We left Bonifacio in calmer conditions than we found it in and motored over to the Iles Lavezzi. These islands are part of a natural reserve where boats are not allowed to stay overnight. We left Bonifacio early and planned on dropping anchor for lunch, have a swim in the undoubtedly crystal clear blue water and then heading over to Isola Maddalena on the Sardinian side of the Bonifacio Strait.
It turned out we weren’t the only ones with this plan because all the anchorages were packed with daytrippers. The anchorages are quite tricky, there are shallows and underwater rocks everywhere and I didn’t feel like risking Scehawk on having a swim so we decided to keep moving.
Isola Maddalena is also a natural reserve, and just to be sure we called ahead and asked for anchoring regulations. They were quite specific: ‘You just drop the anchor(e) in the sand(e) and stay until 22 hour(e), then you have to be on a mooring(e)’. So nice to be in Italy again. We also had to head into the tiny town of Gavetta to get a permit.. It was getting a bit late for all that, and we were just passing the very tempting looking kite beach of Porto Pollo (Sardinia) so we dropped the anchor. Some days just don’t go according to plan!
It was such a nice anchorage that we decided to stay here a little bit. We sometimes have to remind ourselves that we are not in a hurry and we can stay for a lazy beach day. Thomas also got a few hours of kitesurfing fun before both of his kites gave up. Afterwards, he did rescue an exhausted windsurfer before drifting into the ocean (karma points: check!).
In order to get to the Isola Maddalena we first sailed to Gavetta early in the morning (Thomas’ favourite thing, in theory) and tied up to a deserted fuel quai. Thomas secretly filled up our water tanks, I got to the office of the national park for the cruising permit and my parents got the unlucky task of taking out the trash – they were confronted with an over-achieving dumpster security guard who made them sort through the whole bag in order to make sure everything was properly recycled. While they were digging through the trash Thomas was enjoying the sight of a whale swimming by.. Luckily the whale stuck around and we all got a glimpse of it!
The Isola Maddalena was also filled with heaps of other boats, and the uneven rocky ground and strong wind made it hard to anchor. After our anchor was halfway decently set (which took a lot of attempts) it was quite the show to watch other boats and their anchor tactics. We didn’t feel like leaving the boat alone in this anchorage so we just swam off the boat and relaxed before sailing off to Iles Lavezzi. At this tiny island we crossed paths with the boat ‘Twizzle’ on which the previous owner of Scehawk is the captain. Such a coincidence! We managed to find a free mooring ball so we could leave the boat and explore the island on foot as well. Writing this all down it strikes me that we had quite a long day before going on our first overnight sail.
That evening we prepared the boat, my parents cooked dinner and at 20:00 we were off for our first night sail. We were super excited and felt prepared for this next step! We took out the headlights, divided shifts between Thomas and me, reefed the main.. And then a fitting on the headsail snapped so we had to furl it in just after nightfall. We were still making good speeds with only the reefed main, we had steady 20-25 knots winds and high waves in our back. We forgot to hoist the dinghy up on the deck, which was riding Scehawk like a horny teenager all night (bumping loudly against the swimming ladder and keeping everyone awake). Other than the waves and noise it was an awesome sail. The sunset and sunrise were magical and we saw fluorescent jellyfish and algae! We were also happy to have my parents on board, who took the first morning shift so Thomas and I could sleep in a bit.
After sailing for 16 hours we arrived in the bay of Porto Conte, just off Alghero. One of the reasons we were sailing overnight were predicted strong westerly winds which we would wait out in this bay. We found a free mooring ball and would stay here for a whole week – also a first since we left Port Grimaud!