We sailed from the south tip of Corsica to the north coast of Sardinia. A complete different island we found out in the following weeks, but yet so close to each other. We could see the island of Sardinia during the time we were with our catamaran sailing along the coast of Bonifacio in the south of Corsica.
It was only 3 hours of sailing, which is about 25 kilometers. You can see in our last blog, we raised the pirate flag (just for fun 😉, a gift from the son of one of my friends) during the 3 hours of sailing.
Sardinia is the largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and the flag has 4 Moroccan heads with a white headband, in contrast to Corsica with 1 head on the flag.
First we sailed to the northwest point of Sardinia to Isola Rossa. It is named after the 400 meter long granite rock that sits 500 meters off the Costa Rossa. The Spanish built a watchtower on a headland in front of the red rocky islands of Isola Rossa in 1595, where some fishermen settled in the 19th century.
It is wonderfully picturesque, rugged and wild here Isola Rossa is also known as Red Island, although this is not an island at all. It is a charming seaside village in north Sardinia with magnificent views of the sea and the cliffs.
We took a sheltered position near the red cliffs, we thought that was nice, but when we used the drone to look at our white boat on the blue water and the red cliffs from a distance, we were even more surprised!
Santa Teresa Gallura
Every month I give 4 days online training in a month and during October, that would be at Sardinia. During the 4 days we stay in a harbor to have a ‘stable’ workplace and office (at anchor can be more choppy in the water) and good connection with Wi-Fi. We have our own 5G router on board, we use a local sim card and that needs to check in on telephone poles in a radius of 18 kilometers (= 10 sea miles).
I booked 5 days in the harbor of Santa Teresa Gallura, which is the most close to Corsica, so a lot of ferries and boats will end up here after making the crossing to Sardinia.
And this harbor didn’t disappoint us. I choose the smallest of 3 harbors (1 was for the ferryboats), it was a nicely situated near mountains, quiet waters and a fun town nearby.
So after work a day of sitting behind the laptop and giving online training, for instance 17.00h, I would come up from my ‘office’ and we could have a drink in the square on top of the mountain and look towards Corsica.
I also look at prices when I book a harbor. Especially in the Mediterranean coastal cities, you really have to check the prices first, because look at these 2 harbors (I use the app Navily, so I can see the prices), not so far apart at Sardinia, but totally different prices.
Often it’s not clear why a harbor needs to cost over € 200 a night (a hotel is cheaper….). It’s not like the expensive harbor has something special (a swimming pool, free drinks, extra nice jetties…?). It’s often just location and daring to ask high prices if you feel your marina is close to a tourist town.
A trick that is also used: showing a low price in the Med (for instance € 40, but exclusive use of water, electricity, tourist tax and VAT. In the end you end up paying € 80 (yes, they charge € 10 for electricity a day or € 5 for water!).
La Maddalena archipelago
Our journey continued to the hotspot for sailors in Sardinia: the archipelago of La Maddelena. It is situated in the northeast of Sardinia and it consists of 7 large and 20 small islands in the north of Sardinia.
This group of islands all belong to the national park of the Maddalena archipelago, with an area of more than 12,000 hectares of sea and land.
We arrived late in the afternoon, after a day of sailing and after buying a permit online for 2 weeks to have permission to anchor in the archipelago. Because we knew we would have guests on board for 2 weeks in a row (1 week my mother and brother and then 1 week friends), we wanted to buy a license for 2 weeks. It’s also much cheaper than buying a 1 day permit each time.
They use these funds to preserve these unspoilt pieces of land in the Mediterranean Sea. There are so many sheltered beaches such as Caprera where we anchored our catamaran.
We really enjoyed staying here, very quiet and peaceful with view on uninhabited islands around you and lots of birds. And we were surprised to find out that the sea temperature to swim is still so high in October. Certainly it has to do with the shallow clear water and the sun shining already for so many months warming up the water.
We continued our sailing journey along the east coast of Sardina and here you can see the contrast with Corsica: Sardinia has much more sheltered bays and more tourist areas (towns, lounge bars, trendy shops). Corsica has more steep mountains and less polished towns (which makes it a cheaper island than Sardinia when you go into restaurants or bars), but the nature is more overwhelming.
Although we were quite impressed by the coastline of Golfo Aranci, which offered also some great views on the cliffs. The sea was calm in this area (for instance Porto Pevero or Porto Rotondo) so with the great temperature it was a please to put down the anchor and enjoy the surroundings.
We also did some shopping. The supermarket we like a lot in Sardinia is Conad, they have a lot of good products. I speak reasonable Italian, but sometimes it’s hard to know the right word for vegetables or fruits, because Italian, belonging to the Romance language group is sometimes so different from our Germanic languages! Would you have guessed these names (and check out the Olanda word when it comes to the tomatoes 😊).
Our next stop on the eastcoast of Sardinia would be Tavolara. And here the name speaks for itself: it’s like the Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa! Only smaller and the Italian version is an island. But the shape is quite like a table.
As you get closer, the mountain becomes even more impressive and you also see how the limestone island is composed of beaches, diving spots and basic facilities, including a restaurant and bar.
We took our dinghy and visited the island:
We liked the restaurant and drank a gin-tonic here at the terrace.
When I looked at the bar, I saw they also sold some flags and T-shirts with a logo or coat of arms on it. I got curious and found out what the story behind it!
During a visit in 1836 by King Charles Albert of Sardinia, Giuseppe Bertoleoni, shepherd and sole inhabitant of the island, introduced himself as king of Tavolara. “Then we are colleagues”, Karel Albert is said to have said, and that was seen as a kind of recognition and gave rise to the creation and existence of an imaginary state.
So of course we bought a small flag 😉. It’s a nice memory of this beautiful island, so very picturesque!
We continued a short sail to Olbia, it was 1 hour sailing from Tavolara and we made a reservation for 2 nights in this harbor, because we would get guests on board!
My mother and brother would join us for a week, sailing along the coast of Sardinia. They have visited us of course many times on the catamaran, especially when we were still in the Netherlands, Stavoren, and my brother recently visited us for a week in August at the Cote d’Azur, in Monaco and Menton.
It was great to see them again and they choose a good week, because the weather was still good in October and the wind was not to strong, so ideal for sailing and relaxing.
They had a creative idea: because Sardinia is a large island and they would be on board for a week, they suggested to rent a car the 4 of us, so we would see more of the island together! So the first day we rented a car and drove to the west side of the island, because we would be sailing for 5 days along the east coast.
We went to Castelsardo a beautiful medieval town and had a great lunch with great view on the citadel.
On our way we stopped at a rock in the shape of an elephant, funny to see and it was actually mentioned on Googlemaps when we were driving as a ‘tourist highlight’.
We drove more south on the Westcoast and the town of Alghero caught our attention. It is also called ‘little Barcelona’, because of the Spanish influences that you see here being relatively close to Spain and being occupied also for a long time by Spain. You can see in the streetnames the Italian version and the Spanish version which also might differ in meaning.
For us it was mainly a great village to walk around between the old city walls and enjoy Italian ice cream.
If you have been in Italy, I am sure you have seen images of Padre Pio. It is one of Italy’s favorite fathers. We came across his statue in a parc, beautifully decorated with flowers and necklaces.
Tombe dei Giganti
We heard about ‘Giants Tombs’ on Sardinia: collective graves from the Bonnanaro culture (2200–1600 BC). We discovered that a number of these grave monuments exist near Olbia (1.5 hours drive). They consist of monoliths driven into the ground and are among the last megalithic systems in Europe.
Sardinians, just like Corsicans, also have their own language and call it: ‘tumbas de sos zigantes’. These cemeteries essentially consist of a burial chamber up to 30 meters long and up to 3 meters high. The burial chamber was originally covered by a mound. The front was bounded by a kind of semicircle, with an elegant stone sometimes up to 4 meters high in the middle, the opening in the lower part of which represented the gate to the dead.
There are also myths that an extremely tall people lived in Sardinia with people who were 2.5 meters tall. There are eyewitnesses, but no skeletons or photos have ever been found.
We enjoyed driving through the inland of Sardinia, really beautiful and often uninhabited hills and valleys.
More guests on board
After we said goodbye to my mother and brother, we received the family of Frits onboard in Olbia. We know Frits from our boat dealer Nautisch Kwartier, he is a client as well, but he enjoys sailing so much since he was a child, he decided to start working for Nautisch Kwartier as a sailing broker!
We have spend in 2022 and 2023 great times with Frits during the Hiswa: we would represent Lagoon42 on the boatshow and he would stand on a monohull, the great Jeanneau Yachts 55. Gilles and I got along very well with Frits, so when he mentioned he would like to spend a holiday with his family on board with us, we were of course very happy to organize that together with them!
We welcomed Frits, Marianne, Emi (12) and Tieme (10) on board. They were really enthusiastic about the catamaran, their cabin and the fact that we had an outdoor BBQ that evening 😉.
What I really liked is that they were so easy going! The kids really liked the game box with 200 different games:
And also swimming and snorkeling, since the water temperature was still good.
Since the family is used to sailing, they also helped and notices some differences with a monohull, for instance the way the anchor is dropped (in a triangle with a bridle to keep the catamaran steady).
The wind was getting quite strong, about 28-32 knots and normally guests would say: wow, we are going fast and the sea is choppy, but this family didn’t raise an eyebrow, they just kept enjoying the surroundings and looking around.
Frits was so enthusiastic, he kept mentioning about 3 times a day: ‘What a great way of travelling and living this way’, because he of course knows about our world trip. I really smiled each time, because it was so spontaneous, he said it with so much joy and surprise.
The best memories I have got from their visit was the day on the island of Maddelena, because the weather was really sunny and we enjoyed walking around in the small streets and looking at the boats in the harbor.
Marianne and Emi went to get fresh bread and cheese for breakfast and we had a nice chat about living aboard and visiting different areas of the world.
We also enjoyed playing Tieme’s self-made game, we all got a pawn and had to get to the finish first, but there were assignments and pitfalls along the way (‘you have reached a ladder that goes down, go back 20 places). The assignments were all focused on the catamaran: open 10 cabinets, run around the boat 3 times, go stand on the roof and shout. We had a good time 😉.
There were also a lot of Marines in La Maddelena during that day, it looked like there was a graduation of a nautical school, because there were a lot of families members dressed up and looking very proud!
The family treated us to a delicious lunch in the city of Palau in a fish restaurant. It was a great way to spend the last day together like this. We also learn each time from the food we see in other places, for instance, how about the way this Tiramisu di casa is presented!
We thank Frits, Marianne, Emi and Tieme for being such a great guests, we really enjoyed their company. They also wrote about their experience sailing with us and the catamaran.
After enjoying Sardinia so much, it was time to leave the island. Our last port would be Portovecchio, were we enjoyed the village a lot. The sail to Portovecchio was nice and the weather still good.
Portovecchio is like Saint-Tropez in France: the most posh harbor, so I called first to hear about the prices and for October it was surprisingly ok. So we stayed 2 days at the harbor. We enjoyed the green area around Portovecchio and many nice places to walk.
Also the way the houses are build here is very charming.
The area is also quite hilly, so we took our e-bike and e-step to explore the area further away from Portovecchio.
We finally prepared in the harbor our next crossing: back to the main land of Italy. When we left Pisa a few months ago we only have seen islands (Elba, Corsica and Sardinia), so it’s nice to get back to the coast of Italy and we planned to make the crossing to Rome from Sardinia in about 30 hours.
More about that adventure in our next blog!