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Notes on Cruising in Sardinia

Introduction

These notes outline some of the findings of our Sardinia/Corsica cruise undertaken during the summer of 2006. Our pilotage information during this cruise was derived from the two RCC Foundation publications published by Imray, Heikell Italian Waters Pilot 2002, and Corsica and North Sardinia, Brandon revised Marchment 2001. It is in the nature of pilot books that they will always be out of date, however recently purchased, and these notes may prove helpful if cruising these waters. Any corrections or additions will be welcome.

The notes relate to Sardinia, and are taken anticlockwise, starting with Caletta on the east coast and finishing at Vilasimius on the south east. The links relate to our narrative log, where more information might be gleaned.

Recreational tax

Introduced this year, the tax operates for boats and private aircraft arriving in Sardinia between June and September. It does not apply to boats taking part in competitive regattas. It cuts in from 14m loa, on a sliding scale, with a discount for sail as opposed to power. Collection at the moment seems almost voluntary, but if it is enforced and does not get reviewed, there may be a mass exodus of gin palaces and superyachts from Porto Cervo next year? Perhaps it will add to the charisma: 'I can afford to pay the tax!'

La Caletta

We briefly visited. The yacht club administers the berths to the north. Those to the south were under repair following storm damage. The berth immediately in front of the entrance (easterly) lacked electricity and water, but was apparently available free of charge. The town was rather pleasant, and had two supermarkets. A friend had left his boat there for some time in early summer, at reasonable rates. Narrative

Olbia

We spent two days alongside on the commercial quay. Facilities were very basic - i.e. improvise your own mooring points, no water or electricity, toilets etc. . No room in the YC marina. We were required to buy stamps from tabachi (Marca de Bollo) to 14.62 to stick onto document requesting permission to moor, and deliver this to the port office. A major hike and mystery tour in searing heat. The new port office proved to be behind the building across the road from and nearly opposite the old port office, which was being internally dismantled. We also had to pay a refuse disposal company for their services 8, as the port official or Guardia Costiari fellow hovered behind. The redevelopment referred to in the pilots is still on-going: a large new round building appears not to be in use, and diversions around and between the hoardings are in place. We since heard of a yacht anchored off suffering major malicious burglary, mainly aimed at running rigging which was cut away, and mooring lines, but also including computer and other valuables. Ropes are marketable locally to mussel growers. The crew believe they were observed as they left the boat for the supermarket. The police were not interested and took no action. Storage ashore is available at one of the boat yards on the north side in the approaches. Narrative

A very pleasant little anchorage just to the north inside Isola To Porri, also Golfo Aranci. To the south there is a good anchorage off the beach SW of Isola Tavolera, and further south still in Porto Brandichi, but you are almost spoilt for choice around here.

Rotondo and Portisco

We visited the marinas by dinghy, situated opposite each other at the head of Golfo di Cugnana. They both seemed well organised and attractive but are expensive in season. Rotondo was very full. Both had a selection of eating and drinking holes. Shops available at Portisco on quay, including service laundry and supermarket. The holding in the bay outside Portisco was suspect, we and friends both dragged at one stage or another. The bay south of Portisco, shown as Porto Di Cugnana offers a very sheltered anchorage. Wifi at Portisco open to all and reasonably priced. Everywhere hereabouts plagued with toys from the superyachts, water ski-ing, high speed ribs, jet skis, etc. The water is continually on the move with the wash from all the above, and their mother boats. Narrative

Cala Volpe

People have spoken highly of it: not sure why. You have to go to look at the superyachts, but they may have moved on by next year (particularly if the new tax on larger boats is enforced). Mirabelle V was here, but she was not the biggest or most impressive!

Porto Cervo

Went to look but not to stay. Entrance to main pontoons to port (hidden behind large motor yacht!) - doesn't seem as it looks on the chart when you get there! Take note of the shoal patches in the anchorage: saw a large smart British ketch lift about a foot out of the water.

Madalenas

Expect to be hit daily for a license to anchor off the Madalenas, patrolled by enthusiastic staff. 22.50 for 12.5 metres sailing yacht, but 80 for 22 metres. Sailing yachts enjoy a discount over motor boats. They have the popular anchorages covered. Hard to justify when there are plenty of good anchorages just across the water.
Many of the restricted areas have been redefined. Passage through the Bisce Channel is not a problem any longer, but Pink Beach on Isola Budelli, for example, is now totally out of bounds. It is possible to buy a permit in advance from La Madalena, where a discount might be available, and a leaflet is published showing designated areas with dos and don'ts. See link to park authorities.

Palau

A useful little town with anchorage off to the east, but consider instead the Rada di Mezzo Shiffo immediately west of the town, where you can land at the beach or dinghy round. There are a couple of posh looking Yacht Clubs on the west side of the bay. Bar/Tabachi at northern end of main street sells telephone top up cards. Market Fridays. Good greengrocery close to the market area, below the small supermarket. Larger supermarket out of town, allegedly easier to access from the bay to the west. Wifi in bar across the car park from the marina. Eateries. Narrative

Porto Liscia

An attractive anchorage, good shelter from N and W in the W end of bay, and reasonable/good holding. No facilities, but you might be able to hike to Pozzo. Many windsurfers from the nice beaches.Narrative

Porto Pozzo

Difficult holding due to weed. Plenty of space. If you go ashore, best to use the beach rather than the pontoon. Lady ommagatori pinched our kill switch cord because we were not moored properly fore and aft in water so shallow we had to lift the engine (and hadn't known to ask her!). Small supermarket - superb local cherry tomatoes. Some eateries.

Cabo Testa

The anchorage to the south west had plenty of room and was quite comfortable. Use the NE side if the wind is in the west.

Castelsardo

Must rank as the best marina at lowest cost. Real toilets and showers open for use. Dinghy across to beach opposite to walk into town, avoids long and hazardous walk around by road. Castle and old town is a must.Narrative

Porto Torres

Marina had very limited space for transit yachts. Access to toilets etc. limited to 'shop hours', i.e. not available during siesta. Superb Lidl supermarket within short walking distance to east and one block in. Eat at La Tana, Via Cavour 25, up past church on right. If you need gaz its way out of town, left at first lights on road to Sassari, opposite Caribinieri. Narrative

Asinara

Restricted areas significantly altered, and it is not now prohibited to go there as the penal colony is long gone. The only place a yacht can go however is to Cala Reale, shown on some charts as Lazaretto, where there is a 'Campo Boe' - about 25 buoys laid off the quay. Concession operated by Cormorano as at Porto Torres. 32.50 per night for us to lie to the buoy. Strange rules: engines only to be used to moor, no outboards, etc. but no facilities ashore such as toilets! You cannot anchor anywhere else off the island. Further details of regulations and restricted areas are published on the web site. Tourist ferries come in daily, some with guided tours, and tourist catamarans operate off the beach at Ancora. You do not seem to be able to get to the more attractive settlement at Cala d'Oliva : there are buses but no timetables etc! The park authorities occupy the magnificent mansion at Cala Reale. Other buildings being done up, but for what purpose? Difficult to tell what its all about.

Fornelli Passage

We did not pay sufficient respect to the Fornelli Passage. Narrative. The pilot described it as 'frightening enough' by day but this was only in the small print. We set up waypoints for the beginning, middle and end, but were unable to identify the leading marks in time from the description in the pilot being confused with by the structures higher up. Having said that most others we spoke to appear to have had no problem: the safe water is simply very narrow as we discovered!

The leading marks into the channel from the westThe leading marks into the channel from the east

Passagio Pelosa

Large and attractive anchorage in the shallow waters off the Ancora Y.C. Passagio Pelosa is definitely worth consideration as an alternative to Fornelli if you are intending to anchor off Ancora. The shallowest point is sandy and wide: the narrows are marked by rocks and breakers and run relatively deep. Contrary to indications in the pilot, the anchorage is outside the restricted areas associated with Asinara. These cut off at the northern edge of the Fornelli passage, as defined by the leading lines.

Stintino

There are extensive new mooring pontoons to the NW side of the harbour, restricting the room available for yachts to anchor off. The holding here is also dubious: several instances of well equipped yachts dragging including Fuga. An Italian yacht dragged into a USA yacht here, causing damage to the USA yacht, whose skipper decided not to pursue the point. When he left harbour he was chased by high speed boats who extracted money from him with such menace that he was compelled to pay up! Room within the harbour itself is fairly tight. Moorings let to multiple concessionaires: take care when mooring dinghy. Fuel (on south side of Porto Mannu) seemed expensive, but it is everywhere in Sardinia when obtained alongside. Corsica is cheaper.

Porto Conte

Neptune's caves shut if the waves are too high. Beware before hiking up to the lighthouse! Holding in Cala Bollo over weed is dubious! The marina at Porto Conte looked run down and unattractive. Unlikely to have much room. A beer and wine at the bar served in plastic cups was expensive.

Fertilia

Several sources have indicated that the proprietor of the boat yard operates sharp business practices, prices shift even when in writing, and you should not entrust him with your boat. He is alleged to have acquired several boats through this means, and we understand that police have had to be involved. David and Diana Hume refer to their experiences in the opening paragraphs of an article they wrote for Cruising magazine (Oct 2006). The facilities are somewhat rickety, but the town is pleasant with basic needs. Close to the airport. Plenty of room to anchor off in reasonably settled conditions. Narrative

Alghero

There has been extensive re-development of the harbour since the pilots were published, and new pontoons have been put in place. To the west of the harbour, the pontoons of the Mare Club Italia have been removed, and the Secca della Murge has been blasted away and used to extend the breakwater at the entrance. The whole of the west wall has been developed with new mooring points: none of these are yet in use, work is in progress and temporary marker buoys are hard to interpret. We were told that Alghero has hopes of attracting cruise ships. Off the south side of the harbour, outside the old city walls, two new marina operations have been introduced with pontoons off. The first you encounter is operated by Ser Mar (Federico Crisafulli) who also operates across the harbour. Rates are extortionate (58 for 12.5m, no toilets etc. available). The second is operated by Aquatica, rates unknown. The eastern side of the quay, opposite the old walls has been revamped and is now back in operation as a public quay operated by the port authorities. We understand that if you come onto the public quay, do not use the water and electricity, and lie to your own anchor (rather than their mooring line), then you are strictly entitled to 5 days free berthing. The authorities do not like you doing this, they prefer that you pay the fee - 28 for us. Boats meet yachts in the entrance, and attempt to entice them to their own pontoons: take no notice of the dinghy with 'Port Control' on it! Aquatica operate wifi, and there is also a corporation sponsored (limited free) wifi that comes up as Nuvelo, and requires use of SMS via a local mobile phone to gain access. Fuel is now from the end of the permanent (i.e. solid concrete) quay that extends westwards across the harbour, to port as you approach the public quay. Alghero is a lovely town to explore, and the shops in the modern area are good. Eurospin just below MacDonalds are similar to Lidl in concept: great quality and cheap as far as it goes, and good wines and scotch at unbelievable prices. Great smelling eateries on the walls overlooking the sea to the south and west. Narrative

Bosa Marina

There are now two pontoons. It seems a very pleasant place simply to anchor off. We met someone who laid their boat up in the boat yard upriver with no problems. Narrative

Oristano

The commercial port is just that. Contrary to the optimism expressed in the pilot book, the inner basin is dedicated to the launches of the various authorities, the pontoons are gated off, and there is no intention that they should be available for recreational use. There are no facilities there. We were moved on to a commercial berth which was totally unsuitable, though welcome enough in the circumstances. Narrative

Portoscuso

We didn't go into the marina, or go ashore, but anchored off the beach between it and Porto Vesme. It looked very pleasant and worth a whirl, however.

Carloforte, Isola de S. Pietro

Why so many large ferries go in and out of here remained a mystery to us. The town is extremely nice, built up on a hill with an old castle at the top, and overflowing to the east over the flatter ground. You can't see what is left of the castle, as terraced houses obscure the view. Supermarket at north end of town. The little trattoria (pink building) opposite the fishing quay/filling station is superb. There have been several additions to the 'marinas' in the port, and friends said that they were directed to free berths on a public quay. We could not find the spot, and people we asked had been moved on from the quays. Our berth on the new Marina Carloforte was expensive enough, we thought, (35 end September), as there no facilities other than water and electricity. People spoke highly of the guy in charge at Marina Sefredi, in the north corner, which allegedly has toilets and showers. Rates for longer stays may be negotiable. Narrative

Porto Malfatano

A wonderful anchorage. Take care, the depth vanishes suddenly! There are said to be several others along this pretty bit of coast for use in settled weather.

Capo di Pula

It is well worth visiting the ancient ruins of the city of Nora, built originally by the Phoenicians and then developed by the Romans. There is a fee (5, that might be circumvented by landing on the east side and walking along the beach, ignoring the no entry sign. We of course paid, but retreated by this route. Holding on the east side is dodgy in weed, although it may be possible to find the odd sandy patch.

Perd'E'Sali

The pilot guide was sadly optimistic. No response from any of the VHF channels from 'Sarroch' - surely not the business of the oil terminal anyway - but there was a guy on the quay who was interested in our draught rather than our length. We ran aground (2m draught) before he had time to indicated that the marina would not carry sufficient depth for us. Presumably the entrance has silted badly since the good book was written: we understand that you now need to draw 1.5m or less to get in. We had an unplanned two hour slog back to Cagliari against the wind in the dark.

Cagliari

We are just beginning to explore this interesting city and its surroundings, which include many old buildings, fortifications, museums, parks, and saltmarshes. There are several chandlers, and of course all the retail outlets one might need. There are at least 5 chandlers within fairly easy reach, along with ironmongers and other specialist suppliers. To the north east, in Quartu, there is a large Carrefour. North west towards Elmas (airport) there is an Auchan supermarket with electronic and hardware stores on a shopping complex, beyond that in Fangario a Europlus, and in Elmas itself past the airport a Lidl store.

The Marina del Sole, where we are berthed, is very relaxed and friendly, and operated by father (Antonello) and son 'Max'(imillian). Facilities include gazebos with toilets and showers (limited in capacity and comfort), an 'office' gazebo that includes a bar, tables and chairs, and a book swap table where people also leave items of equipment that have been discarded but which may be of interest. The gazebo and bar are available informally for getting together, and there are barbeques available outside. In the boatyard 'office/store' there is a small washing machine that operates on an 'honesty box' principle, and the marina operates two small cars that may be rented for short periods. Charges for craneage and storage afloat are very reasonable, and you can work on your own boat. Marina staff keep long hours, and there is a security presence outside these hours, not to mention Antonello's fondness for dogs. Marina del Sole operates from the southern side of the Penello di S. Elmo, and has attracted virtually all the liveaboard boats.

Adjacent is the new Marina St. Elmo, who are considerably more expensive. They operate from the south eastern corner, adjacent to the floating dock operation which in turn is just north of the entrance to the canal leading to the saltmarshes. Their boat was extremely diligent in trying to get our business: fortunately we had telephoned ahead to Max and, expecting us, he helped to fend them off. There appear to be no liveaboards there. The Cagliari sewage system appears to be challenged: on the day we arrived the sweet smell hung in the air, and one one occasion the water was filled with rotting fish that have floated down the canal. However, the mullet are healthy enough, and dolphins have been seen in the marina looking for an easy supper. The Bonaria marina, to the north of Marina del Sole, is crammed full of local boats and does not cater for visitors. A few cruising yachts in transit berth alongside the quay in the commercial basin further north, adjacent to the Via Roma. We understand that they were not bothered for a fee.

Fuel is only available alongside a pontoon off the western breakwater, adjacent to the small marina/boatyard Motomar Sarda. This is at the opposite (NW - not NE as in the pilot) side of the harbour, and is at the standard premium prices. This marina did not appear to be a very attractive berth, and is a long way from any facilities. The inner harbour has just had a face-lift, and pontoons have been installed with approximately 40 alongside berths with water and electricity points. At present the berths are chained off and the intentions for this area are unknown: maybe a new marina operation. There is a filling station adjacent to the inner harbour, but you would have to carry cans, and much of the nearby south quay is within a military restricted zone. The fuel station at the root of the Penello di S. Elmo is duty free for fishing boats and the authorities only.

There is now an internet shop that offers wifi on Via d'Arborea, off via Marghereta. We found Piukeweb internet point, with various outlets, offered a great service charged by the minute, and unusually the Via Goldoni outlet has a network outlet for direct attachment of your laptop: useful for downloading large files. We had a nightmare with both Vodafone and TIM running away with large amounts of our money for GPRS connection via our phones: both offered 'promozione' promising limited charges. We finally won some recompense from Vodafone and TIM, but after settling in with TIM (3G connection) have enjoyed a good and reasonably fast internet service via our mobile phone for 20 per month (500MB).

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One of the reasons for coming to Cagliari was the Easyjet service to the UK. Unfortunately this was withdrawn for the winter at the end of September, leaving us reliant on Ryanair from Alghero. A bus runs from Cagliari to Alghero airport to coincide with the Ryanair flight, but takes over 3 hours and costs 20 euros each way. Other options from Cagliari include Hapag Lloyd via Cologne or Munich. BA's service is limited.

Marina Piccola del Poetto

We have walked and cycled here. It is in an attractive location at the southern end of the long and attractive Spiaggia di Quartu, north of Capo S. Elia. There are active yacht and windsurfing clubs, bars and restaurants. It seemed unlikely, however that there would be room for visitors, particularly boats over 11 metres, as the harbour is full and there was no obvious spare space that could be pressed into service. Some fishing boats operate out of here, but were in port at the time. Where the pilot gets max. LOA 18m from is a mystery: we looked for an 'office' but did not find anyone that we could ask for further details.

Marina di Capitana

We anchored off to the west of the marina, but did not go in. It appeared to have room for larger boats. We ran aground just off the entrance, but were not trying to enter at the time, so there might have been enough water.

Villasimius

Quite the most pleasant and well organised marina that we have encountered in Sardinia. A welcome booklet with useful background and advertorial, and berthing costs off a published price schedule! There was hardly anyone there when we visited on October 1st/2nd, but three pontoons are dedicated to yachts in transit. A good supermarket on the premises with reasonable prices, another apparently in the village. Wifi at 50 was a bit of a joke unless you were there for the summer. The anchorage just outside the marina benefited from the marina breakwater which has been extended over the former reef, and the cardinal is now no longer there. White light on end of breakwater, red and green on entrance to marina itself. Splendid beaches, both here and also on the east side of Capo Carbonara. It is an up and coming resort, with several hotels, eateries, and other diversions.Narrative