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23 September 2014

Sardinia and Corsica


Lost at Sea !!
Hello Again

 We left Monastir, Tunisia for Sardinia late afternoon on Thursday 24th July and covered the 240nm in two nights and a day.  Our second night was an interesting one avoiding thunderstorms for a time, so by the time we arrived outside Villasimus Marina, which is situated on the bottom south east side of Sardinia, we were tired, and after dropping anchor went to bed for some catch up sleep.  Early afternoon and it is hot.  Our anchorage is another gorgeous one with clean clear waters, so I decide on going for a swim.  Oh help, we have a MAJOR problem !!!!!!!!  As I was swimming around the boat I noticed we had lost, yes bloody well lost, our port prop !!!!  HOW – we have no idea.  WHY – we still have no idea.  WHEN –  Saturday 26th July.  WHERE - we think somewhere between 3 and 38nm off the southern coast of Sardinia as we were using the port engine before that. Alec thought our speed was a little slow once we had dropped the sails to motor into the bay, but put it down to the sea conditions as we were motoring straight into the wind with a bit of a sea running.  Then, when we dropped anchor he had trouble keeping the boat straight as he reversed to dig the anchor in.  The port prop was last removed 14 months ago and has done over 5,000nm since.  This time in the boat yard in Tunisia we did not have to touch it apart from giving it a clean and painting on another coat of prop speed to help stop the growth of barnacles.

 
South side Arbatax
We spent a couple of hours in the water looking around just where we had anchored just in case it had fallen off there, but no luck.  So the following morning after searching through the cruising guide for a marina that had a travel lift big enough to lift a catamaran, we upped anchor and headed on up the east coast 56nm to a place called Arbatax. We contacted our Insurance Company who came to the party thank goodness.  It was then a matter of just waiting for the replacement prop to be shipped down from Denmark.  We were told it could take up to 11 days.  In this day and age with express mail delivery etc. we found that quite absurd,  but there was nothing we could do about it but wait.  Emails went back and forth between us, the Insurance Company and the Italian agent who we had to go through.  We thought the guy must be bringing it down on the back of his bicycle from Denmark !!!!

 
Northern side Arbatax
We did not move SHAMAL into the marina as it was too hot and too expensive, but were very fortunate that Arbatax is situated one side of a cape which gave wonderful protection from the prevailing winds, so if it was blowing from the north we had a delightful bay on the southern side we could get shelter in, and if it blew from the south we upped anchor and sat in another good anchorage outside the marina along with a number of other yachts. Both were great swimming areas. The only real problem with this place, was the lack of rubbish bins.  The marina would not accept it as we were not staying in there.  Out in the streets all the large bins were private – belonging to shops or private residents, and they were padlocked.  We asked at the information centre and were told the next town – Tortoli – may have a dump station.  Not too practical to catch the bus with bags of rubbish in this heat, then wander around a town looking for the dump station!!  In the end we noticed small bins on the public beach we were anchored off, so our only solution was to take the tender over in the cool of the evening and place our bags in those bins.

Mountain road to Orgosolo
Murals of Orgosolo
 Then in the middle of all of that I had my brother John and his wife Noelene arriving out to join us.  The last thing we wanted was for them to have to wait around while we waited.  All turned out well and the family did manage to arrive into Arbatrax with a bit of an adventure in itself, as they had to get a ferry from the mainland to the capital Olbia, then a bus to Arbatax which did not connect with the flights, so had to spend the night in Olbia.  Once they arrived we hired a car and did a trip inland to the mountain village of Orgosolo.  I had read up about this village, describing it as Sardinia’s most notorious town known for its banditry and violence which continued into the 1960’s.
Just outside Orgosolo
Books have been written, an even a movie made about this town. This was not the reason I wished to visit it, but it is also famous for its murals. The walls of buildings bear hundreds of mural paintings which tell of village and  island life, history and culture, plus some of the world events. It has become an open-air museum.  The drive up through the mountains to Orgosolo was an event in itself.  Thank goodness traffic was not heavy as we snaked our way up around hair-pin bends with sheer cliffs dropping off to the side.  We just had to keep an eye out for the wild pigs, goats, sheep and cows which were said the ‘rule’ these roads. The views out over the valleys’ with vineyards, olive groves and those infamous prickly pear cactus, then the ragged limestone mountains behind, was quite spectacular. 
Great Wall Decoration

 
Murals of Orgosolo
The rest of our time while waiting for the prop to arrive was spent swimming and visiting the holiday town of Arbatax, and inland slightly the town of Tortoli.  We drank lots of water, wine and beer.  We also had another Kiwi yacht arrive into the anchorage which was great to see and visit with. Once the prop arrived we had SHAMAL into the marina and up on the travel lift for a 24 hour lift out.  It was one of these yards (which is very common in this part of the world) where one cannot work on their own boat, or stay on it.   Alec is there with his work overalls on and John in work clothes, to supervise !!!!  The fitting of the new prop was all done in just under two hours, and at the same time Alec got them to take the Starboard one off and double check that all was well with it. Once the workmen had left Alec and John then got stuck in to complete a couple of other jobs that needed doing.  The temperature in the yard that day with the heat coming up off the tarmac and very little wind, was well into the 40’s !!!!  As we were unable to sleep on the boat that night we had to find a bed.  Being the peak holiday season accommodation is at a premium, but a couple of kilometres out of town we found the ‘Hotel Splendor’ to spend the night.  An old building which in its prime may have been OK, but today with its faded painted walls and that musty smell that goes with these old buildings,  a shower box which was too small to close the door, and a breakfast which was rather minimal, the ‘splendor’ was not quite there.  But it was only for a night.

Something is Missing !!
 So after 18 days in Arbatax we were more than ready to be on the move again.  We wanted John and Noelene to see more of Sardinia with us.  So we upped anchor and motor sailed out across the bay heading north.  We were heading into the Golf di Rosie, whose coastline forms part of Sardinia’s largest National Park.  Here the mountains abruptly meet the sea where dramatic cliffs just fall off into the most beautiful aquamarine waters.  It is dotted with tiny coves and small inlets along with a number of impressive limestone caves.  This area is mainly only accessible by sea, hence dozens of day-tripper boats swam these waters in the summer months.  We drop the anchor off one of these caves which we will visit in the morning.  It was 5.00pm and the caves close for the night and the day-trippers are heading home. We dropped
anchor off Grotta del Fico – the Cave of the Fig.  This was because an old fig tree hid the entrance.  It was also home to the Mediterranean Monk Seal which is now sadly extinct in this area.  The following morning we took the tender across and tied up to a mooring buoy, and were then transported in a larger tender to the cave. I was able to manage about half an hour in the cave and then it was time for me to leave.  As I have said before, I do not do ‘underground’ very well.  What I did see was very impressive with the stalactites and stalagmites, and I took lots of photos to help distract myself from ‘where I

Golf di Rosie
was’ !!!!!!



Grotto del Fico
Grotto del Fico
 

We kept heading north to the resort town of La Caletta and were able to anchor off the beach in front of the town rather than go into the marina.  We visited the town by taking the tender into the marina and parking it by the sea wall.   Again a shortage of rubbish bins!! We ended up here for two nights as John and Alec had to replace the coolant hose which had a leak.  This was the second hose Alec had replaced.  The first NEW one had a small hole in it.  We had brought that in Turkey – a little too far away to return it !!!!!  Then they had a rugby game to watch.  Noelene and I had already been taken ashore to visit the town and the shops.  We both found something to buy, and enjoyed lunch.  They boys joined us later for their lunch.  That evening John and I returned to the village and enjoyed drinks overlooking SHAMAL parked out in the bay.

Super Yacht Moorings
 From La Caletta we head north again passing on the inside the Island of Tavolara.  We are now in what the Cruising Guide describes as “Macho Man” waters. Oh help this could not be more true.  Here you have the nou-veau riche and other young idiots in their semi supper yachts and fast speed boats whizzing past you close enough as to nearly touch, with no idea of seaman ship, setting up big waves, so that the poor old yachtie is nearly thrown out of their boat.  The sea has now become like a washing machine.  We eventually drop anchor on the north east coast of Sardinia off Cala Di Volpe.  We came in through the Super Yacht Moorings, and ” Super” they are. There are about fifteen of them moored up to huge mooring buoys out in the bay.

 After an evening of watching the rich and the famous – whoever they are – being taken ashore and returning in their tenders, some of which are at least half the length of SHAMAL, we feel quite content with our glass of wine and beer,  just to watch.  Next morning we are on the move again.  We motor sail between the La Maddalena archipelago and mainland Sardinia, calling into Porto Cervo – the millionaires playground, to find it full of more huge super yachts.  We then head on out into the Bonifacio Strait, the stretch of water between Sardinia and Corsica.  Arrivederci Sardinia, and grazie.  We have really enjoyed our visit.

 
Bonfacio
The Strait between Sardinia and Corsica is less than 10nm.  The wind is in our favour and we are able to sail across.  On reaching the coast we decide we will take a look at the ancient town and harbour of Bonfacio on the south western coast.  We motor into the narrow fjord which forms the harbour and is only about 100m wide, and is FULL of vessels.  No room here, but it really is a stunning setting.  The old town is perched high up on the cliffs of a narrow peninsula.  The town was founded in AD 828.  It was just a pity we never got to explore the town.  We motored on up the coast about two miles to a lovely bay where we dropped anchor for the night along with other boats.  It was swim time again and Alec and I took the kayak for a spin around the bay.

 
SHAMAL in Ajaccio
Next morning we were on the move again as John and Noelene’s time with us was nearly over.  We headed for the capital, Ajaccio, and were able to anchor on the north side of the town.  Oh how wonderful, there were rubbish bins everywhere.  It is funny how something as small as rubbish disposal can become a huge problem, but if you think about it, waste building up in bags on a small boat CAN and DOES become a problem, particularly in temperatures of 30 degrees c. plus !!!!  So ashore it was looking for an internet connection so John and Noelene could organise flights.  We found a café which had internet connection, and enjoyed drinks and then dinner there as well, but unfortunately they could not book their flights.  So the next morning it was back into town to find a travel agent – all sorted we returned to SHALMAL for them to pack to catch the afternoon flight out to Nice.  After saying good-bye Alec and I returned to explore the town.  We walked along the waterfront with all its café’s and shops, then into the Old town with its narrow cobbled streets and some grand old buildings. Ajaccio’s claim to fame, is this is where Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769.

 We spent another two days in Ajaccio where we met a couple off an Australian registered catamaran, but Denys is a kiwi, and Bozena is Polish.  They were heading to Tunisia, so we were able to pass on information to them over a lovely dinner on their boat.  Many thanks, a lovely evening.

Another Mural in Orgosols
Then it was time to say Au revoir to Corsica.  I was sorry we could not explore more of this Island, but we had more friends to collect and take cruising in the Islas Baleares.  So Saturday 23rd August sees us lifting anchor and motoring on out of the Golfe d’ Ajaccio on an overcast coolish morning.  We even had a couple of spits of rain, but nothing more developed. By 07.30a.m. a watery sun was breaking through the clouds. The temperature was only 21 degrees. By 09.30a.m. we had hoisted the sails and were on our way doing 5.4kts in 11kts of wind.

 We will sign out for this newsletter and you will join us next in the Islas Baleares.

 Love from

 The Admiral and The Commander



Left - this head is on both the Sardinian and Corsican flag



 

1 comment:

  1. Noelene and I loved our from Abu Dhabi where we enjoyed the hospitality of Brigitte and Dan and their two delightful 20 month old boys, then on to Crete, Santorini and Italy and would probably not have visited Sardinia had it not been for meeting Ann and Alec. This part of our trip was a bonus and a highlight for me. I can recommend Sardinia as a destination and would recommend hiring a car. The local population is less than 1.5 million and even when we were there in August the roads weren't overly busy and the scenery is spectacular. The beaches are also worth a visit and the sea so pure and clean. Not like much of the New Zealand coastline! Thanks Ann and Alec for a wonderful and unforgettable two weeks. A great way to end our trip.

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