Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sept. 17, 2012 From Menorca to Sardinia

Start of the passage to Sardinia - little wind, 2 meter swells

The gale at Mahon finally subsided. Forecast called for diminishing wind and seas the next day, and we timed our 200 nautical miles passage to Sardinia to make use of the still-fresh northerlies. On the day of our planned departure, it was still very windy during the morning and the afternoon, and from our boat we could still see large breaking waves crashing onto the shore in the distance. But by late afternoon the wind was beginning to settle, so we pulled our anchor and the long chain, all nicely buried in sand and mud, and waved goodbye to our friends who were still in the anchorage. We departed in the company of another boat which is also heading to Sardinia, Maximilian, a Moody 47. The white caps of wind-driven waves were gone, but the sea was still heavy with one to two meter swells. But the promised wind was nowhere to be found – in fact it kept dying! So we were left wallowing in the rolly sea, and after a while we had to turn on our engine to make headway through the night.

The next day we had light winds behind us, and we were finally able to sail, on a fairly smooth sea. It was a beautiful day, a cloudless sky reflecting off the endless expanse of deep blue sea. Our friends on the other boat saw a family of whales, but we had no such luck. Night came, a moonless night with a velvet sky completely filled with stars. The Milky Way was truly like a bridge of sparkling diamonds, stretching across the whole sky.
On the third day, after 40 hours sailing/motoring out from Mahon, we reached an island the south-western tip of Sardinia, and pulled into Marina Sifredi in the town of Carloforte. And the first comment we heard from a sailing yacht next to us was, you have a nice strong boat there. After going through rough seas and holding off some force 10 gales, we all came to appreciate having a nice strong boat!

The streets of Carloforte

Carloforte, the only town on the island of Isola di San Pietro, was founded in 1738 by a colony of Ligurian Fishermen from Tabarca (Tunisia).  The Ligurian origins of the country are still evident today in the traditions and architecture of the old town. From the marina, we were only steps away from the lively main square, Piazza Carlo Emanuele, where the streets are lined with palm tress. Narrow roads and alleys led to well-kept houses painted in pastel colors. Walking along the waterfront to the south, there’s a lagoon which is the occasional home for some pink flamingos, though we did not see any.

Having a delicious Sardinian meal with friends

We met up with some interesting cruising couples, and had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant serving local dishes of cheese and mushroom, antipasti of sword fish and tuna, followed by two versions of pasta with tuna (this is still a tuna-fishing town), grilled prawns and squids, fried sword fish, and finally finished with refreshing lime sherbet (spiked). Life is good!

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