Welcoming Friends in Bellissima Sardegna

May 9 - 10, 2024 

Cruising Sardegna begins in La Maddalena Islands. During our planning for the trip, Neil had ranked this area as a “must”. I was in full agreement, but really had no idea how absolutely gorgeous it would be. We are so fortunate to have been able to experience the beauty of this area and even more fortunate to do so with our good friends Tama and Roger. 

The adventure begins when we arrive at Porto Cala Gavetta, the marina where we are planning to pick up our guests. We are greeted by a very friendly Italian dock expert who is whipping around in his dinghy while assisting us with the Med mooring. He motors up to the buoy at full speed, comes to an abrupt stop to hand up the bow line for me to secure the boat, and all the while he is carrying on a conversation with me in a mix of English and Italian. He has the biggest smile on his face. Clearly he loves doing what he is doing (and he loves Finnegan, so I like him even more). After the boat is secure, he welcomes us to this beautiful place that is “not so beautiful in the winter” (with an adamant shake of his head).

Since the boat is not fully “shipshape”, Neil and I complete some of the last minute cleaning. Everything on deck and in the cockpit gets covered in a film of salt that has to be hosed or wiped down fairly regularly. I notice that the stainless base of the cockpit table is looking a little dull, so I bring out the cleaner and begin wiping it down. I have an audience. There is a group of tourists lining the dock where we are moored and one woman shrugs as if to say, “yup, we are always cleaning”. We share a smile. Then a couple begin asking Neil questions about the boat. She speaks English and we find out they are from Austria. They see our Canadian flag and want to know if we have sailed over from Canada. More people begin listening in as we explain we bought the boat in France and have sailed to Sardegna, but we live on the boat and will be continuing on to Italy, Greece and Turkey. They wish us well and are off on the next stop on their vacation.

It is so great to see Roger and Tama. Their journey has taken them from YYZ to Frankfurt to Olbia (a small airport in Sardegna), to a taxi to Palau, where they get the ferry to La Maddalena. When they arrive on the ferry they only have a short walk to the boat and we welcome them with cold glasses of wine and some charcuterie before heading out to check in and locate the capitainerie du porto.

As a non-EU registered boat in Italy, we are required to have a “constituto” or transit log when sailing in Italian waters. It is to be picked up at the first port of entry and dropped off at the last. We have discovered that the information for obtaining one of these is about as clear as mud, despite scouring the internet and sailing forums. All we really know is that we must have one in case we are stopped by the Guardia costiera (maritime police, safety) or the Guardia di Finanza (financial crime, drugs and smuggling). With our friends in tow, we eventually find the correct office with the correct officials we need to see in order to get this elusive paper. Neil, Finnegan and I are “buzzed” into the high security area and asked to hand over our passports in exchange for a “visitor pass”. We are assured that our passports will be returned to us. Roger and Tama make the wise decision to leave us to it while they go in search of espresso and pink wine. Sounds like the better option to me!

After a half hour wait, we are escorted into the office of the capitainerie and asked to present our papers for the boat, insurance, identification, etc. Three officers are working on completing our paperwork. One is on the computer entering the information while the second, who looks to be the boss, is supervising. The third is the younger of the group and he is there as the interpreter. Their manner is quite serious while all of this is going on, but once it is almost finished everything feels much less so as they ask us questions about our journey so far, our planned route, and about Canada. We are finally official and make our way to the cafe to celebrate with a bottle of pink wine with Rog and Tam.

To our delight that evening, we find a restaurant that is off the beaten path. The fresh pasta is amazing. According to Finnegan, what is not so amazing are the cats that are hanging around the restaurant.

The next morning is about provisioning and obtaining the necessary travel permit to sail in the protected area of La Maddalena Islands. Neil purchased the pass online, but the system was having trouble processing the payment. I made a phone call to the park office the night before to inquire about next steps and was told to try to pay online in the morning. I asked what to do if still did not work and was told to visit the park office. Since the system was still not cooperating, Neil walks over to the office and is eventually given the 80 euro pass for free since they were still having technical difficulties. Bonus for us!

Tama and I do a fairly major shop at the grocery store that is about a 20 minute walk from the boat. It is easy to find lots of small grocers around, but a bigger challenge to find the kind of grocery stores we are used to. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are going to have to carry everything back to the boat. This is completed with two large cloth bags each.

Meanwhile, Roger is out scouting around for shops that sell Italian cheese, meat, olives, sweets and wine. He is successful and is like a kid in the candy store. His treasures are added to the haul. We certainly are not going to starve on this adventure!

Provisioning done, we are off to our first anchorage on Isola di Razzoli, a short motor away (no wind). Team Roger and Carole (ROCA) ace the selection of Cala Lunga. We are the only boat there. Stunning rock formations, clear turquoise water, sandy beach, beautiful sunsets, hiking… Team Neil and Tama (NETA) have a lot to live up to if they were going to beat this one! (But they do make an outstanding dinner with the fresh fish they bought, and Team ROCA is not going to surpass those two in the galley!)

           Alone in the anchorage

     Launching the dinghy


One happy puppy!

A man on top of the world

Sunset cruise


      It doesn't get any better!

    Psycho Dinghy 2.0

Peaceful puppy

Sunset beauty


  1. Stunning! <3 Christine

    1. Hi Christine! It was truly spectacular. One of the places I would love to visit again.


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