Alone Like a Rolling Stone

From Olbia to Alghero

A strong wind of 20 knots, in the gust up to 30 knots blew towards us. I tried to manoeuvre us between the island of Sardinia and an offshore cliff, after we had abandoned our plan to reach La Maddalenas today. 

Storm ride

It was actually only about finding a reasonably safe bay. Two miles ahead of us was Porto Paglia, a bay that was supposed to protect us from the sudden northeast wind. The fact that the wind, especially in its force, was not predicted could be seen in the many ships that wanted to call at their home port or a safe bay as soon as possible. So there was a lot going on on the water and the spray that the wind blew away from the whitecaps of the waves stung like the tips of needles in the face. I closed my eyes and searched the horizon for the bay. Two catamarans came from starboard, anyway, I have to go through them now. I increased the speed of the engine and gave a little more thrust. Just before we reached anchor the water became calmer, we had reached the lee side. There were already some yachts lying here and it was hard to find a place. We used a small gap and dropped the anchor into the sand at 7m. Because of the strong gusts it jerked in immediately and we gave as much chain as possible. Nervously I watched the plotter to see if we would actually stop. I had the feeling that the chain was coming out of the water horizontally, but the anchor held and the tension was released very slowly. I checked the weather forecast again to see if I had missed anything, but there was still talk of 5 knots northwest, just like four hours ago when we left Olbia. The next morning the sea was flat as a pond and we continued our journey. To starboard the beautiful archipelago La Maddalena, to port Sardinia's north. On one side wild romantic bays and on the other side villas with beautiful gardens and an access over the rock to the sea. At the northern end we turned into the Strait of Bonifacios, the strait between Corsica and Sardinia, the northeast wind had us again. The wave got higher and the wind increased to 20 knots again. But this time we had it from aft and so Katinka picked up speed. In the afternoon we reached our intermediate destination Isola Rossa on the way to the National Park dell'Asinara, in the northwest of Sardinia. On the north coast it is not easy to find a bay that protects from northeast winds. Here in Isola Rossa there is a marina whose pier protects the bay very well. As far as we could, we hid in a corner and had a quiet night with two other anchor ships. 

Isola Rossa

The sunset was once again gigantic and we drew new strength and reached our destination the next day with a light breeze, the island Isola Piana. Strictly speaking, the island does not belong to the national park anymore, the more the anchor field is fantastic. Three to five metres of water under the keel and snow-white sand. The water is turquoise and crystal clear. With a water temperature of 25°C it is even easy for me to jump into the water. Without further ado we extended our stay by one day, although our energy balance caused us some problems. Since our solar panels are no longer available, our engine has to fill up what the wind generator can't. This is extremely annoying and we hope that the replacement panels will reach us in Alghero as planned. So our engine goes on ticking by the hour to push the amperes we use back into the battery. So the skipper has to do without an ice-cold beer and drink a lukewarm pint. You see it is not always easy in life, but we make the best out of it.

Anchorage Isola Piana, Sardinia

After two days of splashing around in the pool in front of our door, and with 25°C water temperature a beer doesn't get cold anymore, we continued our way towards Alghero. Near Alghero there is a base of our club Trans-Ocean, which we wanted to visit. Unfortunately our base manager is not in very good health, so we had to do without a personal meeting. We wish him all the best. Nevertheless it was important for us to have a postal address to send the solar panels on their journey. We booked a week in the Marina Porto Conte for 630€, whereby we still had to act here, since neither the price of Navily was right, nor a Trans-Ocean discount was granted. We only hope that the marina will get some of the billions of Euros from the EU-pot to renovate the facilities. Perhaps then also sometime the price is justified. Of course we make the best out of it, even if there are always obstacles. I had presented my papers as usual in the naval office and we were just about to free our Katinka from a one centimetre thick salt crust when the marinero called me at the jetty. As we know the bureaucracy here in Italy by now, I did not suspect anything good and went, with a somewhat queasy feeling, back to the office. The secretary stammered excitedly from official papers confirming the entry to Sardinia. I asked her which papers they were and as a precaution I put on my puppy eyes again to calm her down a bit. The patron, who was sitting outside the office in the open air to not have to wear a mask, kept shouting something to her and she translated it into English for me. I explained to her that we had spent the lockdown in Fiumicino and after the loosening we sailed from there via Sicily to Sardinia. I went on to say that nobody had asked for such a document before, but if she could tell me what document she needed and where I could get it, I would of course be willing to get it. She calmed down and apologized for the inconvenience, I had won. After a few phone calls she picked up a form from the printer that I had to fill out and she gave me a homepage where I had to register. Both was done in five minutes, but the whole process took over an hour. Bella Italia.

Marina Porto Conte

Now we have officially entered Sardinia and if everything works out we will leave Italy at the end of next week, but we will tell you about that and what we will do next week in the next blog. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.