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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sizzling Sardinia

Sardinia is starting to heat up; the rich and famous are arriving by private jet, superyacht, helicopter and of course, the less rich and famous such as ourselves and our visitors come by Easyjet.  A few weeks ago we saw a private jumbo jet fly into Olbia airport.......and daily we watch as Gulfstreams etc arrive by the dozens.  Yesterday though was the most jaw dropping sight - anchored in the Gulfo de Marinella was the biggest superyacht we've ever seen....all 110metres of her.  Thank goodness for internet on board - down below immediately to google.  She's just been sold to an Arab family for 250million euros and is crewed by 44.  Judging by the stiffly starched long white trousers and shirts they were isn't as much fun on board as it is on Bandit.
One of the biggest superyachts in the world....unbelievably excessive.

We've had some great cruising around the Maddalena archipelago and the various Gulfs near Olbia - all with beautifully translucent water.  David's youngest daughter Ping and her Italian boyfriend Stefano joined us for a few days and we took them to Tavolara.  Stefano is a professional sailor so a bit of a busman's holiday for him - but he seemed to enjoy the "cruising" side of sailing.  

Ping and Stefano enjoying the sunshine on Bandit

A few days later we got a shock when we tried to anchor in Cala de we trundled on in two officious looking chaps in a tender came alongside and told us anchoring was forbidden but we could pick up a mooring.....for the meagre cost of 230euro!!  We told them we wouldn't be availing of their services and interestingly, when we asked under what legislation they were quoting they couldn't tell us.  They also couldn't produce any documentation - but they told us that if we anchored they'd phone the Coast Guard and we'd face a fine.  Nice guys.  Needless to say, we moved on.  One day Italy will wake up to the fact that cruisers spend a lot in their country - on provisioning, repairs, marinas etc.  Perhaps like the Greeks one day they will actually welcome us with open arms.

Beautiful Bonifacio - mid June

Bonifacio is truly one of the Mediterranean's hidden gems - literally and physically.  The harbour is hidden behind limestone cliffs, the entrance only becomes obvious when you get close.  The waterfront is lined with open air cafes, restaurants and expensive boutiques but the jewel in the crown is the old town perched above.  
Brenda and her old journalist mate Shelley
From the sea the buildings hang precariously over the inky blue sea, the striated limestone below showing the effects of thousands of years of sea and wind.  Napoleon spent time here - wise man.  It's a gorgeous spot and we enjoy wandering the labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, poking our noses into shops where we can't afford a thing and buying divine pain au chocolate from the patisserie.  David worked out it was his twelfth time here - firstly in 2000 on Sea Gypsy and then again, with me, on Aschanti in 2006 and then on Bandit firstly in 2007, again last year and now this year.  And....we never tire of this beautiful spot.  This year we shared it with friends - the Mortons from Timaru and Shelley from Auckland.  Breathtaking!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

May/June 2011

Arrived in Olbia in early May to beautiful clear Italian skies....almost as warm as the UK where we'd had temperatures in the mid 20s!
 Unfortunately, David ended up in Olbia Hospital for a week fighting off the lurking Indian bug he's picked up during our month backpacking adventure there in March.
It was absolutely wonderful to see our very good friend (and nurse) Del Bissell who arrived while David was still lying in a hospital bed.  She was so supportive and David managed a speedy recovery so that we could get out to Isola de Porrie for a day.

The Mortons at Cala Coticcio Sardinia

Gee, Susi and Bridget Morton and Alex Hood
The Mortons arrived in Sardinia in early June.....fresh from a week in London with Bridget. We had a fantastic week with them - exploring Olbia, Porto Cervo, Maddalena, some remote anchorages and beautiful Bonifacio in Corsica, where we dropped them off.  The water was still a bit cool for us - but Gee braved it most days.  We left them in Bonifacio where they hired a car and drove through the island to Bastia to catch a ferry to Italy.

Jane and Derrick Milton in Sardinia

We were thrilled when Jane and Derrick Millton - friends from Marlborough - emailed to say they were coming to visit.  They were in London for THE wedding.....and so we were delighted they squeezed us into their busy itinerary.  We met up with them in London several times - had a lovely afternoon exploring Richmond, Richmond Park, tea at Petersham Gardens and Hampton Court Palace with them.  Brenda also got up early to see them off to William and Kate's wedding before she joined the throngs in Horse Guards Parade while Jane and Derrick headed for Westminster Cathedral!


Jane and Derrick on Sardinia
They were only with us a few days but we managed to show them a few sights.  The weather was kind.  The sea was still far too cold for us to swim but Jane took the plunge and enjoyed the crystal clear waters at beautiful Isola Mortorio.

2010 season

After delays due to ash cloud over the UK, David finally flew to Marmaris and I followed a month later.  We left the marina late April and headed for Simi, before sailing to Tilos and Nisyros - new Greek Islands for us.  They were lovely, as was Astipalea where we stayed for a week.  Then it was across to Santorini where we met Sally and Tim Wadworth from Marlborough.  Santorini was magnificent, albeit very touristy, and we escaped the crowds by finding a mooring at Oia, at the very top of the island from where we watched some magnificent sunsets.  We sailed to beautiful Folegandros and then Milos where we dropped the Wadworths then had a lovely sail across to the mainland.

Jerry and Jan Ford from Timaru joined us at the east end of the Corinth Canal and we motored through this amazing piece of engineering before spending a few lovely days in the Sea of Corinth.  Navpaktos was the highlight - a semi enclosed ancient harbour within spitting distance of the new and magnificent Rion bridge that joins mainland Greece with the Peloponnese.  Soon we were back in the Ionian - what a lovely area it is.  We dropped the Fords in Sami Kefalonia where we met up with old sailing buddies Frank and Kati from Antares.  Had a few lovely days with them on the south of the island before David's goddaughter Bridget Morton joined us for the sail across to Syracuse in Sicily.

Fantastic to be back in Italy - gelato, spada, Parmesan, proscuitto, mozarella, ricotta, lemoncello....all those wonderful foods.  We loved Syracuse and spent more than a week just enjoying the ancient city and taking bus trips to inland towns.  Time to head away though and we sailed the south coast, stopping off at a couple of interesting ports.....very Sicilian......before crossing to Sardinia.  Lovely to be back in the clear turquoise waters of Villasimius and we spent a few days here doing chores.

Pete and Chick Anderson joined us in Arbatax and we sailed up to Olbia with them - had only a day between them and our nexdt guests - the Hileys from England.  Sailed to Bonifacio with them and back to Olbia where we picked up Amy and Corry from Rutland and Amy's parents Barb and Glen from Fielding  - whew....busy time.  We sailed up to Ajaccio with them and what a great time we had - such fun people.

Annabel and Sally Wigley then joined us briefly - Annabel had just competed at Burghley and managed to squeeze in a quick Med trip.  We dropped them in Olbia where Mirabella was tied up - she just happens to be skippered by a Kiwi who knows the Wigleys!  Fantastic to see on board this magnificent yacht.

Time to head into Marina de Olbia for the winter - a nine month contract.  Brigitta from Switzerland came down with her friend Monica for a few days and they enjoyed swimming - although it was too cold for us.  Time to shut down Bandit for the winter and head to London.