Isola d’ Elba

Tuesday morning finds us facing a westerly swell on our way to Elba, but it doesn’t last that long from shore and we have a pleasant sail for several hours. Before we are half way there we can see the Island Of Elba.  Famous for…that’s right:  Napoleon’s exile, his prison was a most beautiful island and he had lovely accommodation.  Elba only managed to keep Napoleon for a year but chances are if he was sent here now, he might not want to leave.

We sailed in to Citta di Portoferraio, with the yachts and super yachts tied to the old town’s harbour wall and looking at Darsena Medicea  or Cosimo Medici’s dock. The town is built on old fortifications & ramparts to protect from pirates and raiders.

Porto Ferraio

We have just landed when we hear an Aussie accent ask about the boat, a couple from the CYCA, came to ask about how we liked Mercier and what was good or bad. . It was great to hear an Aussie accent.

He purchased a Beneteau Sense 43 in Sydney – the one that was at the boat show.  He has had a few of the same small problems that Mercier has had.  What was different was that our friend, Simon, at Sunbird Yacht sales has had many of Mercier’s issues remedied and still has a list to be worked on.  These lovely people were fixing theirs themselves. So I am sending a big thank you to Simon, Eric and the great team in Palma. You are appreciated.

Judging by the frutta di mare seafood soup we had for dinner last night, the food is excellent and the café was in a little laneway away from the hustle of the waterfront.  Melbourne has nothing on Portoferraio, these are cobblestones lanes and very rustic houses, with planters of laurel and hydrangeas to take your eye away from the peeling paint.  After dinner, we walked back through the old buildings to a full moon over the harbour; it was as if the man in the moon was smiling down on us.

Full Moon over Porto Ferraio

This morning we jumped on a bus to visit Marciana Alta for lunch. We relished sitting in cool breezes at the highest point on Elba and also one of the oldest.  This is an old Pisan fortress. There was an initial disconnect as we reached Bar La Porta for lunch, BB king was playing and the blues played under these brilliant blue skies the entire time we were there. Made for a very mellow lunch after we got over our surprise.

 

View from Marciana

After lunch we got back on the bus to take the long way to Portoferraio.  The views were sensational and at times on the bus literally breathtaking. That was because we were so close to the edge of the cliffs and we could see the clarity of the water almost 300 meters straight down. I would have taken photos but it was a matter of white knuckles on the rail for most of the trip.

Livorno and road trips to Lucca and Pisa

Ciao Bellas,

After all the beauty of the Cinque Terre, we eventually made our way to our next port, Livorno. After the wonderful berth at Mirabello, Livorno was industrial, rough and mainly rocky and rolly. Every kind of ferry and cruise ship comes into Livorno, aka Leghorn, as well as fishermen and small boat pleasure craft. The marina staff were very nice but this would be a marina to miss, next time.

Livorno wasn’t without its excitement, shortly after we berthed another yacht came in without an engine. The neighboring yachts had crew trying to toss lines across but the exhausted owner was having trouble and it’s hard to give instruction or manage your line when you use your hands to make a point. The words and the hands were working triple time and finally …success and they managed to get the yacht in.  The instant replays began on the dock, thanks were given and bonhomie was enjoyed by all involved.

We were lucky, about 11:30 pm the wash stopped and we were able to sleep until about 5:00am the next day. We left and in a very short time landed at the beautiful fairly new Marina Cala de Medici. In a heartbeat, we secured the yacht and walkied 2 kms to the train station and we were on our way to Lucca.

Lucca Street

Lucca has seen people of the millenia, Etruscans, Romans, Lombards and is very famous for being enclosed in its medival wall.  There are several beautiful  Piazzas, narrow streets, lovely churches and two towers. We walked the up the 207 stairs of the watch tower, in a very narrow confine  on a very hot day.  You can tell who the view junkies are, they are the ones climbing up these hundreds of stairs.  Luckily for us, not only views but incredible breezes over the town made the trip up the pigeon infested bird tower worthwhile.

View from the Tower

Monday we went to the local Coop and provisioned for the next week on Mercier. Then we went back to catch the train into Pisa. The train schedule was different to the one posted online, so we had lunch at Rosignano, a piece of bruschetta each, four euros. Did we mention how cheap food is here?

The trains are mainly airconditioned, mainly on time and very comfortable but trying to work out the schedule seems to be beyond us.   Once in Pisa, we had read about the Red or Rosso bus which will take you to the Tower, Museums, Duomo in Miracolli Piazza. The buildings are beautiful and the area is small and 98.9% of tourists, all taking photos of each other holding the tower up. In groups or with their one finger, but every photo seems to be of the Leaning Tower, oh, except one.  In the Duomo, a lady of a certain age was doing a fully lean on the column tussled hair sexy pose, in the church.

The Icon
Piazza dei Miracoli

Today we are off to Elba – a Tuscan Island, we’ll talk more then.

Ciao

James and Gaila

Portofino & Saint Margherita Ligure

We decided to head directly to Portofino from Imperia, a full 8 hour motor sail, with the main up and the genoa rolled in and out 3 times due to wind variations, still it was very pleasant. The trip was punctuated when we were almost there, by a whale sighting. We think it was a moderately sized sperm whale, a joy to see in the wild.

We arrived at Portofino around 4pm, but decided to stay in the neighbouring harbour of Saint Margherita Ligure which is far more protected from the sea and it’s swell.

Saint Margherita Ligure

This morning we made the trip back to Portofino in the Zodiac and really enjoyed the town.

Arriving in Portofino by Zodiac

We hiked up the hill to the church and castle, with spectacular vistas on the way.

One of the vistas

Portofino is a small but perfect jewel. We enjoyed the Italian vista with slender pines, gums and shrubs. Very green with pastel houses of lemon, pink, tangerine going up the hills around the harbour.  The small local boats were all brightly coloured with deep reds, yellows, blues and greens.

Portofino

Last night we sat on the bow of the boat, in the breeze, looking at Santa Margherita, shining with lights and church bells pealing, we were so happy to be able to enjoy this part of beautiful Italy.

 

 

 

Cannes, St Paul de Vence then Nice and Au Revoir, Richard and Rene

 

Welcome to Cannes

The last two days have been fervid, from a great dinner Wednesday night in Suquet, the old quarter of Cannes. We dined at Le Marais, which was worth the walk up the hill past all the other restaurants and cafes.

Yesterday, we decided to visit the hills and drove to Vence, had a coffee, then strolled through the Old Town and drove down the hill to St Paul de Vence for a lovely lunch of fish soup and salad.

Lunch at St Paul de Vence

The views and strolls through this old town are   remarkable and next time I hope we stay for a night and see St Paul de Vence under the stars.

Views at St Paul de Vence

We drove to Nice and motored down the Promenade des Anglais to the Cours Saleya.  We walked around the markets.  A few flower stalls were still full of peonies, lavender and lillies, while the restaurants and cafes were busily setting up for dinner.

Beach at Nice

Time to leave for the airport, we dropped Rene and Richard off for their UK flight and drove back to Cannes. The traffic in Cannes was so heavy, they might have arrived first.

PS We asked them not to go, but they were steadfast and the text from Cowes today was ” Blowing a Gale in Cowes”. Mercier had amazing a lovely motor sail under blue skies to beautiful Menton, Views of Cap Ferrat and Monaco were stunning and the water temperature is 24°C.

Menton

 

Ile de Port Cros, St Tropez and boarded on the way

We motored across from Porquerolles to Ile de Port Cros, heading ever westward.  Ile de Port  Cros is a National Park, with a tiny village.  The island is sanctuary for marine life including sea weed, sea gulls and fish. The seagulls are enormous.   The fish are curious and large.  They swim safely up to you safely in the knowledge, that there are no hooks or spears allowed.

The island is small with five forts, several cafes on the beach front and water so clear that you can see every fish and the bottom with its seaweed cover. My head knew I was in Provence, but my heart was telling me I was near an old fishing village in Mexico, even in June the trails are dusty but the native foliage is dotted with plants you would see in Mazatlan.   While we were there we christened our new BBQ with a lamb roast and it was most enjoyable.

Roast Lamb on the BBQ

The bay filled with boats in the evening and before sunset every mooring was taken and a few yachts had to anchor outside the protected area.

Port Cros

In the morning we were up early and motoring over to St Tropez, the wind was too light to put up even a gib.  In the distance, Blue could see a Customs Boat and when they saw us, a boarding party jumped into their dinghy and came over. The Douane checked all of our papers, asked many questions, luckily we have an email from the Australian Shipping Registration Office, showing that we are registering the boat in Australia, but we don’t have the paperwork yet.  They checked all of our passports and finally sent us on our way.  They wanted our email in print, we hope the paperwork arrives for us soon.

Douanne on board

St Tropez was warm, full of tourists and it is only June.  We had a large salad lunch in a back lane cafe and then strolled through the town streets, eventually Rene and Gaila broke off to do a little shopping, James found his way to a ship chandler and Blue went scouting for the evening’s repast. St Tropez was filled with about 20 super yachts, so we feel quite humble here.

St Tropez

We had dinner at La Ramade and we were charmed by the tree covered patio and the traditional Provence food.

James & Gaila at La Ramade

This morning, we are on our way to Cannes, getting closer to Nice Airport and Blue and Rene’s flight to England.

Wifi Famine

It isn’t always easy to find access to internet connections.  We will all be scurrying around when we first reach port, trying to ask for an Internet café in a different language than the day before.  And when you are out at sea, there is no hope of internet.  Occasionally, you are having so much fun, you don’t want to look at a computer. This past week we have had all of these scenarios, so that’s why this is the first blog in awhile.

After we left Ciutadella, we sailed to the North of Menorca and moored in Fornells. We decided we would stay on the boat because we had no hope of arriving on land with dry clothes due to a strong breeze in the harbour.  Instead we opened a bottle or two of Spanish wine, James cooked Salmon fillets and we sat on the deck under the Menorcan sky.

The next day we sailed to Mahon and wandered the streets, which closed completely at lunch time.  James and Gaila went off the markets, which were in an old building and had several fruit & vegetable mongers and sellers of Menorcan goods.

Mahon, capital of Menorca

That night found us in Es Castell eating at a traditional Menorcan restaurant called Dinkums (Dual Income No Kids Under Menorcan Skies). Our table was six inches from the waterfront, so we were able to feed the fish while waiting for our mains. Note: Menorcan fish love bread, but they are very smart so they didn’t touch a French fry. We walked back up the hill to the taxi rank and here was a shop for traditional Menorcan sandals.  Even James and Blue bought a pair, so we hope to come back to Sydney and start a trend.

 

Early the next morning, we finished preparing the boat for the crossing to France, a trip of about 30 hours in the light conditions we experienced. The seas were calm and the day was sunny and warm, very different that the trip down to Palma.  We thanked Huey and sailed to France.

Crossing the Med

We landed in Hyeres late Saturday afternoon, too late for the Orange store to buy Internet time but in plenty of time to do the shopping – several great ship chandlers here, we found a bbq and a salad bowl. One of the great treats of Hyeres is a self service Laundromat.  One seems to meet the nicest people doing laundry. They are usually French and staying in one of the many holiday rentals in Hyeres.

Celebrating Rene's Birthday

We did look for an internet café at the port, but we weren’t successful, so Rene and Gaila had to wait to the next afternoon for WeeFee.  We had a celebratory lunch on Mercier for Rene with some lovely champagne from Epernay in the Bay of Langoustine. Later in the afternoon we motored over to Port Porquerolles and wandered around this interesting town, where mountain bike rental is a thriving industry.

Porquerolles
Porquerolles View

The evening commenced with a bottle of well chilled Moet on Mercier, before the lovely dockside walk into town for dinner on the verandah of the lovely L’Orangeraie. We watched the sun set over a hundred masts.

Dinner at L'Orangerie

 

Pollenca to Menorca

Not all our adventures are on the water, on Monday we motored from Formentor to Port Pollenca and found a berth at Club Nautico. After running a few errands, we jumped in a cab and went to the old town of Pollenca.

Pollenca Stairs

We won’t forget Pollenca, because of the enduring memory of climbing up and down, her 365 steps up to the Inglesia Calvari.  We have been doing a lot of walking, mainly on flat avenues and laneways but this was steep.  The views over the town were worth it and made the tapas we found on our descent, even more delicious.

Pollenca View

Tuesday we sailed to Menorca, we started out with little wind, but once we were out of the bay of Pollenca, the wind freshened to about 15 to 20 knots and the boys decided it was time to get out the asymmetrical spinnaker.  Blue did a splendid job on the bow and Mercier clearly loved the run under sail.  What looked like a boring four hours under motor turned into an enjoyable sail.

 

Under Spinnaker

Approaching the island, you immediately notice the difference in the coastline.  Mallorca was sheers cliffs driving straight out of the water.   Menorca is like a flat plain above it. We arrived in Ciutdella, a beautiful old Medieval city, with influences from the Moors, Spanish and English.

Capitol

There is a beautiful bridge near the Port and wonderful streets for our endless strolls.

Bridge at Ciutadella

Time to get moving, so enjoy the pictures.

Sailing the Western Coast of Mallorca

There are three types of wind in the Med, according to folklore and local knowledge: Too much wind, too little wind and wind coming directly from where you would like to go.

We have decided that this local knowledge is truth, pure and simple.  We had to wait for days to leave France to sail to Palma.  We have seen a couple of days where it wasn’t worthwhile putting up the sails, because there wasn’t any breeze. On Thursday we managed to get to Soller, but Friday had us leaving for Andratx and it was dead on the nose. At this point the question begins to be, do we want to slog away in this wind for four hours or will we just sail back to Andratx and enjoy Rossini’s tuna carpaccio? No prizes for guessing, we went around the Islla de Dragonera and into a cove near Andratx and made a lovely lunch.  After a short but chilly swim, we attempted sailing to Soller once again, but in the end, we went back to Andratx.  For those of you who remember, we didn’t see Christopher Skase here, he did have developments in Andratx but they never came to fruition.

Saturday morning, there was no wind, so we cruised under motor to Port Soller and upon arriving Rene and Gaila took the electric tram to old Soller town and wandered around lanes and plazas looking at the architecture and generally people watching. The four of us went to a Port Soller waterfront cafe and had a sumptuous dinner of paella and sangria.

 

Dinner in Port Soller

Sunday morning, sunny skies beckoned us to the Torrent de Pareis, a beautiful bay with a sandy white beach.  Rene spotted two wild Mallorcan mountain goats, a shy doe and a rather amourous boc (male).  The doe was clever, backing into small cave like openings or jumping quickly with great agility, escaping his designs. All of this over a bay of clear aqua water and a white sandy beach, under tall cliffs.

Goats in Action
Mercier in Torrent du Pareis

The coastline of western Mallorca is rugged with spectacular cliffs rising straight from the ocean.  Following the Treleaven recipe of enjoying the Med, we stop for lunch in a beautiful bay and in the afternoon make our way to the next overnight anchorage. Sunday’s anchorage is Formentor and it is postcard perfect.

Lunch in Cala Sant Vicenc

Here is a message from Rene and some photos, we miss you all and wonder why you aren’t here.

Hi everyone, well here we are in paradise beautiful Azure blue water and silky white sand, the boat and tender are performing beautifully, the west coast is certainly different from the east…. we are heading to Menorca tomorrow and maybe catch up with David !!

Hope all are well at home……enjoy the photos !! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

Departing Palma, saying goodbye to Simon and enjoying a swim Isla Malgrats

Finally all the repairs and extras are organised and we are ready to go. Simon Crutchley, our dealer, who looked after Mercier so well, came to farewell us at the dock.  Hard to imagine not seeing Simon every day, as we have been in such close contact for the past few months.  We are sure that we will see him next summer if not before.  Simon might even make it to Sydney.

Settling up

 

The Team Departing

We left Palma Harbour and sailed south and then west, stopping for our first swim of the season and lunch at Isla Malgrats.  The highlight of this was showing Rene and Blue the stern of the boat turn into a swimming platform. It folds down to make getting into & out of  the water so easy.

First Swim

The water was brisk and the cliffs and rocks in the area were imperious. There was a little grotto in the rocks just behind us. Small blue fish swam up to the boat to collect any tiny bit of food that went over the side.  They were voracious as well as beautiful.

Isla Malgrats

After lunch we sailed to Andratx and went for a wander along the waterfront.In Palma, one of our favourite restaurants was Rossini’s, with their amazing tuna carpaccio.  At the end of the waterfront, here was Rossini Mare’s, a sister restaurant, so we had a little glass of rose and tuna carpaccio on the waterfront.

Rossinis at Andratx

A lovely day to begin the next stage of the journey. Happy Birthday to Linda, Bobby and soon it will be Allysia’s will be soon.

Here’s Rene, and more photos.

What a wonderful day to start our journey round the island of Mallorca, firstly Happy Birthday to my little bro Bobby turning 50….ahhh, well we are fully loaded with water, diesel and food, gentle breeze and blue sky….after a short motor stopped for a swim and lunch then off to Andratx, incredible blue water :)lots of super yachts dotting the bays…..overnight here then heading to Soller tomorrow 🙂

Rene trying the underwater motorbike

Still pinching myself !! would recommend an early booking with ‘Mercier’ for next year !!

Love to all, Rene and Blue 🙂 🙂

 

Guests

After a weekend of side trips to Soller on the electric train and the gorgeous little town of  Valdemossa, Monday was a day of anticipation.  That is because we were being joined by our very good friends, Rowena and Richard Chapman.

We laid in supplies of French champagne, brie, grapes and almonds.  James went to meet them at the airport and bring them back to Mercier. We went for a long walk around Palma and found a little Italian restaurant for dinner, after we had Mojitos at Mr Mojito.  Funnily enough, they asked Richard if he was a relative.

This morning, James made us a lovely brekkie of eggs with smoked salmon, capers and dill. He then stayed to work on the boat, while Richard, Rene and I marched along the waterfront into old Palma town, to the Cathedral and the three of us literally followed laneways and alleys for hours until we realised none of us had brought a map.

We stopped for coffee and a reconnoitre, Rene ran and found a map and we were able to follow the map to the classic Mallorcan  pastry shop, and back to the boat.  Along the way we went to Zara Men and kitted Richard up with some very new colourful shirts, darling.

Rene is now going to say a few words, this takes the place of the Sona log.

Hola, we are now in Palma and it’s beautiful, we have raised Blue’s remaining ball and sampling some fine champagne