Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sardinia to West Coast Sicily

Limestone Cliffs, East coast Sardinia The Urchins of Gnone
Site visit gets approval
Off they go to the next victim
35 knots, East coast Sardinia
Sunset on our way to Sicily
Trapani, with Erice above
Hi from Clare, Sardinia to West Coast, Saturday 18th September 2010 We escaped the busy town of Olbia late Saturday afternoon and traveled a few miles south to the lovely pristine and peaceful bay of Brandinghi. This is the first bay we stayed in when we arrived in Sardinia in late June. We have been back to the bay a few times to enjoy its charm. It is a very pretty and peaceful spot but this would be our last opportunity before we left. Our mission now was to move down the east coast of Sardinia exploring new territory. BUT WHERE DO YOU GO? There are very few bays for overnight stops on the east coast. The coastline consists of miles of sandy beaches or steep cliffs (Photo1). We stopped at the town of Cala Gonone about one third of the way down the island. The harbour was packed but after trying to settle outside in a rolling sea, we re entered the harbour determined to find a spot for the night. There were two large fishing boats on one wharf and so we planned to tie up alongside. We considered that if we had to wake up at 2am so they could go fishing that was still a better option than anchoring outside and getting no sleep at all. THE URCHINS OF GONONE A number of local kids, who we affectionately named ‘The Urchins of Gonone’ helped us tie up against the fishing boat (Photo 2). We gave them 5 Euros for their trouble and they asked if they could clamour aboard and have a look at our boat (Photo 3). They could barely speak English but somehow we managed to communicate and have some fun with them. However our association with ‘The Urchins of Gonone‘didn’t last long as the Coast Guard came along. With his hands clasped together in prayer position he told us “it was impossible for you to stay here”. However for a much greater fee we would be allowed to stay on the fuel wharf overnight. The financially better off ‘Urchins of Gonone’ then befriended the Coast Guard and got a lift across the harbour (Photo 4). They were never seen again! YOU CAN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ The following morning after a good night’s sleep we continued sailing down the coast and anchored overnight in the small bay of Porto Frailis. This is half way down the coast and just south of the town of Arbatax. The Cruising Guide canned this bay saying it was anything but peaceful. They mentioned loud music from the nearby vast holiday village, jet skies and pedalos churning the water and strong katabatic wind off the land at night. Not surprising there was only us and two other yachts in the bay. The wind was gathering outside but we spent a very peaceful night in flat calm conditions and with no noise whatsoever. IT’S NOT ALL FUN Wednesday we sailed 55 miles to the south end of Sardinia. We had the jib poled out and with a maximum wind speed of 35 knots we averaged 6.2 knots for the trip with a maximum boat speed of 8.2 knots (Photo 5). The sea condition was lumpy and we had large rollers behind us. At one stage we dropped the mainsail when a rain squall can came through. So as you can imagine we were very glad when we arrived at Baia Carbonara on the southern end of the island. A CLOSE SHAVE Our Cruising Guide recommended where to anchor as the area is a nature reserve. It advised that mooring buoys were planned and should be used in preference to anchoring. Well, there were no mooring buoys but there were a couple of local boats anchored in sand off the beach. We asked one of them if it was OK to anchor overnight and he said “Usually no but now yes”. We gathered that he was referring to the lack of people on the beach due to the lateness in the season. However no sooner had we anchored, the Guardia Costiera motored over from the marina with his blue light flashing. Much to our surprise he booked the two local boats and sent them on their way, but didn’t come near us. He then parked a few hundred metres away. That was enough for Andrew, he was feeling very uneasy. So we took our anchor up and moved out of the bay and went up around the corner. We passed a Marine Parks boat coming from the opposite direction and then the penny dropped. Once before in Italy we were booked for dropping an anchor in the wrong place. On that occasion firstly the Marine Parks boat gave us a leaflet informing us that we couldn’t anchor there and then immediately the Guardia Costiera booked us $200. We think on this occasion the Guardia Costiera was parked a few hundred meters away waiting for the Marine Parks boat to arrive and give us the leaflet. Fortunately we escaped in time – just a bit too close for comfort. WEST COAST OF SICILY The following morning we took off for Sicily. There was absolutely no wind and so we motored the 150 miles (Photo 6). We would much prefer to sail but we knew we had a one day window of opportunity before a strong southerly wind would blow for a few days. So now we are settled safely in the harbour at Trapani on the N/W corner of Sicily (Photo 7). It has indeed been very windy for the past two days, but it is dropping down now. We have made friends with an English couple Sarah and Chris on a new Lagoon 420 catamaran, Tulu. They left England a few weeks ago to start their full time cruising adventure. Andrew is over there now helping Chris with his radio. We have had drinks with them the last two evenings and we are planning dinner out tonight. Trapani looks very interesting and Sarah lent be a tourist information book about the town. There is both a new and old section of town with many lovely buildings, churches and museums. There is also the ancient town of Erice which dates back to 5th century BC. This is located behind Trapani on top of a mountain 750 metres above sea level. We plan to go up there by bus and return by cable car. All we need is for the wind to drop, but it is looking promising. Love Candy