Corsica !

 

Floating Debris

Message in a bottle

Short stories about us and our whereabouts.
But not: been there, done that, got the T-shirt...

However, should other sailors have things to say about a beautiful anchorage, an interesting archeological site, the perfect taverna, etc... please do not hesitate and get in touch. Use the contact-us page and fill out the form.

We'll put your news on the Web - with all due respect and in discretion.

Starting a newsgroup or a discussion forum is not our ambition. But we cherish valuable contributions to and from 'the sailing community' as an asset of this site.

1. April 29th 2004

Lies and Peter from S/Y "De Vrijheid", a beautifully maintained Colin Archer 48 from Rotterdam gave us information about a remote anchorage at 'Les Glénans" (N 047°45' en W 004°05'). Anchor in silence above the white pebbles !

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2. May 2004: From Bretagne towards Gironde approach.

Pornichet and Royan are practical marinas, easy landfall and spacy berths. They most practically fit into long distance crossings, but apart from sleeping 16 hours, ...

3. Port-Joinville (Île d'Yeu) to Bordeaux

  • You should prefer to go into Mortagne-sur-Gironde thereby avoiding Royan. It's expensive and we disliked the general atmosphere there. Unfriendly marina staff, they moved us three times, you pay a caution if you want to go downtown, ...
  • Prefer Mortagne to Royan anyway: its inviting surroundings with woods in the middle of the countryside speak for themselves.
  • Pauillac is the 'last' stopover before Bordeaux to lower the standing rigging. Beware: half of it dries out at low tide and there is a strong - sometimes very strong - current inside the harbor. They let the current from the river run through the harbor. It also seems to have a tendency for silting, there was constant dredging going on when we were there. (2004)
  • On the approach, and in general on the Gironde, keep a good lookout for floating trees and other debris.
  • The Harbormaster is a real professional in terms of information regarding to tides and the ideal times of using the mast crane.

3.1. Gironde entrance

  • Go in with the tide, by all means.
  • Do not pass "Phare de la Coubre" - even if the sea state seems fair - without use of harnesses or crew savers. There is always the danger of a freak wave or heavy breakers coming in.
  • Follow the center line into "Passe de l'Ouest" due to heavy turbulence and breakers at "Banc de la Mauvaise".
  • The passage to Bordeaux sometimes has strong currents, reaching up to 3-5 knots at Spring.

3.2. Bordeuax or Bègles ?

  • Work at the mast is best done at Pauillac. There used to be a crane in the Bordeaux docks, but the lock towards it was out of use (2004) when we got there.
  • Go upstream from Pauillic to Bègles past Bordeaux in one tide. Bègles is close to the wine capital and there is a huge shopping centre at walking distance from the harbor. Currents are quite strong, maneuvering inside the harbor is difficult without local knowledge. We preferred to stay at the outside of the visitor's pontoon.
  • Local buses to the center of Bordeaux.
  • After Pauillac-Bègles, tides become gradually weaker, but it is still wise to keep working them to go from Bègles to Castets-en-Dorthe, the first lock. Local fishermen sometimes seal off the river with their nets, so keep a lookout. There's is usually two of them, two nets and two fishermen in one small rowing dinghy upstream. Fines for disturbing or damaging nets are high!

3.3. Locks...

  • Our draft of 1.20 m put us through everywhere. We got stuck twice, before a lock that had just been emptied. Must have been a hump of dead leaves, judging from the pitch-black color of the wake.
  • June is the time when all grasses and weeds bordering the canal are cut. Everything is left to float in the water, adding up to last autumn's dead leaves. Check your cooling filters and toilet inlets regularly.
  • Use small tires and wooden poles to protect the boat's stern and bow. Locks in 'Le Canal Latéral à la Garonne' are rectangular but those in 'Le Canal du Midi' are oval. I went to a local motorcycle dealer in Toulouse and emptied his used tires container. Wrap the tires well in tape, because they'll spoil your boat's painting if you don't. Curiously enough, they allow the use of tires in France. Tires do not float and could occasionally get stuck betwen the doors of locks...
  • Be tolerant towards 'sans permis' locaboats. People on board these slow but very 'RV-looking' floating buses do not have the maneuvering skills one should expect on these waters. At locks, we usually did "FIFO" (First in - First out). Most of them also have a cheerful time, judging from the empty wine bottles on the decks...
  • Going up, best put a crew member off at the stairs before the lock entrance, or else at the ladder. Throw up the ropes. If going up, stay as close to the entrance door as possible and vice versa.
  • Locks seem to attract lots of curious people, would-be lockmasters and the like...
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4. June 25th 2004

In Sète, we ran into Annelies and Theo from S/Y 'Eliese', a beautifull Koopmans from Naarden (Holland). After two years of wandering around Italy, Greece and Turkey, they went back home through the French Canals, following the route we had just finished. They gave us lots of charts and valuable advice about life in Greece, local meteorology, weather systems, etc...

We'll stay true to our first love: Greece !

5. ROMA, Città Aperta - July 2004

  • The city of Fiumicino is nog longer directly connected by train to Roma. The marinas of Lido di Roma or Anzio are better stopovers, 40 minutes from there will get you to the Colosseum.
  • Servicio Meteorologica dell'Aeronautica is a very good web site. VHF CH 68 (It + Eng) for a continuous meteorological bulletin for almost the whole of the Western Med.

5.1. Porto Communale ?!!

  • On entry of an Italian harbor, always go for the 'porto communale', the communal part of the harbor and therefor free of charge. Water and electricity are mostly non-existant. Sometimes, it pays to go next to a huge luxurious motorboat. They'll invariable need a lot of water.
  • In summer, most large fishing vessels leave at 4 a.m.
  • Ormeggiatori: guys who control some parts of Italian marinas (Ormeggio means 'halyard' in Italian). They lease part or the whole of a quay, charging berthing fees and sometimes providing water or electricity.
  • Enthusiastic and 'very Italian', however, never forget to negotiate prices beforehand.
  • In Salerno, we did not go into the marina, but stayed close to the container terminal, in a small harbour used by a rowing club, free of charge and very friendly.
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6. Peloponnisos and its three capes

  • With the exception of Kalamata and Yithion, on a SEasterly course towards past Cap Maléas, there are few sheltered harbors in this part of Greece. Most anchorages are open to the prevailing winds and there is always the problem of swell and katabatic or adiabatic winds at dawn or sunset.
  • Always be ready to leave on short notice, day and night. We'll remember Methoni, Diros and Mezapo in that respect.
  • Rounding Cape Maléas, the gate to the Kyklades, can be done giving it a very wide berth, closing in on Kythira's southerly point, if necessary.
Ionio

7. Cyclades - Kyklades - October 2004

  • Adhamas on Milos is well sheltered against meltemi. However, strong winds from other directions make it untenable. Leave and anchor on the South side of Ormos Milou instead.
  • Thira (Fira or Santorini), the gem of the archipelago, is a exploded volcano. Only a circular structure remains. One of the marvels of Greece, a must-have-seen for any yachtsman cruising these waters.
  • However, due to its geological structure, anchoring is very difficult and sometimes even impossible. A few meters offshore, depth go steeply down to over 20 m, an underwater abyss. The seabed is mostly sunken pumice and loose rock with poor holding .
  • We had a Force 9 NNE meltemi. Skala Thira, the main ferry terminal quickly becomes dangerous in such conditions. Nea Kamméni (SW-cove) on the actual volcano crater is no option either, very deep, isolated, no room due to sight-seeing boats and infested with rats. Vlikadha (S-side outside) is OK but hopelessly crowded. Achor outside the outer breakwater is an option.
  • We were lucky to pick up an enormous but abandoned anchor pontoon with concrete block at N 36°27'.609 and E 025°22'.893 (Armeni). 7 mooring lines (including one underwater chained to rocks) and 283 steps later and you'll enjoy the magnificent view.

8. Hibernating on Kyklades ?

  • There are very few safe, all-round sheltered harbors. Naxos is an exception, but the mooring system is designed for yachts of up to 10 m L.O.A. (2004). Going alongside is no option, fishing boats only do this.
  • We moored on 2 laid moorings and put out one anchor - very far away so as not to foul it. Mikonos is a good option, but the new - and compulsory - marina is far away from the town. The island feels very deserted in winter.
  • Ermoupoli on Siros has a nice marina (2004-2005) but is not yet operational. Good shelter if you go in the deepest corner alongside the e quays, not on the pontoons. Ermoupoli is the capital of the archipelago, very practical, and has three excellent shipyards. All repairs, chandlers, shops, etc...
  • Safe and all-round sheltered harbors, to be recommended for living onboard or leaving boats afloat during wintertime:
    • Karavostasi (Folegandros)
    • Aegiali on Amorgos, at the head of the pier, no facilities
    • Katapola on Amorgos (alongside the quay at the inside)
    • Naxos for boats up to 10m max. with unreliable laid moorings
    • Ermoupoli on Siros inside the marina alongside the quay
    • Mikonos, the new marina but with disadvantages
    • Evdhilos (Ikaria), between the ferry landings

Engels en Grieks

8.1. Hibernating on Dodecanesos ?

  • Pythagorion on Samos has a brand-new marina, not yet finished or operational (2004-2005), but safe and well all-round sheltered on short walking distance from the town. We got a 10+ southerly storm, didn't get any sleep for days and saw a ketch from Oostende !
  • Kos marina: an option when using 2 laid moorings each.
  • Kalymnos: no marina, its pontoons piled up on the quay (winter 2004).

8.2. Hibernating on the Lycian (Turkisch) Southern coast ?

  • Suner and Anika of Sweden told us about Marmaris and its famous community of yachties: concerts, BBQ's, trips, parties, New Years's Eve, celebrations, ...
  • Bodrum has an excellent marina, not the cheapest place around !
    There is a cheap Migros supermarket. For cheap clothes, go to the
    market behind the bus terminal.
  • Next time, we'd prefer Turkye anyway. It's an enormous and very beautiful country. Spending the winter there has few things in common with the small, deserted wintertime atmosphere of some Greek Islands. Unless, of course, it's Amorgos !!!

9. Amorgos, my Beloved - December 2004

  • On our passage from Levitha to Aegiali and Katapola (Amorgos), we witnessed a strange phenomenon at sea. Having 5-6+ Beaufort on a broad reach, suddenly, it must have been three o'clock in the afternoon, the wind dropped to zero. Nothing, except for a very steep and staccato-like swell, irregular and very irritating. We had to put on our crew savers. It lasted till we rounded the cape at visual distance of the harbor. Very irritating, dangerous and tiring !
  • In heavy weather, leeward sides of most Kyklades are sometimes more dangerous.

10. Syros, february 2005

  • A new but not-yet operational marina. Far away from the city center and no facilities (2005). The fishing harbor is a better option, with super markets, chandlers, shops, taverna's, ...nearby. But very limited space for yachts.
  • The commercial harbor is no option for passing yachts as it quickly becomes a bowling hall on passage of a ferry or freighter.
  • In general, most harbors of Kyklades are relatively well protected against Meltemi, a northerly prevailing summertime wind. This makes nearly all of them dangerous spots during southerly storms. (which occur mostly in wintertime (See 8.)).

11. Korinthe, march 2005

  • World famous for it price tag (they set us back €97). All paperwork is quickly done at the Eastern exit. There's not much to be done in terms of opening locks, bridges, etc,.. Only two very small bridges have to be lowered to the sea floor. Coming in from Corinthe, call Canal Authorities on VHF radio and proceed accordingly.
  • Passage takes 30 min. max.

12. Tunisia, april 2005

  • The French 'BLOC MARINE' pilot is incomplete and does not mention all harbors. Use 'Imray North Africa Pilot' instead.
  • Believe it or not, but national nautical charts are considered top secret in Tunisia. We went everywhere trying to find them, National Police, Port Authorities, Coastguard, Customs, Bookshops, everywhere. You simply can't find them.
  • Sousse: to be avoided. Hammameth and Port-el-Kantaoui: upmarket and relatively far away from the town.

12.1. Red Tape

  • We got a warm welcome in Mahdia. The 'Police' gave us a berth opposite their building. You need a full clearance and visa coming to Tunisia, everything was quickly done and for free. Count on 'Police', 'Garde Nationale' and 'Douanes' to pay you a visit. All electronics - cameras as well as the full electronic navigational inventory - have to be declared.
  • A free transit log is given and has to be shown to the port authorities on every passage to Tunisian harbors.
  • The Coast Guard visited us twice on the open seas.
  • Things might really become complicated when renewing expired visa after three months. Carefully prepare the procedure and always pay local currency in cash.
  • Take your time, especially when planning to return to Europe on a short notice.
  • Some sailors officially leave the country, sail to Ustica, Sicily, Pantelleria or Lampedusa and then re-entry Tunisia - usually loaded with wine and grappa.

12.2. Tunesian Dinar

  • Labor is cheap in Tunisia, wages are low. A lot of yachtsmen use the opportunity of a Tunisian passage to have their boat refitted. Do not forget to make advance reservations at shipyards - that goes for berthing places as well.
  • Sails are not expensive but all chandlery is.
  • 1 liter diesel set us back half a dinar - 30 eurocents in 2005.

13. Sardinia

  • Buggheru, at the E-Coast North of Oristano is silted up and no longer accessible for yachts (2005).

14. Port Saint-Louis-du-Rhône

  • Rigging. The well-known Messiant shipyard at the exit of the last lock towards the Rhône('Ecluse Maritime') is closing down (2005). A new shipyard using modern and very heavy equipment is located between the 'Digue Saint-Louis' and 'Bassin des Tellines' at port side.
  • Call Jean Raymond 04-42485009/04-6689186/06-10386567.

15. Locks on the Rhône

  • Two big white floating moorings inside the wall of the lock follow the water level inside the lock and come up or down with the ship. There're several of them, take your pick.
  • Protect the boat and its fenders with wooden planking or pieces of very thick rope.
  • Tires do not float and are not allowed. Usually, for modest boats, two very large fenders, one at the bow and one at the beam provide enough protection.
  • We always attach the middle of the boat - using a short line - to the lowest of the two moorings. We then put two lines, one from the stern and the other from the bow, to the highest of the two moorings.
  • Use of a life jacket is compulsory. Do not attach the boat alongside other ships.
  • Locks on the Rhône are impressive. There is a lot of down current at the lock entrance, especially when going up north from the Med. Differences in height can be as much as 23 meters ! The combination of extended periods of heavy rain and Mistral (Strong N-wind down the Rhône valley) made us decide to make a 5-day stopover at Avignon.

15.1 Roads and bridges

  • When coming alongside quays in the vicinity of bridges, either go directly under it or as far away from it as practically possible, if you want to spend the night. Some people have the irresistible tendency of throwing down things or spitting in the water...

16. Locks on the Saône - Moselle Canalisée - Canal de l'Est branche Nord

  • Automated locks are operated either by turning a pole, pulling a blue stick or using a beeper. Batteries are not included.
  • Do not enter an automated lock unless you're cleared by one green light. If not, the logical cycle is interrupted, alarm given and you have to call someone from VNF to reset the lock.

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