There was another mistral coming. At present they seem to be an almost weekly occurrence, but vary from fairly mild to really quite nasty. With winds gusts of 50 knots forecast we had decided to leg it from north Sardinia to shelter in Porto Veccio on south east Corsica. It actually worked well, as we wanted to head inland to the mountains and our excursion tied in nicely with the mistral, where sailing is off the agenda.
We rang the marina and were told that you couldn’t book places. It was a matter of first come first served, and generally, they told us, if you were in before midday you would get a spot. Once in you could stay as long as you wanted to pay the 60 euro a night. We arrived, called on the radio, and got a spot. Whoo hoo, next stop the mountains.
But no. The not so friendly staff at Porto Veccio told us we had to leave the next day as they had “other boats” coming in. We recounted the earlier phone conversation and our plans to head inland and the coming bad weather. To be fair they were pretty rude and unhelpful. They told us we had to leave by 10am. There goes our mountain plans.
That afternoon we got on talking to a few of the locals in the marina and they told us what was really going on…the new marina manager, it seems, is taking bribes from the Italians. We have heard stories of cartels, gouging and bribery on our travels but this was the first time we had suffered the consequences of it. That night the Italian boats poured in to the marina and the next morning, as we were told to leave, the marina staff were hand delivering the newly arrived Italian motor boats warm croissants.
So a not so warm welcome to Corsica. Still we managed a swift excursion up the hill to Porto Veccio town which is a must see if you are in the area…so French and a great place to spend a day or two. Cobbled streets, great restaurants, quirky bars and in August it is absolutely buzzing.
Every cloud has a silver lining. From discussions with some of the local French sailors we decided to head just north of Porto Veccio to a bay called San Ciprianu to ride out the mistral and it was a perfect anchorage, with plenty of French yachts also sheltering here. It is protected from the north west, shallow, with a smooth sandy bottom. We found our spot, let out 45m of chain and dug our anchor in tight. As an extra bonus there was a fantastic beach, lovely walks and a cool water sports centre which the kids spotted before the anchor had hit the bottom. The wind was not too bad most of the time, but on the third night, was consistently well into the 40’s and there wasn’t too much sleep to be had. The kids, and Milly in particular, love a storm so they were up on deck every few hours checking things out as the wind howled around us in the dark.
The bay was so sheltered that the kids even managed to squeeze in water skiing lessons, which they loved. All in all, getting turfed out of Porto Veccio marina was a blessing in disguise.