The island of Sardinia lies just over 112 miles from the Italian mainland, seven miles from Corsica and 120 miles from North Africa. After Sicily, Sardinia is the largest island in the Mediterranean.
From what we've read a large part of the island is hilly and mountainous and the coastline long and rocky with deep bays, rias and numerous islands off the coast. Apparently there are many historical and archaeological sites to be visited which are scattered throughout the island so there are plenty of things to keep us out of mischief while we're here.
If Porto Conte is anything to go by, our first impression of Sardinia is that we're going to love it here! Cala Tramariglio is a spectacular spot to anchor in with impressive limestone cliffs and caves around and wooded hills in the background. The sea is warm, clear and there are ample fish to observe. The only noticeable noise is the exceptionally loud song of the cicadas' insects. The hotter it is, the noisier they get!
Rather than venture ashore we stayed aboard, just swimming, snorkelling and lazing in the cockpit as we fancied.
Having spent so long in Spain it now feels really strange to be in a new country with a new lingo, new rules, and new regulations - all very exciting. Finding out if the water is potable, where to find gas (we're running on fumes!) and most importantly finding out if we're still connected to the rest of the world via our 3G SIM. So far, we've learnt a few basic words but haven't put them into practice. With any luck the 'Sards' (as they like to be called) will just laugh at our poor attempt and then feel sorry for us!
Interestingly, even though Porto Conte is within a designated marine reserve we are still allowed to anchor. We now know that in some areas there are marine zones A, B and C and depending on the zone certain leisure activities such as navigation, access, mooring, anchoring, scuba diving, swimming, sports fishing and underwater fishing are either permitted or restricted. Zone A is the highest of levels and one that we don't need to concern ourselves with as we can't even navigate into the area! Zone B, allows for anchoring in designated areas, speed limit up to 5 knots, mooring on buoys, swimming, diving (but not in caves), sports fishing (with net and line in limited numbers)... no chance of us breaking this rule given our catch to date! ;-). Porto Conte falls in Zone C where navigation (with or without a motor) is allowed along with speeds up to 10 knots, mooring on specific authorised areas on AMP buoys, anchoring in designated areas, scuba diving, swimming, sports fishing.
Then there's the local weather forecast that now references the 'Douglas sea scale', a scale that measures the height of the waves and also the swell of the sea. Navtex and weatherman (weather receivers) are recommended to be used in conjunction with GRIB files to ascertain local weather. We have both onboard Flirtie but we've recently noticed that they are suffering from slight interference from the wind generator and solar panels - something to be investigated further and a job for the winter list!
Something else new to us is haggling... basically you don't pay the asking price for berthing but haggle instead. Our haggling has afforded us 5-7 nights in 'SER-MAR' marina, one of the many marinas based in Alghero as we need to replace gas, top up fuel, refill water, replenish food stock and clean Flirtie as she is in desperate need of a wash, you should see the size of the salt crystals on her deck - almost large enough to be put into our salt grinder! Then we need to find a laundrette to catch up on 8 weeks of towels, bedding etc plus find time to visit Alghero old town before we head off for another 6-8 weeks around the island. We're really looking forward to being back in a marina albeit for a few days... we're certainly going to be busy!