Sardinia is a short sail off the southern tip of Corsica and it was here in the Northern town of Olbia that we would be meeting up with Hugh and his family who we would have as guests on board for the next week. We spent a delightful week sailing the the North East coast of Sardinia and the Madelina archipelago, celebrating Hugh's 50th birthday in style.
It was sad saying goodbye to Hugh and his family. We now had one full month before we needed to be back to Rome to meet our next guests Tayla and Jez, so we decided to do a full anticlockwise lap of Sardinia exploring as much as we could. Our first stop was the warm crystal clear waters of La Pelosa and its surrounding seaside villages. It was a 12 hour sail in windy conditions, so we decided to spend two full days there swimming, relaxing and recovering.
Alghero was our next stop. We spent two days in this lovely historic town. The old citadel with its rambling streets is a tourist hotspot. Alghero is known for its handcrafted coral jewellery and it’s remarkably high population of Catalanians who settled here in the middle ages. So much so that it is sometimes referred to as Little Barcelona. The marina is incorporated into the old fortified walls and there is a free town dock that puts your right in the heart of town. Unfortunately this town dock was full the entire time we were there so we anchored just out the front of the harbour.
We were heading for the far South West corner of Sardinia, to the island of Carloforte. It was going to be a little more than a full days sail so we decided to anchor for the night in the random remote bay of Porto Flavia. Porto Flavia was stunning. Its coast line was peppered with caves that had been carved out by winter storms and it featured an enormous rock with two hollows that we drove the dinghy through. In the bay there is an old abandoned mine shaft carved into a cliff face that was once used for loading ships with minerals directly out of the mine. The loading infrastructure is long gone so all that is left is a hole in the rock wall 50 meters above the sea.
We had a marina booked in Carloforte so we needed to get moving. Otherwise we would have spent an extra day or two at Port Flavia. It’s the random unexpected ports like Flavia that often turn out to be highlights. We spent four days in Carloforte exploring the back streets, sampling the local menus, provisioning as well as securing a Visa extension with local authorities. We also had at least one big storm pass through while in Calorfote, the start of one week of truly uncomfortable weather. While we were dealing with uncomfortable sails and rolly anchorages down South, our friends further North in Corsica were experiencing Cyclone-like weather. Thankfully they pulled through ok.
We spent the next few days trying to hide from storms and a large swell coming from the South West as there had also been storms off the African coast. After a couple of windy and rolly anchorages resulting in very little sleep, we finally had a window to sail on to the Capital of Sardinia, Cagliari. Finally we could get a good nights sleep. Being in a big city has its pro’s. Cagliari had a good shopping centre with a large hardware store where we greedily stocked up on water filters for our water maker. We had some other shopping to catch up on as well, so the big city was a welcome change for us. We also took the opportunity to take a bus tour of Cagliari which took us through the old citadel, past the castle along the famous 7km beach and past the old salt ponds that are now home to hundreds of pink flamingos.
With days rapidly running out, it was time to head back North to what had become our Sardinian base camp, Golfo Aranci (just out of Olbia). There was one place on the trip back that we were very keen to see and it would make a perfect half way stop. The famous Cala Luna. Cala Luna is a small remote beach that is miles from anywhere. It features a series of very large natural caves, some on the beach and some only accessible by water. As remote as this place is, people flock from miles away in everything from tourist boats to small inflatable dinghies. When we arrived, there must have been close to 100 small craft anchored off this tiny beach. However, by 6pm there were only 5 of us left. We stayed overnight, took some photos and continued our passage North to Golfo Aranci.
East Coast of Sardinia
Golfo Aranci had become our base camp in Sardinia. It was a perfect little anchorage. Shallow, crystal clear water, easy docking for our dinghy, good restaurants, ok supermarkets and a nice cheap 20 minute train ride into the bustling town of Olbia. It was here that we picked up Hugh and his family and it will be here that we count down the remaining days before we sail to Rome to pick up our kids.
Off to Rome!