Log #34l Maddalena Islands 2

May 23, 2005 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 34 Rome - Corsica - Sardinia, The Logs

Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer, Camargue

Rhone Delta, Provence, France

May 23, 2005 (Happy Victoria Day!)

Hi Folks,

We are in this delightful capital of La Camargue during a major festival for the Saintes Maries and Sarah which I will describe in the relevant log. Judy wants to stay here for several days and I hope to get caught up on my logs, and so you can expect to get two or three over the next few days.

We have actually sailed for the past two days! Maybe the Med is being kind to us as we prepare to leave (after four years) via the Canal du Midi in a few days. We have bought the lumber and hardware to construct a cradle for our mast which we hope to take down at Port Camargue. We will enter the canal at Grau-de-Roi and go up to Aigues-Mortes, which will complete our circuit of the Med, as we passed through Aigues-Mortes on our way into the Med.

We will be meeting up with Tony (who runs www.searoom.com, the website on which all our logs are listed) and Annie Cook in Aigues-Mortes and we are looking forward to enjoying the first part of the Canal du Midi with them.

All is well with us and we are enjoying Provence, the food and wines of southern France.

Enjoy this log of Sardinia prior to our passage to Provence.

All the best,

Aubrey


 

Log #34l Maddalena Islands 2

May 21, 2005

Anse de Bonnieu, Provence, France

May 2 we weighed anchor from the idyllic craggy desolate anchorage of Cala Longa on Isola Razzoli of the Northern group and motorsailed south around Isola Budelli and Isola Spargi and then southeast to go into the Southern group, south of Isola Maddalena and Isola Stefano. These were the historic Royal Navy anchorages where Nelson passed several months with his fleet blockading Toulon, awaiting the French sortie which led to the Battle of Trafalgar. Since Sardinia was neutral, he spent his time having the fleet survey the islands, and trying to persuade the Admiralty to make Isola Stefano the main British naval base after Gibraltar. However, Malta was chosen after his death at Trafalgar, a fortuitous decision which was to pay off over a century later in WW II when that island held out against the German and Italian onslaught. The US selected the Maddalena area for one of its major bases, later turned into a NATO station. The Italian Navy still has a base on the SE of Maddalena. We saw only a large support ship in harbour.

Going past Isola Caprera we saw a large abandoned fortification that I would have loved to explore, but alas, it was not to be; we continued on between Isola Caprera and the mainland over to Porto Cervo. We did not want to be hit with a high marina charge, and so anchored outside the main breakwater (41˚ 08.24’N, 009˚ 31.93’E), and dinghied into this luxurious high class international jet-set marina. What a disappointment. There were very few yachts, and the facilities were dead! Few of the shops, boutiques, or restaurants were open, many empty seeking a moneyed entrepreneur who wants to recoup a 12 month investment with two months of outrageous prices. The architecture was pleasing, fitting in with the landscape as the original six millionaire property owners headed by the Aga Khan set forth in the early 60’s. The low rise development featured a series of linked plazas fringed with upscale bars and night clubs as well as expensive boutiques and yacht brokers.

The Costa Smeralda Yacht Club, established in 1967, has hosted many international yacht races including the Sardinia Cup, on a par with the Admiral’s Cup, and the Swan World Cup. In 1983 the club’s entrée into the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenge, Azzura, came third in the determination of who would challenge the US for the America’s Cup. That was the year Australia won and defeated the US to take to America’s Cup down under. I remember that well as I was there, escorting Canada I (also participating in the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenge) in a Canadian Navy patrol craft, which was seconded to the race committee. We had the difficult task of keeping spectator boats away from the start line and from each of the marks as the vessels approached them, giving us a spectacular view of the Challenger Series of match racing with these magnificent 12 metre yachts. In fact I remember a party at the Azzura Mansion in Newport from which I obtained an Azzura sweatshirt as a souvenir.

The supermarket at Porto Cervo was closed, and we were directed over to the town docks at Porto Vechio to a mediocre grocery store where we could buy few supplies. The area was deserted, out of season. I suspect it has the two high months of July and August, otherwise it is dead! We left that same afternoon!

We motored back into Isola Caprera into the wide bay of Porto Palma, home to a couple of sailing schools with their fleets of yachts in the NW corner. We anchored in the east bay (41˚ 11.22’N, 009˚ 27.23’E) past that deserted fort which I hoped to explore; Judy inhibited me as she thought she saw signs saying “Military Zone”. The anchorage was OK, but late next morning the wind started blowing from the west swinging us towards a lee shore, and increasing to force 5. We exited Porto Palma and went around up to Stagnali, hoping to have shelter from the west winds, but found the bay too shallow and not protected from the west. Exiting that bay, we went south of Isola Stefano and into Cala Villamarina, to go alongside an old abandoned quarry dock (41˚ 11.57’N, 009˚ 21.56’E), a well sheltered inlet except from the south.

This was an interesting location, as the abandoned quarry contained an unfinished statue of a massive sou’wester-clad, mustachioed head (about 3 metres high) and arms purported to be that of Garibaldi, or possibly Domenico Millelire (who opposed Napoleon when he attempted to take San Stefano and the archipelago). Whoever, the head of the statue, standing proud, head and shoulders in the abandoned quarry formed a dramatic monument in this desolate granite cliffside. I then went over the other side to explore an abandoned fort and a fortified residence which at one time would have guarded the straits south of Isola San Stefano. Below these structures was a semi-completed, and semi-deserted, luxury resort that I wandered through before heading back to Veleda. The north side of the island is still an Italian Navy restricted zone.

I wanted to get back to the more isolated granite sculpted islands of the Northern group, and so next day we headed NW around Isola Stefano and Isola La Maddalena up to the west coast of Isola Budelli, initially looking at Pink Beach which unfortunately was buoyed off, and so we went up to the northeast point adjacent to Deadman’s Reef Passage. After setting our anchor twice we had a secure anchorage (41˚ 17.09’N, 009˚ 21.54’E) which held for two days in force 6 NW winds. I went out in Sprite to explore the passage and did not want to consider going through it with Veleda except in the calmest of conditions. I went down to Pink Beach to find a deserted brown and pink sand shoreline sectioned off by buoys for swimming, probably used only in the high seasons of July and August. I met an American couple who had chartered a skippered catamaran anchored a few hundred metres off Veleda for the afternoon. They invited us over for drinks, I picked up Judy and we had an enjoyable hour or so with them, until they had to leave to return to the vessel’s home port. We stayed at anchor for a second windy night but elected to leave early on May 6th at 0800 hoping the wind had died a bit.

No such luck! We pounded into force 6 westerlies, motoring the long 10.3 miles (It took us 4 hours to cover the distance!) to Santa Teresa on the northern tip of Sardinia. As we were approaching the narrow entrance our engine started having problems and we had to bleed the fuel filters; air had gotten into the line from the pounding we underwent. Lots of fun! However we entered, refueled at the fuel dock (100 Euros {$158.00 Canadian} for 75 litres of diesel) and then were helped into a tailed mooring on a stable floating pontoon (41˚ 14.17’N, 009˚ 11.68’E), happy to be out of the heavy seas of the Strait of Bonifacio. The winds from the west at force 8 lasted for 3 more days. The good news was that the marina cost only 5.00 Euros a day, including water and electricity.

We were supposed to meet Jacques and Andree at Porto Conte on the NW coast of Sardinia on May 9th, but as the winds were against us, we made the wise decision to rent a car for the day and drive over to pick them up. It gave us a chance to see more of the countryside of northern Sardinia without risking Veleda in adverse conditions, staying at the enjoyable, economical, marina in Santa Teresa Di Gallura. More about this delightful clean town and our voyage over to Provence on the mainland of southern France in my next log.