Leaving on our starboard the cape Pertusato, we were navigating at the southwest coast of Corsica, looking forward to facing Bonifacio, located two miles above.
We were travelling quite slowly beside the coast, admiring the white vertical cliffs that were skipping into the deep blue waters. Eventually, at the end of the white rocky coastline, the houses of Bonifacio started to appear, built on tops of the flat rocks. The sight was unique, and certainly much more impressive than even the best photo we had seen when we were planning this trip.
Our satisfaction was obvious, since this was the main destination, of the whole trip.
We were approaching the vertically sliced coastline and were standing silent to admire the picturesque scene, just like a fairytale. The tall houses were paled with pale colours and seem to be on the air, 70 meters above the sea level.
Keeping on our course we arrived at the entrance of the famous fiord, facing NE.
Having the impression that we were at a great river than at sea, we were cruising slowly, admiring another magnificent creation of nature. As were entering the spectacle was getting even more impressive.
The traffic boat was incredible as yachts and tourist boats that carry people come and go constantly. However we knew that we were at one of the most famous ports at Mediterranean and so we were waiting a lot to find a bath for the rib.
Without wasting any time we got ready, took our photos and cameras with us to discover the town.
At the southwest side of the port the main centre of Bonifacio lays. Restaurants, café and shops are next one another and many people walk around the crowded street.
After walking a few minutes, we reached the church St. Erasme, built in the 13th century and dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen. Road Monte Rastello starts from here leading to the old town, built on the top of peninsula.
We soon reached the fisrt beautiful "balcony" just below the protective walls of the old city. The small and whitewashed church of Saint Roch lies here, from where we can admire the whole magnificent coastline. From that little church, the second path of Montee St. Roch, begins which with wide steps leads us to the impressive main gate of the castle, Porte de Genes.
As exciting the view at Bonifacio from the sea is, the sight from the top at sea is even greater.
The old town was built in the 9th century and is throughout like a living museum, filled with historic buildings since the era of Genoese, wonderful churches, and many stone narrow alleys, through which the walk is a truly memorable experience. This enchanting medieval city, which is considered as the oldest of Corsica, is visited daily by thousands of tourists.
After many hours of walk around the stoned alleys, full of magical memories, we returned to our rib.
The length of the coastline of Corsica is about 290 nautical miles and the west side of the island is the most impressive.
Through the great thunderstorm<
Getting out of the channel of Bonifacio the clouds hided the sun and we were navigating at a wintry scene. A great storm was forming a few miles ahead.
We were near the Cape de Zivia, when we saw an impressive and terrible at sight form of black clouds. It seemed to come from the famous "Gulf of Lions".
The storm got lower just a few meters above the sea level. There was nothing to tell that under the thick clouds there was a mess! The ultimate calmness just before the thunderstorm strikes. We managed to close the door of the cabin and after a few seconds the thunderstorm began. The first strong gusts of wind were a fact and the short swallow waves started to appear which soon became very aggressive. The wind was blowing very intensively and pushing the rib in every direction. The rain was falling strongly and the fog covered everything. Our visibility was not overwhelming 20 meters. We were at the mercy of the storm. We decreased even more our speed since we couldn’t see anything through the fog and the rain while the gusts were more than 50knots. We couldn’t keep our eyes open in no way. We were alone, the storm and us... All we had was patience, discipline and trust not only to our rib but to ourselves too. .We were keeping distance from the coast because in case something was going wrong the thunderstorm would crash the rib on the rocks. The thunderstorm was very strong, meaning that it could last for a while. Finally, the storm passed by us after an hour and the rib was in a very bad situation. We immediately entered the gulf of Campomoro, where we stopped for a while to change our clothes as well as to dry the wet ones.
At Cargese and the Gulf of Porto
Having big swells on our portboard we were entering the Gulf Sagone. At the northern point of this Gulf there is Cargese port, above which the homonymous village is built. This village is of great historic significance, since the first habitants here come from Mani from Peloponnesus of Greece. We were entering very slowly at the port which was full of fishermen’s boats. We moored beside a boat and climbed the high breakwater to take some photos. Afterwards we went on to the village. After 20 minutes we reached the church of St. Spiridon, which is a very nice sightseeing. Without any doubts, this church built in 1820 is a real jewel for Cargese as well as a historic Greek monument. We were touched as we were walking on the paths and were seeing roads and shops called with Greek names, such as Rue de Grece, Rue de Magne, restaurant Thalassa etc. Cargese is a very tranquil village and relaxed us very much after the tiredness of the sea.
In the next day we headed to Gulf of Porto, which is the most impressive one at the west side of Corsica. Its whole coastline is an extremely remarkable sight and therefore it was declared as Region of Cultural Heritance.
We had already reached the middle of the bay and we were cruising quite close to the southern coastline. The sight of the red rocks was very impressive, while somewhere up at a height of 400m there is the famous region named les Calancques and is one of the most impressive places of Corsica. It is a "stone garden" consisting of incredible red rocky formations. These rocks in combination with the extraordinary view at the gulf are one the most picturesque scenes of the island. It is one of the most attractive places for many people all over the world.
Approaching the deepest point of the bay we were fascinated by the magnificent landscape that was in front of us. We were just opposite the mouth of a large river, which pours its waters into the sea. This river lays among a wide beach and a tall rock entering for several meters into the sea, on top of which an impressive Genovese tower dominates.
Behind this rock and along the northern shore of the river the small village of Porto is built, from which the entire bay has got its name. Without any hesitation I would say that this place as well as Bonifacio, are the most exciting parts of the western side of Corsica. The whole picture of the landscape, with the towering mountains surrounding the magical corner full of vegetation, consist a rare and special treasure for the whole Mediterranean.
We were standing there watching this splendid scenery, when we realized that it would be very dangerous to go into the river, where there is Marina of Porto. It would be dangerous because the enormous swells were striking onto the mouth of the river. The only way to enter was to pass very quickly so as not to be thrown by them on the rocks.
After a few moments of concentration, the throttle level pushed rapidly and with a great speed we were breaking the big wave that was closing the mouth of the river and immediately we were lying to its calm waters.
On our left side there was the quay of the "river – marina" while on our right side a small inlet was laying full of small boats. The marina extends for many meters into the river till the iron bridge, which connects the two shores of the river.
Along the marina there are many cafes and restaurants and just above them there are the astonishing stoned hotels that offer a spectacular view at the river.
The whole place is beautiful and looks like a magic picture that has emerged from the most beautiful fairytale.
At summer time many people gather here and it consists a strategic point for the excursions at the interesting and extremely spectacular surrounding area.
Obviously very excited from the scenery that Porto offered us, and watching the sun going down to the sea, our bow was heading the old town of Calvi, 15 nautical miles ahead.
At the magnificent Calvi and St Florent
We approached beneath the high walls surrounding the old town of Calvi and admired the magnificent castle that was built on the top of the short peninsula. The high old houses located within the walls are painted with earthy colours and emphasize their great history. We passed by at the east side of the peninsula where there is the entrance of the large marina.
From this side the spectacle is even more impressive. Just in front of the walls the marina begins, which offers shelter to large vessels. We soon realised the reason this place is a very popular destination gathering a lot of people. After mooring, we started walking to west side of the old castle. At that point, there is the large square of Christopher Columbus, since Calvi is one of the cities that claim that this was the place of birth of the great navigator.
In the next morning we walked along the narrow alleys of the old town for many hours ending to its south side. From that point we were admiring the view of marina beneath.
The wind was getting stronger and so we had to say goodbye to this nice place.
Our next destination was St Florent, 30 nautical miles ahead.
After two hours of difficult navigation we approached Cape di Curza from where the gulf of St Florent begins.
We were entering slowly the marina, which hosts many large boats. We were fortunate to be at a very old and special town completely different from what we had faced till now. It looks like a ‘float town’ where is characterized be the stonewashed houses among the roofs of which the impressive belfry emerges. We went for a walk to the castle built from Genovese at 15th century. The view from here is unforgettable and certainly the old houses wet from the sea consist one of the most picturesque places all over Corsica.
Βastia via Cape Corse
After a while we came out of the marina and the wind was ‘screaming’. We slipped into our sea jackets and prepared to circumnavigate the peninsula of Cape Corse. It is a narrow strip of land that extends 20 nm and has an average width of 6 nm. It looks like a long finger that comes out from the northeaster point of Corsica and shows towards the Gulf of Genoa.
Our route was northern and as we were going far away from St Florent the sea was getting heavier. After some miles the tough sea was coming on our port quarter and the waves were getting even bigger. These waves were travelling for many miles without anything stopping their route and therefore reaching at great heights. Compared to those fearful waves whatever we had faced before was nothing but only small wrinkles. The huge waves made us feel completely ‘tiny’ while the bright sun and the incredible colours around were filing us with euphoria and happiness. Turning our sight backwards and looking at the huge ‘water walls’ chasing us we were very awed. The powerful engine though that was on our transom was giving us the appropriate force to get over each wave.
There were only 14 nautical miles left to reach Bastia, located on the east side of the neck of the peninsula of Cape Corse.
We were entering quite slowly the old port obviously fascinated by the unique images. After a few meters, the bow of the Rib stood in front of the imposing church of St. John the Baptist which dominates at the centre of the old town, with the two characteristic ring bells composing one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in the entire Mediterranean.
The lights gradually began to light up and seaside restaurants filled with people. Everything seemed magical and a fairytale atmosphere was lingering everywhere, while the sounds of the various small musical bands were offering us one of the most remarkable nights of our trip.
In the next day we visited the spectacular square of St Nicolas, which is one of the most attractive sightseeing of Bastia. A real jewel for the town with the five floors buildings of 19th century paled with pale earthy colours.
At exotic Santa Giulia
Leaving behind Bastia that we really loved, our bow was heading southern at the Gulf of Santa Giulia.
Five miles south of the Porto Vecchio the amazing bay of Santa Giulia lays, where we wanted to spend our last night.
We were really ecstatic when, after half of the bay, the deep blue sea was giving way to a stunning turquoise colour that was extending all over. As we were approaching the beach the waters were becoming shallower, while the all-white sandy beach was something magical. We moored at the wooden pier, which leans on vertical woods over the incredibly clear water.
In front of the wooden pier the hotel Moby Dick is located. Low, very elegant and at absolute harmony with the environment is a master point of holidays.
The entire coast of Santa Giulia with the turquoise waters and the white sand is doubtless the most exotic place in the whole of Corsica.
At night we started preparing the Rib for our return. We couldn’t sleep that night. I put the nautical chart on the cabin and started measuring the miles and marking the fuel points. We had to cross the whole Tyrrhenian and Ionian Sea within three days, covering at once the 650 nautical miles until Plataria, from where we started before 23 days.