Our friends in and out of the sailing community are often surprised to find that we typically don’t stay in one place more than one night. “Why the rush?!” they ask. It’s a question we debate regularly, and I’ll admit our fast pace can make the cruising life a bit stressful at times. I’m sure this fast pace leads our European neighbors to box us right into the American stereotype of working one’s self to the bone., but there is so much to see. They don’t call the Great Lakes “great” for no reason. And the Mediterranean, well, let’s just say that it’s a massive body of water, steeped in history that puts our American history timeline to shame. Our original plan was to cruise the Med for two seasons – the first would be in the western portion, and the second in the eastern. With half of our first summer already in the bag, there was plenty more to see before we checked the box in the West.
But whoa … hold on American cowboy! Are we done with the island adventures of Sardinia and Corsica? Not yet! It was time for a second helping of island exploring.
I came into this sailing adventure knowing very little about Corsica, and even less about Sardinia. There are a few things that a Southern California upbringing lack, and an appreciation of history is one of them, especially when it involves land masses halfway around the globe. So, you’ll need to excuse me if I gloat over these substantial Mediterranean islands. Even as adults, we didn’t know what to expect when we sailed across from the French mainland. It wasn’t for lack of intel. We had so many cruising and travel guides of this area, I was afraid Sea Rose might list over and capsize. Though my appetite for history has grown leaps and bounds since grade school, travel books don’t always do a place justice, or captivate you enough in the evening after a long day on the water. You have to get right up close for an immersive, sensual experience to really get drawn in. This certainly describes our experience when we made our Corsica landfall at Galeria. And that was quickly followed by the sights, sounds and scents that are Sardinia. We just needed to rescue a few travel mates from the airport first!
Before we left the U.S. to start our summer adventure onboard Sea Rose, we had several friends express an interest in joining us. Karen and I were of course thrilled about the strong interest, but we had to chuckle a bit. Just a year prior, while we were cruising through the Great Lakes of the U.S., we got very few takers. Apparently, a transatlantic flight, foreign language, and jet lag was not enough to dissuade people from an opportunity to sail in the Mediterranean. That said, if you have the chance to navigate the Erie Canal or sail the Great Lakes, you should really accept the offer. It is a fabulous and under-appreciated sailing destination. Check out our YouTube series “Sailing into the American Heartland” for more details.
Our longtime friend Emmy was quick to sign on as a guest, booking her ticket to France months ahead, showing us she was not leaving anything to chance! We had mapped out a rough itinerary for the summer and there were various legs that were either coastal hopping or offshore crossings. To our surprise, Emmy was intrigued by the idea of an offshore crossing, especially if it involved an overnight experience. As we settled into our new boat and finished cruising the Balearics, it became clear that we would be doing a longer passage from the French mainland over to the northwest coast of Corsica. This is roughly a 100 nm trip. We had done several similar length crossings – namely to cross over from Spain to Mallorca and return back from Menorca – and for both of those trips we left before sunrise and arrived before dusk to try to avoid a complete overnight trip.
Unlike the isolation and jagged cliff landscape of Mallorca’s north coast, the eastern side of the island is peppered with small calas and a sprinkling of little villages providing beautiful beach access to island visitors. There are steep cliffs here – Mother Nature’s forceful hand toiled on this island as it did on so many others in the area – but these cliffs are in the 100 foot high range, not thousands of feet like the north coast. We were needing a little village scene, after being the only boat anchored out in the northerly harbors. With this goal, we headed around Mallorca’s northern tip, Cabo de Formentor, and found a vigorous breeze on our beam, sending us down the eastern side with determination.
When people think of the French Riviera, I can bet they don’t think of a place like Canet-en-Roussillon. This little coastal hamlet is tucked away in the very southern extreme of France’s Mediterranean coastline, practically on the door step of Spain. Indeed, for awhile it was part of the Catalan region. Canet has its expansive beaches, but it’s devoid of the glitz and glam, the flashy big super yachts, and the well heeled sophisticate of the French Riviera. It’s the summer vacation choice of the everyday French family, and its port facility is where you come to roll up your sleeves and get work done.
It’s winter in New England, which for some of you might conjure up romantic notions of snow-filled meadows adjacent to a snug log cabin with a rousing wood fire burning inside. What it is not is a time for sailing, unless you are one of these crazy devils from the Boston Sailing Center’s Frostbite Racing Series.
Instead, for Karen and I, we have been busy preparing to take delivery of our new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 “Sea Rose” in France this Spring. I can assure you we will be posting lots of pictures and videos of our experience in the Mediterranean, where the only ice you will find is in the freezer or the cocktail glass!
In the meantime, I just recently completed two YouTube videos related to our preparations. The first video explains our boat buying experience in Annapolis this past Fall, including the standout features of the Jeanneau 440. The second video details our new travel companion – the Google Pixel 2 phone and Project Fi service. I’ll admit it didn’t take much to bring out the inner geek in me, but for any of you that travel overseas and need an easy way to stay in touch and online, these two solutions should be on your short list.
If you enjoy the videos and want to be reminded when new ones arrive, simply click on the button at the end of the video to subscribe to our channel, LifeFourPointZero, or go here. And a thumbs up is always appreciated it!