts were about west-northwest winds with force at 3-4 Beaufort. The last great passage of our trip was left and our senses were strained. I marked our route on the GPS and nautical chart too, while checking again the compass. We were travelling with 25 knots, the engine was working at 4.500 rpm and its consumption reached 45 litters per hour.

 

At Tyrrhenian’s embrace

At 10:45 we had already covered an hour trip and our position was N41°15'66" E12°38'97".
The weather was against us, thus without exceeding 4 Beaufort. Although the rib had no problem while its hull was carving the waves imposing its own rhythm, we decreased our speed because of many miles still left. The coasts of Italy began to disappear behind us and the Tyrrhenian Sea was welcoming us. Everything looked fine, and with great smiles we enjoyed our ride on the open sea.

At 11:45 Our position was N41°15'45" E12°16'96". While the weather remained stable, our speed decreased a lot and there were 136 miles left. We were very happy because the trip was still at the beginning and the deep blue was filling our horizon.
There were no vessels or boats around of us and so we were enjoying the solitude of the journey. We were just a small dot moving west, in the vastness of the sea.

At 12:45 the west wind was bringing big swells, which forced us to travel at 16 knots in order to have a smooth and sweet ride. We could travel faster but it wouldn’t be right because on a long journey the primary goal is to travel as relaxed as possible in order to preserve our forces in case of deterioration of the weather. In addition to that, the slower you travel the less strain on the throttle lever and steering there is.
So the engine worked effortlessly at 3.650 rpm, with its consumption reaching 35 litters per hour. Our position was N41°15'78" E11°51'21" and we still had 120 miles left.

Archipelago of Maddalena

At 13:45 the swells got larger losing their periodicity, making our ride quite difficult. The speed decreased at 15 knots, the engine speed at 3.500, while our consumption remained high, reaching 34 litters per hour. Nevertheless we managed to hold steady at our course, something that was also seen from our position N41°15'79" E11°37'18". After four hours we were also at the same latitude. Thus we had travelled 67 nautical miles and there were still 106 left till our final destination.

At 15:45 there was no special change of weather for the next two hours except that the swells began to find their lost periodicity again. We covered 27 nautical miles, during these two hours and having 74 left. Our new position was N41°17'56" E10°54'96".

Archipelago of Maddalena

At 16:45 the sea suddenly changed. It became so smooth, without the slightest wrinkle.
An exciting view was expecting us. Our visibility decreased significantly and the scenery around us was even more mystifying. The great heat with no wind made the sea looking like that was evaporating, and that was the reason perhaps of the limited visibility. Therefore our speed increased considerably reaching 23 knots with the engine working now at 4.000 rpm and the consumption at 41 litters per hour.
Our position was N41°16'33" E10°28'92" and 55 nautical miles were still left. Despite the incredible beauty of this rare picture of the sea, I confess that I was feeling quite intense. So, this amazing and extremely calm sea had fascinated me on one hand while on the other hand it filled me with thoughts. I was wondering whether this enjoyable tranquillity would be followed by a sudden storm.
Whenever I was travelling at the western Mediterranean and was faced with similar situations something bad was happening afterwards. My feeling became stronger when I realized that we were exactly opposite the Strait of Corsica.

 

At the strait of Corsica!

At 17:45 we were travelling at 22 knots at 3.800 rpm, and the consumption at 37 litters per hour. Our position was N41°17'39" E10°03'60", and there were only 36 miles left from our destination.
There were no land around us, but we knew that our rib was approaching the strait of Corsica. On the high crests of swells some wrinkles started to appear which soon became small peaks, a sign that we would soon have a change of weather.
Indeed, after few miles the crests became higher getting broken under their weight. Soon the whole sea got full white, and we realize what was happening, we were in a real mess!

It was the first time that we came up against the Strait’s tough sea and lived a new experience. We stood for a while and slipped into our sea jackets. I exclaimed:"Get ready to fight» and with very good mood we faced the weather. However, two big waves stroke our rib and ‘awoke’ us. The deck filled with sea and the both pumps immediately turned on while we put at once the nautical diary into the cabin.
The whole horizon became grey and the sea was showing its worst face. We began to observe the waves trying to find out their weaknesses, in order to take advantage and be able to achieve a smooth ride.

Archipelago of Maddalena

We were looking desperately to find easy passages between them, but the waves were carrying so much energy that all our efforts were in vain. The spray was incredible but did not worry us a lot, since we were already extremely wet.

At 18:45 having paid my attention to the handling of Rib, with sharp glances at the GPS, I could finally see that we had still 25 nautical miles left. The sea was already rough and I was sure that the more we were approaching the strait of Corsica the worst it was getting. Thus we insisted on going on our course despite the great difficulty.
Our speed was so low that our rib couldn’t get on plane into the mist. The waves were hitting our rib with unbelievable strength and their height was getting threatening. Their length was furthermore so short, that we were trapped and could not react. The crests of the waves were breaking violent everywhere and all our efforts for navigating were entirely unsuccessful.
The handling of the rib was extremely difficult and I was thinking of alternative course. Going on so slow we would arrive at night to the islands Lavezzi, a fact that I wouldn’t like to think not even to my worse nightmares. Taking a look at the nautical chart is enough to make us speechless by the countless reefs around these islands. A real ‘minefield’ of reefs and shoals that it cannot be seen anywhere else in the whole Mediterranean Sea. And I would definitely not like to get trapped in there.

Archipelago of Maddalena

 

Changing our course

At that time our bow was heading far southern than the islands of Maddalena.
I do not know with how many Beaufort we were faced, but there are some rough seas where the numbers are of no significance. The weather was absolutely more than 6 Beaufort, but still that was not the problem. The waves were so violent and rough with their ridges almost vertical that we couldn’t navigate as we wanted. The whole sea seemed as if it was boiling and the tops of the waves were breaking into our right side of the rib. The only thing we could do was to bend and close our eyes to any "attack" of the waves. Eventually, we were forced to turn our bow even southern. We forgot our destination and we the only thing to carry about was to get out to any land as quickly as possible.

At sunset at last, we reached a beach of NE Sardinia. We were so tired that we didn’t mind at all at which point of Sardinia we were. We were so exhausted that we felt like we were at the most beautiful place of the world.

 

The Archipelago of Maddalena

In the next morning we were travelling at the famous archipelago of Maddalena, which is very close to the north-eastern coast of Sardinia. This archipelago is consisted of 7 islands and 55 islets and rocks. It is declared a national park since 1994.

Four main islands: La Maddalena, Caprera, Santo Stefano and Spargi are very close to the mainland and, further out to sea, there are three minor islands: Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli, lying near the straits of Bonifaccio.

La Maddalena is the largest island of the homonymous archipelago and is the only inhabited centre in the municipality. The town is very picturesque and the 18th century buildings look on to streets that are always crowded with people. A walk along the panoramic road which follows the coast offers a spectacular view.

We headed to the NE point of the island and reached the astonishing Cala Lunga.
At that point there is the charming marina called Porto Massimo, with a mooring capacity for 200 boats, which is surrounded by an amazing hotel complex that looks like a small picturesque village.

We went on travelling around the island discovering white beaches with crystal waters.Late at night we returned back to Porto Massimo where we spent our night.
In the next morning we were lying at the small café of marina enjoying a splendid espresso.

Archipelago of Maddalena

 

The islet of Spargi

It is the western island of the group at a distance of 1 nautical mile from Maddalena. With nearly circular shape, it is the third largest island where we can find the most beautiful coasts of the archipelago.

Archipelago of Maddalena

We headed to the south side, where we can find the most spectacular inlet of Cala Corsara. It is a wonderful bay with white sandy beaches and unique colours of he waters. We threw our anchor and couldn’t resist swimming at this wonderful scenery for many hours.

 

Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli

Early at noon we headed 1.5 nautical miles northern at the islands of Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli, which are very close to one another and are separated by very swallow stretches of water. We can find here some of the most magnificent beaches that have made this archipelago very well known throughout the world for their beauty.

Archipelago of Maddalena

At the southeastern point of Budelli there is the most famous beach called Spiaggia Rosa .An original corner of paradise which takes its name from the particular colour of the sand. Its reputation is due to the magnificent pink colour of the sand where the sea meets the beach.

A little bit northern a natural swimming pool is formed named Porto de la Madonna.
A place ideal for giving shelter to boats from all the winds with turquoise and sparkling waters, attracting therefore thousands of boats. After taking pleasure of this magnificent scene we entered after a while in the splendid Santa Maria of the homonymous island. It is the most picturesque corner of the island, the greenest of the archipelago, with white sand and crystal waters.

Archipelago of Maddalena

Archipelago of Maddalena

Archipelago of Maddalena

Archipelago of Maddalena

Archipelago of Maddalena

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