|Islands off Costa Smeralda|
Before coming to Sardinia all we knew about it is that it is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, the largest being Sicily. Sicily has an area of 9,927 square miles and Sardinia has an area of 9,300 square miles or 9,197 square miles depending on which source one cites. Either way, Sardinia comes in a close second to Sicily regarding land size. I find it impossible to tell the difference on our charts. Both islands appear to be about the same size to me.
|A house on the Costa Smeralda covered in|
We have no tourist guide for Sardinia; came totally unprepared except for our sailing guidebook and charts. Plus what we had read on blogs of fellow cruisers who have visited Sardinia over the past few years. The only thing I remembered from those blogs is that some fairly famous artists hail from this island, plus some poets. And that some guy who makes violins or guitars also resides on Sardinia. None of that was of any interest whatsoever to us.
|What in the world?|
Being towed behind a boat.
Why were we here? Because geographically it is the logical place to stop when headed westward from Italy. According to our sailing guidebook, Sardinia lies 112 miles from the Italian mainland; 7 miles south of the French island of Corsica; and approximately 120 miles north from Africa. We were headed to Barcelona, Spain; so over the northern tip of Sardinia was the most logical route.
As an example of how little we knew about this island, we assumed that the inhabitants were called Sardinians. Nope; they are called Sards. And like the Sicilians they feel a more special affinity for their island than they do for the country of Italy. They are Sards first, and Italians second. Also like the Sicilians, their language is different from that on mainland Italy. The Sards differ from the Italians in other ways too. They are less exuberant, more reserved.
|Many rocky islets off Costa Smeralda|
Google Images of Nuragh
After the Romans came the Vandals, Byzantines, Saracens and Arabs. The indigineous Sards retreated from the shores to the mountains each time. A small note is that the Romans never conquered the Sards because they retreated to those mountains. Romans called the area Barbaria because of these wild inhabitants. Then during the Middle Ages the Genoese and Pisans from nearby Genoa and Pisa arrived and the ravaging of Sardinia ceased under their rule. Later the Aragonese and Spanish arrived and life finally became more ordered for the Sards.
Much later, Admiral Nelson attempted to persuade the British government to annex Sardinia; but that never came to fruition. Nelson felt that Sardinia with its numerous protected anchorages was a much better place to protect the British fleet than Malta which had only Valetta to serve as protection for the fleet.
In 1948 Sardinia was granted political autonomy. The multi-billionaire Aga Khan began developing the Costa Smeralda in the 1960s and other international development companies followed his lead. We motored up the Costa Smeralda one day and Bill noted that there were more super yachts there than we have seen anywhere in the world. One anchorage alone held 13 super yachts. Oh...all that money.
After remaining at anchor in the large bay called Porto della Taverna for a few nights we motored 17 miles to Porto di Cugnana. Had to...we needed to find a grocery store. After 2 weeks of being at anchor and 1 overnight passage we were totally out of fresh produce and down to our last loaf of bread. We anchored outside the Marina di Portisco and took the dinghy in to find a supermarket. We also gifted that huge teardrop fender that we had found halfway between the islands of Ponza and Sardinia to this marina. We certainly had no use for that huge thing and it probably cost about 500 euro. The marina staff were pleased to receive the gift. I figure they can use it near their fuel dock or on the dock where the super yachts dock.
The following day we motored up the Costa Smeralda and past the La Maddalena islands. Yeah; I know those islands are beautiful but they held no special interest for us. Just another over-crowded place and we were getting tired of crowded mooring fields. Plus, I did not want to pay for the special permit to go to these islands plus the 3.50 euro per meter per day for the privilege of a mooring; no anchoring allowed. We continued onward.
Hey look! There is the French island of Corsica just off to our right. Birthplace of Napolean Bonaparte. How many realize he was Italian rather than French since the island where he was born belonged to the Italians at the time. We would miss beautiful Bonifacio and skip Corsica; we were headed to Barcelona because the weather was right for a change. If we departed Sardinia at 0800 the next morning then we could arrive in Barcelona between 2 weather systems. Another strong system was going to come down through the Gulf of Lions starting a few hours after we would arrive in Barcelona. The time to get across that dreaded stretch of water was now.
|Had to sail onto a mooring buoy in that tiny cove|
where those 2 masts are located in middle
|Decided not to chance picking up this mooring under|
sail because too close to rocky shore.
|Photo taken from our moored boat. Looking|
back at the direction from which we sailed
into this small cove.
As I furled the mainsail and Bill tidied the lines on the bow, people on a boat on another mooring began to applaude. Why...thank you! Guess we do remember how to sail after all. Only thing we did wrong was to not fully explain to Elisabeth what we hoped to do. She had never handled the main sheet before this experience. And she had never heard the term 'spill the main' yet she handled it perfectly. She might not be familiar with the term but she understood the concept of letting the mainsail move freely out to the side to empty the wind from the sail in order to slow down the boat.
|Motoring away from the small cove on Asinara island|
in zero wind.
At 0800 the following morning we raised the mainsail while on the mooring buoy. Wind speed was 0.0 knots. We let the boat drift for a couple of minutes so we could say we tried to abide by the park rules and sail off the mooring. Then I started the engine and we motored out of there. No one came to fuss at us that early in the morning. Bye-bye to Sardinia and Italy.