corsica touring kayak

Touring around corsica in an x500 inflatable kayak

They share their experiences of touring around Corsica and all the magnificent places they have discovered thanks to their X500 inflatable kayaks

Touring around corsica in an x500 inflatable kayak

“One day, when we were chatting between friends, we came up with the idea of touring around Corsica in a kayak. We did a little research about the size of the island and how much leave we could each take, and we quickly decided that going ‘just’ halfway around Corsica would be great too…

While we were looking on different forums and other websites to decide which kayak might be best for our project, we had the chance to do an extended test of the new Itiwit X500 inflatable kayak. This kayak was due to come out in a few months (project completed in 2017), and we loved the idea of adding a ‘product testing’ element to our adventure. A new kayak for new kayakers! What could be better? We actually had no experience with sea kayaking (in fact, we had very little kayaking experience at all).”

inflatable kayak corsica
corsica touring kayak

Arrival in corsica

After some discussions and a trip to Hendaye to the Decathlon Watersports Center to test our future kayaks with Nicolas, the engineer responsible for the product, we booked flights to Calvi for 2 September, returning from Bonifacio on 17 September. That left us 2 weeks to get to southern Corsica. It was really convenient travelling with inflatable kayaks in the aeroplane hold... We got to Calvi very late in the evening, after a diversion via Bastia because the winds were too strong. We eventually launched our kayaks midmorning on 3 September, in Calvi Bay. The sun was high in the sky and the town’s fortress was already looking magnificent. The water was beautiful and seemed still. It looked like being a great first day!~ 

touring kayak corsica

A tough start...

We had hardly got past the Calvi headland when the waves appeared and we discovered the joys of sea kayaking like the two novices we were. We were met by a 3-4-metre swell as we passed Calvi lighthouse. The waves were daunting, but they were only breaking strongly by the cliffs, so we kept our distance and enjoyed the view. At that point, the kayak didn’t feel very stable and every sideways movement made us think we would tip over. We needed to stay focussed so that we wouldn’t capsize and so that we could get through this long, challenging area. ~After finding out that even innocent kayakers could suffer with seasickness, one of us decided to share his meal with the surrounding fish, and lost his concentration a little. A 180° flip later, the kayaker became a swimmer and had a chance to try out the techniques we had learned a few weeks before, to get back into a kayak when out at sea. After several long minutes, we were back in the saddle and could move back away from the headland, which had crept closer. A few hours later, we finally found a place to stop for a break. This was where we would set up our bivouac, wonderfully lost among the rocks. ~The first day had been hard work, and although we had familiarised ourselves with our kayaks over the last few hours, we had got off to a difficult start, mostly because of our lack of experience using these very responsive kayaks with their V-shaped hulls. Above all, like after every struggle, we came out with good memories and we had learned quickly, practically and effectively.

Touring around Corsica kayak
inflatable kayak X500 corsica

Great days to follow...

The next two days were a real pleasure. With no wind and calm seas, we could make the most of this kayak and its manoeuvrability. Initially, we had been worried about the absence of a keel or rudder, but in the end, it wasn’t a problem at all. The boat’s V-shaped hull had been designed to go deep enough into the water, so it was very easy to stay on course in such conditions. Kayaking through the Scandola Reserve allowed us to get close to the cliffs and really enjoy this magnificent landscape that we had dreamed of while preparing for our trip. We travelled 73 km in these two days, at an average speed of 5.2 km/h, and we started to really feel the benefits we had been waiting for: blisters on our hands and slightly numb legs. We were finally really getting to grips with the kayaks and every day we were pleasantly surprised: they were quick to inflate and we could fit plenty of equipment into the hulls of our boats. Nicolas and I had agreed to deflate, fold and reinflate one of the kayaks every night and leave the other one inflated, so that we could compare wear and tear. At the end of our journey, we observed no difference. The kayak stood up very well to this regular handling.

ajaccio kayak touring

Arrival in ajaccio

The next day, which brought us to Ajaccio, went well even though there was a strong headwind. Despite the wind and a large load that made even an inflatable kayak fairly heavy, the boats remained easy to steer with good momentum. The rhythm was (very) slow but steady. ~Our fifth day brought us choppier seas, but the experience we had gained during the week made things much calmer than on our first day. We even moved closer to the coast at points to have fun in the waves. The next three days alternated between calm periods and strong winds. After strong headwinds one day, the next day we were able to reach an average speed of 6 km/h, with very pleasant conditions. The last day was tough, with a strong crosswind and sideways swell. Progress was slow and difficult, with one side of the body (the one against the wind) working much harder than the other. However, these difficulties were quickly forgotten when we saw Bonifacio and its cliffs.

Over already...

We made it. “Already” in Bonifacio after 8 days of kayaking: 6 days ahead of our initial schedule. This was when we really became aware of the X500 kayak’s main advantage: Its freedom of movement! At sea, where we had just spent 8 demanding days, but above all on land, where we got on a bus to Porto-Vecchio, with our kayaks in the luggage hold. Our aim for the remaining few days was to enjoy the West Coast in a relaxed way, without any speed or performance goals.

The next day we set off for 4 final days of kayaking, to enjoy the landscapes and use the fishing and the underwater hunting equipment that we had brought, and which up to this point hadn’t been especially useful. As well as providing us with a good dinner, the bass we had caught made it worth carrying all that equipment…~We timed our second arrival in Bonifacio right. Our trip was at an end. It was time to head back to the continent, having gained some sparkle in our eyes and lost a few kilos!~ 

touring corsica inflatable kayak itiwit

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