Mazarron to Sardinia
31 December 1969 | Calasetta Sardinia
Gien Sunny 28c
How are you all?
This is the story of our life of the last few months as live aboards and I hope you have no problems with my dutch way of thinking and expressing.
As you know, we left at Easter this year from Mazarron to the Balearics. We left in tipical English weather: rain, wind force 5/6/up to 7 in the night, so we had to flee in Torrevieja harbour, a not planned and expensive start, after 2 days we could go on to Moraira, a pleasant place we have been before several times.
The crossing to Ibiza was a calm night sail with destination Santa Eulalia on the east coast. I had been there before with my small boat, bubbling happily around the one and only mooring buoy they have.
Thought it was a good choice for Bagi (our current boat) too………..no way….we were missing 3 meters depth of water and would have gone nicely aground.
Ok, so around the corner for anchor in a nice but narrow bay. The next morning we needed diesel, so Santa Eulalia again, a small channel with sufficient depth just to get to the fuel quay and out. But………..there was this solid morning mist just around the harbour entrance, less than 50 meters view. Very very tricky, just entering on the gps with 1 knot speed and listening and…..we made it, we had to.
And leaving Santa Eulalia and Ibiza coast for Mallorca we had to pass this cardinal on the west side , so we did………and so lucky that Barry looked just for check on the depth gage……….less that 1 meter under the keel…………Barry spun Bagi around into safety. As till today we don’t know why it was so shallow, the pilot book nor the chart had any information.
As usual there was a lot or no wind, so our crossing was partly sailing but mostly on the motor with 25 knots on the bow, bouncing terrible, lot of swell. Just before Mallorca there are the islands of Cabreras, nature reserve, lots of excellent anchor buoys but we needed a permit and had none. We knew they check the boats for the permits just before dusk. So we managed to enter just after dusk, saw the nature park ranger go in his dinghy. He saw us coming, but must have thought ”will see them in the morning, but no, at 6 we were gone on our way to Porto Cristo on the east coast. It was only 12 miles………but now close to 30 knots at the bow, and bouncing….It was all easterlies and we went that way. After 8 miles bouncing we had the possibility to go for anchor in another little bay underway, so we did, fleeing for the wind and the waves.
The next morning we arrived in Porto Cristo in still very rough weather. And that was a tricky approach and entrance
Bumpy because Marina Porto Christo is at the end of an inlet in the coast which ends up smaller and smaller and the marina at the end. That means that seawater blown in funnels itself with more and more power to the end and makes all boats swing sideways up and down at the same- quite tough- rhythm. .
We were 10 days in this bumpy harbour waiting for our crew Jan and Paul to come.
In the meantime we got Georgina (barry’s daughter) and Gien’s mum visiting us.
Georgina and stayed in a hotel close by and my mum happened to be a week for holiday in Mallorca. Their visits was a very nice intermezzo.
With our crew there was this nice click, so the atmosphere on board was promising and we set off to Menorca, along lovely south coast to very windy Mahon.
For the crossing to Sardinia we had waited for a good weather window of 5 days calm weather, because we were warned not to get unnecessary into stormy weather, because that would be very unpleasant experience. The crossing of aprox 200 miles would take around 38 hours. We had the luxury to be with 4 on board so we could have our watches with 2 at the time.
It was a very pleasant passage, clear skies, stars all over and the moon…..a joy and we ended up for anchor after dark in the sheltered bay of Porto Conte , to discover the next morning that is was a beautiful bay.
The crew left us after 12 days, nice guys, they are welcome again.
Clear was that even with nice people on board you have to give in severely in your own living space.
You make space and take all the stuff in your own cabin, but as live aboards we have more stuff than only a backpack. So after the 12 days we loved to get our living space back again. Paul and Jan understood the situation and booked their flights back.
We are now sailing for 2,5 months along the north and west coast of Sardinia.
There is a lot to say about Sardinia.
First, it is an island and the wind is blowing and often howling around. The Mistral from France/Golf du Lion, from the south the often very hot Sirocco from the Sahara, and some north-east and so.
As in Spain , in the hot summer months, every afternoon around noon a sea breeze picks up till force 5/6/7. And with the Mistral it can be 8/9. And the wind dies down in the evening.
The difference in temperature of the land and sea after being heated up by the sun, makes this sea breeze, the hotter it is, the stronger the breeze.
But as in most of the Mediterranean, there is no or too little wind, or it is blowing quite hooly, what makes sailing life bumpy when sailing into the wind. But this wind behind…….whow.
It’s mostly sailing boats you see here along the coast, most motor boats missing a kind of keel are lost in wind forces higher that 4/5.
You see here many smaller and bigger ribs( ridged rubber boats with steering wheel), small motor boats for fishing.
In the weekend with little wind the families and friends go out together, on anchor in a nice spot, tie up several small boats together as a pleasure island and have lovely picnics, sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling fun.
But the weather is far not as regular in the summer as in Spain.
The first week for anchor, we started dragging a few times due to sea weed. We had a standard type of anchor and anchoring in seaweed means not a good holding , the anchor often doesn’t reach and bite the sand underneath. So with strong winds……off you go dragging. And we do have an anchor alarm but anyhow you sleep with one eye open. So we decided to have a better anchor which has the name to bite mostly in one time. We ordered a galvanised one and the anchor came…and it was a stainless steel one!!!! Little mistake of the packing department of the factory, so lucky for us, and we have now a super anchor, mister Silver. But it surprises us that many boat have a light/or standard anchor and don’t see it as a safety feature.
And we have seen many boats dragging and re-anchoring again and again, so investing in a good safe anchor is apparently no issue. That is often quite a risk, when you are anchored together with other boats in a bay at night and one of them starts dragging, and they don’t notice it……….So we tied all our fenders along the toe rail, so if anyone bumps in, it will be a bit softer.
But now anchoring is most of time done in one go. But rocks….than you never know if you are holding well, if there is wind, the boat will swing around and the anchor can get loose. And that happened to us at 4 in the morning in a rocky bay in North Sardinia. Dangerous all those rocks under water, invisible. We were up and running in 3 minutes. And it’s very handy to check you course to steer out of de bay, in daylight, because at night, no moon, than the world is pitch black and you just have to trust your course to steer, the gps is down in the boat, you can’t leave the steering wheel, so the compass is than your best friend. We get more and more experienced!!!
Funny is that we often like places, not listed as super beautiful. Everybody is ooooh and aaaaah about well know tourist resorts listed as beautiful, like the islands in the north of Sardinia. We saw a quite hostile rocky granite coast, we didn’t like the atmosphere, and so easy to overlook a small rock…..We haven’t sailed around the north corner to the east coast, is nice over there, but not more beautiful than many other places we have been. And the north-east coast is the nautical nest of the jet set, pop stars, presidents and more of such, and you can’t buy a payable pizza.
So we headed west again, to Asinara, a sailing and anchor paradise. And on Sunday crowds of water loving Italians around you.
From there to Porto Conte, a super bay like a huge natural harbour, good anchoring, quiet.
And close was Alghero, a lovely little town, but we look for other things than the standard tourist. We are not on holiday, we need shopping, have to have the laundry done, etc. So we look for things as supermarkets, laundrettes, chandleries, hardware stores, bus stations .
We are living on a small space like the boat makes that you have to be more neat, more often doing your household.
Our choice of the amount of solar panels to keep the batteries topped up, was a good one. No problems now to keep all kinds of things going.
We are really starting to develop a good life rhythm together, we get on very well, but when we have been a week together on the boat for anchor, well….than we have seen for that moment enough of each other. Than a berth in a harbour for 1 or 2 nights is a good solution, to charge us, the batteries, electric, water, get food and so on.
We are now in Calasetta, in the south-west of Sardinia, on the island of Sant’Antioco. Like Asinara in the north a sailing paradise.
We have learned to be creative in the high season: is the bay when you want to drop anchor full with day sailing playfull Italians, than just go our again till around 20.00 hours, come back and most of them are gone home.
We had a reservation for a winter berth in a safe marina in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Bagi has to stay somewhere, and as long as it payable. And when the harbour and the village or town is a nice place too, that is a bonus.
Our visit to the marina to confirm the berth, worked out different. Information on internet and the pilot book doesn’t give you the reality of the atmosphere around the marina and in town.
Cagliari has a beautiful old town, but the marina was quite far away from the centre, in a bit tatty neglected harbour area, no people living there, no shops . A bit a dead area, the marina and it’s people very ok but………….no, not our choice, so………
We can stay in Calasetta which is a pleasant place, few supermarkets, library(hopefully Italian class), restaurants, ferries and busses to Sant’ Antioco and on , nice people, the marina very payable .
And from here we can sail during daytime whenever the weather lets us. And that can be everything, from high winds and a lot of swell till flat calm. But the wintertime is not suitable for anchoring overnight, the weather too unreliable. And the mariners know their harbour and the winds….after entering the harbour you have to turn the boat and go backwards in your berth, but just than the wind can catch you, pushed on to other boats. But the mariners know, they have 2 very speedy rib rubber boats, they race towards you and push you in the good direction with their boats against your bow. Very very skilled. It is really a show to see all the sail and motor boats come back in the evening with high winds, being blown off and pushed back, nice way to learn.
This year is a test year for us if our budget is enough so survive the high season harbour prices, and it seems to work. We are not forced to go for anchor moneywise, what many other have to do. And forced to be for anchor is like sailing against the clock, don’t, sooner or later it will bring you in unpredictable risky situations.
And pottering around we discover that our sailing wishes are alike our travel wishes: we don’t like to go every few days or weeks to go on, settle nowhere, very restless. So this winter Calasetta marina has a berth for us till the end of may 2012 but we don’t know if we leave earlier.
We have discovered that renting a berth for 6-12 months is substantial cheaper that renting only a few months and relaying on –sometimes expensive-marinas on a daily basis. Therefore we hope to get a berth for 12 months in Malta next year.
So the plan for next year is: cross over to Tunesia, along the coast, cross over to Malta. And with south Scilly, Tunesia, Malta and Gozo we should have more than enough sailing grounds for a year.
And this winter we will try to discover Sardinia a bit by land. And you can do that with the bus. Travelling by bus is a joke, bus tickets you have to buy in a tabacos or a local bar close to the bus stop. But…..many smaller villages have no bus ticket sale at all. Ask the bus driver…..they have tickets but have to write them by hand, so…..no tickets, too much asked. And than there are 2 possibilities: free ride, what happens often, or underway the bus stops at a local bar, the driver sends you out to buy tickets and points out where he is going to, to have a cigarette break and you can catch up…….creative…..but apparently the boss had ordered to write tickets in august, too many passengers would have a free ride. But sure, in September the free rides are on again.
The 8 th of November we fly to Madrid, and pick up Barry’s landrover and bring it with a loop around Holland to his daughter George. We have 2 cars now, too much, so she gets one, a good solution.
And then back to Spain, visit friends, find Mingrano back in the high weeds around, enjoy Spain and disappear again in springtime.
So this is a bit about our life as live aboards.