Well, it was predicted by every single weather site we looked at, and they weren’t joking …… Northern Sardinia got hit by the full force of a deep low pressure system which lingered for far too long. Whilst the Straits of Bonifacio are well known for the westerlies which funnel between Corsica and Sardinia, according to the locals this was an unusually prolonged period of ridiculously high winds. Force 6-7s are fairly common, but they usually blow out in a day or so. We got stuck for 4 days, with force 8-9s howling!
The week started well, with a lovely sail in light winds from Santa Teresa Gallura through the Maddelana Archipeligo. A lunch stop anchored in a stunning bay with the most amazing blue sea, a bit of snorkelling and feeding the fish (with bread that is!), followed by a leisurely sail into the port of La Maddelena. We planned to stay here for a couple of nights and spend some more time exploring the beauty of the Maddalena Islands, but then the weather arrived!
Quartette moored in La Maddalena marina
Groundhog Day – Quartette attempted to leave La Maddalena on 2 separate days, and both times returned to the marina within an hour. On the first occasion, after a full day in port, we were planning to make the 2 mile crossing to Palau just for a change of scenery, but the marina was full – Steve and Debbie went back on the ferry for a look around and noticed a couple of yachts trying out their storm jibs in the relative shelter of Palau harbour.
Challenging conditions for yachts ... and cars!
On the second occasion, 2 days later, we were trying to get ahead of the weather and move to Porto Cervo, only 10 miles downwind. However, a series of omens were against us and we turned back after we lost GPS in high winds. The boys don’t yet realise just how lucky we were to have not made it. Aside from the eye-watering marina fees, I suspect that they would have felt slightly underdressed (although Chris had brought a posh shirt on the trip) and credit cards would have taken a battering. Debbie on the other hand, was fully expecting to stop off there and was prepared in the wardrobe stakes, and her credit card is pretty resilient after many years of abuse.
So, we stayed put in Maddalena and rode out the worst of the weather. Even in the relative shelter of the marina, winds were gusting in excess of 40 knots, but we only managed to catch a photo of the instruments showing 32.5.
Force 7 in the marina
The Aussie family on the next boat found our attempts to leave La Maddalena hilarious – nicknaming us ‘The Boomerang Poms’, as we just kept coming back. With winds finally forecast to be easing on Friday morning, we planned an early start to get to the handover port before everything picked up again at lunchtime. So, on Thursday evening we bid farewell to our neighbours, telling Morgan (aged 8) that we wouldn’t see her the following day as we were planning to leave at 6am. She replied “that’s OK, you will be back half an hour later” – from the mouths of babes….
With a 5am wake up call, and setting off as the sun rose, we finally made good our escape and had lovely day of sailing – 38 miles around the famous Costa Smerelda, playground of billionaires and oligarchs, past a few gin palaces the size of an Isle of Wight ferry and villas that make Sandbanks prices appear reasonable.
And suddenly, after being stuck in port for several days, all the yachts came out to play. The wind was a tad fickle, but anything below 40 knots was a welcome relief. Rounding Tavalora Island we suddenly got a 90 degree wind shift, but a quick adjustment of the sails took us nicely into the lovely marina of Puntaldia in plenty of time for the arrival of John Shield and his crew.
One of the many bays we were unable to visit by boat - but we got there by bus and scooter
Sardinia is an absolutely gorgeous part of the world, and it’s a shame we didn’t see it at it’s best or have more opportunity to sail around, but we did:
- · Explore the islands of Maddalena and Caprera from the land instead of sea
- · Get first hand experience of the Maddalena public transport system
- · Ride around on scooters (pretty challenging in a Force 8!)
- · Witness flying portaloos and inflatable crocodiles
- · Develop a novel way of repairing a dinghy, with Steve standing on a bread board whilst reading his Kindle
- · Learn about Garabaldi (not the biscuit), who spent the last years of his life on Caprera
- · Dine incredibly well and drink some great wines.
- · Get the opportunity to watch the comedy 7-1 thrashing of Brazil by the Germans in a nice bar.
Week 10 crew relax having made it to Marina di Puntaldia unscathed and on time