Looking Back at Hot Hot Hot 2019 to Corsica

Posted by Judy Lambourne on 27 September 2019

Getting to our Hot Hot Hot rally in Corsica this year was less straightforward than on some occasions and meant that most of us had to trek cross country to Stanstead, the UK base of Air Corsica. The majority flew on Thursday 12th September direct to Ajaccio whilst others came out on the Saturday to Figari and then hired cars for the “interesting” transfer on the notoriously windy roads. Another option taken was to hop to Marseilles from Manchester and then pick up the Air Corsica connection. However, extra time on this beautiful island was well spent with the early arrivals enjoying the history (mostly Napoleon), scenery and some relaxing by pools and eating and drinking Corsican food and wine.

Saturday afternoon saw the advance party start to board our boats, chartered from Dream Yacht Charter, and located in Port Tino Rossi, next to the huge ferry terminal. The name of the port commemorates Tino Rossi who was a famous French singer and film actor, born in Ajaccio.  There were 5 boats and 30 crew in our HOEOCA flotilla of Dufours ranging from 38’ to 46’. Victualling and 3 handovers having been accomplished, we then repaired to various hostelries to await the Figari team who arrived about 2215.

Sunday morning dawned blue and sunny and we were able to leave port after the remaining handovers and normal first day messing around were complete. We tacked out into the Gulf of Ajaccio and rounded the Iles Sanguinaires in a lovely F3 from the NW then making our way into the Gulf of Sagone, our destination for the first night.  Being unclear as to the protocol, we picked up mooring buoys in Sagone and were visited by 2 guys in a rib saying the owner was happy for us to stay on them for a €20 charge, still not sure whether or not this was a scam! By now, sadly, a very grey sky had built up so ideas of swimming were somewhat curtailed.  There were 2 places to eat on our side of the bay and 4 of the boats dined at L’Ancura, a surprisingly classy seafood restaurant, where the barracuda was particularly good although transactions were cash only.

Monday started under slightly cloudy skies but these cleared as the day progressed. We were again heading north and, as we did so, the colour of the coastline became more and more red, we rounded the stunning Cap Rossu (!) as we entered the Gulf of Porto. This area attracts hundreds of small tourist boats who come to explore the very dramatic caves and sandstone pillars. Our destination that evening was Girolta, an attractive sheltered cove in the north east of the Gulf, which is only accessible from the sea. We were met by a very efficient service who took our lines and moored us “fore and aft” between well maintained buoys. Cost was €32. Despite its lack of accessibility, there was quite a community with a shop, several bars and restaurants as well as 3 cows. The place is sustained by the aforementioned small tripper boats with the yachties providing supplementary income. It was a lovely spot where much swimming, socialising, eating and drinking occurred.

Tuesday was another lovely day although little wind initially. Once we had rounded Punta Rossa we encountered the only really uncomfortable seas of the week as the streams converged at the top of the island and some rocking and rolling took place. However, soon we were in the Bay of Calvi approaching the beautiful citadel. Some confusion and circling then took place as the marineros were busy berthing a couple of HUGE motor boats. However, all eventually secured to dry land for the first time in 3 days and much showering and shopping took place as well as a fix of Wi Fi. Tuesday saw the first of 2 birthdays and so we all gathered around J’Kife (one of the smaller boats and on a narrow pontoon) for drinks and nibbles and to wish Chris Read a “Bonne Anniversaire”. Dinner was taken at any of the huge number of restaurants which adorn both the water side and the back streets of this lovely town.

After an all too short morning spent sightseeing and victualling we set off back down south in somewhat gloomy and windless conditions. Original plan to go to Porto was outvoted due to some uncertainty about the safety to anchor and so we returned to Girolta and, with improved conditions, were able to enjoy sociable swimming once again. Most crews opted to eat on board that evening, breaking into the emergency meal ingredients.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny and with a brisk NW wind we enjoyed a lovely sail down the coast. Our plans to convene in Anse de Chiuni for a group swim and a fleet photo of the new battle flags was scuppered by the wind which rendered the sea too choppy. However, it was an attractive place for a spot of lunch before an exhilarating sail round the corner to Cargese. Dream Yacht Charters had suggested we spend our last night here in order to refuel but had failed to suggest we book in this small harbour and so there was not enough “room at the inn” for all 5 boats. Amarantee and Manon Lescauts having secured berths we were left with the dilemma of only 2 more being available for our 3 boats. It being Jude Holden’s birthday, Barents and Malaga allowed J’Kife to take one place and, in solidarity, motored the 3 miles back to Sagone and opted for the other side of the bay giving the illusion of visiting somewhere totally different.

Our last day at sea and, depending on starting points, some boats had time to sail down the coast whilst others motor sailed in order to manage the requisite fuel and swim stops before returning to the marina.  We dined together at the Bar de la Terrace, sharing memories of a great trip.

Best bits: Wonderful scenery, some good sailing, the local rose and red, lovely French food for lunches (a cut above the usual fare), Calvi and Girolta

Downsides: Sometimes quite overcast weather (still, better than the week before or after!), lack of space in Cargese, exchange rate!

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