One month aboard the Lagoon 39 Iliade, exploring the Mediterranean Sea and its wonders.
A month of adventure lay ahead of us; a route, some sailing and fortunately many unknowns as well. So let the adventure begin! On board the Lagoon 39 Iliade, six women with different backgrounds but with one thing in common: a passion for the Great Outdoors. Nathalie, the skipper; Carole, a diving and climbing instructor; Raphaëlle, a mountain guide and a geologist; Laureen, an ecologist; Francine, a free-diver; and Krystle, an adventure photographer.
Our goal? To show that adventure may be close by, but that it is above all a different way of getting to things. To do this we chose to travel by sea and show different ways of looking at the world around us.
What connects us? Ropes, sheets, wires, cables (free-diving), and many other things we share. But each being a neophyte in the other's field, there are many opportunities to admire, learn, give...
Our adventure took us over land and sea, around Corsica, Sardinia and Elba, to discover the wealth of nature reserves and the seabed through breathtaking dives and fantastic rock climbing, and linking all the different activities together by sailing on board Iliade. Boats and sailing have the ability to bring people closer together and to bind them together forever: thanks to Iliade for this wonderful human adventure. From Cannes, we reached Corsica faster than expected, but after a rather stormy crossing! Finding one's sea legs was draining for some! Then from Calvi, we sailed southward along the West Coast. Our first meet was with Pierre Lejeune, the Director of the Oceanographic Research Station (Stareso). Twenty-five years spent in the Bay of Calvi has taught him a lot about the marine environment and its evolution. In Corsica, our journey continues towards the Scandola Nature Reserve, then on to Rocapina, the Straits of Bonifacio and the Lavezzi Islands. A journey punctuated by meetings with great people, passionate about the environment in which they work as well as breath-taking dives and beautiful climbs.
After Corsica, we reached the northern Sardinian coast, mooring at Cala Spinosa. Three days were spent between Capo Testa and the Luna Valley in an enchanting setting, a place both playful and mystical, a peninsula of granite blocks and walls. A nice playground for the climbers, watched over by Bonifacio's Lighthouse, on the other side of the Straits, over there, in Corsica! The journey continued towards the east of Sardinia, heading for Olbia to reach the famous island of La Tavolara. We will remember this mind-blowing passage through the Straits of Bonifacio into 30 to 35 knot winds, as well as a beautiful introduction to tacking in the middle of the Madalena archipelago!
The call of Tavolara
An island which sailors are familiar with: seen from so far away, so white that it accompanies us during our long watches...we were welcomed to Tavolara's protected marine area by its Director Augusto Navone. And with great joy, we discovered this "isola": a giant tooth, marked by an imposing massif of limestone cliffs sitting on top of orange granite beaches... An amazing geological curiosity! Accompanied by Massimo and Pierre, the guides from the Reserve, we climbed to the top, a 200-metre ascent, which will remain one of our Odyssee's highlights. Our discovery of Tavolara continued with free-diving and scuba diving in the reserve's gorgeous sea-beds.
Heading for Cala Gonone, East Coast
From the Sardinian coast, we headed south with 30 knots of southeasterlies. We changed heading and put our Iliade to the test. We then discovered the wonderful cliffs of the East Coast. Welcome to the Mecca of climbers: a tiny port at the foot of an old volcano, Cala Gonone not featured in the Bloc Marine pilot book, but well worth the stopover! It is our refuge against the still strong swell. We spent several days between Cala Gonone and Cala Goloritzè, between paradise-like moorings, climbing above the sea and discovering the seabed. Places like that, beautiful, powerful, spellbinding. This imposing rocky coast is pierced by multitudes of caves, sand banks, limestone walls between 200 and 500 metres high, peaks and monoliths... and the sea; vast, beautiful, rich, often turquoise and sometimes very dark.
On our last night, we made a fire on the beach to help us come to terms with the fact that we have to make our journey back to Bastia, approximately 30 hours of sailing. We make the most of the end of a mistral sailing off the Straits: adjusting to the variations of the wind, we were under sail almost all the time. The watches follow one another and the contest for who can cook best while we sail! Bastia and its Genoese influence delights us: in the heart of the old port, we couldn't have been better placed, not far from the market and the charm of its small streets. We then reach the island of Elba after five hours of sailing settling in Fetovaia, a nice anchorage with turquoise water. The adventure continues with the scent of eucalyptus, rosemary, fig and lemon, and the discovery of beautifully carved granite cliffs.
The Mistral starts blowing earlier than expected and we have to leave this poetic island which is reminiscent of a film by Fellini. The Mistral blows all the way to the Cote d'Azur accompanying us for this last crossing and offering us the type of arrival every sailor wants: windy! Arriving at Antibes – twenty-eight hours of cleaning to remove all traces of our trip aboard our travelling companion and to say goodbye...let us wish you plenty more fantastic sailing, little Iliade, and thank you!
Focus on ILIADE:
Despite her relatively small size, Iliade is really spacious. The storage space for all our personal belongings and especially our diving, climbing, photo, and video equipment is most impressive. Easy access; not often the case. The cockpit and the saloon are welcoming and very comfortable. Should there be a criticism to make, it would be about the galley: we were six girls and a maximum of two could fit into it at the same time.
Life on board: is incredibly simple if you don't use a hairdryer, or an iron...the two solar panels were enough to recharge our computers, cameras and film camera during the day, via the built-in converter. The 2 hours of engine per day to recharge the batteries are long gone!
Consumption: In one month of sailing we filled up only once: 400 litres of diesel and maybe two litres of petrol for the tender. We did quite a lot of sailing even if the wind was often against us.
Sailing: I could easily control everything from the cockpit, alone or with one of the crew beside me. With the code 0, Iliade did well in light airs. Sailing upwind into between 15 and 20 knots, we were doing an average of seven knots under sail with the help of an engine at low speed. Above 20 knots we were doing six knots under sail. The Lagoon 39's plus points? Thanks to its self-tacking jib, all of us were able to easily learn how to come about and feel "almost" autonomous.
Good points: Space, ease of manoeuvrability, aesthetics, refined lines, well-thought out storage spaces, energy autonomous when the sun is out, very simple to use in all respects (except the radio if I may say so ;-)), very comfortable when sailing, the dirtresistant seat cushion covers, pleasant to the touch.
Less good: the galley size (but this is only a 39- footer), the seawater pump was a little far from the main sink, the mainsail winch above the helming station can be a little far to reach according to the size of the person. Similarly, the cockpit seemed sometimes a little tight for two people, which is normal for a catamaran of this size.
In conclusion, Iliade was the perfect catamaran for a crew of mainly novice sailors: some of us were used to large open spaces (on or under water or in the mountains) but all had the same desire to participate, and what is good about being aboard a boat, is that you really have the choice: sailing, cooking, fishing, being on watch…there's room for every talent!
(For more information on Lagoon 39, please contact Simpson Marine, the exclusive dealer for Lagoon catamarans in Asia. www.simpsonmarine.com)