24 September, Monday: Bonifacio, Corsica
Because of the rough seas, the captain determined we could not safely enter the narrow channel into Bonifacio, Corsica, so we sailed further north to dock at Portovecchio. From there, we were bussed to Bonifacio, the southernmost town in Corsica. The harbor is well protected and can be reached only through a 1.5 km channel, with high cliffs on each side. I can understand why the Star Clipper couldn't enter the channel this morning but am very disappointed that we were denied such a spectacular entrance into the harbor. We were able, however, to see the channel from above when we climbed to the old town.
The harbor is very lively what with cafes, restaurants and boutiques, as well as many ships and boats tied up to the piers and in the marina. We climbed the steep steps up to the old town and beyond to the citadel. It was built by Genoese conquerors in the 12th century and served to protect the town well into the 20th century. It appears to have had modern gun emplacements from the world wars, and was from 1963-1983 the headquarters of the French Foreign Legion. Deserted now, it is visited only by tourists. The town cemetery is also on this promontory, as are the ruins of a Franciscan monastery.
Our short two-hour stay in Bonifacio was sunny and clear, but we ran into a rainstorm on the way back to the ship. After setting sail, the sun came out once more, and we enjoyed a smooth ride north along the Corsican coast.
Just as we were going to bed, about 11:00, we passed the northern tip of Corsica and were hit by strong westerly winds. It was a wonderfully rolling night at sea.