Slow Boat to San Remo


We decided to leave Corsica mid morning to make the most of the south east winds, we could always slow down when the winds were predicted to drop away overnight. As the wind began to fill in from the south, we left the anchorage, sailing slightly off course so we wouldn’t be on a run. A run is where the wind is directly from astern, but without setting a pole, it can be difficult to keep the sails filled especially if the winds are fairly light. It’s not one of our favourite sailing angles.

After an hour or so heading in the wrong direction (towards La Spezia on the Italian mainland), with winds easing, we gave up sailing and motored towards the north west as that was where the wind was predicted to be. Obligingly, it filled in and we were able to point to our course of San Remo on the Italian Riviera. We were making 6kts for a while, too fast for a daylight arrival but we began to slow down as the wind faded away around sunset.

We ate a chilli we’d prepared before departure, then started our watches at 9pm, an hour earlier than usual, to tie the three hour segments in with a mid morning arrival.

A dusty sunset

I had the first watch and enjoyed a particularly vibrant sunset, the African plume having blown sand as well as heat over western Europe. Today was predicted to be the hottest day of the heatwave, with temperatures easing slightly over the next few days. Out at sea, the forecast temperatures showed as 5C less than on land, but it still felt humid and hot, even with the breeze adding some cooling.

The night was dark with no moon and the sea state was flat; we were able to slowly bob along under sail without the sails flogging too much. Doing 1.5kts was fine, but when our speed dropped below 1kt, the autopilot began to struggle to keep us on course. The engine went on for a while, creating even more unwelcome heat in the stuffy saloon where we sleep whilst on passage. The breeze returned and we sailed again and life below became a little more bearable.

15nm from our destination, the wind disappeared again so we motored in. We were super happy bunnies to see the transit quay at San Remo had only one boat on it with plenty of space in front to turn and line up. We don’t have a bow thruster to help turn us around, so space to manoeuvre is very important for us. We got ourselves settled and set off for a walk.

During the afternoon, we went to check in with the coastguard. He asked us which boat we were, we pointed across. He asked to see our papers. He took a look and informed us “you are too long, you cannot stay”. Our sleep deprived brains fell into despair. Unlucky for us, today was the day they were enforcing the 12m rule. We persuaded him to let us stay one night – by the end of the day there were 5 boats on the quay with plenty of space for all.

San Remo Casino
The Russian Orthodox Church

Despite our tiredness and the still high air temperature, we set about making the most of our one night and had a roam about the town, taking in the sights of the casino and the domed Russian Orthodox church. This was to be our last stop in Italy, the country in which we had spent four winters and had become very fond of. We ate gelato, filled up the lockers with Italian goodies (particularly the Prosecco) and had a farewell meal.

We didn’t sleep well unfortunately. Most likely due to the heat – the fans were on but they were just moving hot air around and we had no cooler air coming in, as the normally open deck hatches were closed. We really didn’t want another rat on board; the Greek rat of 2015 had been one rat too many. We hadn’t seen any lurking on the quayside, but with open rubbish bins and fishing debris lying around we weren’t taking any chances. It would be good to get back out at anchor.

Santuario Della Madonna Della Costa as seen from Emerald
A tiger? In San Remo?

Awake early, I squeezed in a walk up through the steps and steep streets of the La Pigna district, following the maze of narrow alleys and passages of the picturesque old town. The name means Pine Cone and reflects how the streets look as they curl like scales around the hill. Above this sits the Santuario Della Madonna Della Costa, which we could see from our berth on the transit quay. The views made the uphill trek worthwhile.

There are many covered passages in the La Pigna district
The area attracts artists

Late morning we were ready to cast off. Next stop: we return to mainland France, the very first country we visited in Emerald.

Sailing Info

29th June 2019: Iles Finocchiarola, Corsica to San Remo, Italy – 91nm travelled (61nm sailed)
It took us 24 hours to cover the 91nm – an average speed of 3.8nm/hour
We moored alongside the free transit berth in Sar Remo harbour in position 43 48.883’N 7 46.99’E
The transit berth is available for 3 nights free stay for boats up to 12m in length

The transit quay at San Remo. Lots of space even if we are officially over the size

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