Sardinia cruise – Italia by Natalia

When my adventure with Italy began in earnest, I was only seventeen years old. The year before, I had stepped on Italian soil for the first time, but it wasn’t until my second trip – four weeks in Sicily organised on my own – that I was to have my breakthrough and influence the rest of my life. In Sicily, I settled in Syracuse, a city famous since antiquity, whose very distinctive location with its old town on the island of Ortigia makes for a large, spacious harbour. Part of this harbour, called Marina Piccola, is the base for local fishermen and the other part, Marina Grande, is for yachts.

It was in Syracuse that I first saw these beautiful boats in person. During the summer, the entire Marina Grande is filled with yachts, both smaller and luxury sometimes even huge sailing ships call at the harbour. As a young girl who walked around the islet every day in the hot summer evenings passing by Porto Grande and looking at the moored yachts, I imagined that such boats were a completely different world that I would never experience. I thought that in order to at least get on board, you had to belong to this world. I was wrong, or at least not entirely. My history with cruising began with one-and-a-half-day trips, first on a gulet, then a catamaran, then a motor yacht, trips on a gomone or with a local fisherman on his small, colourful boat around the islands. Boats fascinated me more and more, and being able to jump off them directly into the turquoise water in inaccessible bays from land gave the whole trip an incredible thrill. That’s why when I received an invitation from Yachtic.com to go on a week-long cruise in any part of Italy and later describe it and show it in photos and videos, I didn’t give it a second thought. I was sure from the start that I wanted my husband and friends to accompany me, and the choice of destination immediately fell on the Emerald Coast of Sardinia – Costa Smeralda. It is a place famous for its beautiful waters and irregular coastline, even jagged, full of white beaches, intimate coves and small islands. It is one of the most beautiful coastlines in Italy.

I chose the date of the cruise – from 4 to 11 June – not by chance. It was my fourteenth wedding anniversary that week, and what better way to spend it than to fulfil yet another travel dream? We set sail from the tiny but picturesque Punta Nuraghe marina in Porto Rotondo. We didn’t sail long that day, dropping anchor after less than two hours in Golfo Marinella. The weather had broken a little, it was warm and bright, but the sun hid behind the clouds. We left the swim platform of our Dufour 430 Grand Large Billywig and fired up the barbecue. We had a cruise to the famous La Maddalena Islands on the agenda, but high tide in the area forced a change of plans. So, on the first full day of the trip, we took a course south towards Orosei Bay. We visited the islands of Molara and Tavolara, among others, but due to the lack of sunshine we could not fully enjoy the beautiful water around them. The sun only broke through when we entered the first marina – Puntaldia – and accompanied us until the very end of the cruise, only once losing to the clouds for a few hours. We left the famous Emerald Coast and, heading south, dropped anchor in such beautiful places as the beaches of Isuledda and Berchida. We also returned to Tavolara being able to finally see it in full sun.

Unfortunately, some of our plans were thwarted by rough seas. It’s quite a problem that has to be taken into account because we can’t do anything about it. We can change direction, but there is always the risk that a high wave will arrive from the other side as well. This is exactly what happened in the second half of our cruise. A very strong wind prevented us from sailing for one whole day and only allowed us to sail out of the marina for half a day on the second day, and only because we had a very experienced captain who dared to sail despite the high tide. What to do when the weather does not allow you to continue your cruise? You can relax on the beach, hang out in the pubs, or you can use the time to see something on land. This is what some of our team did. We booked transport and went to visit an ancient nurag. Stone buildings of this type erected centuries ago by the Nuragians are among the very characteristic monuments of Sardinia, and are in fact one of the symbols of the island. The others who did not want to visit went to the beach right next to the marina.

For all the days of the cruise – not counting the weather-enforced stopover in the marina – we enjoyed the beauty of the surroundings and the yacht itself and the opportunities it presents. We cooked all our lunches on board, including a barbecue on several occasions. It’s a really great thing to do, you just have to think about buying the right products and you can enjoy your barbecued meals surrounded by the turquoise water and picturesque coastline. We were also very keen to use the dinghy to swim to the beaches, as well as the SUP, a recently fashionable paddle board on which you can swim, among other things, standing up. I would also recommend to all water fun lovers to take a snorkel mask with you on the cruise, you will not regret it.

What mistakes should be avoided when planning a first cruise? First of all, on a yacht, detailed itineraries make no sense. You can’t visit as many places as you can moving on land. Consider the location of marinas and possible bad weather. It is worth choosing the places you would like to visit, but treat them in the category: “if it works out it will be fun, if not nothing happened”. When packing for a cruise, avoid large suitcases, as there are no conditions to stow such a suitcase in small yachts. Even small cabin suitcases can be problematic, so it’s best to opt for flabby bags that can be rolled up and thrown in the wardrobe. It’s also worth thinking about bringing your own towels, as those provided by the operator get totally mixed up over time and you can’t tell which is whose. We found this situation funny, but some may find it embarrassing. What else might surprise beginners? First of all, aspects of using the yacht, such as going barefoot and using the toilet. Here it is important to note that used toilet paper cannot be thrown into the toilet, it must be disposed of in the garbage. This is quite embarrassing, but unfortunately necessary, at least on smaller boats.

One of my best experiences of this cruise was on the last full day when we had to return to home port despite the high tide. Our captain, Alessandro, decided that everyone who wanted to be on the upper deck had to wear a life jacket and, in addition to the couches, had to fasten themselves with a rope. This is how we covered the stretch between Porto Ottiolu and Punta Nuraghe, stopping for lunch in one of the picturesque bays near Golfo Aranci. Some of the team didn’t take well to cruising through the high waves, but some – including me – had great fun jumping the boat over the three-metre waves. At around 5pm we entered the marina, where the operator’s staff proceeded to inspect the yacht. Not only the interior, lines, sails and navigation equipment were checked. We were surprised to find that the yacht was also inspected underwater, and this was done by a diver. Some of us spent the last night on the yacht, and some of us continued the journey the previous day. The cruise officially ended with the signing of the yacht handover protocol. Such a document – like the take-over protocol – is signed by the skipper and the lessor.

Our first cruise turned out to be a fantastic adventure. Until recently, I didn’t think that this kind of attraction would ever happen to me. I had imagined yachts to be luxury goods only within the reach of wealthy people. Of course, boats with several decks, large cabins and bathrooms and jacuzzis are indeed an offer for the rich, but small yachts are within the reach of normal earners. Costs increase a lot during the high season. July and August are always very expensive, but by choosing June, September or October you can find affordable offers and still enjoy the beautiful weather.

With nautical greetings
Natalia from Italia by Natialia

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