After a couple of days of maintenance and rest, we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon’s sailing while the wind lasted, and when it gave up for the evening, we tucked into a very pretty anchorage off Nora, Sardinia’s famous Roman city. The following morning we visited the site, beautifully preserved and a fascinating insight into the lives of this ancient civilisation. We walked into Pula for a supermarket shop, and on the way back made the mistake of trying to pick prickly pears growing wild on the roadside. A very kind local man stopped his car when he saw our discomfort, and managed not to laugh at our foolishness as he tried to mime and explain in impossibly rapid Italian, or possibly Sardinian dialect, that we should have put thick gloves on first. We were still finding painful spines days later. As we returned to the beach and our dinghy, a wedding was in progress on the sand – very romantic in the sunset.
On Sunday 20 September we returned once again to Marina Piccola with a pleasant afternoon’s sailing, and the following day took our bikes ashore, to cycle a round trip of 30km on some of the worst main road surfaces yet encountered, to fill one of our 20-litre (10kg) gas bottles and check out the ‘local’ Carrefour. We made this trip twice in a matter of days, the best bits being the ride along the 7km of beach, on designated and smooth cycle tracks, and through the protected reed-fringed wetlands of the Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius towards Quartu Sant’Elena. These freshwater and brackish pools attract nesting, migrant and wintering birds in their thousands. We were lucky to spot flamingos, little egrets and marsh harriers, but the sandwich terns, black-winged stilts and purple herons proved elusive. A dolphin visited the anchorage whilst we were there.
Finally on Thursday 24th we made our way into Cagliari marina, mindful of some inclement weather forecast as imminent. This would be the first time we’d have to pay for berthing since we left Valencia three months ago – a boost to our budget in the interim. We chose Marina del Sole and were welcomed by a friendly and helpful marinero, which made up somewhat for the curiously unsophisticated facilities at this city port marina. On our first morning we suffered a rude awakening from a German yacht arriving alongside our berth in strong winds, and later on our other side an Italian school boat returned to his berth without heed of the unsociable hour.
Two days later we suffered another rude awakening as the German boat attempted to leave, snagging across our bow lines in a difficult crosswind. After a lot of failed manoeuvring, the marina staff resorted to cutting our upwind lazy line to free them, having first roped us to the upwind yacht. Unfortunately, Skipper hurt his back trying to help.
Altogether we spent nine nights in the marina, and made the most of easy access to land to enjoy a variety of walks, explore the attractive old city, indulge in some delicious meals out, visit the fascinating museum Museo Archaelogico Nazionale with artefacts and information illustrating the ancient Nuraghic civilisation unique to Sardinia, and get haircuts. In between, we made new friends of a British couple who live in the French Alps and sail an Italian-named yacht, caught up with some routine chores and tackled some more tasks on the maintenance list. We saw more dolphins in and around this marina than anywhere out in the open sea during the whole season – an indication of where they’re finding food, perhaps, or that they’re becoming bolder nearer land as a result of fewer boat movements?