There is no more than 30 nautical miles between Corsica and Elba. Visibility was good and when we got out of the anchor bay on Elba we could clearly see the mountains on Corsica.
On the port side we saw Pianosa, on starboard Capria and in the aft the Italian mainland. The two islands are located in the part of the Tyrrhenian Sea, called the Tuscan archipelago. This was where the Italian cruiser Costa Cordia was completely wrecked when the ship ran on a rock because the captain wanted to show his cruise passengers how close his big ship could sail to the small island Giglio.
When we had sailed for a couple of hours, we came to great depths of water. The echo sounder (depth meter) now showed flashing lines because the sound waves were not powerful enough to detect that we were above the depth of 500 meters.
Suddenly a couple of fins appeared. There was no doubt. They were dolphins. They swam at us with great speed. When they reached the stern , they dived under the boat.
And then they were gone.
Or were they?
For a while, the echo sounder showed a depth of 1 meters. We could not get away from the idea that the dolphins were just below the echo sounder, which after a while again showed flashing lines.
Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. Only Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus are larger. A long mountain range with peaks of up to 2.700 meters covers two thirds of the area and has given the nicknames "The Mountain in the Sea" and "The Island of Beauty". Corsica is sparsely populated and over a third of the slightly over 300.000 inhabitants live in the two largest cities of Ajaccio and Bastia.
In 1755, the Corsican revolted against Genoa and founded under the leadership of Pascale Paoli, an independent republic. The Constitution, which among other things gave women the right to vote, later became a model for the French and American constitutions. After a few years, Genoa sold its claim to Corsica to France, which had the military resources to fight the rebel. After the French Revolution in 1789, Corsica was admitted as a region in the French Republic, at its own request. During the horror regime after the Revolution, the Corsican, with the help of England, sought to detach themselves from France. But in 1796 Corsica was taken by Napoleon, who himself was Corsican. Since then, Corsica has belonged to France.
Investments in establishing an agricultural area on the eastern side of the island caused economic growth at the start of the 1950s, but also tensions because French refugees from Algiers were awarded some of the land.
In 1968, FLNC was founded, aiming to make Corsica independent. The movement began to use terror, culminating in 1998 with the murder of the prefect of Corsica. In 2001, Corsica gained a special status as a region in France. Among other things, it was allowed to teach Corsican in schools. The main source of income, tourism, suffered from the many bombings and terrorist attacks. But first in 2014, FLNC announced that violence is no longer part of the struggle for independence.
After 6 hours sailing, we docked in Bastia.
"Take the old harbor. I always use it. It's nice "Had an Italian who spoke almost flawless Danish, advised us when we were in Cecina in Italy.
The old harbor was also 'den hyggelige', but after one night we sailed over to the new Port Toga. Opportunities for provisioning was something near perfect. The harbor provided nice protection in all wind directions, and a beach was close by.
"Oui. C'est possible, "the girl answered at the port office when we asked if we could stay in the harbor for a week. Then she printed an invoice.
We looked gently at it.
"It's because it is now high season," she explained. And because we're still just getting out, she added a bit of learning. "The price for one week is the price per day multiplied by the number of days in a week."
There are many cafes and restaurants in Port Toga. In the evening we went to a small cafe. It was stuffy by guests who saw France play the 1 / 8 World Cup final against Argentina. There was hoarding, screaming and drowsiness, and the excitement culminated with the song and the bull with horns when the match ended with French victory.
The next evening we went to the small cafe to see the 1/8 World Cup final between Denmark and Croatia. Now the atmosphere was different. There was only one guest. Le Patron, his wife and sister-in-law sat at a table and seemed to be bored with a "when-can-we-go-home” attitude
We sat at a table in front of the lighted TV and ordered today's right. When Mathias Jørgensen scored after just one minute, the sister-in-law broke out amazed, "Oh, there's a goal" and looked over at us there with the arms shouting out "yes, yes, yes there eeeeer måååålål"
A little while in the second half, the single guest rose, said something to smile Patron and then left the little cafe. Back, now only us, laugh Patron, his wife and sister-in-law. All three were almost obliged to take part in the unbelievably exciting battle. During the break before the prolonged play, Le Patron's wife betrayed that we could easily be seated until the game ended. When Schmeichel saved the penalty shootout for the extended game time, we recalled something that reminded us of an easy enthusiasm for all three, and when the match finally ended, just two hours after the normal closing time, we felt a mixture of compassion and relief.
It is not easy to get around Corsica by public transport. From Bastia, there are trains to Ajaccio five times a day and the train to Calvi runs like most buses only twice a day.
One day we took the train to Calvi. The town is located on the west side just 60 kilometers from Bastia. In the straight line. But on the one-track railway that cuts across the high mountain range, distances are twice as high. The track was built in the late 1800 century. The train, called the "bone sister", is a diesel train. It only has 2 carts and uses over 3 hours to drive the 120 kilometers.
We bicycled from the harbor to the station in the city.
"The destination is on their left hand side", it was from Googlemaps, but failed to explain why there was no "Gare SNCF" sign indicating that the building was a train station. We asked two men at a cafe, if they knew where the station was. They then asked us and pointed to the sign "Chemins de fer de la Corse". (Later we found that Corsica as the only region in France has its own train company, called Chemins de la Corse and although it operates under its own name, the operation is outsourced to French SNCF)
The Corsica train track is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. When we started driving over the mountain chain after almost an hour's drive, we understood why. The train slowly moved up the track, laid in the steep mountain walls. Over us hovered birds of prey. Several hundred meters to the side, we saw the continuation of the track cut into the mountain and below us the mountain wall fell down to the depths. At other times we passed a farm, a small village or free-range cows, goats and sheep.
When we had crossed the mountain range, we drove for 30 minutes along the Mediterranean, which was colored turquoise green by the white sandy bottom, and reached Calvi the end station.
Calvi has 5.500 residents and is one of Corsica's most popular holiday destinations. We strolled around the old town and enjoyed the laid back holiday atmosphere among the many tourists. Had lunch at a restaurant on the harbor overlooked by the citadel. It was here Lord Nelson lost his right eye when the English conquered it in 1794. Now it hosted the 2.regiment of the Foreign Legion. After a couple of hours, we took the train back to Bastia.
A few days later we took the bus to Saint Florent, which, like Calvi, is on the west side. Again, we crossed the mountain chain and walked a little while the driver drove to the edge of the sharp hairpin swing, which had a wide view of the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, which had a special blue color.
After a week in Port Toga, Daniel and Emilie signed on. Great to have a visit from home and nice to see Emilie was now over a month further ahead in her pregnancy.
We decided to sail to Porto Vecchio, located on the southeastern side of the 70 nautical mile south of Bastia.
When we got out of the harbor, we could clearly see the bottom of 10 meter water. Nice to be out again. When we had passed Bastia, we came to Corsica's only low area, which was first made free of malaria after World War II. By the way, here the refugees from Algiers at the start of the 1950s got land where they have since cultivated wine, fruit and vegetables.
After a couple of hours of sailing we breathed the Port Taverna. It was hot. Very hot. When we had moored, we walked over to the beach and bathed in the fresh crystal clear water that reached the throat a few steps from the shore.
«It's been a long day" said the American, who had backed his boat into the berth opposite us. «I left from Porto Vecchio this morning. Solenzara is only a couple of hours sailing from Porto Vecchio and there are no shelters between Solenzara and here »
The next morning we sailed along the coast towards Solenzara. The American was right. There were no protective anchorages at the 32 nautical long white sandy beach, which, apart from a few individual collections of single-family houses, was completely deserted.
"Do you speak Danish? "Asked a lady us when we had moored in the port of Solenzara and continued" it did the last I saw with Danish flag, namely not "But yes. We were ashamed then Pearanese and had a long talk with the lady. She had sailed most of her life and, together with her husband, had bought a GD28 in the 1960s. When they 30 had reached retirement age years later, they had taken a long trip. After seven years they had reached Corsica and had the boat lying in Solenzara since 1999. The man had died several years ago and now she used the boat as a cottage when she spent the summer in Corsica every year.
When we reached a couple of miles south of Solenzara the next day, the white sandy beaches were replaced by cliffs, which in many places created sheltered coves with good anchorages.
After 1 1 / 2 hour, we changed the course with almost 45 degrees to starboard. Now we steered towards the outermost green bend, which together with a red marked the start of sailing into Porto Vecchio. The entry was over the 4 nautical mile and reminded a little about a Norwegian fjord.
Not a wind was moving in the harbor. It was very hot and the muddy water at the bottom of the fjord did not invite to bathing.
We went up to the town. It was nice enough, but we could not recognize the pilot's description of a town with picturesque fine old buildings, shops and a vibrant life at the many cafes and restaurants.
«How about going up to the Citadel? "Daniel asked when we were heading back to the boat. We stepped up the steep road in the steep heat. When we got up completely, we could now suddenly recognize the city on the pilot's description. We stayed there several hours. Dragged coffee at one of the cafés in the square in the middle of town. Enjoyed the view from the high-rise citadel. So a funeral, with mourning women and gloomy men, was cut out of a scene from Godfather. When it was evening we ate at one of the many pavement restaurants and then went back to the boat.
"We are here in our own boat and so you were Danish and just wanted to say good day," said a couple standing on the bridge where we lay moored. Weird. We had not met any Danish boats since we had left Menton more than a month ago. And now we met yet another in just two days.
The couple, named Asger and Kirsten, had sailed from Tårbæk last year and, like us, sailed into the river and canal system at Travemünde to sail to the Mediterranean Sea. When they arrived, they sailed eastwards along the French and Italian coast to Corsica. In Menton, they had taken the boat on land at Barbara to investigate the propeller shaft. They had seen Heron in the yard's room and wondered that no one was working on it. Just that, we did not wonder too little about that, we explained and got a good evening laugh and exchange of experiences and experiences.
There was only one day left before Daniel and Emilie were designing. Even we were home a week later and had found a place in Port Taverna, where Heron could stand while we were at home. The next day we sailed back to Solenzara, climbed up close to the coast and bathed and dived before sailing into the harbor.
The following afternoon we followed Daniel and Emilie up to Bar Jean in the main street. According to the lady at the tourist office, it was the city's only stopover. The bus arrived almost at the scheduled time, stopped at Bar Jean and blocked all traffic during the time it took the driver to get Daniel and Emilie and their luggage on board. An hour later they arrived at Porto Vecchio and after a couple of hours they boarded the night ferry to Nice.
We stayed for a couple of days in Solenzara, had a nice evening with the Danish lady and sailed back to the Port Taverna.
A few days later Heron was hauled on land.
«Prunete? oh no no C'est pas possible "said the lady at the port office when we asked if she would book a taxi to us. "So short trips there are no taxis who are driving" she explained as she put the phone away. "But you can drive with me. I'm free in twenty minutes and have to go there, "she suggested kindly.
Half an hour later we were in Prunete and stepped out of her car next to a cafe called Luccioni, where the busstop closest to Port Taverna was.
We sat at a table. There were a couple of guests at two other tables. They were obviously local and once looked at us when they thought we did not see it. One block before the bus was coming, we crossed the other side of the road to make sure the driver could see us. There was no bus when the 15 minutes were gone and no one for the next 20 minutes.
"Well, that's a shame here. It's probably just delayed, "explained the waiter at Bar Luccioni, when the bus after three blocks had still not arrived.
And the waiter was right. The bus was late. And not so little. After waiting in the strong afternoon sun and heat we could finally get into the modern and pleasantly cooled bus, when it arrived 1 1/2 hours behind schedule. An hour later we were in Bastia.
The next morning we embarked on the great looking ferry Pascal Paoli, who at a speed of almost 30 knob effortlessly flew over the great waves north of Cap Corse and onwards towards Nice.
After an overnight stay in Nice we took the late flight to Copenhagen and walked at half past the door to our apartment.