Sailing from Sardinia to the Balearic Islands

Sailing route from Sardinia to Spain

Sailing route from Sardinia to Spain

Cagliari has a busy port, it even has a traffic separation scheme extending two miles from the breakwater. The massive refinery at Sarroch on the western side of the bay adds to the chaos as gargantuan tankers ply the waters of the shallow bay. All of which calls for some intrepid watch keeping while underway, especially at night. With this in mind and a distance of at least 280NM to cover to reach Menorca I decided it would be preferable to sail in company. Time to call upon my strategic reserve of unseasoned yet fearless crew (cue Gianluca).

We flew into Cagliari on the 27th of October, caught the regular bus service into town, and immediately set about preparing for departure. After gathering a few provisions (mainly fresh bread, water and take away pizza) and carrying out the mandatory Internet cafe weather check, we walked the remaining 2km to S. Elmo marina, arriving at dusk.

I like Cagliari. I can see why many cruisers chose to winter here, and I regret not taking more time to appreciate the city and its people. My schedule was to blame… With the window for Atlantic crossings approaching fast, I wanted to get a move on, so as to reach an appropriate jump-off point before the season for southerly storms.

After filling my fuel reserves (6×10 liter plastic jerry cans stored in the rear compartment with the main fuel tank), at the nearby service station, Eileen of Avoca was ready and we leisurely motored into the night on a smooth sea.

Cala Garibaldi to Porto Rotondo

Cala di Volpe

Cala di Volpe

I rounded Punta Galera, the northern tip of Isola Caprera at 10:20. Turning southeast, I kept Isolotti Monaci and the Secca delle Bisce shoals to port adjusting my heading to almost due south after passing the east cardinal marker at Secche del Cervo.
A regatta was underway several miles east of Porto Cervo but I kept close to the coastline to admire the extraordinary villas dotting the rocky shoreline. The remainder of the trip to Porto Rotondo was uneventful, I spotted a couple of dolphins in the distance, anchored briefly by a small beach just east of Cala di Volpe for a quick swim, and leisurely made my way to the marina, arriving just after 5pm.

The Costa Smeralda, developed by a consortium led by the Aga Khan in the 60s is evidently still a playground for the rich and famous, but by October only a few travel hardy German tourists remain. The good life in these parts is scheduled for July and August where prices soar. In high season expect to pay 60 to 70 Euro a night for your 6m boat. In October however, the marina fees are a bargain at 2 Euro and 28 cents a night.


Bonifacio to Isola Caprera

Sunshine and gentle winds from the NE provided me with a beautiful day to sail through the Maddalena group of islands, where I planned to find a sheltered anchorage for the night.

I amused myself by occasionally letting go of the tiller (simulating falling overboard) and studying how the boat behaved when left to its own devices under different sail plans and trim. My conclusion is that no matter what you do with the trim, a Yarmouth 23 will keep on sailing with or without someone at the tiller. I’d been hoping that she would luff up and stay put like Robert Manry’s Tinkerbelle as recounted in his Atlantic crossing. A link to this book is provided in the Links section of the main site.

Isola Caprera

Cala Garibaldi

Unfortunately, even when hove to, Eileen of Avoca sets a brisk pace. All the more reason to always use my safety harness when single-handed.

A tranquil evening was spent in Cala Garibaldi between La Maddalena and Isola Caprera in an anchorage by a disused resort. Numerous submerged rocks would make passage here risky in anything but ideal conditions.