September in Sardinia Part I

Part I – Stretching our Sea Legs, and Quarantine

On Wednesday 2 September we upped anchor and were away for Sardinia by 0915.  Within the hour we’d threaded our way down-channel and back out to sea, where we set the first reef in the mainsail and accessorised with the staysail, in a keen NNE F4.  The wind remained lively and gusting to F5 through the morning, but mid-afternoon it eased quite suddenly as it swung to the North, although the sea was still rolling.

As the evening wore on towards a red moon and red sunset, the wind continued to back and reduce to NNW F2-3, and by dawn the following morning the log reads “wild ride”, as we were back to NW F4-5.  At noon on 3rd, Mate changed the courtesy flag from Spain to Italy, none too soon as the former was looking very windworn and bedraggled. We had just under 100M left to sail to the waypoint off Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia at her Southwestern tip.  During this stretch we were happy to accommodate a tiny tired bird in need of shelter and rest.

Sunrise over Sardinia’s SW coast, 0500

Although the wind remained in the North, it was now right down to anywhere between F1 and F3, and a little help was required from Trevver here and there.  By evening the sea state was a comfortable ‘slight’ and the wind a steady F4, although it dropped completely during the second night at sea, and by the early hours of Friday morning, 4th September, we were motoring again.  By 0800, however, we were back to full main and genoa, enjoying close-hauled sailing along spectacularly mountainous coast.

Spectacular Southern Coastline

During the afternoon we motor-sailed as we checked out a possible anchorage, Mate still loving being at sea after 51 hours.  It was deemed too rocky on the seabed so we carried on into Cagliari Bay and settled just South of Cagliari harbour, behind Capo Sant’Elia, completing 273 Miles in just over 58 hours, a respectable average speed of 4.7 knots.

This was a passage of Firsts: in 39 years of sailing, it was the first time Skipper was seasick while Mate was fine; we reached a point furthest yet from any land: 100M from anywhere, with the closest 3km – straight down!

It proved not to be the most comfortable anchorage, and the following morning our first encounter with the islanders was the local police, one of whom fortunately spoke English and was able to explain to us that we’d anchored too close to the rocky shore – in fact we’d swung a little in the night and stretched out our anchor chain.  We were happy to note the courteous advice for future reference, and soon made our way into the harbour, to make arrangements for our entry paperwork and to meet Covid-19 regulations.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing it was established that a local agent would contact us to let us know how and where we should obtain the required tests, and we rounded the headland to the South, the Sella del Diavola (Devil’s Saddle) to find shelter off the Marina Piccola del Poeto.  We later discovered this was the ‘city beach’: “the hub of summer life with its limpid blue waters and upbeat party scene.”  Admittedly it was towards the end of the season, and there was some activity from the early morning aquarobics classes off the beach and the local sailing school, but the party scene was (thankfully) distinctly lacking…except on Sunday evening, when the Coastguard helicopter and then officious grey high-speed vessel came to a yacht nearby that was hosting an apparently Brazilian-themed bash for the pretty young things – with no evidence of adherence to coronavirus masks, social distancing or limits on numbers congregating, never mind shattering the erstwhile peace of a Sunday evening.

Sunset at Poetta Beach, 1800 hours

On Monday morning we moved back closer to the marina to take the dinghy ashore and hail a taxi to take us to the local hospital for our swab test.  Technically, by this point we were in quarantine until the test came back negative, but we were able to make a quick trolley dash for a few supplies from the small supermarket opposite the hospital, to make the most of our expensive taxi ride.  Needless to say, even this became a small adventure, as Skipper managed to leave his treasured Tilley hat in the store, and had to make a return trip to retrieve it – successfully.

On Tuesday 8 September we were approached by a Guardia Fiscal vessel, who reached across a fishing-style keep net to collect all our boat papers and passports for inspection.  Much to Mate’s consternation, they moved off without returning them, but checked in a few other boats nearby and eventually delivered the plastic wallet back safely.