Sailing the East Coast of Sardinia

Margriet KapteynUnderwayLeave a Comment

We had ordered a new anchor chain from the chandlery in Cannigione on Monday the 30th of July. They said the delivery would probably be on Friday. So we had a whole week to hang around this little Sardinian town. Time to do some boat jobs…

RIP little mouse

For a few weeks there had been a funny smell in the galley. First we thought it was the bin, or perhaps a little ‘present’ that was left somewhere hidden by the Puppy. But eventually the smell was located to come from the bottom drawer where we store our pots and pans. Jon was brave enough to investigate further and there it was: a tiny little mouse in the pot right at the bottom. The poor thing must have starved to death as it somehow got trapped between the pot and the dish stashed above it so it could not get out. Stuart Little was quickly disposed off overboard and the entire cupboard plus all it contents thoroughly cleaned.

More shade and cooler temperatures below deck

Another job that had been on the list was to make another sunshade. Last summer we had bought a roll of strong canvas that we had already used to make two small triangular sunshades. The idea was to make a larger, square one that could be put on either side of the boom to shade the main hatch and deck of the saloon. My basic sewing machine handles 2 layers of the thick fabric, but the reinforced corners needed to be hand-sewn. Jon took care of that because I don’t have the patience to sew by hand.

But we did not stay on the boat all the time. In the summer months every Friday night Cannigione organises a local festival. We had been to a Brazil-themed one before we went to the Maddalenas, and during our second stay we went ashore for another one, this time the theme was local traditions. There was a great vibe in the little town and we enjoyed watching the locals proudly dance their Sardinian folk-dance (which looks like any other folk-dance, really: a lot of holding hands in a circle and twirling around in couples)

Waiting for chain

Earlier that Friday we had gone back to the chandlery, expecting to pick up our new chain. Unfortunately the chain was still in the factory on the Italian mainland. Hopefully it would arrive on Monday, otherwise Tuesday. So we had no choice but to stay a little bit longer. On Monday we prepared ourselves that the chain would probably not be there. And indeed, it wasn’t. On Tuesday we tried again; this time they could tell us that the chain had arrived in Olbia, a large town nearby on Sardinia, and at this point it only had to be couriered to Cannigione. It’s lucky that we have lived in Spain for 10 years where everything also happens ‘mañana, mañana’ because in the end we had to wait until Wednesday evening to finally receive the good news that our chain had arrived.

We dinghied into the marina and while I stayed in the dinghy on the quay (as it was not an approved place to leave your dinghy), Jon went to fetch the chain. The store attendant had been very friendly throughout the week and a half we had been dealing with him and he had assured us we would get some help to carry the 100 kg chain from the shop to the dinghy. The chain had arrived in a barrel which made it easy to transport it to the quay. There we loaded the 70 meter of chain on the floor of the dinghy.

Back on Goodvibes we planned the logistics to replace the old chain (at that time still holding our anchor) with the new chain. We hauled up the anchor and threw out our second anchor on a rode attached to our forward cleat. Then the main anchor was detached from the chain and tied on the outside of the bow. Jon maneuvered in the dinghy to the bow of Goodvibes and fed the new chain through the bowroller which I, up on the bow of Goodvibes, fed into the windlass and chainlocker. Using the windlass we pulled in all the chain from the bottom of the dinghy. The anchor was attached to the new chain and dropped in the water, after hauling up the spare anchor.

One last night in Cannigione and we could finally move on along the East coast of Sardinia. Our friends on s/y Wilma and Vaare had already left a few days earlier and we were keen to catch up with them.

Capo Coda Cavallo

The first part of the next leg was pretty hectic. We had to go past the south of the Maddalenas, through a narrow passage between the mainland and a little island and past the superyacht destination of Porto Cervo. By now we’ve had enough of the crazy motorboats passing with only a few meters distance at high speed. With the engine on, we got out of there as soon as possible.

It feels like being hunted by massive powerboats

All sorts of vessels are constantly overtaking, passing and crossing on all sides

Once we were in the open seas we put out the sails and with a light wind managed a speed varying between 1.5 and 4 knots. Our destination was an anchorage at Capo Coda Cavallo. When we arrived there were quite a few other cruisers but there was still enough space for us to anchor. The wind was not in our favour to continue the day after so we spent 2 nights here.

The pleasant anchorage at Capo Cabo Cavallo. The beaches were very busy during the day as Italian summer holidays were now in full swing.


Saturday the 11th of August the weather was good enough to make the large hop to our friends, 50 miles further south of the Sardinian East coast. We got up at sunrise (6 am) and within 15 minutes we were on our way. There was very little wind for the first few hours so unfortunately we had to burn more diesel. In the afternoon the wind picked up but it had changed direction and was now directly on the bow. On top of that, the swell had also increased, and as a result we were slamming quite hard into the waves.

Approaching Arbatax from the North. It is easily recognisable by the huge crane in the marina

Finally, after 12 hours, we approached our waypoint outside of Artabax. We got in touch with s/y Wilma to find out where exactly they were anchored as we could not see them on AIS yet. Instead of on the North side of the town, they were in a little bay called Porto Frailis on the South side. That meant we had another 5 miles or so to go… By now we were counting down the miles, eager to get some rest. At 19.45 we dropped our anchor next to Wilma and behind Vaare. After a quick freshen up we joined Oivind, Tjoppe and Helena on Vaare for a barbecue. How fortunate to have friends who cook for you after you’ve spent a long day at sea.

It was discouraged in Porto Frailis to take your dinghy on to the shore. The only way to get on land was to tie the dinghy to the rocks on the outskirts of the bay and climb over the rocks to the nearest road. This sounded too hard to try (our friends had gone ashore the day we arrived and ended up with an involuntary swim when they slipped off the rocks) and on top of that there was a considerate swell from the South which would make the endeavour even more treacherous. So we spent the day on board.

The Guardia Finanza – a militarised policed force responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling – frequently surveys the anchorages in Italy

How to lose an anchor

During the day the bay filled up with daytrippers. It wasn’t nowhere near as busy as the Maddalenas but we were still keeping a close eye on the boats around us. And of course, one boat decided to drop his anchor right in front of Goodvibes. Jon put out some fenders and maintained eye contact with the skipper who seemed unsure how to proceed. He stayed at the helm for at least half an hour without changing his position. They were not committed to it though, because the rest of his family were also hanging around the cockpit without going in for a swim.

The lost anchor being lifted from the bottom

Eventually they hauled in the anchor chain but something wasn’t right: when they drove past us we could see that they didn’t have their anchor on their bow, just a bare piece of anchor chain. Jon dove down and could see their anchor was left on the bottom! A guy from a nearby boat had also seen this happen and got in his dinghy together with his son to dive up the anchor. The anchor-less boat had left the anchorage and was driving up and down outside the bay. At first we weren’t sure they had even noticed they did not have their anchor. They seemed pretty indecisive and unsure how to proceed – just as before when they were anchored too close. Lucky for them the other guy was able to retrieve the anchor and return it to its rightful owners. Never a dull moment!

Capo Ferrato

The next day it was an early start again: at 6.20 the anchor was up and we were on our way to the next anchorage some 40 miles South. The forecast was for light winds in the morning, increasing in the afternoon. We were keen to avoid a repeat of the second half of the trip to Arbatax (swell + wind on the nose) so opted for the early start. Wilma and Vaare decided to leave a little bit later – their heavier boats handle better than ours in rougher seas and with more wind.

We arrived at 14.30 in the anchorage of Cala Sa Figu, to the North of Capo Ferrato. For lunch I made spaghetti Carbonara, which seemed suitable considering we were only a few miles away from Capo Carbonara in the South-East of Sardinia. Wilma and Vaare arrived in the early evening and had no problem finding a spot in this quiet anchorage.

The shore consisted of two relatively busy beaches. By now it had been a week since we had last been ashore to get rid of our rubbish and to get some shopping done. But again, this did not look like a suitable place to go ashore with the dinghy. Especially as we had just heard that our friends from Sailing Kittiwake and s/y Rocket Science had been fined €160 for beaching their dinghy in the South of Sardinia.

View on Goodvibes in Cala Sa Figu (photo taken by Helena from the top of Vaare’s mast)

In a way it was lucky that we didn’t go ashore because in the afternoon of the day after our arrival in Capo Ferrato suddenly the weather turned very nasty. There had been a stormfront to the North of us but the wind had been from the East and we expected the front to not reach us. Suddenly the air turned cold, the wind changed direction, and within a few minutes we were hit by 2 meter waves and 30 knots of wind. The storm lasted a few hours, but with 50 meters of chain out we were riding it out without too many concerns. Around 8pm the bay was as calm as it was before and we were able to have a solid night sleep.

Letting out more anchor chain to withstand the sudden waves and wind

Vaare in the evening light – quiet after the storm


The last stop before crossing to Sicily would be Villasimius. There is a large anchorage along the beach of Campulongu outside of the marina which is protected from all sides, except the West. In the case of a Westerly blow you can easily go around Capo Carbonara to the East side of the little peninsula for shelter. This would be a good place to stock up on food supplies and do some laundry while we were waiting for good weather to get to Sicily.

We left Capo Ferrato at 8.30 – no need for another start at sunrise as we had only 20 nm to go. After we rounded Capo Carbonara the wind increased so instead of dropping anchor in Campulongu we overshot a little bit and anchored in Capo Boi. By the time we had finished our lunch the wind had eased off and we engined to Campulongu to re-anchor. With our new anchor chain we were more confident dropping in deeper water so there was no problem anchoring in the 8 to 9 meters on the edge of the anchorage.

Villasimius anchorage

We didn’t know it yet, but we would be spending quite some time here because the weather would not allow us to get to Sicily any time soon.

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