Market in Carloforte
After a good night's sleep after the crossing from Mallorca, the first mission of the day was to find an internet SIM which meant a trip to Carloforte. We got told off for using our outboard to dinghy ashore, apparently a rule in Italy is that engines can't be used 200m off the beach, so the first and last 200m we had to row, which wasn't easy with three of us in there. A path runs from a corner of the beach up to the road but the walk along the busy road wasn't so nice - mostly considerate drivers but it was the occasional idiot we were worried about such as a car overtaking at speed even though the other car was indicating to turn left (they drive on the right here). Not long after a bus came along and for €2.20 each way we were in the town which took about 20 minutes. We arrived at the same time as a ferry was unloading and it was an organised chaos of traffic, people and a police man blowing his whistle to try and control it all.
Lining the waterfront were many cafes, running off the front were narrow lanes full of people, shops and more cafes. We found a wifi shop (the shop seemed to be an emporium of many random things) and after going to get our passports photocopied we were sorted out with 12Gb for €19 a month, plus an initial €16 for the SIM. That should see us good for Ragusa too and allow a few tv program downloads a month.
We had some time before the return bus to sample a coffee and pastry; my savoury one with a tomato filling was lovely. A small grocery shop was just around the corner with prices much higher than in Spain but then we are on an island off another island. They didn't have any fresh bread but they did have an impressive selection of pasta of differing shapes and sizes.
We returned to Carloforte the next day to get some more shopping but it turned out to be a bank holiday and the supermarket's doors were closing just as we arrived. We had a wander around the streets this time.
I liked Carloforte with its bustling cafe culture waterfront and narrow, windy streets that led up and back from the front. Everyone seemed happy and it had a normal feel to it rather than somewhere trying to be touristy.
The north wind of the mistral continued blowing for days, each day the anchorage would start to fill up from late morning, then empty in the evening leaving only 10 or so to stay overnight. Whilst we were there it was the weekend and the holiday day and the bay got busy but still with plenty of room. The local boats seemed to enjoy rafting up alongside each other at anchor - a 6 yacht raft was quite impressive.
A sleek Wally motorboat has been here most days, not being a stinkpot fan myself, I have to admit that the Wally does look very classy, something James Bond wouldn't be out of place on.
The beach during the day was rammed, with umbrellas of many colours lining the shore. There was a beach cafe but their prices were a bit pricey (€4 for a glass of wine!), up at the road by the car park was another bar; we didn't go there but our friends did and they found the prices much more reasonable.
The only downside to the island is that there were private property signs everywhere so trying to go for a walk was frustrating. Gilly and Duncan had found a pool of flamingoes behind the anchorage which we went for a look at but we realised we had been walking on a private drive. When I finally persuaded Colin to leave the boat after nearly a week of being aboard we clambered along the rocks of the coastline from where we were anchored along to the next bay south and from there found a paved path to take us to some rock formations at Punta della Colonne.
There are many information boards about the rock formations on the island
On Monday we had a change of scenery over in Calasetta with strong easterlies forecast - they never did get very strong. There might be a parting of boats now with Riverdancer heading on to Greece, so we had a pizza ashore to say farewell. It was a huge, thin crust pizza and so nice washed down with the local beer, Ignusa, and garaffes of wine.
Whilst in Calasetta myself, Colin and Pat went for a walk. I spotted a cactus full of ripe prickly pears and remembered Jana from Scrabbler telling us you can eat them. So myself and Pat started to attempt to break one off, avoiding the big spikes. Pat freed one and started peeling it, took a bite then passed it to me. We then realised that there weren't just the big spikes but hundreds of tiny, almost invisible prickles that were now covering our hands. Poor Pat even had some in her lip! Somehow the prickles managed to spread themselves all over the place and only a swim helped get rid of them, although I kept finding them in my fingers hours later. Clearly we didn't follow Baloo of the Jungle Book's advice - we should have used a claw or maybe better still buy them de-prickled from the market!
We're now back anchored off Isola di Sant Pietro in what I've named Cormorant Cove as it doesn't have a name on the chart. The holding is very good in sand and it's well protected from the north winds. The water here is very clear but noticably cooler than the Balearics. With the wind blowing the air temperature is more pleasant too, we've even had to put a blanket back on the bed.