What are your criteria for an area to take a yacht out for a sail? If you want relatively stable wind conditions paired with plenty of anchorages, picturesque small towns, wild nature, navigational challenges, different cultures and turquoise waters to swim and snorkel you do not have to cross over to the Caribbean. There is all of this just around the corner. Without the risk of hurricanes – just occasionally the newly invented medicanes. 2017 was the first year I noticed the latter term, so I’m quite convinced there is no reason to be too worried, yet.
Anyway, if you don’t want to spend your first 24 hours off for traveling to your destination and you might just have one week of vacation, but still Caribbean feeling would be nice, try Sardinia next time. Located more or less on the middle of the Mediterranean Sea it is in reach of all major European airports within a few hours.
While approaching Olbia airport you’ll see the unbelievable color of the sea along the coast of the Northern part of the island for the first time. And you might get a taster of the wind as the aircraft bumps its way down to the runway. Around 20% of the time this bumpy ride is caused by rather fast moving airmass also known as „Mistral“. Mistral is a Northwesterly wind which has been acccelerated through the valley of the river Rhône down to the coast of Southern France before speeding and spreading over Gulf du Lion and the Corsican and Sardinian Seas. Quite an impressive look on wind charts. And there comes an additional advantage of the sailing area Sardinia:
If Mistral is really blowing hard you can still fly a piece of your canvas and beam or broad reach in almost flat sea conditions along the East side of Sardinia. Many beautiful bays wait with good holding clay bottoms to be discovered North and South of the capital Olbia. And it certainly sounds good in your stories back home when mentioning the wind force you actually sailed…
Weather allowing you have to sail along the famous Costa Smeralda. Clever investment and real estate management made this small coast line one of the most fabulous places on earth. As the name indicates, here’s your little Carib in the heart of the Med. Incredible rock formations and emerald (smeralda) colored seas will take your breath and make you want to drop the anchor immediately. Behind every cape you round there is another option. Of course this has not been a secret to the wealthy and „wanna-be-seen“ and you will meet shiny private and charter yachts of all sizes hiding their more or less important „freight“. Porto Cervo – the centre of the Costa Smeralda – is one of the most overpriced marinas and hosts several sail races such as the RC44 Porto Cervo Cup, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup etc.
Before you realise the North East cape of the island is abeam and you enter the Maddalena Archipelagio. The national park is of extraordinary beauty and very well protected. In a Mistral situation now is the very latest moment to reef for the serious beating to begin. Still you are covered by land mass but the islands are rather low and you’ll regret your recent hair dresser visit – if you had one – due to the wind… Therefore you’ll try to make way in almost flat seas and you might have a great experience of sailing action. You have also entered the Strait of Bonifacio now. This famous sea gate between Corsica in the North and Sardinia is a popular and manageable playground for all kinds of boaters.
You can spend weeks exploring the area of the Strait of Bonifacio. Many picturesque anchorages and hideaways, marinas and ports on either side. When ever you can you should visit the town which gave its name to the strait – Bonifacio. While approaching only in the last moment you’ll spot the natural entrance to the harbour W of the ancient houses, which are built just to the edge of the white cliffs of Southern Corsica. What a scenery! The harbour itself is a busy one with boats coming in and out, a frequent ferry form Sardinia using her horn and gusts from either West or East. Still the walk up to the old town and perhaps all the way forward to the fort from world war II is worth the marina billiard.
Also the Corsican Islands in the Strait are worth a visit. But mind your keel, there are several nasty rocks awash or just below sea level. If you feel like staying in the French speaking area the East coast up to Porto Vecchio is highly recommended. And if Mistral is allowing you should consider spending some time at the rough Corsican West coast. This would also be a good starting point for the crossing SW to the National Park of Asinara. Another pearl of North Sardinia with much less traffic then the SE coast.
Well – I could go on forever but I think you catched my drift. Go there and experience Sardinia for yourself. You won’t be disappointed…