Monday June 23rd. Cagliari, Sardinia.
Sunday June 8th we sailed round the bay to Porto Alcudia, the main port for the north of Mallorca and found a comfortable berth in the marina and booked in for a week. We had a rendezvous with ten friends, most of whom had worked with Terry at the Hospital in Bermuda around 1975. Every year they have a reunion in some warm place at this time of year, often in Mallorca, so we brought Exotica to the nearest port. Two teams came sailing with us on the Monday and Tuesday and we then went to stay at their villa for a few days. It was a delightful spot in a small village, Llubi, with excellent accommodation and a warm swimming pool. We have still not been tempted into the sea yet.
On Tuesday June 10th Michael Milne-Home arrived from Australia, one of the experienced crew to help us passage to Italy. It was about then that we started looking at the weather to assess when we will be able to cross from the Balearic Islands to Sardinia. It is in this two hundred and forty nautical mile stretch of water that the dreaded Mistral wind blows. It is a wind that originates in the Rhone Valley and then sweeps down the Golfe de Lyon and south towards Africa. The weather all week had been perfect but just as our departure approached we could see a storm developing at exactly the time we had planned to leave.
On Friday June 13th Barbara and Malcolm Shaw arrived and completed the crew to make the passage. The weather, however, was definitely unsuitable so we pottered around Alcudia and then back to Puerto Pollensa for another couple of days. Our only excitement was to watch, and then help, an Oceanis 45 attempt to leave the marina in 25 knots with scant crew who omitted to drop the mooring line which caught around his keel causing him the swing wildly into the boats in their marina berths. It was an example of very poor seamanship.
By Tuesday 17th June the weather forecast was favourable so at 5am we were up and by 6am we had cast off the lines at Pollenca and with a final backward look at Spain set off for Italy. Initially there was no wind and we motored along. Just on the south east corner of Menorca a beautiful norwesterly 14-18 came in so we had 3 hours sailing before it came, again, from the west and abated, therefore dead astern so back to the “iron genny”. We maintained a strict watch system of three hours on and four and a half hours off which gave us plenty of rest. Julie had cooked an excellent chilli con carne which was reheated on a number of occasions and proved delicious during a cold stint on deck.
We were favoured with a beautiful sunrise when we set off from Pollenca and a lone dolphin played briefly in the magnificent sunset. Overnight a bright three quarter moon, the ocean seemed vast and uninhabited, not even by birds and only one other boat in the distance. On the morning of our second day at sea we were running a bit behind if we wanted to get into port before dark so we ran the motor much of the day, but did manage a few hours sailing when a stiff northerly with 2 metre sea blew up around midday. At 3.45pm got our first sight of the Italian coast.
It wasn’t until 7.30pm that we finally entered the port of Caloforte on the tiny Sardinian island of San Pietro, moored at the marina and had a good drink to celebrate our first major passage.
We spent a morning in Caloforte, exploring this walled town with its history of pirates and tuna fishing.
We were also intrigued by the Sardinian flag which is the Christian cross of St George with the severed heads of four Saracens in each quadrant. Not exactly a multicultural emblem.
We have now moved round to the capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, and our crew have left to be replaced by Lizzy and Tony Dyson with whom we bareboated in the Greek Islands in 1982. In those days it was a 26 foot boat which we thought very grand. Our plan is to move up the east coast of Sardinia day sailing into ports and anchoring in pretty bays.