39 03 100N 08 28 800E
After a couple of days adjusting back to just each other for company, we have had visitors for almost a month and it seems so quiet now, we headed south down the east coast of Sardinia as the winds were more favourable. The east coast is so quiet and empty of boaters in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the NE corner, but equally beautiful. Long stretches of sandy beaches backed by dunes and lush trees, then high cliffs. Not many bolt holes though without many headlands or islands to hide behind you are open to the elements at anchor, and in particular a NW moving swell making all our anchorages very rolly. We have had daily storm warnings with ‘isolati temporali’ (isolated thunderstorm) on VHF channel 68, and for the first part of the week enjoyed watching the spectacular lightening displays from a distance.
We have had great sailing though, and as we headed off around the islands on the SE tip our first overhead encounter with the ‘isolati temporali’ came about. We could see the storm coming over the land out to sea and with already a brisk 25 knots of wind and Joy flying along, we were about to reef sails when we spotted a tornado on the horizon. It came down out of the dark grey clouds, a grey funnel turning into a white funnel and then hitting the sea – the water flying up in the air being sucked up by the force. Our reefing quickened as we could not be sure which direction it was going to travel as the wind by this point was all over the place and the sea building. Then it broke, the grey part continuing high in the sky being dragged along with the cloud from where it had appeared, leaving the white part still connected to the sea. As we watched it slowly lost power and disappeared, leaving the sea beneath it white and angry for some minutes. Then the rain and gusts hit, reduced visibility and so much water filling the cockpit in seconds, gushing from the drain hole in the boom from the main sail. The drains in the cockpit could hardly keep up with the volume of water, and whilst I had put a raincoat over my bikini (odd combination I know) Jez was still in his shorts and he had the best wash of the season – and so did Joy. We diverted out to sea to go around the rocky islands, no longer visible, rather than our original intended route between them, and within an hour the rain stopped and we headed for our anchorage basked in sunshine where we dried out and had a swim. We had at one point during the storm achieved 9.3 knots speed over ground, with a max recorded true wind of 35.8 knts. Brilliant sailing!
After a very quiet anchorage at Villasimus with such clear warm water, we encountered another ‘isolati temporali’ the following day whilst sailing along the south coast, we saw in the distance a wall of grey. We prepared again by reefing all sails, shutting hatches in the cockpit this time that lead down to the galley as we had rather a lot of water inside the day before! The wind dropped to nothing, bobbing about with barely any canvas up, it arrived in a flash and the wind backed and increased from 0 to 25 knots, backing the slither of genoa. Hail so hard it made your eyes sting and it completely flattened the sea, Jez helmed with his ski goggles on! Within an hour it had passed and we were back into sunshine. Another good wash down for us all!
Our last night at Sardinia was at Porto Sant Antioco on the SW tip of Sardinia, an island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land built by the romans and then a bridge, and here we had our third wash down but we were able to watch from inside in the dry as we were at anchor. It looks a very strange place from the outside, but the town of Sant Antioco was lovely, packed with people until late in the evening. Hundreds of small fishing boats and equally as many locals fishing from the shore. The water in between the island and the mainland is very shallow with a narrow channel dredged for boats to enter the marina, we took the dinghy in to explore and it seems that the waters here are teaming with life. We found a very strange street in the town centre completely covered by tree foliage down the middle which blocked out all natural light, very eerie entering a pitch black street early afternoon! But it was full of people and was a great place for shopping and pizza!
We have loved Sardinia, the coastline is beautiful with hills and mountains stretching back as far as the eye can see, all differing heights and colours. The cloud formations and lightning displays have been out of this world (well, we don’t watch TV what do you expect?!) and the people have been very friendly and local dishes excellent, I am sad to leave but hope we get the chance to return one day.