Completing the loop Sardenia back to Rome

170826 5a Out for a dinghy ride around Capo Coda Cavallo

18th August - 31st August 

Every year that we have had Darb and Nell onboard the boat (with the exception of the Caribbean) we have generally sailed a lot of miles together and often in very cold conditions. What a change for this season. Sweltering hot when they arrived into Cagliari from Australia and a total distance over the two weeks from Sardenia to Rome of around only 300 nautical miles. Anyone could be excused for thinking we’d actually discovered how to cruise slowly. 

170819 3 View of the harbour from the Elefante tower

Looking out across Cagliari Harbour 

170818 3 Walking the streets of Cagliari with Darb and Nell 170819 5 Lee and Andrew  the Elefante tower170821 2 The sad moment when a cyclist overtook two pandas uphill on dirt

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, does not endear itself to one arriving by boat. From the entrance to the harbour the water suddenly turns a murky brown, no doubt a reflection of its role as one of Italy's largest industrial seaports. But we were pleased to discover just one street back from the port a string of beautiful streets, rising up from the harbour into the old town where high on the hill a great view of Gulf of Cagliari was afforded. Within the walls of the old town we climbed “The Elephant Tower” one of two remaining white lime towers built in the 13th century that guarded the entrance gates to the city and discovered amongst the cobblestone streets some interesting local food produce stores, of which we left laden with local cheese, wine, fruit and vegetables. 

With weather dictating a move around onto the east coast of Sardinia as unadvisable, we tucked up for a couple of days in the small harbour of Villasimius just 15 miles south east of Cagliari. Villasimius connects to the national park of Capo Carbonaro and with its pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear water it is a very popular destination in summer. We hired a small car “Panda” from the marina for a day and drove with little intent around the eastern peninsula. The highlight of the day outside of the spectacular scenery was lunch at “The Pink Lady” and being overtaken by a mountain bike rider, up a hill, on a dirt road whilst being stuck behind another Panda! (bloody tourista!!)

Tucking around the corner a few days later we anchored in the bay of Porto Giunco - it was near on impossible to capture the colour of the water in this area. The clarity and the colour simply breathtaking. Unfortunately the anchorage though beautiful suffered from an unrelenting swell and we were all too happy to move on the following morning.

Anchorage in Bay of Porto Giunco

170824 1 Sailing from Santa Maria Navarrese Grotta Del Colombi170824 14 Grotta Del Fico Sardenia Reflection170824 11 Grotta Del Fico Sardenia

Mid way up the Sardinian east coastline are a series of grottos, naturally formed caves, some only accessible by boat. We chose to call into Grotta Del Fico, anchoring Katherine just past the entrance we took the tender to the “Taxi” dock where Darb, Nell and I were transferred to the “taxi" and transported to the landing steps, meanwhile Andrew headed back to Katherine to be on anchor watch. The cave first discovered by a shepherd, was officially explored in 1957 and discovered to have had at the time a population of Monk Seals. To protect the cave and its seal population the caves were closed for near on 30 years, until early in 2000 when a series of pathways were implemented to protect the natural environment. The caves were officially opened to tourists in 2003 to enjoy the amazing display of natural formations. Unfortunately, the only reminder of the Monk Seals are several wax reproductions as the seal population fell over time foul to mans contact, particularly through fishing. 

Grotta Del Fico was a great choice - all three of us were impressed by the grotto, its pathways, audio guide and lighting. Even more impressive was the surrounding limestone cliffs that we had followed on route to Grotta Del Fico and continued along for several more hours on that day. We could certainly appreciate why this area of Sardinia was so popular and every inch of beach we passed seemed to overflow with umbrellas contesting to its popularity. 

170824 8 Sailing from Santa Maria Navarrese to Grotta Del Fico

Cruising along the east coastline of Sardinia 

170825 2 Ice-cream man delivering Capo Case Cavallo

We hung out on anchor at Capo Casa Cavallo in North Eastern Sardinia for several days just enjoying being on anchor, swimming in the amazing blue water, paddle boarding and awaiting the arrival of the ice-cream man when Nell could get his attention. Pretty simple lifestyle really and very reminiscent of being in the Carribbean.

170827 6a  Cannigione Our local Pontile Destriero Andrew Nell and Darb

Cannigione Boat Harbour 

170827 6  Cannigione Our local Pontile Destriero Andrew Nell and Darb

The final port we chose to call into on the east coast of Sardinia was Cannigione. Described in the pilot book as being “full of life in summer in  an unsophisticated way in comparison to Porto Cervo" it also had the added attraction of only charging 100 euro to be on a mooring, versus 360 euro per night to be on a dock. Canningone turned out in fact to have a lot of charm, very helpful marina staff and a great little bar where we could dock our tender when coming to shore. 

170828 11 Drive day from Cannigione  Nuraghe 14th - 9th century bc settlement

We did another drive day "without intent" around the northern area of the island. The drive day did reinforce that most wineries in Sardinia don’t do wine tastings in late August as they are all out picking their grapes, the drivers are as bad in Sardinia as they are in Italy and truly believe your side of the road is as much theirs. A short walk around Nuraghe, a 14th - 9th century bc settlement once again had us appreciating and pondering the ingenuity of civilisations passed and their ability to build such structurally strong buildings and to move and place stone that even today would challenge mechanical equipment. Of course no drive day would be complete without the tasting of good food and we found that in the understated restaurant of  La Pitraia in the very quiet town of San Antonio Gallura. 

The Nuraghe Ruins....what the.... (5) 14th century BC to 9th entury BC

Definitely a look of bewilderment

170830 1 Sailing Sardenia to Rome Early morning flag change

Before we knew it was time to cross the Tyrrhenian Sea from northern Sardena back to Rome. A very pleasant overnight sail saw us arrive safely into Porto Turistico Marina Rome where we had been in early July.  A great couple of weeks spent in the company of good friends cruising. But now it was time to pack. For all of us. Darb and Nell were continuing on their holiday in Europe whilst we too had bags to pack. 

We  were off to the Red Sea. Going Diving!

(For more photos click here.) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain