Bonjour – Vive La France!

We departed Italy (Rome) at 9:30am on 7th September. Vive La France! We had a really good overnight passage with no problems, and Robbie even caught a nice Mahi Mahi (Dolphin fish) a few hours before arriving at Bastia, on the island of Corsica at 8:30am on the 8th September. It’s a very nice small harbour, surrounded by French Villa’s on the hillside on one side, and café’s and shops right next to the dock on the other. We were the largest boat in there and got tied up alongside the dock right on the street. They squeezed Stormvogel into a stern tie up berth right in front of us, and it was very tight indeed.

We proceeded armed with our documents and passports to the authorities to check in. With all the Schengen rules we wanted to be very sure we can prove the date we arrived.

Excepting that after walking to about 5 different authorities in Bastia we ended up getting a taxi to the airport 25 minutes away to speak to the PAF which is like police and immigration but we couldn’t get across to the officials the bilateral visa waiver agreement for New Zealanders, so after about 4 hours and a trip to the airport, we came back feeling rather disappointed. They were saying that I had to leave Europe by 2nd October!!!Anyway to cut a long story short the French embassy in NZ is assisting us with documentation to prove this special bilateral waiver for New Zealanders Visas. (and I don’t have to leave by 2nd October!) 

The next challenge was to get the sim cards for our phones, with data. We normally get 2 sim cards one with a lot of data that we use for hotspot for our laptops and iPad. Because the cost was so expensive (more expensive than any other country we have been to) we decided to only get one sim card with 2 Gb data. We got back to the boat, and hello the hot spot doesn’t work! This has never happened before! Lucky we have our IT expert travelling companion, Peter, and he had the same problem. They block the sim cards here in France so you can’t hot spot! This meant another long walk back to the “Orange” shop to now have to buy a dongle, and another sim card! Robbie was not impressed by this stage and was saying stuff France we will do a few overnighters and go straight to Spain!! He has calmed down a bit now. An overnight passage with very little sleep does not help your patience after a very trying day!

Peter and Heidi have visitors from Germany arrive to stay on Stormvogel for a few days and Marlene and Reiner. We had sundowners on Southern Star which was very pleasant.

We left the marina the next morning as it is 78 euro per night and this is expensive when we convert it to our Australian dollar, so we travelled further North up the island of Corsica to a place called Macinaggio, we stern tied in the marina, which is very nice. Still 70 euros but there was quite a swell rolling in and to anchor would have been very uncomfortable.

Again Macinaggio is a small town surrounding the harbour and very attractive. The marina is very well done with a wide dock with seats placed along which we used to our advantage for a Bar-B-Q for the 6 of us, which Robbie cooked on Southern Star and we sat on the pier very civilised like with table placemats and wine glasses (except we drank water). The cats and a stray dog got the leftovers.

We had a quiet day with a walk to the beach which wasn’t so nice, there was a lot of dried sea grass covering the beach but the others had a swim and we sat in the small beach car and I wrote postcards to our 2 gorgeous munchkin grandkids Ethan and Charlotte. A 250ml Heineken was 3 euro! Stormvogel and crew joined us after their swim for a beer and then we walked back. We decided as it was so calm to go and anchor in the bay just outside the harbour as there was no swell. Unfortunately Stormvogel had already paid for the 2nd night so they stayed put.

We lifted anchor on the 11th September to head around the island to try and find a nice anchorage with good swimming. We arrived at Centuri at 10:45am and after 3 attempts managed to get good holding in a sand patch amongst the rocky and weedy bottom. There was quite a swell rolling in but we were hopeful it would drop as the weather forecast predicted the wind to turn around. Stormvogel had checked out the tiny harbour and then joined us in the anchorage. We went ashore and had a walk around the gorgeous village, there were little restaurants and bars all-round the harbour and they were full of people. A lot of motorbikes come to Corsica on the ferry and then tour the island, what a great idea!

We headed back to the boat and after an hour or two decided it was too uncomfortable, the swell had not dropped so we decided to move at 5:00pm to Saint Florent, a harbour tucked into the bottom of a narrow bay that looked very protected. Bit of a concern as it would be dark or nearly dark when we arrived but we decided it was worth it. It was only 17 nautical miles and we had a good journey, the wind dropped and it was pretty calm most of the way. I even cooked a chicken curry for dinner. The only incident was not long after we left Centuri we suddenly head a terrible loud noise – we both got a big fright as two fighter jets flew over us, one of them, was right over us and was extremely low! It gave us a hell of a fright – not far off needing clean undies!!!

We had a quiet morning and went into the town for a wander and to try and hire a car for tomorrow to go exploring the island of Corsica. We had previously found 1 car hire place on the internet and emailed them, but had not had a reply. We found their advertisement in a shop window and Robbie tried to ring them but the guy didn’t speak English and Robbie had no joy so we decided to walk and do it in person. It was about a 3 kilometre walk and the place was hard to find but we eventually found it.

Well what a waste of time. Heidi and I went in to do the negotiating and the man was so rude he just said “speak French”, we tried to communicate with him with actions and pointing to the brochure but he was not interested, he kept repeating “you speak French” and was the rudest person I have ever dealt with. Robbie was in the background and he walked out in disgust. After 5 minutes of persevering I was furious, the man was just an arrogant, rude, not nice person. I walked out fuming saying I wouldn’t give him my money anyway. Peter had been waiting outside so now the 3 of us had given up, Peter, always the diplomat, decided he would have a go. We all sat outside. After a few minutes Peter too gave up. We could not believe that someone in a car hire business was so disinterested in hiring a car and could be so rude about it. So we walked back into town and met up with Marlene and Reiner who were catching the bus back to Bastia to get to the airport to fly home to Germany. We ended up booking scooters for tomorrow to go exploring the island. Even that was a bit of a rip off. A 50cc scooter is 50 euro each, and a 125cc scooter is 70 euros. We have hired scooters all over the world, and we have paid from about 8 euro (equivalent) to 30 euro. This is really expensive! So we decided we will double up on a 125cc and Peter and Heidi still want separate scooters.

Did a bit of shopping and I was thrilled to find a lovely fruit and vege shop that sold parsnip. I was about to make a big pot of vegetable soup and we love parsnip. Got back to the boat and spent about an hour chopping all the veges up and bloody hell the parsnips were some kind of Radish – a strong tasting salad vegetable that is normally a pink colour and small and round. But these were all white, long and looked exactly like a parsnip. Oh well I guess that’s the price you pay in a foreign country when you don’t understand the labels and signs! They have a lot of smoked, dried pork here, it looks terrible with mould and everything on the outside. Its not refrigerated at all and they sell it everywhere. We bit the bullet and brought one, will let you know how it tastes!

We had a relaxing night reading our books. I have just finished the 4th book in the Millennium series, (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the 4th one is by another author as Stieg Larsson passed away. It is called The Girl in the Spiders web, written by David Lagercrantz. It started off slow and I was sceptical that it would be as good as the other 3 which I loved. Well when it got going I could not put it down. It’s really good and I highly recommend it if you enjoyed the other 3. I have converted to the kindle Robbie brought me for Xmas, finally and now am enjoying it. I have balked at using it a bit but now love it and so easy to buy a book when you are out of reading material (so long as you have internet!)

We woke up ready to go on our motorbike tour but there are big threatening rain clouds and it is quite windy and not looking good for motorbike weather. We didn’t have a phone number for them so Robbie took the duck in and postponed our booking until tomorrow. Robbie serviced the duck and I pottered around and decided to update the blog. We have been joined in the anchorage by some huge superyachts, one of them incredibly big. One particular yacht is called Arctic P and is 88 metres long and looks very impressive. It was previously owned by Kerry Packer (An Australian mega rich media magnate who died in 2005) it is now a charter yacht with 12 passengers and 25 crew.


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