Oh happy days
Tuesday 3rd July
Arrived here in Cagliari in Southern Sardinia just after midday and made our way to the marina Di St Elmo where we had pre-booked a berth. This is August and the whole of Italy goes on holiday and so this is very much the peak season – and boy do the marina berthing charges reflect the concept of supply and demand. We were directed into the tightest of trots I have ever tried to get Serafina into and then had to reverse into a tiny slot with no room to swing. All jolly exciting but with nil wind blowing it all went well.
The trip here from Malta was pretty uneventful and served only to endorse the old adage that the ideal yacht for the Med should have a short mast and big engine as the wind either blows like hell or not at all. For the bulk of the 338 miles from Malta to Sardinia we had little or no wind at all. What wind we did have was very helpfully on the beam and it allowed us to motor sail at a steady 5.5 to 6 knots with the engine on very low revs. So why did we motor sail? Well, we had a weather window which gave us three days to make the trip before a big storm was due to blast out of the Gulf of Lyon across to Sardinia and then on down past Sicily and through to Malta (which is what has now kept poor Scott Free in harbour for a few more days). The timing was just about bang on and only a few hours after we had arrived the rigging all around began to whistle as the wind picked up and by the time we strolled into Cagliari itself it was causing all sorts of mayhem in the town as restaurants began to lose their destroyed parasols. Wildlife in short supply along the way although we were joined by some enthusiastic dolphins for a while on Monday which was fun. Two more appeared around midnight during my watch abut they did not stay too long. I expect that we get these visitors more often than we realise at night, but because the sea was an incredible glassy calm that night it was not hard in the bright moonlight to spot them leaping from the sea and flashing at speed just beneath the surface as they cross under our bows before leaping again on the far side and then repeating the exercise. Quite magical.
First impressions of Cagliari are very favourable indeed and our first contact with the locals beyond the marina was as usual dealing with the traffic. Gosh what a difference it makes heading back into the western world and not only was the heavy traffic calm and well controlled, but also very considerate. There are zebra crossings every 50 yards it seems and all vehicles unfailingly pull up if you so much as look like you might like to cross the road. And this is Italy! No aggressive taxi drivers hooting to see if you want a lift and well ordered neat parking. (well there are exceptions everywhere!) The pedestrian crossing lights on duel carriageways do not require you to wait on a centre reservation, but simply halt all traffic in both directions and stay on red to give the slowest invalid plenty of time to cross. All very civilised.
Then there are the shops..... Sarah left me briefly in the internet cafe and swiftly found all manner of wondrous places and she is clearly not too bothered how long the stronger winds keep us here. The Lonely Planet Guide (what we do without this brilliant series?) directed us to Isola del Gelato which is the most fabulous ice cream shop claiming a boggling 280 varieties. Well they did not have all 280 on display but the array was fantastic and so diverse that it took 20 minutes simply to whittle the choices down to possible. I do think that Sarah was about to ask if they did accommodation as well! We then made our way to a large supermarket that the marina had recommended and it was quite remarkable to watch Sarah as she wandered almost spellbound around the huge and comprehensive shop floor. She announced later that she had never seen anywhere quite like this before and it was clearly a reflection of the affluence of the inhabitants of the island. Despite being on foot and a long way from the boat, she was unable to resist buying some items there and then and so we did not get back to Serafina until nearly 8 pm and after three days at sea as well we were both ready for an early night despite the live music blaring out from the nearby football stadium.
Sarah was also finally able to relax properly after she spoke to Ewan on the phone as he confirmed that having come home last week after 9 months travelling he had been to see the employment agency that had found him jobs last year only for them to offer him a full time job working for them in his chosen field of recruitment. Happy days.