Porto di Ponte Romano

Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Thu 29 May 2014 17:00
39 03.465N 8 28.277E
Sailed out of our berth in Marina Sifredi in Carloforte and out of the harbour, as we had sailed in. Very satisfying. A fair breeze took as across the sound to Calasetta, but the current in the sound (tide related, unusual for the Med) made it difficult to make any course made good, so motored for an hour, until the wind veered a bit and we could sail again on the starboard tack to Capo Speroni. This area is marked on the chart as a possible military exclusion area. Hearing repeated warnings to yachts to stay outside the more limited permanent exclusion area made us nervous, as did the pilot book's warnings about confused swell off the cape and the sound of thunder approaching from the west. However we rounded the cape without incident, and motor sailed up to Porto Ponte Romano at great speed, in light rain. The sun re-emerged as we entered the port. This is an almost redundant commercial port with no concessions to leisure boats. The harbour wall is 7 feet high and there is nothing to tie on to unless you are several hundred tons of freighter, no ladders, nothing. Except huge black rubber tubes horizontal acting as fenders for the large commercial vessels. We found just one of these free in an area reserved for fishing boats. I found the harbour office across a wasteland of abandoned buildings. It hid behind a 12 foot security fence. The staff wear white uniforms, even to the shoes, and have nothing to do. They redirected me to berth on the harbour wall in front of the office. One vast rusting ferry boat is docked here, with a skeleton crew, running her generators constantly, but otherwise apparently idle. We are the only two craft in the harbour, other than in the fishing boat area. The staff delighted in processing the ship's documentation. The photocopier was turned on for the first time in a month. Everything was scrutinised and copied. But, Capitan, where is your licence? Back to the boat to turf out every locker to find my International Certificate of Competence, issued solemnly by the Department of Trade, but never requested until today. My VHF radio operator's licence was copied. I was worrying that they would require an up to date first aid certificate. But then peace in yet another bizarre situation. Last year there was variety within certain parameters - beautiful anchorages or characterful ports, and always spectacular landscapes. This year we have found a wider variety of extraordinary and exceptional places, with less of the postcard beauty of the Balearics, but with intriguing and attractive individuality. But decay seems to be the theme.

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