When we were sailing across from Elba to Corsica we had two exciting encounters. The first one occurred midway and was very pleasant. Dolphins. This was our first sighting of the sleek and speedy striped dolphin. A big group crossed our path on bow and stern. They were much smaller than the ones we had seen off Sardinia in June. And they were busy heading somewhere. No time to stop and play in our wake or bow wave.
The second encounter happened less than an hour later. We were sailing along peacefully being the only boat in sight on the Tyrrhenian sea, as this part of the Mediterranean is called. When all of a sudden a deep load motor sound behind made us turn around. There was a large helicopter approaching, very low and heading straight towards our boat. We watched in disbelief as he came down even lower. Then he was hovering right next to us. He was so close that the downdraft from its rotors swept up a spray that hit us in the cockpit. We could see the face of the pilot and second person behind him taking pictures of our Sharki!
I had thought at first this was perhaps the Italian Coast Guard checking us out. But no, it was the Italian department of finance looking for tax evaders. They passed on the starboard side taking pictures of our bow with registration number. Then they circled and approached quickly once more to get more shots of our stern with boat name and flag. After that they took off as quickly as they had approached. We were a bit surprised by the close encounter because as German-Canadians on a German-flagged vessel we don’t have to pay Italian taxes?!?
For now we are safe in France.