Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Maddalena Archipelago

We left Elbe at 4 a.m. to take advantage of good winds for a 16-hour sail down to the San Ciprianu anchorage in Corsica.  It's not like us to get up so early, but we knew that after 8 hours of good winds we would have 8 hours of weak winds and motor sailing so we could catch up on sleep along the way.

We aimed for San Ciprianu because we know the area well and knew we could drop the anchor safely even in the dark if we had to.  At this time of year the sun doesn't set until 9 p.m. so we did manage to get in before dark.

After a couple of days enjoying the area, we made our way to the Maddalena Archipelago in north east Sardinia.  This is one of the more chic areas of the Med, where the rich and famous buzz about in large glossy suppository-shaped boats and where getting a nice spot to drop anchor can be a challenge.

We went to Santa Maria first, attracted by the large sandy bay, but quickly grew tired of the masses there.  Our highlight while here was watching Italian actor Roberto Bennini (It's a beautiful life) pass just in back of our boat in a small motorboat that deposited him on the beach at the gate of his home.  He was easy to spot - he was wearing a dark suit while all around are in skimpy swim clothes.

Santa Maria Panorama (click for larger version)

We moved on down to Budelli and found a super anchorage just north of the (forbidden) Pink Beach.  We waited till late in the day and took our dinghy over to walk around the area (also forbidden but apparently tolerated).  Gorgeous.

About the Maddalena park and its restrictions:  you do have to register and pay for a park permit before you enter into the archipelago.  You can do this on-line.  The downside is that you have to give precise dates.  The permit allows you to navigate in the area and to use the park mooring buoys for free.  Note: not all the buoys in the bays are park buoys; many are private (like those in Santa Maria).  The regulations say that you can only stay overnight in the area if you are on a mooring buoy, but in practice, we saw many people anchored over night.  We were visited by the park authorities on the morning of our departure.  You are supposed to leave the area by 9 a.m. on the morning after your permit expires.  For Mareda, the cost was 18.80 euros per day.  The mooring buoys go fast - get there early !

Motivated by 1) the desire to visit Maddalena and Caprera islands on scooter, 2) a near gale approaching, and 3) the french team playing in the World Cup semi-finals, we took a place in port in Cala Galvetta on Maddalena island.  It was suprisingly reasonable at 62 euros per night (reasonable being relative to the 120 and 85 euros we were quoted for other ports).  We thorougly enjoyed our day around Caprera.

Now we are hanging out on the Costa Smerelda just across from Caprera, and have taken a mooring buoy for a few days owing to 1) a new near gale approaching and 2) the french team playing in the World Cup Finals later today !!  We will use the "gale time" to take a bus to Porto Cervo, one of the most exclusive ports in the Med, to gawk at the rich people, and may rent another scooter to visit the archeological sites around the area.  We are finally "cruising" instead of fixing our boat in exotic locations.  Nice.