I’le Rousse is not for sailers

I’le Rousse is not for sailers

Posted on Apr 20, 2017

42° 38′ 23.028” N
8° 56′ 9.7548” E

17th – 19th of April, 2017

We sailed to I’le Rousse, which we actually passed several days ago on our way to Calvi. Good friends let us know that I’le Rousse is a must-see. It is one of the pearls in northwest Corsica, and if we are to see the city, it must be now before we get too far south.

The arrival of I’le Rousse is a disappointment. The harbour is narrow, badly marked, not very deep, and as we pull up the lines from the buttom of the marina to secure Ronja, it is obvious that these lines have not been used for half a year. Clusters of clams and razor sharp small shellfish cling to the lines and tear our hands to blood.

The outer bassin is a big ferry port. The inner bassin is a small boat marina for small fishinboats and dinghies. Small keelboats like ours do not get any protection here.

We hurry into the city to get balanced our first impression of Île Rousse. There must be something good? There is. Île Rousse turns out to be a charming city. Old men play petanque on the city’s peculiarly oversized square, groups of elderly enjoy a pastiche at the sidewalk cafe, and German tourists throw a beer while studying Lonely Planet and preparing to tension the motorcycle helmet for new experiences.

In April, Île Rousse is the Corsicans own town. They characterize the cityscape, set the pace, create the mood. We think that in the summer it is probably the other way around. Then the tourists fill the whole, the many small hotels, the beach restaurants, the white sandy beaches, the many play possibilities on the water in the bay.

The city is easy to overlook. It has a daily food market and good shops. It has a bit of the same as Calvi, just in a smaller version.

Possibly it also has good walking routes along the water, but the tourist office could not enlighten us on this. “Ask in a bookshop,” they told us followed by a: “By the way, bookshops are closed today due to the easter”

Back in the harbour a storm is getting closer. “It will be at least Beaufort 7“, says the harbour captain. “It’s going to be bad, bad,” he adds. We are his only customer for two days. Others talk about a 40 knot gale, and we convert as usual to our own scale, which says 21 meters pr second from the northwest.

That’s a lot.

The harbour is not built for 21 meters pr second from the northwest. We realised this too late. We did take our precautionary measures. We tightened the aft moorings, we loosened up the bow moorings to keep us away from the quayside, we mounted a fender in Ronja’s bow, we kept distance to the fleets of watercrafts and pedalos that had been pulled into storm safety in the marina.

None of this, however, took into account the ragnarok that came to affect the night. Wild, violent, abrupt pulls in the moorings. Noise and shutterings. No an eye is closed. We try everything to adjust the moorings, and we are awake all night thinking, that Ronja has not deserved this. Poor Ronja

The marina of Île Rousse is a scandal. The worst we have met for several years.

If a weather forecast promises wind from the northwest, keep far away from île Rousse. Sail to Calvi, sail to the mainland, sail anywhere, but avoid île Rousse. The marina is incorrectly constructed. It is a concrete pier, but it is built as a pontoon pier, with large holes in the structure that allow any wave to hammer across the harbor with full strength.

At the same time the marina does not have any qualities of the usual kind – decent showers, toilets, help from the harbour office. Forget that harbor. Sail on. Lovely town. But not for people of the sea.