Category Archives: Sailing Trips

French Riviera, Italy and Greece

A new sailing trip beckoned and i was on my way to the French Riviera. This time helping a guy sail from France to Italy, Sicily and the islands of Greece. Easyjet did me proud again.

Waiting to take off at Gatwick, it was a busy day –

Gatwick

I flew into Montpelier and travelled to Port Camargue, one of the biggest marinas for please craft on the south coast. I joined the sailing vessel Melandro, an American registered 42ft Beneteau which was spending its 18th season in the Med.

Approaching the coast –

French riviera

You always know you’re in France when they start serving you raw food –

We got the boat ready and soon headed off for our first port of call Cannes.

Cannes marina –

Cannes marina

Cannes marina is actually one of the cheaper marinas on the south coast. It is still operated by the local authority, not a private company so berthing prices are very reasonably. It had also recently been refurbished and a lot of the quay side had been replaced.

Cannes marina

After a brief stop in Cannes we headed for Italy, to the island of Elba on the west coast. Elba is best known as one of the places Napolean was exiled too. We had to motor for virtually the whole time as the wind had gone elsewhere.

The Italian island of Elba. Inside Portoferrairo harbour.

Elba

Elba

The place where Napolean was exiled to in 1814-1815, he still had the position of Governor though !!

Portoferrairo harbour-

The coastline of Elba –

When in Italy eat like the Italians !!

Sunset whilst at sea, it looks like i have added special effects to this photo but its just the way it came out !!

We headed south to Naples and stayed in a not so pleasant marina in Torre Del Greco. It had water and electricity but no other facilities to speak off. Due to its impressive sea wall it not only kept the sea out but any chance of a sea breeze too !! It was well over 100 degrees and no air movement at all. The locals seemed to like it though.

We moved on the next day and motored again for a day and a night. We arrived into the straits of Messina in the early hours, this included a couple of hours watching the fantastic sight that is Stromboli. This Italian volcano is one, if not the, most active volcano in Italy. Before we got there we could see the eruptions in the distance a few miles away. Every few minutes she would erupt spitting lava from the top, unfortunately my phone camera was unable to capture any decent shots. This photo i borrowed from the internet –

It was a worthwhile stop and we were happy to wait every 10 minutes or so for the next orange fireworks.

We arrived in Sicily at Catania on the east coast. It was stifljngly hot with virtually no wind passing through the marina.

We hired a car for the day when the two new crew arrived and drove up to the town of Taormina.

The skipper and crew in Taormina –

View of the coast from Taormina village –

We left Sicily with the new crew and headed across the sea towards Kefalonia, Greece, just under 300 hundred miles away.

Another sunset at sea –

Eating better onboard than the cruise liners !! ‘Apero’ – served at 5 o’clock.

Two days and two nights later we arrived in a windy Fiskardo on the top of the island of Kefalonia. Once a quiet small fishing village its now full of restaurants  and cafes serving the holiday makers. We dropped anchor and then had to reverse up to the shore line and tie the boat to a tree, only way to stop the boat swinging about in the harbour.

Me and the skipper of Melandro celebrating the first thousand miles of the trip !!

My last drink of the trip, in the harbour of Fiskardo waiting for the bus.

Fiskardo kefalonia

It was time to return home so i caught a bus from Fiskardo down to the capital Argostoli. The airport is only a short bus ride away so i stayed for a couple of nights to see the town and went on a bus mans holiday over to the town of Lixouri.

Arriving into Lixouri –

Lixouri sea front currently under going some redevelopment work to the sea front.

Another crewing experience completed and another 1000 miles to add to the log. Time to return home to catch up with a few friends and hope the English summer has finally arrived !!

Cruising Croatia

Whilst in Montenegro i got a call to go back to the previous catamaran i was on. The boat had moved further north into Croatia so i travelled overland from Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, to Rogoznica by local bus.

My first stop was the ‘Jewel of the Adriatic’ Dubrovnik. The coach trip is worth doing as it follows the Dalmatian coast as it heads north. You get a scenic tour at the same time as you travel to your destination.

View from my apartment –

Cruising croatia

A word of warning though. If any guest house offers you views like this you WILL be climbing hundreds of stairs during your stay ! Your calf muscles will feel like concrete 3 days later.

Inside the old city of Dubrovnik –

Dubrovnik

Much renovated and most buildings turned into cafes and restaurants, you won’t go hungry here !Dubrovnik

You can walk around the top of the exterior walls, spare some time though as its a total of 4 kms !! I didn’t believe it but i’m glad i took somebodys advice and went early morning, it took over 2 hours by the time you’ve stopped and taken photos. It was incredibly hot with obviously no shade so go early and take water !

Dubrovnik

It would be good to be a roof tiler in this town –

Out to sea from the roof tops –

Fort Lovrijenac – often called ‘Dubrovniks Gibraltar’. Its played its part in resisting Venetian rule but more recently known as a venue for the Croatian Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series !

Fort lovrijenac

The old harbour next to the old town –

I only had a day in Dubrovnik and quickly had to move onto Split. Its another great coach journey that follows the Dalmatian coast with lots of great views of the neighbouring islands. At one point the Croatian coastline gets interrupted by Bosnia. You have to exit Croatia and enter Bosnia showing your passport. You drive for another 20 minutes or so and then re-enter Croatia, obviously encountering immigration again ! I couldn’t help but feel Bosnia was a little hard done by only being given such a small part of the coastline !

I arrived in Spilt but it was nothing like Dubrovnik, no ancient fortress or walled city to climb. There are older parts to the town but its more of a port with access to lots of other places including ferries to Italy.

Split harbour –Split harbour

Split harbour

Statue of Grgur Ninski – Gregory of Nin – who introduced the national language in religious services after the great assembly in 926 AD. Before that services were only held in Latin which most of the population could not understand.

Grgur ninski

After a very short stay in Split i jumped on yet another bus and headed for Rogoznica where i was to meet the boat. I have to say its very easy to get around using the local buses/coaches. There are many routes and they run throughout the day and sometimes at night at reasonable cost. As the train network does not go up and down the coast you don’t have much other choice!

I re-joined the boat and we headed off for our next destination of Pula further north into Croatia. Our first stop was in a national park area called Kornati. This national park is quite often referred to as ‘nautical paradise’ because of its 89 beautiful islands.

Rugged coastline which faces the Dalmatian coast –

Kornati national park

The island of Otok Unije. One of the many beautiful mooring spots around the area –Otok unije

On the third day we arrived at our destination of Pula. I didn’t know much about Pula before i got there but now i know it was one of the most important and strategic ports from the sea into europe. It has been occupied,  destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. The Romans, Ostrogoths and Venetians have all controlled the city including the Allied Forces during Workd War 2.

I was surprised to find an almost complete Roman amphitheatre there, Pula Arena, apparantly one of the most complete outside of Rome ! It dates back nearly 2 thousand years.
Pula Arena

Pula arena

I had a few days in Pula but my time on the boat had come to an end. The boat had been delivered to its destination and would await the return of its owners and guests before cruising the Croatian islands some more.

I moved a bit further up the coast to the town of Rovinj. Originally a fishing port the old town stands out on a headland with a church high up on the hillside overlookjng the town.

Rovinj

Rovinj

Rovinj at dusk –

Rovinj

It was time to leave Croatia i headed back to the UK.  It had been an enjoyable first trip to Croatia, there are just so many more uslands and towns to visit alkng this fantastic coastline. I will be back for sure !!