Sardinia Sail and La Maddalena Archipelago, Italy

Piazza Regina Margherita, Olbia, Sardinia Sail

Piazza Regina Margherita, Olbia, Sardinia Sail

A couple of days in Olbia or the surrounding countryside is a nice way to acclimate before the week of sailing in northeast Sardinia. Especially if the meltemi is up! While a couple of mates chose a small village in the hills overlooking the sea to relax before the sail, I took a nice B&B in the heart of the old quarter of Olbia, near bustling Corso Umberto I and quiet Piazza Regina Margherita.

On Saturday, mid-August we met at Marina Cala dei Sardi to check-in for our 43 ft. Oceanis sloop, Libra, our home for the next week of sailing. The operation at the marine was efficient given how busy it was at this prime time of season.

Base manager Francesco took some time to give pointers on my Itinerary and gave some excellent suggestions for alternative ports or anchorages depending on weather conditions. This was a key bit on local knowledge given the winds were forecasted in the mid and upper 20 kn.

Daneilli, dock manager, also chipped in and helped Francessa, our check-in manager to make sure the extra details were attended to for our yacht’s departure.

Itinerary, Sardinia Sail

Itinerary, Sardinia Sail

We planned an overnight at Cannigione in the long, protected Golfo di Arzachena for the first night then a comfortably late start the second day to La Maddalena. Our third day crossing to Corsica was uncertain due to the windy conditions because a reach to Bonifacio, Corsica would mean 18 miles in seas with waves that would have been building across the Mediterranean for several days -a rocky ride!

Cannigione is a pleasant small town and a large marina with complete facilities. We were happy to see ahead of us the masts gathered in the marina after 5 hrs. of tacking into strong wind with some spray keeping us cool! Once we reversed into our med-mooring berth, the mates quickly brewed tea.

Cannigione, Sardinia Sail

Cannigione, Sardinia Sail

The narrow Gulf is surrounded by spiky mountains giving a granite backdrop to the small town, its single church spire and the many masts.

We all went for a stroll and split up with different dining schedules and interests. Cannigione is small enough to bump into one another again and the marina is close to everything. I enjoyed a glass of wine in a pub overlooking the active waterfront, busy with vendors setting up stalls for the nights promenade. An excellent Sardinia gnocchi (flour, not potato) topped off my evening at Restaurante Linius with another cold Vermentino.

As we prepared to leave, making sure Libra was in tune after our windy sail, Antonio, proprietor of our pontoon, stopped by to say a cheery send-off and to let us know we were welcome to return if La Maddalena was full. With a reservation confirmed at Cala Maniavolpe, I assured him I would take his offer the next visit. Antonio, his daughter Caterina and her husband Paolo run a busy pontoon!

La Maddalena Island, Sardinia Sail

La Maddalena Island, Sardinia Sail

A much busier port town than Cannigione, La Maddalena was ‘heaving’, as one British mate exclaimed. But only the several streets near the waterfront. A coupe of streets back it was all small houses, small lanes and much smaller crowds; in fact, very quiet.

The main drag was busy, though. Restaurants full, cafes brimming, piazzas with small tables in trattorias along the perimeters, imposing old architecture and lots of people enjoying their evening stroll. I found a small café table in a nice small piazzetta in front of an elegant huge church and had some Vermentino with enough nibbles to replace dinner.

The next day the winds were still up in the mid to high 20s so we decided against the crossing to Corsica. Instead, we sailed past Isola Spargi and its several eastern beaches, nipped past the south eastern side of the three small islands of Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria to tack for a couple of hours between the northwest tip of Maddalena and the islet Barrettini including a lazy heave-to for lunch.

Porto Massimo, Sardinia Sailing

Porto Massimo berths, Maddalena Island, Sardinia and to right or below, overlooking its anchorage

Sardinia Sailing Maddalena onto Porto Massimo 2015 047 (35)a

A windy crossing over the northern side of Maddalena and southeast along its eastern coast brought us to our overnight berth at Porto Massimo with its beautiful backdrop of golden rock cliffs. In contrast to our following night’s excellent dinner at Poltu Quatu, the restaurant at Massimo was a bit of a letdown; not good value, stuffy service and although tasty, rather small plates. But, we made it up the next evening….

A late start set us east along the top of Isola Caprera and down its eastern shore. The winds dropped to the mid teens so we tucked into Cala Portese for a swim and leisurely lunch.

Cala Portese, Sardinia Sailing

Cala Portese, our lunch and swim stop with our overnight, Poltu Quatu, to right or below

Poltu Quatu, Sardinia Sailing

The long narrow fiord that has been turned into Marina dell’Orso, or Poltu Quatu, is a pricey overnight stop but our crew felt it was worth the cost. Very protected, full services, well maintained, helpful staff AND a fantastically delicious and filling dinner at Sardo’s. Five courses; all local dishes, all delicious, all disappeared, all for euro 35 per. Yum!

Jane and Louise at Cala Volpe, Sardinia Sail

Jane and Louise at Cala Volpe, Hotel at upper left, Sardinia Sail

Sailing out of Poltu Quatu after a diesel stop, we rounded Capo Ferro in lightening winds from the NW and had a pleasant downwind sail to Cala Volpe for a long midday anchorage. Featured in the Bond film, “The Spy who Loved Me”, the Hotel Cala Volpe sit invitingly in the southwest corner of this wide and shallow bay. A popular stop, it has huge mooring balls to one side for the mega yachts!

Approaching Cala Volpe, Sardinia Sailing

Approaching Cala Volpe and our 43 Oceanis, Libra, to the right or below.

Libra, 43 Oceanis, Sardinia Sailing


Our final day was perfect sailing weather for our crew to practice their tacks and jibes; sunny skies and 10 – 15 knots of wind. So, we tacked out to the broad Golfo di Gugnana and had a beautiful day of sailing in Sardinia.