Position: 39°12’39″N 9°06’50″E
A month ago we crossed from Menorca to Sardinia. A whole month has flown by! If it weren’t for the cooler nights and empty anchorages, we’d swear it is still summer. But the French and German tourists have left and each day we see fewer boats underway. We hung out in the Maddalena Islands, in the Straits of Bonifacio, for two weeks, enjoying their ragged beauty. Each night or so we found a different anchorage. The winds were steady, the seas calm, and the sailing mighty fine. A couple of long hikes on Cabrera were a welcome break – one Marlon heartily approved of.
Early last week we got notice that a serious mistral was heading our way. It was time to move south to Porto Ottiolu. The wind blew steadily at 20-30 knots, with occasional gusts to 45, for three days. Thunderstorms and heavy rain left Aleta cleaner than she’d been in months. She finally shook off the last remnants of the fine, red Cartagena dust that covered her anytime the wind blew there. Which was almost every day, now I think of it.
Sardinia’s east coast is about 150 miles long and fairly blunt. Mountains stretch in rows alongside and up to the water’s edge. Broad bays with long sandy beaches presage a dip in the range and a natural wind funnel. In the waning aftermath of the mistral, winds would pick up from a comfy 12 knots around the headlands, to a sail-shortening 24 knots in a matter of minutes as we crossed a lowland area. Two miles further on we’d let the jib back out and wonder what all the excitement was about. Here and there a cove popped out and, in the right conditions, served as a decent place to spend the night. With so few boats around we snagged all the best spots for ourselves. Away from towns and rivers the water is still, clear, and sumptuous Gulf Stream blue.
Part of our hurry is the onset of winter. Another part is necessitated by changing covid rules. Our original plan was to head to Tunisia for a week or so and take Aleta out of the EU for tax reasons. But Tunisia just had a spike in infections and were requiring covid tests on entry, and in certain areas a mandatory 14-day quarantine was mooted. Italy, meanwhile, said you don’t need a test if you are coming in from Tunisia, but you have to self-quarantine for 14-days. Somehow, that’s deemed preferable to coming in from Spain and having a swab taken and waiting two days for the results (Tunisia is on Italy’s green/grey list, while Spain still on the orange, more restrictive, list). Covid swabs we can handle, but a potential month in lockdowns isn’t attractive.
Because of all the uncertainty we’ve decided to continue east towards our winter berth in Gaeta, stopping in Sicily on the way. Meanwhile, here’s a short video of Sardinia’s east coast that will give you an idea of the kind of privation and stress we’ve dealing with daily ;^)