The Fornell Passage and Bonifacio

We spent a couple of days working our way up the Sardinian coast and arrived at Stintino via the Fornell Passage. This is a passage between a group of islands on the north west tip of Sardinia that needs a bit of caution. We spoke to three yachts prior to heading through it and all had run aground.

The navigable channel is narrow and the scenery spectacular so it’s easy to get distracted. You have to use a combination of forward and back bearings to get through the channel and any error results in you ending up grounded. Happily, we made it through un-scathed and anchored just north of the passage in the clearest water I have ever seen. The only water I have seen that came close on clarity was Palu Weh, off the North tip of Sumatra. It was so clear that we spent a good hour watching a flounder stalk a star fish 8m below us on the sea bed and you could see every detail and every mark the starfish left in the sand. You will be glad to know the starfish escaped….

After 2 relaxed nights here we headed for France and Bonifacio. We left before dawn for the 5 hour sail. The Sunrise was stunning, the kind that you don’t forget. We were heading due east and the sun was right on the bow. The stars slowly disappeared as the sky turned from black to blue to pink and then orange.

Bonifacio is a special place. You enter the Port through a tiny vertical spilt in the cliffs. Once inside it is a busy, no, very busy port. We arrived at lunchtime. There were cruise ships, ferries, tour boats, 150ft super yachts, and lots of other yachts and motor boats coming at us from every direction. We called up on the radio and in Heather’s perfect French organized a berth on the visitors wharf. We found our pontoon, but couldn’t get to it for all the traffic. A charter yacht hit a wall in front of us and I ended up in a holding pattern while he assessed the damage all the time dodging big ferries coming past at 10kts. A surreal experience. We kept it together and executed a nice stern to mooring and cracked a beer. The town is staggering, the old town is perched on cliffs 100m up looking down over the port. We restocked the fridge and made a quick exit knowing we’d return in a couple of days to drop off Damian and Helen. After two days at the beautiful Iles Levezzi, Bonifacio had another surprise for us with the cliffs cloaked in fog for our second entrance. Now we were entering a busy port blind. Lifejackets on, fog horn to hand, we slowly motored through the mist, only spotting a yacht when it was 50m off our bow. Luckily the clouds lifted just as we reached the base of the cliffs and we had a less hectic mooring experience this time.

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