Corsica Part 1
We arrived in Corsica, a French island north of Sardinia, in mid-June 2019 and first docked at the Port de Bonifacio. Corsica was our target destination for months because the French granted Sha-Mayn a long-term visitor visa and we needed to get to France before the 3 month Schengen time limit was up. Corsica seemed like a good place to sail for an extended period of time, and we went around the island 3 times. It's the fourth largest and most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, dotted with quaint villages and many beautiful beaches and coves.
Bonifacio is a beautiful medieval town, dramatically perched high up white limestone cliffs on the southern coast.
After a couple of days of rest, sight-seeing and cleaning the boat we said goodbye to our guests and continued our journey.
From Bonifacio to Bastia is about 90 nautical miles, ~15h by boat. We decided to leave in the evening and sail through the night to arrive early in the morning and get a spot at the Vieux (Old) Port de Bastia.
Here we picked up our next guest, my dad, who had decided last minute to travel with us for 1 week. We slowly sailed along the coast all the way up around Cape Corse to Calvi.
Dad had a warm welcome to Corsica. The weather was great and we were able to spend the night on anchor every day for almost a week. On the first night at anchor, there were random fireworks in our bay. The next day, we saw cows on the beach.
The Corsican coastline is dotted with countless stone towers that were constructed around 1600 by the Republic of Genoa as a defense against pirate attacks.
Calvi is located on the northwest coast and the 5th largest town in Corsica. This commune is surrounded by hills and lined with charming restaurants and cafes. According to legend, Christopher Columbus supposedly was from Calvi.
We picked up our new guests Brett, Jazmyne and Asia and continued our journey around the island.
The West Coast of Corsica is more remote and rugged with beautiful beaches and little coves only accessible by boat. It includes some of the most dramatic scenery of the Mediterranean.
Planning to sail down the West Coast is more involved because there are not many safe marinas to take shelter from the mistral north-west wind. The mistral can blow continuously for several days at a time, with wind speeds at 45 miles per hour and huge waves making it too dangerous for small boats to sail there.
Luckily however the weather forecast is quite accurate and signs of a mistral brewing in the south of France show up days ahead. When that happens all boats leave the area to find shelter on the other side of the island.
Campomoro was special, not only because we celebrated my 40th birthday there, but because we had a new visitor, a dolphin that was playing around our boat at anchor. We usually don't expect to see a dolphin in such shallow waters. We jumped in the water and Asia was able to capture on the GoPro the dolphin who came incredibly close.
The trip all around the island took us about 3 weeks, doing the last patch from the straits of Bonifacio back to Bastia again 15h overnight.
Cruising around Corsica was amazing and definitely one of the highlights of 2019. Despite the warnings of Corsica being overcrowded during the summer months we never had issues finding a safe anchorage or marina for the night.
This post only scratches the surface about abut sailing in Corsica and I'll write more in part 2 about our experience facing more challenging weather conditions.
Update: Part 2 see here.