I have just finished a week long bareboat charter
in the Tuscan Islands and Corsica
. The boat was a 45' Sun Odyssey and was a lastminute charter
from SunCharter based on the island of Elba.
We noticed while sailing that there were very few boats from English
speaking nations. This may be to do with the time of year - early August - but it may have more to do with the fact that there are none of the big charter companies from English
speaking countries. Consquntly, I thought it would be useful to share our experiences as we would strongly recommend it to people looking for a charter destination
in the Med.
Firstly, the area is wonderful. We had some wonderful sails
in a variety of sea conditions and had a particularly memorable sail off the west coast
Portoferraio (Elba) to Capraia (Italy)
Capraia to Centuri Port (Corsica, French territory)
Centuri Port to St Florent (Corsica)
St Florent to Maccianago (Corsica)
A day spent around Maccianago
Maccianago to Porto Azzuro (Elba)
Porto Azzuro to Portoferrio
We covered about 200 nm in the week which is quite a lot for a charter but achievable without very long days of sailing.
With favourable winds we could have added St Florent to Calvi but with a SW wind
on the nose it would have been uncomfortable.
The islands are volcanic and rise straight of the sea in a most dramatic way which also means there are not many anchorages
though even in the high season we found no problem finding anchor
space. However, the marinas
were pretty full. We are not fans of marinas
anyway and the 45' carries enough water
to make a week long cruise
without marinas perfectly doable.
Onshore the islands are very interesting especially the "finger" of Corsica and the Cape. Really delicious food
, excellent seafood, great wines and very good beer
. The islands have an extraordinary history
and it is worth getting the Rough Guide to Corsica (for example) to get some background.
Weatherwise we had force 0 to 6 and it is important to keep an eye on the forecast
in case of the Mistral which can be pretty nasty on the west coast
of Corsica though on the east side and amongst the Tuscan islands the area is pretty well protected.
So, as far as the area is concerned it really exceeded our expectations and we would happily go back or perhaps try northern Sardinia with forays north to Corsica.
A word on Sun Charter:
Booking was straightforward via email
. You may be required to transfer the cost of the charter by bank transfer which incurs a small transaction fee. You will also be required to show proof of qualifications - a scan will do.
There is a 2,000 Euro deposit or a 100 Euros insurance
fee which reduces the excess to 300 Euros. Up to you but to me the additional 100 Euros is worth it for peace of mind. Final cleaning
is 100 Euros though on some charters this cost is included.
I was more than impressed by the state of the boat and its equipment
. Solid, well found and well maintained. The company's team under the eye of its very experienced Elba manager - Jurg Wagner - keep the boats in excellent shape.
Jurg Wagner is available at all times for the latest weather forecast
or other advice and is at pains to emphasise that calling him is part of the charter and fully expected.
The boat briefing and post charter debrief were the most thorough I have had in any charter and I felt familiar with the boat before we left. Also, the debrief took into account every point I made. It was extremely professional and having become attached to "Pretty Woman" I was pleased to feel that the debrief was about making sure she was in good order for the future.
Pretty Woman (apart from a silly name) was an excellent boat equipped with laminated sails
that made her sail beautifully both by and large. A very powerful engine
gave an easy 8 knots when there was not enough wind
to make way but even in light airs she did well. SunCharter has a range of different yachts and I would recommend looking at the cabin
layout when you book. We had a four cabin
version which meant that all the cabins were small. There is a 3 cabin version with a good sized owner's cabin which would have been better. As a last minute charter we did not have that option.
The nicest part was being treated like a grown up when it came to sailing. Night sailing is not forbidden or restricted and for an extra fee the company will even rent a gennaker
The charter facilities on Elba include excellent showers and toilets in Portacabins and there is a big well stocked supermarket within half a mile. There is also secure parking at the base for 30 Euros per week.
SunCharter has tended to serve the German and (in Elba) the Italian market but they are gradually increasing their presence. They are a bit short on English language pilot books
for Corsica though we had a good and up to date one for the Italian waters. This is a pretty minor criticism as the anchorage plans in the German pilot for Corsica were clear without us understanding the notes themselves.
This is a lovely area and I was very pleased with my experience of Sun Charter. We live on the continent so we drove to Elba but there are good connections on low cost airlines to Pisa.