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Cruising on Diomedea
Diomedea is a Van de Stadt Tasman 48. The name is the species name of the Wandering Albatross of the Southern Ocean.

3am in the marina. Has been blowing a lot of 40's with many gusts up to 51 kts. Caused by a low passing to the east of Menorca. The image is what is forecast for right now and is accurate. The blue colouration is wind of 50kts and Mahon is in the firing line on the east tip of the island.

Up with the Spanish flag

Flag change over, yet again
David and Andrea
September30,2015, Menorca

Sardinia to Spain
David and Andrea
September30,2015, Puerto Mahon, Menorca, Spain

The small villages at Porto Rotondo and Cannegione allowed for some reprovisioning and refueling, and for the purchase of the permit to cruise the Maddalena archipelago on the NE tip of Sardinia. Our one week permit cost €85 and for that we received ... nothing apart from a park zoning brochure in French. Nonetheless we enjoyed our trip in the group with its beautiful granite hills and shores. Anchoring was difficult due to shallow water and weed but with perseverance one could find sand for holding in reasonable depth. The bays were generally still very busy with yachts but it was the day tourist boats that were the curse, as they are all over the world. The skippers pay no mind to anchored vessels, just blasting through at speed and very close. The sailing was good in flat water with excellent breeze. We had very little contact with the real Sardinia unfortunately. The abovementioned towns are really just tourist haunts with nothing else to recommend them. The history of Sardinia is rich of course with the ebb and flow of various civilizations from Paleolithic times onwards. The Nuraghic tribes around 1500BCE left a permanent legacy of stone fortresses which can be seen today and are linked with the Talaiotic culture of Menorca (more on this later). The wash up is that Sardinia has a large variety of languages spoken by its 1.6million inhabitants including Sardinian, a Romanic language based on Catalan and Spanish. It is not an Italian dialect and is virtually incomprehensible to Italian speakers. The port city of Alghero has its own Catalan dialect.
With our cruising time slowly ebbing away we felt the pressure to move on and too soon Diomedea was on the heading west. After a depressing false start we transited the rather turbulent waters of the Bonifacio strait, fortunately with favourable current. Then it was motor sailing down the coast to Castelsardo. The castle seen in the photos dates back to 1102CE. The marina was excellent. Then it was through the shallow waters of the Fornelli passage, but not before being stopped by an Italian Customs boat for document check and inspection. It was an hour out of our schedule which meant that we arrived in Porto Conte after sunset. This turned out to be fortuitous as the colours on the extraordinary cliffs of Capo Caccia were at their best as we passed underneath. We saw tourists descending from the lighthouse down an improbable path to the depths of Neptune's Grotto just above the crashing sea.
With the weather looking favourable for the 185nm crossing to Menorca, we spent a few hours getting Diomedea ready for the trip. The most important item on the list before a major international voyage is to use up all the remaining data allowance on your prepaid sim card, but alas, we were unable to burn through the 4.5GB in the time allowed.
Diomedea romped SW with an excellent beam wind for many hours but by midnight the breeze had softened and come astern. Not good in a big sloppy seaway and so it was back to the diesel for the second half of the trip. We had planned the trip for the full moon which duly rose astern of us, but I had not factored in the total lunar eclipse which darkened the sky for many of the early hours. The Blood Moon is the remarkably red-brown colouration seen as a result of Rayleigh scattering of different wavelengths of light by Earth's atmosphere (also the reason why the sky is blue, when sunlight is white when seen in space). For us it was quite exciting as this eclipse was the fourth and last in the Lunar Tetrad, and we had seen the previous eclipse whilst at anchor in Ko Similan, Thailand on April 4th. So with the moonlight dimmed it was a good opportunity for star gazing with the handy Ipad star app.
Menorca sits atop a plateau that rises from the 3000 metre depths of the Mediterranean abyss, so one would reasonably expect it to be mountainous. Not so. In fact the island is remarkably flat and has one hill of 358m height. Thus, the sailor does not make landfall until quite close to this small but historic place. Finally Diomedea passed underneath the guns of the truly massive fortifications at the entrance to Puerto Mahon and made her way up the excellent harbour to the marina. A quick trip to the telco followed as soon as our docklines were secured of course. An excellent meal at "Passio Mediterrania" restaurant (just across from D pontoon) with a Rioja red and off for a good sleep.

Porto Conte
David and Andrea
September27,2015, Porto Conte

Sorry but I could not help posting lots of photos of this coast. Really stunning. Look in the Italy folder RHS

Fornelli Passage
David and Andrea
September26,2015, Fornelli Passage, Sardinia

Went through the uppermost channel in the picture past Isola Asinari today. Minimum depth 4.0m. Tried to pick up a mooring first but only 2.5m!! No way.
This passage short cuts the hook of land on the NW corner of Sardinia by 20nm.
We spent an hour with a Italian Customs patrol boat on the way from Castelsardo. They were polite but firm and came aboard to look around. Nothing to declare.
Very interesting coast south from Fornelli to Porto Conte, particularly last 5 miles. Incredible. Pix to follow.


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