2 May to 1 June 2017
Alghero, N40° 34.0′ E08° 18.3′
Porto Conte, N40° 35.72′ E08° 12.76′
We spent a month in Alghero, in a berth directly under the sea walls. We immediately loved its laid back, yet exceptionally stylish vibes. The fact that it is a former Catalan colony meant that we were eased gently, by its architecture at least, from our long stay in Spain into Italy. But we didn’t have to look far to see signs that we were in Italy – there was pizza and ice cream at every turn. Perhaps it is because we arrived in the middle of Giro fever that the town’s tiny streets were so bright and colourful but it was incredibly warm and welcoming nonetheless. It was also a great base for exploring more of Sardina on our roadtrip Into Bandit country.
As soon as we arrived our spontaneous visitor, Clive, joined us for a couple of days. As well as watching the start of the Giro d’Italia together, we started to explore the bay in the tender, going over to Cala Galera for coffee and a swim.
At an exhibition of old police cars we found a reminder of home, a first generation Fiat Multipla – a little bit smaller than ours! We also bumped into the oh so stylish Italian police.
However, our reason for being in Alghero was to receive our visit from Stefan’s dad, Jim. If there was ever a man who deserved a holiday it was Jim. It was something that, before she died in January, Stefan’s Mum, Kate, recognised only too well. For twelve years he had cared for her through her Multiple Scleroris and as she became unable to go on the holidays they loved to go on together. Before she knew that she was going to leave us, for Christmas she gave Jim the present of a week away with us in Sardinia. She had organised care for herself and bought him a suitcase. It was therefore terribly bittersweet that, as it turned out, he was able to join us for two weeks.
Really we should have eased him into his first holiday in years, yet almost as soon as Jim arrived, before he had a chance to catch his breath after his flight, we threw off the lines and headed out to an anchorage near Porto Conte, only 5nm from Alghero. He had his first taste of sailing on Pintail followed by a relaxing evening enjoying the views of the nature reserve and dramatic cliffs around Capo Caccia. Thankfully Jim’s first night at anchor was flat calm but with stronger winds forecast for the coming days we thought it safer to return to our berth in Alghero.
Hiring a car for a couple of days we introduced Jim to some more of the history and beauty of Sardinia that we had seen on our trip Into bandit country. We started with a visit to two Bronze Age sites just outside Alghero. At the first, the Necropoli di Anghelu Ruju, in an ordinary looking field, we found a network of stone tombs carved into the rock to create burial places dating back to 3500BC.
Next stop was the 3500 year old ruins of a village, the Nuraghe di Palmavera, and clambered around the ancient stones of its circular towers, meeting place and houses.
Heading further north, we stopped at Argentiera. Silver had been mined there since Roman times but the mines closed in the 1960s and its buildings and streets have been abandoned. Its feline occupants ruled the deserted roads. This tiny, scrawny kitten simply refused to move out of the way of the car.
At the north west tip, where Sardinia ends and the island of Asinara starts we stopped for a picnic beside the clear, aquamarine waters that separate the two.
On our second day with the car we took the twisty, turning coast road south. We started at sea level for coffee looking down the west coast of Sardinia before climbing up through the shrub covered mountains and down again to the riverside town of Bosa.
Bosa is a spectacular, colour splashed hill town topped by castle. Its pastel houses look like something straight out of a Klee painting.
Bosa’s tiny streets are painted all sorts of colours and even its miniature vehicles join in the theme. Its alleyways reminded us of our weekend in Tangier.
We hiked Jim up through to the castle high above the town. He might have grumbled a little bit about the climb but we hope the view from the top, looking back down to the town to the sea, made up for it!
With more settled weather forecast, we took a second trip out to anchor near Porto Conte. Jim even carefully drove the boat close passed the cliffs at Capo Caccia to give us a good look.
We spent another couple of nights at anchor, exploring the bay in the tender and lazing on the beach.
When not at anchor, we introduced Jim to our temporary home of Alghero. He loved wandering around the old town and its cobbled streets and along the sea walls.
Sardinia has one of the largest populations of centenarians in the world and we loved this photographic celebration of them on Alghero’s walls. Jim’s got a way to go before he gets a photo on the wall!
On Jim’s last few days on board we were joined by Stefan’s sister, Lisa and niece, Ellie. We headed out to Porto Conte again to show them our favourite anchorage. By the afternoon the wind was blowing up so we decided to return to port. Our new crew had an unexpected taste of sailing in up to 30 knot winds and even a visit from a couple of dolphins.
We visited our favourite beaches. With the sun getting hotter they were getting more crowded. The sea was warm enough for a dip too.
Stefan got to enjoy some quality time with Ellie. She even had her first driving lesson in the tender and was particularly taken by the stray cats around the harbour.
And before everyone left we had a wonderful sunset meal up on Alghero’s sea wall, looking out to Capo Caccia.
Cheers Jim! Thanks for being a brilliant shipmate for a couple of weeks. We hope you had the holiday you deserved and that Kate wanted you to have.
Selfie, five in a dinghy – with Jim, Lisa and Ellie