Sardinia Channel, November 2008

N 40° 59' E 08° 13'

Dodging the donkey

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.

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