Ocean Paddler Magazine, issue 16, has an article on paddling in Sardinia by yours truly.
Ocean Paddler Magazine, issue 16, has an article on paddling in Sardinia by yours truly.
Tim Shuff has an editorial titled “Apologies to Everyone I’ve Ever Left in my Wake” in the summer 2008 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine, where he discusses the problem of mock waiting when paddling, based in part on my account of the things that went wrong in Sardinia in October last year between Wendy Killoran and myself.
Thanks to Alison Dyer for bring this to my attention.
So, the miracle has happened. The parcel sent from Barisardo in Sardinia in October last year has finally been delivered to my in-laws in Palermo, after over eight months in postal limbo. From what I hear, the content was rather smelly, so the washing machine has been working in overdrive since the parcel’s arrival. It’ll be interesting to see the state of the garments when I get down there the next time.
During the first leg of the Sardinia circumnavigation I sent a parcel with excess equipment from Bari Sardo in Sardinia to a friend in Palermo. The parcel wasn’t picked up in time at the post office in Palermo, and while everybody assured me it would be returned to my address in Denmark, it wasn’t. It just disappeared.
We have tried to report it missing in every conceivable way, by telephone, by email, at the post office in Palermo and even in Bari Sardo, but we have either received no answers, requests for further information on the parcel, unhelpful answers or just plain wrong answers, until today, that is. Today I received a phone call from the Poste Italiane that they have found the parcel, and that it will be sent to my in-laws in Palermo within ten working days.
I had practically given up any hope of ever seeing my stuff again. Now we just have to wait and see if the parcel will in fact rematerialise as promised.
The Sardinia journey seems to wrap itself up quite nicely
I have taken a lot fewer photos this time, and they’re not as good as last year. With regard to photographing it does make a huge difference paddling alone. Often taking photos is part of a social interaction which doesn’t take place when you’re alone.
Yesterday I arrived at Cagliari at around 18H. For practical reasons I didn’t return to the exact place of launch, but I crossed the course we followed last year, so now I can say I’ve been all the way around Sardinia in kayak.
I started from the beach of Chia at about 8, paddling along the coast. The weather was calm, almost not a wind stirring and no waves. Progress was fast even if I didn’t hurry, and I was at Capo di Pula in no time. As I managed to do good speed without much effort, I just continued instead of taking a break. The plan was to stop for lunch around the next headland, but I had forgot something.
As I turned the headland I was met with a beach or a village on the coast, but with an oil refinery.
I had to paddle further out to avoid the moored tankers, and passed under one of the pipeline bridges a bit out. The bridges extend a couple of kilometres into the sea. Not having a beautiful landscape to look at makes for boring paddling.
After the refinery there several kilometres to the next beach, but there was nothing there but beach so I ended up paddling to La Maddalena beach, where I found a pleasant place to stop for lunch, even if a few hours later than planned.
While I was approaching the beach a SE wind started blowing, the scirocco. It got stronger while I was on the beach, and when I left it was about force 3-4.
After a couple of kilometres along the beach I passed under gas pipeline bridge at Porto Nuovo, and crossed straight east towards the head of the first breakwater in front of Cagliari harbour.
The wind was now giving me some waves, about 1-1.5m, so progress was slower then I had hoped. At that point, with the goal so close, I just wanted to get into the harbour, and I was frankly annoyed with the wind and the waves for keeping me back.
I was heading for a small harbour near Sant’Elia, because my friends couldn’t bring the car into the ferry harbour to pick me up. I didn’t quite know where it was, and couldn’t readily see it, so when at the southern breakwater of the harbour, I had to chose if going south in search of a small harbour I didn’t really know where to find, or enter the sheltered larger harbour and find a place to land in there. I chose the latter.
Inside the breakwater it was nice and calm, and I started searching for a place to land. The first place I was turned away, members only I was told, but then I found the little bridge of the Società Canottieri Ichnusa and landed there without any problems.
I made a few phone calls to inform my friends of my whereabouts, and started emptying the kayak.
After a few minutes the reception commitee started showing up. Simona Biagini whom I’d met in Venice for the Vogalonga, was the first, followed by Francesco Ravasio whom I knew from last year, Francesco Muntoni, my host in Cardedu, and finally Stefano Diana of Diana Canoe, the local kayak manufacturer.
We had a nice time while packing and chatting, after which we went to Francesco Ravasio’s, where I had a long awaited shower. Such a marvellous thing getting the sand and seaweed out of the hair.
We then had dinner all together at a good local restaurant, Il Gatto, and at ten Francesco and I set off for Cardedu, where I am now.
Today I’ve been sleeping, eating and washing my gear. It is truly amazing how much seaweed I’ve been hauling around ever since those miserable surf launches at Marina di Arbus. Its appearing everywhere, inside pockets, in bags, under the seat, all over.
As for my return, I will either have to go to Porto Torres for a ferry to Genova tomorrow, or take the one from Arbatax on Thuesday. From Genova I will go by motorcycle to Venice, from where I can take a flight on Sunday for Copenhagen.
I’ve done quite well today, I think. I’m in Chia, having rounded Punto Cala di Piombo, Capo Teulada, Capo Malfatato e Capo Spartivento. In all I’ve done 53km in about 8 hours.
My primary task today was to round Capo Teulada with the military shooting range. They’ll be shooting all week, so Sunday was my only option to pass there.
The forecast was for force 4 NW (maestrale), which would push me along, but also give me some decent following waves of 1m and more, at least until I rounded Capo Teulada.
To avoid having waves and maestrale all the way to Capo Teulada, I started at 7 in the morning. One thing I have learnt here in Sardinia is that there is rarely any wind at all in the early morning. The winds come with the sun. By launching early I had at least 2 hours paddling on calm water with almost no wind, which got me to Punto Manga a few km before Punto di Cala di Piombo.
At around 9 the maestrale started to make itself felt, and soon I had the promised waves. They were a bit different from what I had expected. The regular waves were mostly WNW and 0.5-1m, but every once in a while I would get a handful of swells of 1.5-2m from the SW.
After playing with that for a couple of hours, it was rather welcome rounding Capo Teulada at 11, after 28km, and find a bit of rest in the shelter of the cape.
I decided to have my lunch break at Porto Teulada, which was another 6-7km, but on the way I got the full force of the wind as it passed over the hills behind the two capes I had rounded. I paddled at a few hundred metres from the shore, and even at that short distance the wind made waves of about 0.5m.
At one point a motorboat headed straight for me, as if to cut me off, but when they got closer, they just wanted to hear if I was ok. Everything was fine, but I thanked them anyway. I’m not sure, but I think I have heard of yet another kayaking related death in this area recently, so people might be more alert when they see kayaks out in wind and waves.
I had a nice break, slept a bit on the beach, before launching again at around 4 in the afternoon. I had been studying the beach maps I have with me, and there were plenty to chose from, so I just headed for Capo Malfatano knowing there were two beaches on the other side and one just before. I had the same conditions as at the other capes that day, force 3-4 NW with following waves and some swells from SW.
As I rounded that cape, the Capo Spartivento seemed so close, so I headed for that too. I didn’t look too much on the maps, though, because the waves kept me occupied, so I was a bit surprised that it took so long to get around, but afterwards I could see that it is quite wide. There was a beautiful beach in the middle, but I had spotted a Spanish tower ahead, and wanted to got there.
There was a whole series of beaches just after Capo Spartivento, but I had decided on the tower, which was on the very last.
It was a good choice. Its a beautiful beach, with the tower illuminated by night, with a stagno behind with flamingoes, and some very nice people running the beach bar.
They have let me charge my stuff, and they even left me an electric cord outside when they closed, so I could charge some more. I also got permission to pitch my tent under their palm branch umbrellas, but I have chosen to bivy on their veranda instead.
From here there are circa 45km to Cagliari. The forecast promises some headwind, and there are also some petro-chemical industries with long bridges running into the sea, so I don’t know if I will make it to Cagliari tomorrow, but if not tomorrow then the day after.
The end is near
I will remain here in Sant’Antioco for today. The forecast for today is for force 5-6 NW winds, the maestrale the west coast of Sardinia is so famous for, with waves of 2.5m. I would be mostly sheltered from the waves by Sant’Antioco, but the wind is still more than I am prepared to fight.
It feels a bit stupid staying on land for a wind I can’t feel, but Sant’Antioco is sheltered from the maestrale by a couple of mountains, which is probably one of the reasons why the Phoenicians chose the site for a settlement almost three millennia ago. There’s almost not a wind blowing here.
The forecast for tomorrow is still maestrale, force 4, which will hopefully be more manageable. From what I can glean off the Italian weather sites, the maestrale will finish on monday, to be replaced by weaker winds from varying directions. It’ll be interesting to see if Karel confirms this later.
The next difficult spot will be Capo Teulada, which is also a miliary shooting range. I’m just back from the capitaneria di porto for the shooting schedules, and the coming week they’re shooting Monday to Friday, from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening.
It the weather and the sea behaves, rounding Capo Teulada should be well within range of a day’s paddle.
I had hoped to keep Monday as a plan B, in case the conditions are tougher than expected, but that will hardly hold now I have the shooting schedule. If I don’t get around tomorrow, I will have to move as close as possible, which should be Cala Piombo, and then get up at 5 in the morning, so I can be well around at 8.
The local boaters strongly discouraged starting today. According to them the Golfo di Palmas will be quite agitated in a F5 maestrale, even if it doesn’t look like it from here.
At least I’ll be able to launch in no time tomorrow. Since I’m sleeping in a boat, there’s no camp to take down, and I can ready the kayak this afternoon.
Today’s paddle took me from Buggerru to Sant’Antioco. Its been a fairly calm day, but rather gray. The sky has been covered in dark clouds, and I have had a good bit of light rain.
Wind and waves has been exactly like forecast, with the wind turning from SE in the morning over SW to NW in the afternoon, while growing in strength from F1 to F3. Tomorrow it will remain NW (maestrale) at F4, which was what determined my plan of reaching S. Antioco today. After S. Antioco I will have some shelter from the maestrale, allowing me to continue anyway.
I set off from Buggerru a bit late. Yesterday had been harder then it first seemed, and I slept well and long, but I was off at about 9.30.
The sea almost entirely calm around the first cape, at Cala Domestica, but further ahead, towards the Scogliere Pan di Zucchero (Sugarbread Rock) and down the bay I had a bit of following waves. As I came down the bay, in a SW direction towards the Capo Altano/Giordano, the wind had turned so I now had a bit of headwind and waves from the NW.
Around the cape the waters were choppy as always, but not as bad as yesterday at Capo Pecora.
I went into Portoscuso harbour for a lunch break at two.
The rest of the day was easy, and with the beginng of the maestrale pushing me, also fast. The water is very shallow in the area between Sardinia proper and the island of Sant’Antioco, and I was at time paddling more in seaweed than in water.
I had a bit of difficulty finding a suitable landing spot as the city is right on the water front. The recreational harbour was out, way too posh, but a local fisherman indicated a good spot, where little clubs of motorboat owners had their boats. I landed and spoke to a few of them, and no problem, I could pitch my tent under the trees, but wouldn’t I rather sleep in one of the boats? In the end I got two boats, one for sleeping and one for changing, washing and drying my gear.
Tomorrow I hope I can continue around the SW corner of Sardinia, in spite of the nasty forecasts Karel sends me about force 5-6 maestrale, but I hope the NW winds won’t bother me too much where I’m going now.
I still have problems with my dayhatch. There’s always a bit of water in the buttom, the more the more waves there been. I’m no longer sure its a problem with the hatch. Today I had placed a wind breaker jacket under the hatch, and it wasn’t wet on arrival, even though there were a lot of water in the compartment. I’m afraid there might be a crack in the separation between cockpit and dayhatch. The two other stay tight as long as I clean out sand and other stuff from the hatches each day.
I’ve paddled from Marina di Arbus to Buggerru today, rounding Capo Pecora. Its only 25km but I found it demanding enough.
The waves on the beach at Marina di Arbus were smaller than yesterday, but not by much. During the night the water had left a thick layer of seaweed on the beach and I had to dig a lot of it away before I could launch.
My first attempt was dismal. I tried to wait for the right moment, only to get hit by a huge wave which sent me straight back into the seaweed on the beach. There were rocks underneith so I had to exit in a hurry and drag the boat away. The next wave meticuously filled it with a soup of sea water and seaweed.
I quickly emptied the boat and tried again before the next large wave came in, and this time I got away, but with too much water left in the cockpit.
There were too many and too large waves to empty the boat with the pump or the sponge, so I went in on the next beach to clean up the boat. From the outside the surf didn’t look too bad there and I landed without problems, cleaned out the worst of water and seaweed, and set off to launch again.
I tried to watch the waves a bit to find the right time, but failed miserably. The next wave was huge and hit me straight in the face, blowing me sideways back on the beach. I lost my paddle and ended halfway up the beach with the kayak on top of me. I managed to flick the kayak over and get out just before the next wave came in.
My paddle was on its way to Spain, and showed no intent of returning, so I had to take a swim to get it back.
This was a bit of a setback. The sea wasn’t that difficult, but getting out there was.
I decide to wait a bit to dry my clothes and think a bit.
After a rest I gave it another try, a bit more careful this time. I got into the kayak a bit up on the beach a sealed my way down while watching the waves. The big ones came in in groups of 5-7 and they almost dragged of out. I had to lean backwards and dig my hands into the sand to remain in launch position. When I thought the last one was on its way out, I pushed forwards. I was off by one, so I got another huge wave in the face, but this time I got through and paddled like mad to get out of the surf area.
Once safely outside the surf zone, it wasn’t difficult, but it took at least half an hour before the nervousness was out of my body and I paddled relaxed again.
The first couple of hours I paddled along almost endless beaches and dunes, until I approached Capo Pecora.
The waters around Capo Pecora were some of the chuppiest I have ever paddled. It required all my attention and once around the cape I was very tired.
The last corner was the worst. Off the cape there were several rocks just under the surface, and as I passed between them, waves would break over them, pushing me here and there.
Around the cape and in calmer waters I spotted a small town in a valley to the SE, and I assumed it was Portixeddu at a distance of 2km. I didn’t even bother to look at the maps, I just headed that way, thinking only of lunch and ice cold drinks.
With some good following waves I expected to be there in less than half an hour, but it took over an hour.
The town had a nice beach with too much surf, but there were also a little harbour, so I headed in there. It wasn’t large, but there was a little beach in there, where I could land easily. On the inside of the moles it said “Marina di Buggerru”, which explained perfectly why it took an hour to get there.
It was well after 4 in the afternoon, and I needed to buy some food and drink, but everything was closed. I asked in a bar and was told that food stores would only open again at 5.30. That didn’t leave any time to continue, so I walked back to the beach, washed, changed and packed the boat for the night.
Now I’ve done my shopping, got money from the bank and had dinner, so I’ll be in my tent as soon as its dark enough to pitch it on the towns most popular beach.
Tomorrow I would like to reach Portoscuso. Its only another 25-30km, but I haven’t seen the forecast yet.