Piracy

Development Costa Smerelda style
Sardinian courtesy. 4 Moors.
Corsican courtesy. One bandit.
Bonifacio, perched on the clifftop overhanging the sea.

Before I forget this story, I have to tell you about our arrival in Bonifacio. We had pre-booked and were allocated a good berth on the ‘active’ side of the harbour next to a nice but old Halberg Rassey. The very tanned and clearly seasoned Italian owner ran around deploying fenders as we came in but we made not even the remotest contact with his pride and joy. Once we had moored, he beckoned me to him in a conspiratorial way to hear what he had to say. He said behind his hand “I am so pleased you are not a French boat”. I shook his hand!

Bonifacio as we approach.

Carl and Tom were ‘made up’ with the destination as I knew they would be. We were not made up however with the price of our ‘dirty beers’ at a monstrous €10 each – we had run up a bill of over €60 before realising.

A view of Bonifacio Citadel from the marina.

Having been thus ‘stung’ Carl, with a ‘bee in his bonnet’ refused to stop for a beer when we climbed up to the citadel and I failed to find any bars with substantially cheaper beer. Strange chap, Carl!

Hejira is down there somewhere.

Carl writes:-

Ahoy there, Shipmates! Move over, Marbella. Au revoir, Port Grimaud. Sayonara, St Tropez. Push-off, Puerto Banus. The new-kid-on-the-block, beautiful Bonifacio, certainly lived-up to Captain Nemo’s billing and proved to be as ‘bonny’ as a harbour could be. With its entrance miraculously hidden until you’re right on top of it, the most-natural of marinas opens up to be the Koh-i-Noor of the Corsican coastline.

We had arrived following a relatively short and energetic, enjoyable sail and Nick skilfully guided us into a tight, narrow berth with n’er a fender touched. Sadly, he then less-skilfully guided us to the aforementioned quay bar where we experienced piracy of the highest order – ten pieces of eight for each proverbial tot of rum. I was only disappointed the maitre d’i wasn’t tottering about on a wooden leg with a parrot perched on her shoulder.

A very tasty vessel-cooked chorizo & vegetable risotto saved the day, not to mention our rapidly-dwindling ‘whip’ and a lovely inexpensive evening was enjoyed by all. You can take the boy out of the north…

Wee Tom writes:-

The last 48 hours have been the ‘days of the supers’. Since leaving the Sardinian coastline we have seen a vast array of floating hardware that looks more P&O than personal transport. These floating behemoths loom out of the seas, all chrome, no conscience and one can’t help but wonder about the owners of said ships. From my very limited experience, seafaring sailing is a bit of an old boys’ club, and a well off boys’ club at that – but these floating hotels take all that to a different level.

Take our sighting of what we now know to be ‘Yacht A’ (see previous blog). A cursory nosey on the internet informed us that the boat itself was built for an estimated £360 million, thus making it the most expensive, sail assisted motorboat in history. Along with this you were talking about a crew of 54 men and women, significantly more than most small/medium businesses in the UK. Given that a superyacht is very rarely lived on full time by the owners and how high the ongoing costs, it must be purely pocket money for these tycoons – an outlet for people who literally have no idea what else to spend their obscene assets on.

But fear not, the owner of Yacht A, a Mr. Andrey Melnichenko is described online as an ‘industrialist and philanthropist’, so I’m sure that the world’s poor are over the moon at his little treat to himself. He would really have had to graft as it’s well known that the Russian economy is open and honest and not dominated by ex-KGB and soviet elites that don’t operate in a completely corrupt and croney-esque manner, dangling the baubles of prosperity in the form of lucrative government contracts to those most in favour. Probably.

I can almost hear those metaphorical corks popping in Oxfam’s HQ as we speak!

3 thoughts on “Piracy

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  1. Ahh – Wee Tom,
    In my humble opinion it is the morale duty of those with obscene amounts of money to spend it on obscene and frivolous things – like ridiculous yachts, fast cars, slow horses etc. It this act of spending that keeps craftsmen in jobs, skills alive and moves technology forward. Think of the 100s of workers in jobs for many years building that daft yacht! And even now it’s finished, 56 people (+rotations) in jobs keeping it looking shiny and new, not to mention the onshore maintenance and support it needs.
    After all, the money does no-one any good stashed in a bank account – apart from the bankers – but that’s another issue.

    1. Hi, David,
      Good to make your virtual acquaintance and thank you for your post and there are several fair points, well made. However, I would like to throw my metaphorical hat into the Hejira-shaped ring and continue this debate a little.
      Firstly, it is my wholehearted belief that the acceptance of obscene and frivolous spending is largely to blame for the dire straits we now find ourselves as a planet. Climate change, rampant consumerism, rapacious lending and materialism, national debt – all stem from the irresponsible and thoughtless approach to spending cultivated by the aggressive corporate world we inhabit. I understand what you say about job creation and maintenance, but I genuinely believe we should look at this from a broader perspective. Perhaps the collective vs the individual? Yes, a number of shipbuilders would have enjoyed secure work for a few years and the crew will be needed as long as the ship graces the oceans, but these to me seem relatively limited in their impact. What we should instead be considering are the options that would resonate across the social and generational divides, the possible courses of action that tangibly benefit social mobility and change.
      Imagine the impact of £360 million being placed in a fund for working-class, underprivileged children to go to college or university. Picture the impact if it was put towards subsidising adult evening classes – providing vulnerable adults and their families a greater chance of financial security and meaningful contribution to society. If our Russian Mother Theresa is so into his sailing then why not initiate a charity that helps underprivileged young people get into the notoriously expensive, elitist sport of sailing? Not only would such increased interest and organic growth within the sport keep a great many of those craftsmen you mention in business, and in a far more sustainable fashion, whilst also improving countless lives along the way.
      You are 100% correct in that there is a certainly a debate to be had wrt whether obscene spending is better than the money sitting in a bank account. However, again, there’s a bigger point to be made here and that is – that level of money shouldn’t even be in one person’s bank account in the first place! If he’s half as altruistic as he claims, Mr. Melnichenko should take a 90% pay cut, donate the remainder to worthy-causes he sees fit and continue to exist in the mind-boggling opulence he’s obviously grown accustomed to. And spend it on something more worthwhile than a boat!
      Ta,
      Wee Tom

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