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  • Writer's picturePeter

Where the Mistral meets the Sirocco

Our stop in Sardinia was going to be a brief re-fuel and collection of spare parts that we ordered after we departed from Gibraltar – the replacement Mastervolt shunt that had its salt water bath, and we also needed a new control panel for the main toilet as the flush function was becoming less and less reliable – and a blocked toilet is not something I look forwards to fixing whilst at sea.

With the current world order, deliveries of what you want are not as prompt as they used to be. Oh yes, it is in stock, we just don’t have anyone available to send it……

Therefore, it looked like our stay in Sardinia may be a little longer than expected.

In all honesty, after our passage from Brest to Gibraltar and Gibraltar to Sardinia, the thought of the same sailing distance again to get to Venice was less appealing than when we planned it a few months ago. We wanted our rest, relaxation and to actually enjoy being in an exciting place such as Sardinia. There are so many beautiful locations around the Island, we thought it was a shame to rush on and miss the beauty that is on our doorstep.

We therefore, decided to stop rushing and meeting self-imposed deadlines, take a step back, relax and take a look at what the weather and wind direction had to offer.

After our sail to Sardinia with very little wind, we were surprised that there was a stiff breeze as we moored up the boat. This stiff breeze from the North West (the Mistral) blew all day long and continued for the next 3 days. It was replaced by a South East Wind (the Sirocco) which was just as strong and full of red dust from the Sahara Desert. After 3 days the Sirocco was again replaced by the

Mistral – and so it goes. In my vast climate and weather experience of Sardinia it seems to me that this is where the Mistral and Sirocco meet on a weekly basis and we need to plan accordingly. It is not quite as simple, but with the sailboat we need to go with the wind and the weather forecast. Planning is therefore quite a challenge, but we are up to it and so our adventure and exploration continues with Sardinia as our current project (I think the location could be worse !)

Sardinia is a province of Italy, but with a degree of self-autonomy granted by the Italian Government. Its history (in brief) goes back to the Palaeolithic period (18th Century BC), the Phoenicians lived here as they used it as a stepping stone to Carthage as did the Romans who stayed for about 700 years as a part of their Empire Building era.

We visited a fantastic museum in the old part of town that has a great selection of artefacts and a simple, step by step explanation of the island’s history. The displays were very well presented and it was a real pleasure to walk through for a few hours – yes, this was the start of us trying to relax down and enjoy our visit to Sardinia.

The old town was quite well restored and there were great boulevards aligned with magnificent trees in full purple bloom, with bars, restaurants and wonderful gelaterias in their shade – a great place to eat artisanal ice cream and watch the world go by.

The marina itself, Marina del Sole is a little dilapidated, with the “washrooms” (that were actually tented structures) consisting of 1 toilet and 2 showers for male and the same for female guests. The beautiful warm weather helped to forgive the state of repair – and the feel was definitely a “relaxed Mediterranean”, but this would not be a location where we could spend a cold winter.

The marina is run by a little brown and white Jack Russel terrier, who seems to bark at everything that moves – quite cute and playful at the start, but after 2 weeks he started to get on my nerves a little and I dreamt of a little push over the edge of the dilapidated quay – surely nobody would notice and maybe even be quite pleased for the added calm.

We had a mooring spot at the end of the jetty with a great view towards the open harbour area and towards the sunset. Sitting at the back of the boat, watching the sun go down with a cool drink in hand we watched the evening show of the pink flamingos as they flew back to their home after a busy day feeding in the shallow marsh areas nearby. We also had our own private dolphin show most days with 2 or 3 adults that came to visit whilst enjoying their evening aperitifs from the plentiful fish that teem in these warm waters. Life was feeling good.

It was not all relaxation as we had our purchases and projects to work through.

The Mastervolt replacement shunt was successfully received after 1 week of transit, and installed the day of its arrival. It fixed all of our battery monitoring problems and we could see the effect of the solar panel as it helped to charge our batteries. But we need to be off grid to see the real benefit and effect; this will happen once we start sailing and spend our days at anchor with no power from the shore – more news and technical details later.

Ingrid made some fantastic window shades to help minimise the heat effect of the sun in our inside living areas – unfortunately we are just out of material to finish the remaining windows. Another future order & delivery project.

We bought a SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) and a small bottle of compressed air so I can do some scuba diving and check out the bottom of the boat from time to time (I thought it was a great excuse and approved by the admiralty).

The biggest problem was where to store all these items on our boat that seems to be getting smaller and smaller. We also want bikes – but until I know where we can put them, they are not on the items to purchase list.

From our Italian boaty neighbours, we had a recommendation to visit the “Sound Gardens” which were just a few kilometres outside of the main town. In our best “tourist mode” we bought our bus tickets and headed off to find these apparently amazing, musical gardens.

Not really knowing what to expect, we found a garden that was filled with stone sculptures. Our guide took us around and explained how the sculptor (recently departed), had created the sculptures out of mainly limestones and basalts. They were cut in a way that if you brush another stone (like the pick of a guitar), the stone vibrates and gives off a musical sound.

They were not quite like a musical instrument, but it was beautiful to see the stones vibrating and giving off musical sounds. The sculptor, Pinocchio SCIOLA (who is no longer with us) said that he was exposing the soul of these ancient rocks and the music they gave was locked inside from the beginning of time (What more could a geologist ask for?). Highly recommended, should you be in the region at any time.

We also had a delicious lunch in this small village of San Sperate, that seems to have no other existence other than Pinocchio and the sale of some fruit and veg.

After 2 weeks in Cagliari (I still can’t remember how to pronounce it correctly (kaa yaa ri, as the “g” is not pronounced) our toilet flush package arrived.

We packed up, did what we needed to do and headed off towards our 1st experience of anchoring in the sea. This was to be the first in our current plan (subject to change without notification) of an around the island tour where we will anchor when weather permits, so we will save money, start to play with our many new toys (yes, we have spoilt ourselves) and have a relaxing week or so, until we decide what we would like to do next. Turquoise waters and sandy beaches are calling........

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