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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Gardening in the street

The potted gardens of Castelsardo's high town are striking in their variety and luxuriance. No need for guerilla gardeninghere!

Places and people
Modernisation of traditional craft

In the streets of the old town, amidst the cafes and souvenir shops , women are still weaving. Many are sticking to the older forms, which presumably sell well, but some are experimenting with other colours and shapes. We were very interested in the similarities and differences with the flax weaving practised across the Pacific. This tradition is alive and well in Aotearoa/New Zealand. When we were there in 2008, Pip's mother took us to the museum in Petone which had a special exhibition on about the work. Also, Lou, in Christchurch has done quite a lot of weaving, and some of her little baskets are on Roaring Girl today.
One of the major differences is that, here in the Med, it never seems to have become usual to use woven fibres for clothes, unlike the many skirts, hats and cloaks of the south.

Places and people
Weaving natural fibres

Castelsardo is a major centre of the ancient Mediterranean art of weaving vegetable fibres to make important utensils. Historically they used a very wide range of materials, such as myrtle twigs, reeds, and palm fibres. The castle houses a small museum of the craft, which includes this wonderful boat. These fassois were used by the lake fishermen of Oristiano, who quanted them with long reed poles, and laid woven basket nets to trap their prey.

Places and people
The bell tower and castle

One of our reasons for visiting the town was to see its spectacular castle. Originally built in 1102 by the Genoese, the mediaeval town was called Castelgenovese. When the Aragonese got possession, they called it Castelaragonese. It was not until 1769 when the Kingdom of Savoy got control, that they felt secure enough to give it its present name.
The bell tower, originally the lighthouse, has this wonderful polychrome dome, unique in Sardinia.

Places and people

The town here is very easy to recognise from the extraordinary castle and belfry atop a great wall cascading down the steep promontory. This picture is taken looking sou-sou-west from the castle walls. The marina is actually slightly southwest of the headland and the entrance is difficult to see till you are quite close. As you can see, there are lots of rocks under the headland so although the entrance is very straightforward once you have it clear, do not close the shore to less than 20m depth till you are sure of your position.
Incidentally, one suggestion for getting into town is to take your dinghy to the town beach, at the bottom left of the picture, and walk from there. We wouldn't advise this. The beach is a crowded place to leave your dinghy unattended. And you still have a fantastically steep walk. Instead, take the 70 cent bus from the port to the castle. The capitainerie will give you the timetable.
The marina is simple, and ormeggiatori were on the dock to call us in, although we had got no answer on the VHF. Tailed lines lead from the quay and there was certainly plenty of space for us. On 1 July we paid EU40 for the night, including water and power.
There are reasonable showers as well, which were a great luxury. This is the first time Pip has had unrationed water (not fees, not buttons to push, no Navy showers) since leaving Ostia two months ago.
Although the marina staff were friendly, we were sadly taken aback by the unabashed snootiness of the blue-ensigned UK yacht berthed next-door but one. We have never been cut so dead before. They lived up to any and every comment we (and others) have ever made about yachties who feel such a sign of prestige makes them senior to rest of us. No wonder so many other countries think pommies are so stuck-up!

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
White donkeys

Asinara has been isolated for a very long time so despite its proximity to Sardinia and Corsica it has various unique flora and fauna. Of these by far the biggest are the albino donkeys.
Now, when you see the tourist photos these are white, fluffy and cute. In real life, they are grey, grubby and bored rigid with being cooed at by tourists in a wide range of European languages. They can probably determine the make of your camera by the shutter click alone. This donkey graciously allowed herself to be petted, but the curled lip and cross ears showed her preference for an undisturbed siesta.
The unique sound of Asinara, amidst the ubiquitous cicadas and screaming gulls, is braying donkeys, calling to each other across the gently rolling scrub at dawn and dusk.

Places and people
The moorings themselves

Once round the beacon the mooring field is clear. There are about 20 yellow buoys, all of which (except possibly number 9) have 3-10m of water all around them. They have long trailing lines, which are easy to pick up but have rather a small loop on the end. Too small for our samson post or cleats, anyway. That's what all our other ropes are for.
The mooring field lies inside a large jetty, to which a twice daily ferry to Porto Torres ties up. It's also the base for the very active diving business. Alongside this jetty is a small pontoon which does have electric and water points., We saw a catamaran lie alongside briefly, but it would be challenging to make sure a yacht of Roaring Girl's size and draught got in there safely.
It is a reasonable dinghy dock, however. We motored ashore, as we have seen many others do, only to be told off very sternly by the Parks police. Our timing was poor, and with the threats of fines, we have quietly rowed ever since.
The picture is of Roaring Girl in the crystalline water, taken from the small nature trail that runs along the edge of the low cliffs. The orange beside her is the Wala Wahini, our inflatable kayak, on her first outing of the summer.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Past the reef

To get into the Realle mooring field, you must then round the Neri Reef, the western (inland) end of which is marked by this big beacon. It may be possible to go between he reef and Pte di Trabuccatto, but if so it will be in 5m or less. We saw one yacht arrive by this route. We went round the outside.
The beacon should be bearing not less than 305 degrees, and on that heading you will see at least 13m of water along the fringe of the rocks.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Pte di Trabuccatto

We started in Cala della Reale, not least because it's the only mooring field, of five on the island, where you are officially allowed to motor onto the mooring buoy. Anchoring is strictly prohibited everywhere. Approaching from the North, you must found round the low headland of Pte di Trabuccatto with its tower. There is a mooring field close in under the northern edge of the headland, which looked quite full the day we came in.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
To Asinara

There is a small island on the north western tip of Sardinia which has been closed to visitors for many, many years. Reading about in the pilot and guide books made it sound forbidding and forbidden, not somewhere to catch our attention.
Then, in England in late May, Sarah picked up June's Yachting Monthly, and it contained an article which hymned Asinara as a virgin paradise, with luxuriant sealife, very few visitors and beautiful seas. So we went to have a look.
The biggest bay on Asinara is called Cala Della Realle, and this was the centre of officialdom when the island was a prison. Like other Italian islands, such as Capraiait was a penal colony for 100 years, including WW1 Austro-Hungarian prisoners (whose chapel still stands), the Ethiopian royal family during Mussolini's adventurism in Africa, and then senior Mafia cons. The most senior royal was Haile Selassie's daughter, Princess Romanework, who sadly died in 1941, before her country's liberation. Only in 1997 was Asinara re-opened, the convicts sent elsewhere and the whole island declared a reserve. Its marine fringe is particularly important, having seen so little activity to damage the seabed or pollute the water.

Places and people
Monsieur Lion

Roccapino is particularly known for its lion, this enormous outcrop of granite weathered into the shape of a recumbent kingly beast. Sarah was clear that from many angles, it more closely resembles a frog. Pip could see the lion all along, and maintained proper respect.

Places and people

The Golfe de Roccapina has a glorious mile-long curved beach, backed by dunes covered in sea lavender and whirly blue thistles. The water is turquoise and refreshingly cool, and the whole cove is ringed by ornate rock formations in rosey, sparkly granite. The picture is from our aft deck, where we are about about 50m off the beach anchored in 9m of water.
It is only accessible by an unsealed road, by boat or foot, so even on this beautiful June Sunday, it has a bare smattering of people dipping in and out of the sea. (In the evenings, though, it does have mosquitoes.)
We decided to try and walk up to the tower, which is at the other end of the beach. Although we left quite early, it turned into a hard slog along the sand, which is quite pebbly and rough, and mostly very soft. The soles of our feet are unused to such treatment, and our calves will feel it tomorrow. At the other end of the beach, we could not discover which of the many paths in the maquis led to the peak with the tower on. Lots od ead ends and wee temptations only got us to the very tip of the headland of Roccapino. This was lovely too: great boulders of pink stone glittering in the sun, surrounded by fantastic beasts and birds moulded in rock by wind and water. Rhino, hippogriffs and eagles abound.
The boulders lead down to a tiny cove of rocks, where the water is so clear, you only know it is there by the ripples that shudder across the bottom and the gentle rustle as it meets the shore.

Life on Roaring Girl

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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