New crew, Damian and Helen, joined us for the penultimate leg of our 2017 cruise from Bastia in Corsica to the Tuscan Island of Elba and then north to Pisa and the famous leaning tower.
Their arrival seemed to coincide with a decided change in the weather. It had been blue sky’s and sun all summer, but suddenly on the 4th of September that all changed with some significant weather closing in on us including yet another mistral and lots of rain. Hardly ideal.
With dark, low clouds scudding over Cape Corse, we left the old port of Bastia and set course for the west end of Elba. Elba is the third largest island in Italy and is part of the Tyrrhenian Sea’s Tuscan Archipelago National Park. It’s real claim to fame is that between 1814 and 1815 it was Napoleons place of exile after he abdicated the French throne.
As the island lies in an east-west orientation and the east tip of the island of Elba lies only 5NM off the Italian mainland it gets busy, but in early September things were quiet and there was no issue finding space in the anchorages and the few small ports seemed to have plenty of berths free.
The island has some decent sized bays so you can find a sheltered anchorage in most conditions. We spent our first few days on the south coast hiding from predominantly northerly winds, then caught a southerly around the west tip and on to Portoferrio. It was easy and relaxing cruising, with only one exciting sail where we had to beat into 25 knots for a few hours. It was a super sail, but reminded us that this year, unlike our 2016 season, we had done very little beating into wind. Most of our sails had been down wind. As I reefed sails and steadied Vega, Damian and Helen clung on while Heather managed to knock together lunch, I don’t know how she does it. Things were flying about the interior, Vega was bouncing around and in the midst of the chaos beer and sandwiches arrived in the cockpit. Amazing.
In addition to the beaches and excellent wreck dives the highlight of Elba is the port of Portoferrio. The town its self is picturesque with its characteristic pastel coloured houses lining narrow alleys and small courtyards which are full of life. However, the dominant feature is the sixteenth century military buildings and fortress that made Portoferraio impregnable. These can still be seen today and no visit here is complete without climbing the walls and visiting Forte Falcone with its superb vistas across the island.