The skipper rouses me before 6am this morning because he has spoken to the Captanaire who advises that the weather is staying moderate this morning so it would be a good time for the easterly crossing to Elba. We leave Bastia Port shrouded in soft billowing clouds. The sea gradually builds up and the wind is freshening so we are heading into a choppy sea with a swell of about 1.5m. The wind slowly comes around and we can sail with the headsail and mainsail for the last couple of hours of the 5 hour trip, until we come into the lee of the island.
We are both excited to be coming into Elba. Our appetites to visit here were first wetted when Scott came during his travels some years ago.
It as been an interesting experience taking the route we have so far. Each time we venture into another country we should change the flag and fly the appropriate one.
From here we can walk into the old town at the end of the mole, and further around the bay to the many colourful beaches lined with umbrellas and people relaxing in the sun. The back drop to all this is the high wooded mountains.
Walking in the old town
We have been in and out of Corsica twice now and back into Italy each time, which has also involved a change in language. Arriving at Marina di Campo there is a slight swell so we feel fortunate to find one last place to tie up to the small concrete mole here.
Walking in the old town
The sail mail forecast we have is for 20 kts. at 6am. in the morning. The skipper on the boat alongside says he has a forecast for 30kts so Ross put on extra lines in case.
Later I am woken by heavy rain so leap out of bed to close all the hatches and portholes. At some stage we hear the party goers coming back. (they are actually very considerate ). Later again we are woken by a loud strange noise and this time Ross leaps out of bed. The weather is blowing up with huge winds from the north-west pushing us hard up against the mole. Ross turns on the engine and drives the boat hard forward to keep us off the mole. It is an incredible site to see our dinghy, and our neighbour´s, jammed up lengthwise between the 2 yachts up forward, with their outboard engines obviously dunked in the water.
Ross has been up on deck a lot and is soaked. The rain is so heavy and is coming across in horizontal waves. This is all accompanied by wild lightening and thunder. We didn´t have time to think about wet weather gear etc. I suddenly realize he may be having hypothermia systems so get him a jacket and beanie hat. I also get him a hot cup of tea. It is terrible to see him shaking so uncontrollably he can´t drink his tea without help. This all helps him though and I try to find him a woollen jumper (I think we have one down in the bags in a locker to take home so can´t get it).
Ross wants to get off the mole to get the anchor up but I can´t agree because I know I couldn´t possibly be strong enough to hold the boat in this wind. Also I know we dropped the anchor close to other boats and the rain is so heavy, with intermittent hail, that the visibility is shocking - we can barely see beyond the bow of the boat. One of the difficult problems is we have no idea how long this storm will last.
Ross is very cold again so we make time to change into the heavy wet weather pants and a dry jacket (the full musto set)and beannie hat and another warmer shirt. Also another cup of tea. This all settles Ross´shaking down and all the physical energy he is exerting must be helping to keep him warm.
The yacht on our starboard side breaks free of its position because its anchor must have dragged and it swings around and is being bashed against the concrete mole. It is shocking to watch this happening. We see them get the crew off and people are helping to fend it off.
Then we realize that with each surge of water that boat´s stern is being pushed closer and closer towards our starboard side. Just as Ross says we have to leave or we will have a hole out in the side of our boat it hits us for the first time. Ross lets all the moorings go and just drives forward like a crash get.-a-way pulling out between the two other boats. The sound effects are shocking. Unfortunately he forgot to free the extra mooring line he put on to the bow (there is little time to make decisions in this kind of situation and remember everything) so we had to use our large emergency knife to cut us free. In this short time we have swung around and are pushed up along side the yacht pushed up on the mole. Ross just backs straight out. This makes the most terrible crashing noises as we scrape against the other boat but suddenly we are free and I am sure Ross has saved Impulsive from a disaster.
The storm is still raging so we just motor around away from other boats and away from the mole intending to do so until the storm settles and we can get the anchor up. This is difficult for Ross to hold the boat in the direction he wants to. The wind is still so strong.
Neither of us have any sense of the time or how long this has been going on for. We couldn´t leave the cockpit to look. About now the sky begins to lighten and the storm abates a little. It is just after 5am. With more light I notice the sea is quieter in the neighbouring cove. While Ross is checking up on deck he realizes we have lost our anchor and the 90 m. of new chain! Maybe this was a blessing because we are free to go. Ross thinks this must have happened when we heard the strange noise that first woke us up. He attaches our spare anchor as we motor over to the quieter anchorage. There is another yacht coming in here too with a broken mizzen mast and a huge sail they are trying to get under control.
The wind then comes up from the n.east so it is rough in here now but we are safely anchored and can gather ourselves together. Our immediate problem is we have lost our dinghy so Ross wants to get ashore as soon as the storm settles to see if he can find it. There are a few yachts in here but we can´t reach them on the radio or attract their attention. I think everyone has issues to deal with.
We motor around some anchored yachts trying to attract attention to organize Ros a lift into shore.Thinking a german yacht has agreed to take him in we anchor close by, but there must be a misunderstanding because he doesn´t come.
Then we spot a small boat helping someone retrieve their anchor with a professional diver. Ross can attract them but they are too busy to help us until 3pm. But this is a start.
My reaction is to try and make things homely again so bake some bread for lunch. There is a huge swell here as an aftermath of the storm. We are quite safe but it isn´t particularly comfortable, with rigging etc. being rocked around. This is always a test for how well everything is stowed so things aren´t loose and rattling and banging.
They pick Ross up as planned. He doesn´t find the dinghy but has success with the divers and finds our anchor and 90m. of new chain. Luckily he could show them where he remembered dropping it as we anchored last night and that´s where it was.
Ross also checks to see how the other boats on the mole are, and we are very saddened to hear someone is presumed dead as a result of the storm and feel very flat.
21st. June, 2009
We are off to a fresh start. Impulsive looks very "storm-torn" with her ripped out and bent staunchions and safety rails hanging loose on the port side. The barb-e-que is also hanging loose off the stern rail. (Ross has tied it on but it still looks awful). The starboard davit is slightly knocked inwards and has 2 gouges out of it where it bashed into the mole. Both sides of the hull are marked from the scrapings, including some nasty gouges. However we can still sail and are sporting no injuries so feel we came out of it all reasonably well.
We motor over to Cala di Mola, opposite Porto Azzurro, where we are advised we might get hold of a new dinghy. This is an amazingly well run shipyard so Ross approaches them about fixing some of our problems. The Captanaire says they have too many of their own issues to deal with, but when he sees Impulsive he finds someone to fix the staunchions, safety rails and the barb-e-que. The guy actually arrives on time and is a wonderful shipwright. We have to take the boat out of the water to repair the hull so that and the davit (which is a big job ) will have to wait.
This job won´t be completed until tomorrow morning so we have to stay here the night. There are no dinghies available here so we decide we will walk the 5 ks. into Porto Azzurro for dinner. As we prepare to go ashore the Captanaire asks us to go out on their nearby buoy. The wind is coming up and they are concerned with so many boats stern -to on the dock they might have the same problem as in the storm. Apparently with the strong wind the masts of several yachtsgot swayed across each other and caused huge damage. As I looked up ours was only a foot from the neighbouring mast. We certainly didn´t need more damage so were happy to agree to move. This means we aren´t able to go ashore for dinner, so we changed anyway and cooked up a delicious feast.
22nd. June 2009
There is wonderful news in the port office this morning. The brother of the man presumed dead happens to be there and tells us he is found alive and well. He fell overboard at 5am and was picked up by the coastguard 12 hours later outside Porto Campo (where we had been). He had a life jacket on, but what an amazing feat of survival. He is in hospital but is fine. We both feel much relieved and happier now.
We also run into David, the english skipper who tried to help us in Porto Campo, but he had lost his outboard in the storm. He knew of more damage from the storm.
Impulsive looks a new girl now. All the above is fixed. We are very grateful to the Captanaire, Raphael, and Angelo for organizing this for us. There is still no word of our dinghy, but Ross has given its details to the coastguard so we will check each day for news .
Porto Azzurro is a very small port and is very popular. the pilot book suggests if you cannot find a place to tie up anchor off outside and go in early the next morning as boats leave. Raphael kindly rings across for us and secures us a place. It is such a wonderful place to come into with its old Spanish citadel and the high mountains behind that. We are thrilled to be tied up here and at last get off the boat for a long walk. We walk up the coastal path past the the old prison (for hardened prisoners) and across the scenic path past some farmland to Barbarossa beach. This beach is buzzing with activity today and is in such a beautiful setting with its crystal clear water.
View from the coastal path
This is a great place, full of atmosphere and wonderful cuisine. We agree that usually the food is better in the places set back from the waterfront. The latter usually charge for their view and the cuisine isn´t as good.
We are just about to leave when a friend, Pam from Melbourne comes to say hello. Later her husband, Chris asks us to join them for a drink. They come to Elba each year to have time with special family friends of theirs here, Guido and Marianne. We are pleased we are flexible with our time and can stay an extra night as Guido and Marianne invite us for dinner tomorrow night.
23rd. June 2009
It is Lucinda´s birthday today. it is amazing to think all Heather´s family were with us this time last year.
We hire a car today to explore inland and to go on ahead to Portoferraio to inquire about a dinghy.
We drive just out of Porto Azzurro and climb up to the small town, Capoliveri, with its stunning views. One of the restaurants here is in a building which is 400 years old.
We drive n.west across the island to Portoferraio and are pleased to organize a new dinghy. Unfortunately it´s not as big or solid as our previous one, and the outboard motor isn´t as good either, but it would take to long to import one the same as we bought in Thailand. We also track down the sail maker for a minor repair.
Higher up still is Marciano, another attractive town, and slightly bigger.
The ancient drinking fountain . Poggio
We take sandwiches in the car and drive along the very scenic coast road west to Marciana Marina.From here we go inland and climb quickly up to Poggio, 350m. high. This is a tiny village with wonderful views back down to the coast and the sea. Wandering through its narrow streets with their deeply coloured hydrangeas and many petunias, is lovely.
The ancient drinking fountain . Poggio
The drive up through here with its deeply wooded and shaded areas, and across the top is wonderful. Ross would have liked to do it on a motorbike. We meander back down towards Capolveri via some very windy roads, through lush green and beautiful forests. On the flatter areas there are many grapevines and olives being grown. There are many views over the sparkling blue ocean. I am just sorry we haven´t time to visit Napolean´s house. Searching out the new dinghy takes sometime.
Buying wine for tonight at a roadside stall for a vineyard
Tonight´s dinner at Marianne and Guido´s house with Pam and Chris and 3 of their family is such a treat. Guido has lived here all his life and so has a wonderful knowledge of the island. They also have a wonderful "joie de vie". We feel very privileged to share this night with them. it is one of our favourite things to be invited to someone´s home when we are traveling like this.
After searching on the internet I am keen to go to Barabarca beach, as it is described as the one that looks most natural. Fortunately it is not far from Capoliveri so we venture here for a swim. We have to park high up above the beach and walk down to it. It is exquisite with its rocky landscape and wonderful clear waters. It is quite busy but that doesn´t seem to matter. Swimming everywhere is great here, especially with the buoyancy being so effective - floating is so relaxing.
24th. June 2009
This morning Chris, Charlie, Lucy and Bec sail with us for a couple of hours to Portoferraio. We have to motor up the east coast but once we round the top cape we are able to sail nearly to Portoferraio when the wind drops out.
First we call into pick up the new dinghy, but the motor has to be test run first, so we motor across to the old port and tie up for lenghly lunch on board. Pam has driven across to meet us. This is great fun and we always enjoy having younger people on board.
What a great time we have had from a chance meeting.
The girls want to catch the late afternoon on the beach and we must pick up the new dinghy. We have tied up next to another yacht from Australia. This poor man has his wife in hospital here with a heart condition after the storm When she is cleared they are flying home for more tests.
As we motor in today we see the 60 ft. ketch which was washed up to shore on the rocks in the storm. We also see David, the english skipper , bringing in a very fancy run-about they found washed up on a beach.
Picking up the new dinghy
Apparently they were anchored in this harbour with about 100 other boats. When the storm struck many broke loose of their anchors and the visibility was shocking. They were actually hit by several other boats. Also he had some plastic sucked up into one of his intake valves so his engine was overheating. All a nightmare! He is taking his boat over to get hauled out to leave while they go home so Ross gets a lift with him and can also help him.
Picking up the new dinghy
And more good news - a man who had jumped over to retrieve his dinghy has been found after 35 hours . He was 85 miles away due south on an island, with the dinghy.
This evening we walk off the boat where we are tied up near the archway through to the old town, and enjoy a wonderful dinner at Pepperonis (another recommended restaurant), which is simple but hearty and very flavoursome.
25th. June 2009
This morning we track 8 n.miles along the rugged and very scenic north coast in a westerly direction to Marciana Marina. There is little wind so we motor. We anchor just inside the port here and christen the new dinghy with a trip around the point for lovely swim and lie in the sun.
Marciana marina is a lively little place. There are many children playing on the beaches, and quite a number are out in sailing dinghies learning to sail.
Checking the bus timetable
Checking the bus timetable
We come back before dark , partly so we can enjoy the scenery again,and are pleased to find part of a jazz festival about to start in the main square. Walking back along the main street by the sea is great fun as there are many stalls set up and the place is buzzing with people.
Tonight we decide to go ashore and catch the bus up to Poggio (where we drove to 2 days ago) for dinner. Unfortunately we miss the last bus by 10 minutes, so Ross does a bit of bartering to hire a motor bike for 3 hours. They want to charge us €40- , and this is for an 11ks. drive up the hill and back. Off we go and have a wonderful time including a delicious dinner at a small trattoria there.
26th. June 2009
The basil plant we bought in Rome is still flourishing but I have bought another one because we use so much of it , the first plant can now have a chance to regrow fully.
Favourite recipe this leg: Mussels
2 kgs of fresh mussels
2 cups left over champagne
stock - nearly enough to cover the mussels
S and P to taste
Bring stock to the boil in a large, heavy saucepan
Add the champagne( we had some over from one that was too sweet to drink - it gives a very subtle flavour to the mussels!)
Add the mussels until they all open their shells (don´t serve any that don´t open their shells)
Serve in large bowls with some of the stock, sprinkle with parsley ,and with some good Italian bread.
You can see Elba loom 20 miles away
It´s mountains tower over the sea
If you weren´t forced to do so in exile
You could live here contentedly
First night at Marina di Campo
A hurricane arrived
With 70 knots and stinging spray
Which we fortunately survived
By driving the yacht away from the mole
(A rock and concrete lee)
And away from the other heaving yachts
To the `safety`of open sea
We´ve bandaged Impulsive´s abrasions
She performed magnificently
And the Admiral was quite unfazed by it all
You´d think she was born at sea
We anchor in Barbarossa bay
By now the weather is fair
Then a night in Cala di Mola
For Angalo´s gunnel repair
When you tie up at Porto Azzuro
Floriano´s the best place to eat
If you´re lucky you´ll run into Chris and Pam
And have Guido´s barbeque treat
Don´t miss Poggio or Marciano
Snugly terraced hillside towns
Stress levels have been abolished here
Along with life´s ups and downs
When you tie up at Porto Ferraio
You´re right next to the old walled town
Try Osteria Pepenero´s fare
And its house wine to wash it down
At Marina Marciano
We anchor for one last night
Of old Poggio´s attractions
Before sailing off at first light.