Sardinia-week 1

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 11 Jul 2009 14:17

During the early evening, of the day we arrived in Cagliari, a fleet consisting of a variety of boats, from dinghies to sea-going tugs, dressed over all, made their way around the harbour.  Even a float helicopter put in an appearance. The water canon on the fire boat was fully active, fog horns sounded. This was a religious festival and a man of the cloth was on board one of the larger boats, complete with a statue of the Virgin Mary. We had an excellent view from our new berth in the marina.

It is very hot. The thermometer read 36.6º and without the usual sea breeze present when at anchor, we gave in and switched on the air-conditioning.

We are still unable to access WiFi, so have had to resort to an internet café. Having been unable to find a chandlery on our travels, I managed to find not one but three. Now that I have purchased some rust remover and polish, I have no excuse to procrastinate any longer and will have to start on those rust spots.

The coup de gras was finding oven chips. Despite looking diligently each time we went shopping, I had not found any oven chips since flying to Athens, a lifetime ago.

We left Cagliari late morning on Tuesday and made passage to Cala Pira, passing a floating restaurant, which was on passage to Cagliari. We motor-sailed about half the journey planned for the day and then, when the afternoon breeze came up, sailed the rest of the way on a broad reach, anchoring in six metres, in pale blue, transparent water, in sand. There were only two other sailing boats at anchor in the bay, both monohulls, though there were half a dozen small craft attached to mooring buoys. A number of people were on the beach, a few hundred metres away, some swimming. A group of young people swam out to our boat and spent a short time swimming through the hulls, before returning to the beach. There was a swell into the bay though not as fierce as the swell which greeted us on our arrival in Sardinia, at Villasimius.

A coast guard vessel pproached the edge of the bay and then moved on.

The wind went down during the evening and we slept well. The sea was only slightly rippled when we left next morning and there wasn’t much wind until almost 1pm, although we did manage to motor-sail which gave us a lift between 0.2knots and later, up to 0.8knots.

We raised the parasailor when the wind came up, then managed to sail all the way to our anchorage at Porto Frailis. The wind was forecast to blow from the north and then later, from the north east. There was only a north in the direction we were traveling. The wind blew from the south and south, south east almost all the way. This helped us enormously, reducing the nine hour passage time anticipated, by an hour.

The downside was, that the bay in which we anchored, was open to the south east and anchoring in 6metres, on sand, we were at the mercy of the swell that came into the bay.

There were already 2 monohulls and a catamaran at anchor in the bay when we arrived.

One of the monohulls left early evening and the other was gone when we set off at 6am next morning.

We did manage to pick up WiFi but other than permit the anti-virus software to be updated, we were unable to make any other use of it.

There was insufficient wind for us to sail or even motorsail, until we were four hours into our journey. Then, even though the wind was still no more than force 2, within fifteen minutes, we went from motorsailing with the genoa to sailing, on a close reach. By 2pm rounding a cape, we sailed unexpectedly, into a gale. We could see the white horses ahead of us believing them to be short-lived and caused by the local topology.  Still on a close reach, we reefed the mainsail and the genoa. Within half an hour it was necessary to put in a second reef. Encountering severe jamming problems, we had to abandon this operation and unfortunately, dropped the mainsail instead. Then, about a half a metre length of the UV strip, along the edge of the genoa, tore along one side

As we approached the anchorage, we could see three planes circling, scooping water from the sea and dumping it, near the summit of one of the mountains, near the coast, from whence a cloud of smoke was billowing.

When we were much closer, we could also see a helicopter flying around the problem area. The planes and the helicopter were kept busy for several hours before departing.

Almost eleven hours after leaving Porto Frailis this morning, we dropped anchor at Porto Brandinghi, where we are protected from all but the south-east winds.

There were ten other boats already at anchor when we arrived, one 85foot, flybridge motor cruiser with at least 3 crew. There was one catamaran and the rest were monohulls.

Despite the wind we slept comfortably and next morning listened to the forecast on the VHF. The strength of the gale was increasing in our area. We decided to stay where we were among the white horses but well protected.

Mid morning, two more monohulls arrived in our part of the bay, though an Oceanis 39foot monohull, with a young couple aboard, departed, struggling against the wind to bring in their anchor chain. I only hope that they were planning to travel southwards. Many more boats continued to arrive during the early part of the morning although they went to other parts of the bay.

Dick managed to sort out the reefing problem but the wind is too strong to attempt to unfurl the genoa and mend the sail. The forecast is looking decidedly better tomorrow and the wind should have died down considerably by noon. 

There is a strange phonomena in the Mediterranean which I haven’t encountered in northern Europe. Quite suddenly, the wind can drop entirely for a few moments and then commence blowing from a completely different direction. I was reminded when his happened again yesterday, about 11am.

We set sail just after 8am as we anticipated a journey time of 9 hours to our planned destination. The wind was blowing force 4 as forecast but we were expecting it to get to force 5 before it went down again.

One hour out and we were just looking at putting a reef in the sail when we lost the wind and had to motorsail. Then whoosh! After about an hour, the wind was blowing force 6 and force 7 from the direction into which we were traveling. We reefed and the only way we could make any progress was by tacking, not something we do very often.

At one point, we were heading towards a large rock island, traveling at 8.4knots, when the speed to our waypoint was measuring minus 4.4knots.

We made passage towards a port of refuge and just before 1pm, having moved well into the protected bay of Golfo di Marinella, we dropped the anchor, among a fleet of monster size gin palaces. I have never seen so many big, expensive boats, mainly motor cruisers but several very lovely monohulls, which have not been either in a marina at Mallorca, or at a boat show. 

Tomorrow we will hopefully move on to Baia Reparata, on the north side of Sardinia.


Below: 2 attractive sailing boats at our port of refuge