Captains Blog 23 – Big Boat, little boat, Rah Rah Rah

“Land ahoy” I cried to the first mate, “land ahoy”. She was doing something geeky on her iPad and glanced nonchalantly at the first sighting of Sardinia. The cliffs were spectacular and bigger than we’d expected.

Now, the crossing had thrown up a couple of issues. Firstly, the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank had operated but not closed fully. The water flowed through the engine heat exchanger, into, then, straight out of the water tank ending up in the bilge, from where it was automatically pumped out. Secondly, the deck shower hadn’t been isolated since it had last been used so leaking cold water was also flowing into the bilge. Pretty much all 300 litres of fresh water gone.

After a night at anchor, we went to Alghero where we’d booked into a small, family run marina, Ser Mar, for a couple of nights. Frederico and Alessandro were top fellas and helped us sort a replacement pressure relief valve. Alghero was a fine old town and a welcome first glimpse at Sardinia, before moving on.

We headed north, passing the cliffs we’d seen on our initial approach. They were very atmospheric and I expected a Harry Hausen plasticine monster to appear astride the small island and mainland as we passed beneath.

Some good sailing led us to a shallow passage, cutting through the top of the island and an anchorage at Cala Tramariglio, before heading on to Castelsardo. Our first task on arriving at Castelsardo was refuelling, so we moored alongside the fuel pontoon. A lady, slumped in a comfy seat watched us and eventually came over. She didn’t speak English so rapidly reeled off something Italian, gesturing and shrugging in true Mediterranean fashion. We worked out that despite the good talking to, we’d done nothing wrong, just that fuel wouldn’t be available till 3. So, we twiddled our thumbs and waited for however was tasked to dispense the diesel to arrive. At just before 3 the woman we’d met earlier rose from her comfy seat, walked over, turned the pump on and handed us the nozzle. No need to rush here!!

Castelsardo rises from the shore up a steep hillside and was buzzing with presumably a mixture of tourists and locals. The first mate was scammed by a couple of switched on 6-year olds the minute she stepped ashore. Two euros for some small sea shells, they’d seen her coming a mile off! We could have spent more time there but needed to get through the Bonifacio Straits while the weather was with us.

We beat north into a strong headwind to reach an anchorage at La Colba. We’d identified a nice anchorage at Porto Licia only 13 nautical miles away on the east coast and passed through the straits with little issue, the following day.

The anchorage was beautiful and quiet. An ideal place to lay up for a few days, at least if force 10 winds hadn’t been forecast for the area within the next 48 hours. The weather dictated that we head south earlier than we wished to.

The coast was beautiful and surrounded by the Maddalena Islands, a fantastic and popular cruising ground for all kind of boats, including really big powerful ones. As we headed South, I started to wonder if the forecast was wrong. There were hundreds of chuffing boats either heading towards us or across our course. You’d change course to avoid one only to be in the way of another. It was total mayhem. I imagine driving against the flow of traffic on the M1 would be a similar experience.

Things quietened further south as we headed past super yacht after super yacht on the Costa Smeralda coast, to a small anchorage by Porto Rotondo which appeared to provide reasonable shelter. Most boats left as the day wore on and, just as forecast it got windier the next day.

Before it started to blow a hooley, a bizarre looking vessel anchored in the main bay. It was Sailing Yacht A, a weird looking 3 masted grey yacht that doesn’t resemble a sailing boat at all. It is reported to be the 10th largest super yacht in the world, costing over £400,000,000. I know what you’re wondering, well Gianti didn’t cost that much.

Anyway, it got windier and windier. Gusts of 54 knots were recorded and we had no choice but to sit it out for 2 days playing I spy and rock/paper/scissors.

We eventually escaped and headed to Porto Coda Cavallo around 22 miles south. It was a great anchorage protected by a reef where we could swim and relax. We stayed the next day and witnessed an astonishing bit of bullying by a large motor yacht. It ploughed into the anchorage and set its anchor just ahead of, but in between a catamaran and 40’ sailboat. It ended up between the 2 and it wasn’t long before the Frenchman on the sailboat was ranting and gesticulating at the 3 crew before upping anchor and moving off. The cat did the same as the toys were being tossed from the back of the yacht ready for its hefty occupants to enjoy. It really was the fat bully of the anchorage.

We had a couple of days there before heading to Olbia. We needed water so when we got there we headed to the large Marina where we knew it was available. After squeezing in next to 2 massive superyachts we got sorted with water and a little fuel.

Once done we headed for the town quay. We could have tied up alongside, but it was a blisteringly hot day and the idea of sitting against a large storage heater didn’t appeal, so we dropped anchor just off the quay and headed straight into town for provisions. We left the following day but not before the coast guard had paid a visit and asked us to move to the quayside. We told him we just needed to pick up a few things then we’d be off so he let us stay put for the duration. All hail the Coast Guard!!

Over the next few days we headed South. We moored at Arbatax after the worst stern to mooring to date. We came in and were directed to our spot. As usual, we had lines attached, fenders out and planned to hand each of the two lines to the staff who were already in place. All fine to now but as we handed across the stern lines, one of the staff wouldn’t take it, insisting that the first mate take the slime line he was holding. It all got very messy as Gianti’s bow started to blow across the mooring straight towards a large fancy powerboat. I put her into neutral, ran to the bow and managed to hold her off the other boat until one of the staff appeared alongside pulling in the slime line to straighten us back up. No harm done apart from our broken flag pole which the first mate had snapped across the head of the offending member of staff. Or, was it that she caught it with her leg in all the confusion and really hurt herself.

After the excitement of Arbatax, we successively worked our way to an anchorage across the bay from Cagliari, the Sardinian capital. The plan was to head into Cagliari and then Sicily, once we had a suitable weather window.

The trip across to Cagliari was a windy affair. We were heading dead to wind and it was blowing up to 30 knots. We eventually got moored and after much faffing headed into the fine town of Cagliari It’s a fascinating place with lots of history and narrow, steep streets to get lost in.

That first evening we met up with Ken and Pam who we’d met in La Linea (Gibraltar) when Bodie and Toby, their dogs, left paw prints on the new boom tent the first mate was in the process of making. Pizza was the goal. We failed but settled for some other Italian scram instead and the opportunity to have a good catch up. Later in the week I was treated to a birthday dinner with Ken, Pam and some of their family along with Erling and Karin. It was a top night with fab food and very generously paid for by Ken and Pam, so huge thanks to them both.

Next time we head for Sicily in a force 7, witness some spectacular storms and have a bar-b-que onboard while watching a volcano erupt.


Captain Mac

4 Replies to “Captains Blog 23 – Big Boat, little boat, Rah Rah Rah”

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