Having only explored the Straits of Bonifacio in our first season we were really keen to spend some time on Corsica and decided to circumnavigate the island in a clockwise direction from Porto Veccio on the south-east coast.
The south-east coast is a wonderful cruising ground. It is picturesque and has a host of anchorages between Golfe Pinarellu and Bonifacio. There are great beaches to anchor off and three marinas in close proximity if you need them. It represents family cruising at its best. Sophisticated towns, awesome anchorages and easy access inland.
As long as the wind doesn’t blow from the north-east through south-east you are ok. In easterlies things can get a bit lumpy and in strong easterlies you need to seek shelter in a marina or leave the area as large swells build up very quickly. But generally it’s safe and simple cruising.
The west coast however is a different beast. It’s rugged and exposed to the prevailing winds and from a cruisers perspective it is a coastline that needs treating with caution. Getting caught here in a mistral could get gnarly really quickly, as the whole coast line becomes a lee shore with up to 4-5m high waves rolling in. Great if you like to surf, bad if you’re in a yacht. To make matters a little more tricky there are only a handful of places to ride out a nasty NW blow.
After Propriano in the south-west we headed up the coast doing runs of 10-15 miles a day and there were plenty of anchorages in the calm conditions. One of the most enjoyable aspects of cruising here is that there are plenty of coastal walks and paths that are super easy to access from your yacht. Real highlights were the Iles Sanguinaires and Girolata. The latter being part of the Scandola nature reserve and is only accessible by hiking trail or boat which makes it extra special and cool.
Other nice spots were the town of Calvi and the small town of Centuri right up on the exposed west side Corsica’s “finger”. In all we spent 10 days on this spectacular coast before rounding cape Corse and running down to Bastia.
Visiting the west coast needs planning, and if you are new to the area needs a little research, but it is well worth the effort and those who dare to explore, are rewarded with spectacular scenery and great sailing.
This was a happy and chilled time onboard Vega. We hadn’t really talked about it but you could feel that all of us knew our third season of sailing was coming to a close and emotions were mixed as we reflected on the season we had had and on what lay ahead. The days were warm and long and nights cool. We pottered, explored, swam and read. We watched the sun set and the moon rise.
They were happy days.