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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amazing Elba

As I write this we are sailing from Elba to the Italian mainland, rocketing along at eight knots with 25 knots of wind on the starboard quarter.  We’ve just had morning coffee along with lemon and ricotta muffins made, with great difficulty, in a rolling galley.

Elba was truly wonderful and we loved our week there.  We spent three days in the most gorgeous bay in Golfo di Viticcio doing chores, mainly cleaning Bandit’s filthy bottom.  The stainless steel also got polished and numerous other jobs done along with lots of swimming in the crystal clear water.  We met up with a lovely French Canadian couple also sailing a MOODY 46......identical except blue....and it was interesting to see what modifications they had done.   One evening we sat in the cockpit looking over at their boat saying, several times, “what a lovely boat”.  They assured us they were doing exactly the same looking at Bandit!  We’re constantly looking at bigger and better boats but seeing an identical boat made us realise we’re actually pretty happy with what we’ve got and got us thinking of that wonderful old saying “be careful what you wish for”.
Bandit at anchor (behind the palm tree) in Elba

We spent a lovely day anchored off Marciana Marina, once the fashionable spot for the wealthy and still a charming town with its elegant 19th century houses draped with plumbago and bougainvillea and streets dotted with oleander, olives, magnolia and palms.  Elba is where Napoleon was exiled and, during a day in the main town of Porto Ferraio, we walked to the two citadels and saw his palatial home.  Despite being in exile, he was there with 600 odd staff!   During his stay he was reportedly desperate to leave and escaped back to France at the first opportunity – but was then sent to St Helena, where I’m sure he wished many times he was back on beautiful Elba.

We also explored the island by bus, visiting the inland hilltop town of Capoliveri which has stunning views down into Golfo Stella, the north east waterfront towns of Cavo and Rio Marina and Porto Azzuro on the east coast.  What struck us the most is how fertile and green the inland areas are with numerous vineyards, orchards and lucerne paddocks.  The entire island is beautifully planted with trees including pines, cypress, and eucalypts and is absolutely enchanting.

Now we are looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with La Spezia which is where we were based for three months in 2005 while working on the 135ft classic schooner Aschanti.

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