Sailing in Italy – Sardinia
32 hours after leaving Spain, an incredibly friendly marina crew welcomed us to Italy. In Calasetta in the southwest of Sardinia, where we were going to weather the approaching storm. We had made it a day before the storm and the Rivercafe was safely moored, with 8 lines attached to the dock. In the total calm, it was hard to believe that a storm was headed our way.
Freshly landed in Italy, we succumbed to the country’s special magic. In the harbor office I listened dreamily to the singing Italian of Francesca until I realized that she was talking about the bill and would like to have my credit card. In Italian everything sounds simply better. And on it went with the Italy clichés. Calasetta is a sleepy village, but there are plenty of delicious restaurants. Already the first we chose randomly was great and we had only excellent meals those days.
The next day the storm started. Everything on deck was tied up and nothing was in the path of flying over board. The storm blew right on our stern and we had to close the doors to the salon so we didn’t get a blast of salt water spray. At night we saw 47.8 kn (90 km) of wind on the display, with pleasantly little swell in the harbor.
The wind hardly let us leave the boat and Rivercafe was breaded by the salt of the transversal sea water. The mistral raged for 3 days and we got board fever because we had to spend too much time in the ship. The loud howling of the wind got on our nerves. We could not think of any activities. At least we were safe in the harbor.
On the third day, the wind finally dropped to 20 knots. The vessel looked like a dorado baked in salt. If you stroked the deck with your finger, there was a thick layer of salt on it. The wash down took hours until we had a clean Rivercafe again.
When the huge white caps subsided, we were able to continue our journey. In Calasetta is nothing going on, but the marina is no bargain with a price over 150 € per night. For that you bring your bed and the water in the harbor was not potable. But we were still glad that we found a place there. A sailing buddy of Ka hit it even harder. She was moored with her 50 foot monohull on the Costa Smeralda in the north of Sardinia for 370 € a night – and she just couldn’t get away because the storm in the north was even more violent and lasted much longer. With the Rivercafe we would probably have paid around 600 € per night.
We also got to see how badly the storm had battered the Balearics. At our former mooring field in Andratx there were some collisions and a lot of damage.
South around Sardinia
Undamaged we made our way south around Sardinia. We admired a very beautiful coast, with rocks, trees and some bays. The wind freshened more and more and after 35 nm we hoisted our sails in 24 kn wind and dropped our anchor in front of the beach of Chia.
As it turned out, the beach is very popular with visitors and one of the highlights of Sardinia’s south. The water was clear and clean and our anchor held fantastically. Only in water we did not dare, 21 degrees was too fresh for us. The wind died down in the evening and we enjoyed the view as the only vessel anchoring in Chia. In the summer it is certainly a dream with plenty of time to sail to this island.
Sardinia and Cagliari from the sea
Sardinias capital Cagliari was our next destination. After 22 nm we moored in the marina Cagliari. That was a bull’s eye, because the Marina Cagliari was only 3 minutes away from the old town. A super nice harbor crew came to meet us by dinghy and showed us our berth. We could not have been better situated. We did not expect much from Cagliari and were positively surprised. We found a nice town situated in the mountain, with plenty of small alleys and nice squares.
Streetlife and the Castello of Cagliari
To give us a bit of a land view, we took a rental car and looked at Sardinia’s south from the country side. We found a beautiful and surprisingly green island. Sardinia is just too big to get to know in a few days. 2,000 km of coastline, 280 km from north to south, 140 from east to west and 1.65 million inhabitants. It needs much more time. With sailors and tourists especially the north with the Costa Smeralda is popular and famous. Unfortunately, a visit did not fit into our itinerary. In addition, the passage between Sardinia and Corsica is one of the stormiest sections in the Mediterranean and we did not want to take the risk of getting stuck.
Also because of the strong winds, we had far too little time to get to know Sardinia better. We had to go on. You can feel every day more clearly that the summer is coming to an end. The days are still pleasant, but the nights and the sea are getting colder. The wind is grippier and already foreshadows autumn. From Caligari we pushed 20 nm further south for the jump to Sicily, to Vilasimus in Carbonara Bay (no kidding). With over 20 boats, we anchored for a night off a beautiful beach and got ready for the next crossing: 200 nm to Sicily. Palermo is our destination. Again 2 days and one night lay ahead of us, with little sleep and across one of the refugee routes in the Mediterranean. / Holger Binz