Menorca to Sardinia - Anchored off Stintino 40:55.969N 008:13.891E

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Mon 14 Jul 2014 11:26

You last heard from us in Mahon – a lovely place, but expensive (for us) with Marina charges at Euros 75/night,  although to be fair that includes everything  (water, electricity, wifi showers + toilets VAT etc).  Nevertheless on our budget we can’t afford too many nights at that price. 

We spent 2 pleasant days alongside (stern to) the quay in Mahon and watched joe-public promenading and watching us.  We met a few Brit holiday makers and despite the collapsed weather they all said they had a good holiday. 

Anyway, Charlie had been watching the weather and the Maestral that had been blowing through the Gulf of Lyon for the previous 7 days was forecast to loose its strength over the coming weekend.

There is a brilliant anchorage just inside Mahon harbour and although it is restricted we saw yachts in there when we arrived.  We thought we would chance it!  The bay at Cala Taulera is beautiful, no development and crystal clear water with historic forts lining the cliff tops.  We joined about 12 foreign yachts there including ALTEA, (Philip, Janice, Steve and Lara), on a Hallberg 53. We met up with them several times last year. 

Thursday night was spent in the peace and quiet of the Cala before we were asked (politely) during Friday morning to move on by the port authority.  My plea that we had already done our bit for the marina coffers and were awaiting suitable weather did not go down brilliantly.  “You can have an hour” was their considered reply.   We were told that the Taulera anchorage can only now be used when the Mahon marinas are full!   We were invited to return to the marina and pay up!  Not likely, we already knew that Addaya up the coast was free!

So instead of a walk around the ramparts as planned, really sorry to have missed that, so an absolute must for if/when we return here, we set off back along the coast.  It was a rough motor sail to windward (B4 to B5) with no shelter and a fairly big swell to make life uncomfortable.  Addaya has a nice wide deep entrance so although we had to turn down wind and down swell with seas breaking on the rocks and shallows to either side we had no problems and, once around the dog-leg in the Cala, all was peace while it continued to blow and crash outside.


Saturday morning, and after much consulting of Grib files, XC weather, and Predict Wind forecasts, as well a less comfortable glance at noonsite weather status, Charlie decided we should go for the trip to Sardinia.  Wind wasn’t really the major problem, we were confident the wind strengths were falling away.  Of more concern was the potential lack of wind.  The Mistral had been blowing for nearly a week and, as we knew from our brief foray out on the ocean, the previous day on our way to Addaya it had kicked up quite a swell.  Two ingredients for an uncomfortable sea trip are swell + no wind.  The winds were forecast (depends which one you read) to drop during Monday/Tuesday.

After sorting everything and lashing the dinghy down, we set off at 10:00 hrs.  The wind was from the South (the forecast was for a NW) and this had smoothed the sea considerably.   

We made great progress for one and a half hours in a freshening ESE wind, with ALKIRA romping along at near maximum speed and the sun shining.  That couldn’t and didn’t last…After a last puff at 14:30 our nice sailing breeze vanished and reappeared after a few minutes blowing from the North East.  Now that is not cricket ‘cos that is EXACTLY the direction we wanted to go.   We tacked and found we could just lay the southern tip of Sardinia!  Not good.

We persisted, the wind backed round to the North West, and we were back in business, on course….. but the weather hadn’t finished with us – it clouded over…it rained… in fact it poured down and we got wet and it was cold.

More windshifts came as the afternoon wore on, we were making good progress - but it was not glorious sailing.  It was cold and wet with an uncomfortable sea.  Maggie was not impressed and in truth, neither was I.

At 22:50 on Saturday the wind died away and as our speed fell to 3 knots so the engine was started.  The latest grib forecasts sort of showed more reliable winds to the North of us, so we altered course toward Corsica and motor sailed through the early hours of the morning.   At 05:20 (Sunday) the wind returned from the SW and we were sailing again.   It is always a relief to shut the engine down at sea, no engine noise no propeller noise and no fuel consumption – the compensation of having the machinery running is that we have unlimited hot water and the batteries are fully charged.

The saga with the water maker continued.  When underway the pump falters and looses suction and the w/m stops production.  When we are stopped it works fine.   What to do?

We also have a gadget called a Duogen which generates electricity from either the wind (when fitted with a windmill) or from the sea as we go along  (using a water turbine).  I had never used the water gadget before but everyone said it was really efficient.  It worked great until the propeller became fouled with a length of plastic tape! 

Our best gadget on long passages is a Hydrovane self steering gizmo.  This senses the wind and steers a steady course relative to the wind.  If the wind shifts, you may not always get to where you want, but it means the boat sails itself and we don’t have to stand in the rain – apart from the tweaking needed to ensure we do get to our destination!

As the morning wore on the weather gods woke up and saw that we were making too good progress.  The wind had gone round to the west, and at 09:00 it suddenly freshened and really stated to blow.  We were then going uncomfortably fast - the Hydrovane which had worked brilliantly up till then couldn’t hold the boat on course and with speeds approaching our maximum of 9 knots it was high - time to shorten sail. 

With Maggie tucked up it was a real handful to get the sail area reduced.  I furled the genoa right down, started the engine and headed up into the weather to relieve the weight on the mainsail before furling that to a more modest size.  All sorted after half an hour and we are back on course at a more respectable and comfortable speed of 6.5 knots.   Sea conditions remained uncomfortable and it was very tiring.

We are really too shorthanded for longer passages.  One or two extra pairs of hands would be good!  At 10:00 on Sunday, after 24 hours at sea, we had completed 136 miles and …… we both felt knackered.

As the wind died/moderated during the afternoon we unfurled more genoa to compensate and keep our speed up.   Sadly, at 16:00 the wind dropped and with it our speed.  In order not to prolong the passage and to avoid another full night at sea the engine was restarted.  The wind gradually fell to almost nothing as we closed the North coast of Sardinia.

The Fornelli passage had looked an interesting prospect as a short cut though a chain of islands, extending Northward from the Sardinia mainland.  However the earliest we could get to the passage was 22:00 (after dark) and with a narrow, shallow (3m) and unlit channel, I reluctantly conceded defeat and headed for the northern extremity of Isola Asinara – thereby adding another 20 miles to our trip.

We passed the lighthouse on the end of the island at 23:20 having covered the 213.5 miles in 37hrs and 20 minutes.  Of course we still had to get to a berth for the night, so we then headed south, inside the islands to Stintino.  As we approached the port they apparently had a blackout – right before our eyes and when just half a mile off the entrance the whole town vanished into the inky darkness!!  Oops! 

We had prepared for two options, a small but possibly crowded anchorage inside the port or alongside the fuel berth.  In the event we did neither, we’d spotted three yachts at anchor and decided we’d join them, anchored to the South of the harbour entrance.  The anchor set on our second attempt and we gratefully retired to bed at about 03:00!

I really can’t imagine how people undertake long sea passages…. Perhaps we are getting too old, but I’m sure many others feel the same.  


The weather this past week or so has been very changeable and much cooler than we expected for this time of year.  Several days have been overcast and the evenings have been much cooler, so fleeces etc came out of lockers, this was not the game plan when we opted for summers in the Med.  Last night was very cool indeed.  Fortunately, it is now sunny and out of the chilly wind, very pleasant, but not hot! Charlie went for his usual morning dip and found the water temperature was much cooler than the Balearics, he may only dip his toe in tomorrow!


We’re going to have a days R&R here to recover, before moving to Castelsardo tomorrow to fill up the larger fuel tank (and rid ourselves of a slight list to starboard) hopefully to purchase a SIM card to get back onto wifi/internet, a permit for the Maddalena Islands and perhaps a little some grocery shopping.

We’ve just had lovely hot showers, followed by brunch and have been looking through our Sardinia Lonely Planet guide book.  There’s a lot of really useful information, but the descriptions of Sardinia being the billionaires playground, with mega yachts, bikini clad girls, Oligarchs, Moguls etc., etc., where to shop, where to dine and where to play into the small hours, is to be frank, very amusing.  No doubt at some point we’ll think about joining George Clooney, Rooney and all the others and ensure we get our picture taken by the paparazzi – NOT!  However, Charlie has threatened that he might, just might, wear his new white shorts, just to prove he can strut his stuff along with the others – now that I’ve got to see.  I will of course let you know the outcome!


Time to wash up and do some laundry – we know how to live…