Saturday, 2 June 2012

Porto Rotondo

We arrive back in Portisco on the Costa Smerelda to find Juno still battened down for the gale force winds that were howling around the coast when we left ten days ago. But now the air is still, with not a ripple on the water and the marina is noticeably busier than when we left. Excited German families, pale from the long northern European winter, race around the supermarket, shouting encouragement to each other as they pile their trollies with huge quantities of beer, salami and loo rolls, all paid for with their vast accumulation of Deutsche Euros.

As we have a few days in hand before Harry and Trini join us, we decide to hire a car and see some of the country in-land. Northern Sardinia is very rugged with craggy mountains made of orange granite towering above us in our hired Cinquecento. Fatty has planned our itinerary for the day and we head up through the hills to a large artificial lake in the mountains which supplies fresh water to the area and is also home to a grove of olive trees which are four thousand years old. Although we never do find the olive trees, we find the lake and a glorious lunch spot. Everything is green and lush in the valleys and air is thick with the smell of jasmine blossom but overhead always the harsh silhouettes of the granite cliffs.

After an afternoon window shopping in Porto Cervo, we visit a modern vineyard with its architect designed visitor centre of oak beams, glass balconies and quirky stools in the shape of champagne corks. But under this frivolous and chic exterior is the serious business of wine making and we are shown around the steel vats and the French oak barrels where the wine is aged before it is shipped to distributors around the world. The local grape is Vermentino and it produces a dry greenish wine which we sample with antipasti of salami, ham, olives and fish roe on crisp Italian bread.

The following day, after stocking up with provisions in Porto Cervo we motor the short distance to Cala di Volpe where we have arranged to meet Harry and Trini. We anchor in 5 metres of shimmering blue water over white sand and while fatty starts work on supper I take the rib into the private dock of the Hotel Volpe. I find Harry and Trini at the entrance to the hotel and we march through the lobby pursued by attentive concierges calling after us, trying to direct us to reception. We keep our heads down and walk hurriedly past the lawns and the sunbathing beauties down to our little rib and our escape back to Juno. Later that afternoon we are sitting in the cockpit when suddenly there is a bang and the sound of compressed air being blasted across the bay. This is not in fact the concierge still in pursuit, but our Jon Buoy which has been accidentally deployed and has inflated automatically with its flashing light blinking atop a fluorescent life raft. I retrieve the life raft, pleased to see how well it functions and relieved that I didn't fit it with the optional EPIRB, which would have alerted Falmouth Coastguard and triggered an emergency rescue from the local coastguard.

The next morning we leave Cala de Volpe and head for Isla de Caprera. It is a glorious sail in 15 knots of warm wind and we anchor in a bay on the East side of the island called Cala Coticcio, known locally as Tahiti Bay and frequented by the Riva set. This double headed bay has two small sandy beaches and is only accessible by boat and makes the perfect setting for the afternoon. As the evening wears on the wind starts to pick up a little so Harry and I reset the anchor and take a line ashore onto the rocks to prevent us swinging and working the anchor loose. The wind picks up again so we decide it's the perfect opportunity to test out the kedge anchor. This is a large aluminium anchor which is stowed in the darkest reaches of the lazarette and which we now attach to the spare anchor chain and manhandle into the rib. Harry then motors the rib into position upwind of us and drops it into the water over a patch of sand, while I pay out the line and secure it firmly to the bow. We have supper in the cockpit of baked sea bream and freshly baked bread and we go below for the night with the wind gusting down from the hills around the bay and our two anchor lines taught under the pressure.

Morning dawns and Juno hasn't moved an inch; our two anchors still firmly embedded in the sand. It is the Downes last day with us so we head for Porto Rotondo, famous for its yacht club which stages the J24 world championships. On our way through the islands Harry hooks into a huge Barricuda which we land, photograph and then return to the water where it quickly recovers from its ordeal and disappears into the deep. Porto Rotondo is a circular natural harbour surrounded by upmarket boutiques and hotels modelled on the same idealised rustic architecture as Porto Cervo, but it feels more like a working marina with the powerboats and yachts rubbing up against each other and the ubiquitous high speed rib ferrying guests to and from the super yachts moored in nearby bays. Harry and Trini treat us to supper in the piazza and we sit in the warm evening sun with mussles and chateaubriand that melts in the mouth washed down with vermentino and cold italian beer.

Harry and Trini leave us to fly back to the UK for school speech day and the jubilee celebrations and we plan the next leg of our journey which will take us down the East coast of Sardinia to Cagliari and then the crossing to Sicily where Kim and Tina Oxenham will join us.

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing worse than TWO anchors......

    Love the blog and excited already.