Tuscany 2010

Saturday 28 August: San Vincenzo

Alilia and skipper My first impression of a new boat is always positive. Perhaps it's because they are always clean and new-looking, but it is only with time and familiarity that you find their faults. Alili II is quite new, and it shows. She's pretty well set up too. Slab reefing works well. Almost everything can be done from the cockpit - except the kicking strap.
The Zanzibar We arrived before the boat was ready, so we went to the Zanzibar for a beer. We came back for a briefing by Sophie.
  My perfect yacht would have a place for everything - including when not in use. We carry the dinghy on the foredeck, which is better than towing it, but it is still a bit in the way at times. And there ought to be a place for the fenders when not in use. The dinghy has an electric outboard. I guess that's a bit green. It's also very light for shipping and unshipping. It's also convenient not to have to mess with fuel. But what's its endurance? See later.
Sunset over San Vincenzo In the evening we looked for a restaurant recommended by Sophie - but could not find it. It was busy. The nice looking restaurants had queues. Eventually we settled on what looked like a nice one. It turned out to be an exclusively fish restaurant and we did not feel very welcome - so we left. Then I picked what seemed a reasonable place, but with a small queue. We ended up waiting a long time and it was not always clear what was going on.
Eventually we got pizzas - and they were quite good.

Sunday 29 August: St Vincenza

Time Comments Sail Power
  Pressure 1019 mbar
43° 05.9N 010° 10.7E
Decided to not do too much on the first day, but to take the boat out for a shake-down.
1240 Motored off. Practised man overboard drill and boat handling for Anne.   0:50
1330 Wind NW3. Sails up. Headed off on a starboard tack (260°). 2:30  
1440 Tacked back (030°).
1500 No point in beating up for the sake of it, so bore away on to 060°.
1600 Cost north of San Vincenzo Bore away towards the shore. We were thinking we might anchor for a swim and/or food, but there was no shelter. Thought of anchoring off the beach, but decided to practise anchoring and made sure all was working, which it was.
1630 Moon over gin palace Decided to motor back.
Mooring was not perfect, but we made it eventually. Out of practice. Quite secure.
We had found a few small defects:
  • Speed log not registering
  • Broken strap on the splashboard storage
  • Bent stantion
  • Mainsail zip tag broken

Phoned Birger who agreed to come to fix them tomorrow.

    Total for the day 2:30 1:20


(Not measured)

Monday 30 August: St Vincenzo to Porto Azzuro

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecast on channel 68 said gale warning, NW 7. However, Birger came on board and said 68 was not very reliable and his forecast was NW 3-4. So we decided we could sail. He gave a good briefing about places to go - and fixed the log. Birger said he never worried about English sailors, they were always good and used to much worse conditions. Since then I have felt almost as if I have been carrying the honour of the Royal Navy. Also, I didn't like to tell him we're not used to worse conditions; we only sail in the Med.
Birger also showed me how to fix the log.
Checked oil, water & fuel.
1130 Motored off.Wind WNW 4   0:30
1200 Under way Sails up. Two reefs in main, about half genoa - and jackets on. Course 190°, starboard beam reach. Quite choppy at times. 3:00  
1400 Wind backing, broad reach.
1430 Off north end of Elba. Full sail.
1500 Happy skipper Too soon. Two reefs back in; too much weather helm. Sailed into the bay, now. Kept expecting wind to moderate, but it did not much. Looked at Porto Azzuro. Decided to anchor in bay to the west. Mis-communication (skipper's fault) and dropped anchor in wrong place. Got shouted at. Left. Tried bay to east. Shouted at again. Moved over from shouty boat. Found a good spot - but could not get anchor to hold. (Three tries). Further on to next bay. A few yachts in but found a space and dropped first time.   1:30
1630 Alila at anchor Anchored at 42° 46.209' N 010° 25.123' E
  Relax and read Swim, snorkel and read. Lots of fish in by the rocks, mostly small, though.
Slowly everyone else left. Did they know it's not too sheltered? Might be a rocky night, but we're not moving again.
Omelettes on board. Lovely views.
  Sunrise Joined by a BIG sailing yacht, so we can't be all wrong. Shortly joined by an even bigger gin palace.    
  Very disturbed night. Should have remembered from north coast Majorca - it's very hard to sleep on a chop. I ended up sleeping in the main cabin where the amplitude of the rocking was less. Lessons: Could have anchored anywhere in the busy bay (even quite deep) and then wait and see who leaves and then pick a spot for the night.    
  Total for the day 3:00 2:00
  Total for trip 5:30 3:20


Total for day 17 miles

Tuesday 31 August: Azzuro to Golfo Stella

Time Comments Sail Power
  Descending into Azzuro Pressure 1018 mbar
Dinghy and walk to Azzuro. Shopped and ate ice cream and milkshake.
1300 Coffee on board.    
1400 Motor-sailed off. Wind N 2. Sails up for a short while but making little speed, so motor-sailed.   0:30
1430 Some wind (3), so sails up. Broad reach/run. Making 3 to 4 knots - but mostly 3. 1:30  
  As we rounded to the south coast, wind got quite flukey but eventually settled in to WNW 3-4 and we hardened up to a beat.
In the end we had a bit of everything. At one moment I was wondering if a reef would be sensible, then it would drop again. There was another, Italian yacht going the same way, but of course we weren't racing. They were sailing fuller but off the wind.
We also took the chance to sunbathe.
  Orographic cloud Took a long starboard tack on which we were getting lifted, but eventually tacked for the bay. Wind stayed until we were quite close in but we were able to motor in and anchor first time in the lee of Capo Pini at 42° 45.7'N 010° 20.0'E (as recommended by Birger).
I was prepared to use last night's lesson and wait for a good spot, but got straight in to a good one under the cliff. Most others ended up staying anyway.
  Good snorkel. Some schools of fish.
Lovely meal on board.
  It is as windy here as last night, but the water is infinitely calmer.    
  Awoke around 5 and found no electric    
  Total for the day 1:30 0:30
  Total 7:00 3:50


Total for the day 12 miles
Total 29 miles

Wednesday 1 September: Golfo Stella to Punta del Ferraione, Capraia

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecast from Birger:
'Today W-SW force 2-3 in the evening turning SE, tomorrow SE3-4 near CapCorse easterly, Friday SE2-3. Saturday lightly northerly winds and breeze and up to tuesday no warnings, mostly breeze on tuesday turning back to SE light to moderate. Best regards and goot wind!'
0910 Engine on and motored out.
Wind light S. Good to run engine for a while, anyway.
0940 Mainsail up. Motor-sailing.
1020 Genoa out. Only making a couple of knots so motor-sailed.
1100 Elevensies.
1115 If the battery needed a good charge it's getting one. Genoa is less than useless so hauled it in.
1120 Passed by a couple who appeared to be having sex while driving a rib: she steering and sitting on his lap.
1215 Seemed some breeze so pulled the genoa out. Trying to make 3 knots. 0:55  
1235 Lunch: tuna sandwich.
1310 Wind dropped, barely making 2 knots, so engine back on.
1530 Good mooring. 43° 03.0'N 009° 50.2'E   2:55
  Punta del Ferraione Quay had Italians being Italian - loud but having fun. There was quite an extensive water fight.
  Looking back on Punta del Ferraione, Capraia We went for a walk up to the main village and back.
Fishy dinner ashore.
  Total for day 0:55 7:00
  Total 7:55 10:50

Thursday 2 September: Punta del Ferraione, Capraia to Point d'Angello

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecast (from Birger, yesterday) 'SE3-4 near CapCorse easterly.' Agrees with forecast in marina: S 5 knots. 1023 mbar
Fuel says full (all the more reason to top up?) Oil & water.
1200 Motored to fuel quay. 22 litres.   1:00
  Out to the north. Winds quite flukey, so we had engine off and on a bit.
  Eventually settled in to S 3, so full sail, beam reach. Good sail and sunbathing. 3:30  
1530 Lost binoculars overboard. One of those daft moments. I was not particularly near the side, and I had just got them out (to check a big cargo ship on the horizon) not yet a chance to string them round my neck, and I dropped them and they bounced over the transom. No chance of getting them.
1600 Wind getting up and boat getting hard to manage, so 2 reefs in main. Heading for Capa Angelo. Hoping it is going to be sheltered, because it was quite wild out.
Sure enough close in it was quite calm, though the wind was still apparent.
1630 Anchored quite well. Anchor didn't hold first time but we dragged it into place. Quite confident of it.
1700 Coffee and cake.    
  Fishing Went for a snorkel. Checking the anchor, it had not bit at all and was capsized on sand. Climbed back on and set out to re-lay. Went close in - but there were rocks. Dropped and it was solid. Checking again with snorkel, it was on a rock, buried in weed.
  Sunset at Point d'Angello Snorkelled around shore.
Roast veg and cous cous on board. Early night.
  Total for day 3:30 1:00
  Total 11:25 11:50


Total for 2 days 56.2 miles
Total 85.2 miles

Friday 3 September: Point d'Angello to Saint Florent

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecast from Birger, 2 days ago: 'Friday SE2-3.'    
1020 Uneventful night, although a bit rocky at times. Eventually swung right round, but still clear of shore and rocks. Went for a snorkel and then saw that the anchor chain was bent around a rock. This was just as well, or we'd have been ashore. Lesson: when in a bay, anchor towards the centre and allow for swinging. Yesterday I was too keen to get in close in hope of better shelter.    
  Engine: oil, water, fuel.    
0945 Engine on. Battery needed charging, also quick getaway if anchor were to give way.   4:00
1015 Leaving Point d'Angello Motored off. No problem weighing the anchor. Wind WNW light.
  Motored. Very little wind.
1230 Elevensies, under way.
  Lunch stop at Marine de Giottani Decided to stop, have a swim, have some lunch in Marine de Giottani and see if the wind got up.
42°51.9N 009°20.1E
1500 St Florent Motored off. Sails up and down somewhat as tried to decide if there was wind. Tried to motor-sail goosewinging, but that did not work. Motored for a while. Eventually a bit of wind set in and we were broad reaching, starboard tack. Made 3-4 knots - but quite a lot at 2. Carried on for a while. Eventually doing less than 2, so engine on. Approached St Florent with care. Birger had said we could anchor off the river mouth, but pilot book said no. Took a look and no one else was, so we went stern-to, as directed. Best mooring yet.
  Why do Italians - and French apparently - have to wash down their boats every night? Don't they like salt water?
  Our first international sail! It had not occurred to me that we might come to Corsica - and that Corsica is French. I have enjoyed being somewhere where I have a chance with the language.
  We went ashore, wandered around for a while and then settled on a Corsican restaurant. Anne had a fish pie; I had chicken with a nice wine, onion and garlic sauce.
  Total for day 0:00 4:00
  Total 11:25 15:50


Total for today 26.7 miles
Total 112.9 miles

Saturday 4 September: St Florent

Time Comments
  Forecast from marina: W 2-3 am, SW 3-4 pm
  Had a think and debate. Anne was quite keen to see Calvi, but I was unsure about motoring (most of?) the way there - just to have to come back tomorrow. Even if we got a sail in the afternoon, it would be a beat. So, we decided to stay here for the day. Tomorrow we'll start heading back. Tomorrow night off north or east coast of Corsica, then miss out Caparia and straight back to Elba?
  L'Aliso River
Drying in the sun
Took the dinghy up the river. Quite pretty but not a lot to see or so. Stopped on the way back at the beach. Ice creams. Snorkel. Back to the boat, with 20% left in the dinghy battery.
  Lunch on board then a rest.
  Then a walk: the citadel, shops, the cathedral, a cold drink. Back to the boat.
  Forecast: W2-3 becoming SW 3-4

Sunday 5 September: Saint Florent to Point d'Angello

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecast last night was 2-3 am, 3-4 pm, so no point rushing.    
  Shopped and got ready.    
  Forecast this morning W 2-3 am, SW 2-4 pm.    
1220 Motored off over to fuel quay - just to see the bloke finish with a boat and ride off on his motorbike. I had read 'fuel 0800-2000', I guess not on Sundays. A bit frustrating. I prefer to feel we've plenty of fuel. Set off, anyway. Wind NE 3, so a beat out of the bay.   0:10
1230 Sails up. Port tack. Making about 030°, but as we neared the shore we were lifted, so made the most of it. Tacked eventually. 4:30  
  Log stopped working. So did depth sounder - weed? Depth came back. Will fix impeller when we're still.
  Usual problem of when to tack back. Did so eventually, probably about right time. Long port tack, lying on leeward cockpit bench, watching genoa telltales and steering lightly.
  Text from Dan: 2 gold medals in the Aikido Europeans!
1700 As we neared shore wind dropped, so no point tacking, rather motor on and motor-sail along coast.   2:20
  Plan is to anchor in Cap Angello again. Might be dark by time we get there, but should be okay. Early start tomorrow, so we can refuel at Caparia and go on to Elba. Of course I'm a bit worried about fuel, but if warning comes on, we'll refuel from spare can. Worrying is all part of it. (See stress). If I didn't have fuel to worry about, would I be worrying about something else? Thought about Port de Centuri as an alternative but thought it better to make more progress. Did think that Macinaggio would make a better fuelling point: closer and less of a diversion.
1920 Companion off Point d'Angello Anchored of Pointe Angello (43°02.7N 009°12.7E). One other yacht here. Sun is setting, but not dark yet.    
  Baiting fish No need to snorkel to check anchor: (1) it bit most firmly (2) after we were anchored we drifted over it and could clearly see it well dug in.    
  Ate chicken on board. Magic.    
  Cleaned the impeller - but it did not seem to need it.    
  Total for day 4:30 2:30
  Total 15:55 18:20


Total for the day 30.2 miles
Total 143.1 miles

Monday 6 September: Point d'Angello to Marina Marciana

Time Comments Sail Power
  Rocky night. I slept reasonably in the cabin, but Anne got little sleep.    
0720 Coffee    
0800 I went for a snorkel and a wash. Looked to see any problem with the impeller; could see none. Snorkelled around the shore; a few fish. Anne went for a swim too.    
  Engine checks: oil, water - and fuel still says 4/4.    
  No forecast. A bit overcast. No wind. Pressure 1021.    
1110 Weighed anchor and motored off. Still no wind, so motored.
Speed log working.
1220 Lunch in the petrol station On the fuel quay at Port de Macinaggio, which was a shame as it shut at 1200 - until 1400. No matter. Wandered into town. Had a look round and a beer. Returned and ate on board. Man came at 2 and we filled up - all of 16 litres. After all that - but at least I don't have that to worry about. I had been concerned because after a couple of days of motoring we had used 20 litres, and now we'd done a couple more - and we had found that the tank holds 50.
  Where did I get this obsession with fuel? Well, we did run out in Tenerife and that was not fun. It was also not our fault, really. It just seems to make sense to fill up when you can, but I've probably gone too far now. A gauge you can rely on would be good. No one said there was anything wrong with this one, but all the time we've been on board, it's shown nothing but 4/4.
  Quite a long trip now, though. Probably not in until after 2000. Could have left earlier and practically be there by now, but if the wind had got up in the afternoon, I'd have been disappointed. It hasn't.
  I did make a bit of an error in under-estimating the distance today. Don't know what I was thinking. Forecast from the marina: W 2-3, turning southerly over night.
1420 Motored off. There is no wind.
1515 Co-skipper at her duties Anne getting better sleep than last night.
Lots of jellyfish, some seagulls including one soaring a gin palace wake. I amuse myself - and reassure Anne - by taking bearings on ships, boats and ferries and making sure we're not going to collide.
1700 Elba just visible ahead. Corsica just out of view behind. Capraia clear off our port beam.
1725 Ship passing well behind Finally some excitement: a cargo ship off our port quarter at a constant bearing of 325° several miles off. Altered course 10° to port.
1730 Back on course (108°). We're dead ahead of him now, so he'll see we're clear.
1745 He passed well astern. Not sure any course alteration was necessary.
Must be about the point of no return, where our intended destination is now the nearest port.
1825 It's been quite hazy all day. Now it's getting very hazy. Can clearly see Elba but its top is in cloud. The horizon is quite indistinct in some directions.
  Golden sunset Watching the sun set and wondering how long it will take to reach the horizon - as I'm just a bit nervous of mooring in the dark.
  The approach was not too bad. There was a set of buoys off the town with flashing lights. They seemed to mark an area. I wasn't sure what it was, but assumed it better avoided. The pilot book said the entrance was marked by a green flashing light, but not to rely on it. We could see a white flashing light, so were not sure. When we got quite close it was apparent that it was the entrance and it was a green light - just a very pale shade of green.
2030 Porto Ferrario harbour Moored in the dark. It was dark, but mooring was not too bad. Someone came out in a dinghy to help and I was glad of that, mainly because he guided us to an appropriate berth. It was not an easy one - a confined space, next to a large boat with a bowsprit to avoid, but we got in without any difficulty.
  Pizza ashore and Anne bought a swimsuit.    
  Total for day 0:00 7:00
  Total 15:55 25:20


Total for the day 39.2 miles
Total 182.3 miles

Tuesday 7 September: Marina Marciana

Time Comments Sail Power
  Forecasting S 3 today - but S 7 overnight. Moderating again to SW 4-5 tomorrow. QFE 1019 I was concerned about the forecast and the fact that the pilot book said there were not many visitor berths at Porto Ferrario, so I phoned ahead to book a berth.    
  Cablecar into the clouds We wanted to go up the mountain (cablecar) so got up quite early. Bought some lunch and tried to find information. Took a bus up to Marciano. wandered around. Had a look at the castle and met the local cats. Bus back down.    
1300 Lunch on quay.    
1325 Motored off.   0:10
1335 Out of harbour. Wind ESE 4. Sails up. Starboard tack fetch to the cape. 2:25  
1430 Hardened up in the next bay. Beat towards Porto Ferrario.
  Wanted to hold on to port tack as long as possible, but there was this ferry... Thought it better to tack and make it clear we were keeping clear. A few tacks and we were near the port.
1600 Motor on, sails down, radioed in.   0:30
1630 Porto Ferrario Moored without incident.    
1800 Shower - rather more of a decontamination.    
  Pressure now 1015 - definitely dropping.    
  Total for day 2:25 0:40
  Total 18:20 26:00


Total for the day 12.1 miles.
Total 194.4 miles

Wednesday 8 September: Marina Marciana to St Vincenzo

Time Comments Texts Sail Power
  No sign of forecast gale overnight. Some rain, but just brief showers. Forecast today W 10, but overnight SW 20. See first text. Alili II: Hi. We've been having a good time. We have an early flight from Pisa on Saturday morning, so are going to Pisa Friday. Plan is to come to San Vincenzo Thursday evening. OK? We're in Porto Ferrario. Plan to go to Baratti tonight. Forecast is for SW, but strong. Will Baratti be suitable?
Birger: There will be strong westerly winds as well. So I think, that Baratti will not be a good anchoring for the night. It would be better the Marina di Salivoli in Piombino. When the West Wind tomorrow would be to strong it will also be a problem to enter the harbour of San Vincenzo. So it could be better to come back to San Vincenzo on Friday morning. But for that I can inform you tomorrow when I see the real conditions. Best regards, Birger
0700 Pressure 1011, but it soon rose again to 1012.    
1200 We had breakfast (doughnut and croissant) and decided to set off - even though it was very overcast. I thought it would be another brief shower. I was right - except that it was not brief and was more of a storm. (There was thunder; I saw no lightning)
It was quite wet and a bit windy, but I thought a bit of genoa would be okay. Set full genoa, and no main. That was okay - for a while. Then it got windier. Then the mainsail decided it wanted to hoist itself. With this bit of canvas we were getting knocked over. Let fly the genoa. The engine was still on, so I put on some revs to give us some steerage into the wind, but with no noticeable effect. Gave Anne the helm and rolled in the genoa. Then saw the button was in on the throttle, no wonder the engine was not helping. Pulled the main down. Turned back to port. No pictures - too busy.
No wind gauge of any sort, so I'm guessing: 6? More? This is evidently the gale that was forecast for last night, a bit late.
  Yacht with torn sail Lots of yachts were scurrying in that direction. We got back and radioed for a berth. There seemed some doubt if they could find one. Anyway, it had faired up (as predicted) so we decided to set off again.
As per next text, headed for Salvori. Wind was light and on the nose, so motored all the way. Sea quite lumpy.
Passed a few others - one with a badly torn mainsail.
Alili II: Sounds like a better plan. We're heading to Piombino. Will check with you again tomorrow.
1400 Arrived, to be told they were full, so set off for San Vincenzo. Alili II: Salivoli is full. Proposing to come straight to San Vincenzo. Entrance not a problem in current light conditions?
Birger: No problems at San Vincenzo.
  Baratti Wind was on the starboard beam, so tried to motor-sail a bit but it wasn't really working and the wind seemed to come around to straight ahead, so furled the genoa.
1530 Sun is out. Lovely day if there was wind. Hard to believe it's the same day and place as this morning. Pressure now 1015. Rising too fast?
1640 Entered harbour. Moored. I was so proud of us. It didn't go quite to plan but we handled it. Anyone watching probably did not realize there was any problem. We picked up the windward lazy line and I got the windward stern line on, but the lazy line was caught around the keel. So, we just attached the other lazy line and then fixed the fouled one. No problem. Never any danger of hitting anything.
  Lessons (1 of many): Should have waited in port until the black cloud and the mess under it had passed. Yes, it was transitory, but it was a bit brutal. (2) Don't know why I unzipped the mainsail. It was unlikely that I was going to use it and once unzipped it was quite likely to fly out. I suppose it is a habit, to have it ready.
  Total for day 0:00 4:40
  Total 18:20 30:40


Total today 13.1 miles (Under-estimate - but the GPS switched off during a power cut.
Total 207.5 miles

Thursday 9 September: San Vincenzo

  Very calm. Pressure 1020. Can't read the forecast at the office, and it's yesterday's anyway. Texted Birger for forecast.
  Engine: oil, water and 4/4 fuel.
We'll sail if there is any wind. Shore-based activities otherwise.
1100 Birger replies: 'The weather was much better then the forecast... For today the actual forecast is SE 3 later SW turning to W 2-4. For the hand-over 9.30 would be okay? Best regards, Birger'
  Stayed in San Vincenzo. Swam

Friday 10 September: Pisa

Anne on top of the tower

In the morning we left the yacht and walked to the train station. We caught the train to Pisa. We had a day playing tourist. Of course, there is not that much to visit in Pisa   except its famous tower. I had been up it before   and found it a bit vertiginous (the floor slopes down to one side, making me feel as if I might slip off). So Anne went up and I watched from ground level.

Restaurant in Pisa

We did more tourist, looking around the Duomo. Then in the evening we had a nice meal in a square