November 15, 2008
A trip arranged by email to join a skipper with whom we have only conversed via email.
What awaits us in Alghero as our cheap Ryanair flight decends towards Sardinia?
One thing we do know after our last exchange of email is that the yacht didn’t make it back to Alghero after its last trip and is in a Castelsardo marina on the north coast so its going to be a taxi trip across the island to reach her.
Through the airport in fifteen minutes including collecting the bags, grab the first of the many taxis outside. A slight language problem with the driver explaining to him that we want to go to the marina at Castelsardo and not the Hotel La Marina and we are on our way.
November 15, 2008
After a trip across north western Sardinia (the low lying and flatest part of the island) we stop the taxi outside the "Skippers Bar" in Castelsardo marina where we are due to meet our skipper, Tim Carrington.
Tim is a live-aboard sailor who likes to introduce others to sailing and to his favourite area
Recognising him shouldn’t be a problem, as we have seen photos of him on his web-site, www.lets-go-sailing.co.uk and sure enough he sees us arrivie and comes over to introduce himself.
It is then a case of trundling the bags down to the end of one of the pontoons and passing them across on to the the "Lady H", a 36’ GibSea 106.
For this trip there are only going to be Tim, myself and my sister, Pat, so its the luxury of a "double" cabin each.
We could leave this afternoon but Tim reckons that the old town of Castelsardo is well worth a nose around so we decide to wait till the morning.
November 16, 2008
On the Sunday morning we set sail fo Bonifacio on Corsica, a good bit of wind blowing so we started out with a reef in the main.
Within a short while of leaving the marina it was obvious that the sea state was a short and steep, not overly high waves but short and sharp like I would have expected in a wind over tide situation back home.
Pat hasn’t managed to get much sailing in for a few years and was soon effected by her first ever attack of Mal-de-Mare and facing a long slog to windward Tim and I decided to go back to Castelsardo to give her a chance to recover.
The main difference that this made to the plans was that we were in Italy on Sunday afternoon (most shops were closed) instead of being in France where they would have been open.
November 17, 2008
Monday brought a smoother sea but very little wind, so our passage to Bonifacio proved to be more of a motor than a sail.
Bonifacio is a lovely little town to explore, perched behind its walls on top of a prometeryry of over-hanging cliffs.
The harbour is a long narrow inlet behind the prometery which in time erosion might well turn into an island.
Erosion must be a worry for the people of Bonifacio as so much of the old town is now on cliffs where the sea has eroded the base.
November 18, 2008
It is well worth spending some time exploring the old town of Bonifacio.
Getting up from the harbour involves a fairly stiff climp up a pedestrian ramp that show signs of being quite old. Going up it you find it easy to stop to look at things, as you need to get your breath back!
At the top of the ramp you can get a good view of the overhangs on which much of the town is built.
November 18, 2008
Having spent Tuesday morning exploring Bonifacio we set off at lunchtime intentending to visit the Madellena islands.
Wind was relatively good for sailing but then the weather lady on channel 68 (all day weather for Italian waters) started talking about the probability of a Mistral coming in by Friday with a Bf 7/8 from the West or North West.
With this being only a short trip Tim decided that going further east was not a good idea as we needed to get back to the west by the weekend, so we diverted into the marina at St Teresa Gallura.
November 19, 2008
Another day of little wind and over 40 miles to cover to get to Stintino.
Motoring with a little help from the odd breath of wind every now and again.
Plodding along with only a sighting of a few dolphins to break the monotony.
Then the sun started to drop towards the horizon and it was obviously going to be a night arrival in Stintino.
Sunglasses on against the glare and it was a question of whether the low lying penninsular would come over the horizon before the sun hit it.
Coming into the harbour there were a lot of small fishing boats also coming in at the same time, and an interesting job of working out who was going where and where the outer breakwater was against the shore lights.
November 20, 2008
Looking at the chart Sardinia appears at first to have a long promentary at its North East corner. Look a bit closer and the last 10 miles or so is actually the Isola Asinari, or the Island of the Donkeys.
Between Sardinia and Isola Asinari is the Fornelli Passage, an interesting little channel that cuts twenty miles off the passage between Stintino and Alghero.
Getting through simply involves using two sets of leading marks, picking up one set ahead to get through to the centre of the passage and then doing about a 95 degree turn when the second set line up astern of you.
Couple these with a channel that has only three metres of water in places and that is if you keep exactly to the transits, and it can be a daunting trip.
We came through into a fairly smooth sea state west of Sardinia, but imagine what a two metre swell could do to the depth in the passage…
In fact given a benign sea, clear visibility and a bit of research into how to identify the leading marks it is actually a fairly simple bit of pilotage, but that is easy for me to say having had Tim showing us the way through.
Tims old edition of the Italian Water’s Pilot comments on the fact that there are lights on two of the marks but says something like “this passage is terrifying enough in daylight without trying it at night”, the current edition has toned this down a bit but I wouldn’t do it at night in a hurry.
November 20, 2008
As we came down the west coast of Sardinia the cliffs of Capo Caccia got larger and larger. There are two islands off this coast but it is difficult to see where the island ends against the mainland cliffs. It is also difficult to get the scale of thes cliffs until you realise that that little lighthouse on Capo Caccia is 186 metres above sea level…
As we pass close to the cliffs and eventually turn east again we have the wind behind us for the run down to Alghero, but the cliffs cause all sorts of wind eddies and show the value of rigging a gybe preventer.
Tonight the sun sets behind us and its another night approach, with the added problem of finding a sheltered berth with the approaching storm in mind.