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Sardinia Sailing Journal by Hannah, Nautilus Yachting

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

This was my first time sailing in Italy and I was beyond impressed with not only the fantastic sailing winds but also the variety of jaw-dropping scenery. As a crew, we were pleasantly surprised by the manageable sailing distances between a range of daytime and overnight anchorages and ports, which easily allows for itineraries taking in multiple stops or covering some longer passages.

While it is a more expensive destination compared with Greece, for example, it is definitely rewarding for those looking for a challenge and a change. A week is never enough to explore everything on offer in this region but the amount you can sail and see in that time makes this a perfect destination to combine a week’s charter with a week onshore relaxing, biking, or kitesurfing, all popular options for twin-centre holidays in Sardinia.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - SATURDAY - Arrival in Portisco

The taxi from Olbia airport to Marina di Portisco was about €55 for two people with luggage and took 20 minutes. There is provisioning in the marina minimarket, this is small but has a reasonable selection to stock up including speciality items for BBQ and a fantastic deli (as to be expected in Italy). The fresh fruit & veg selection was not great but this may be due to arriving late on a Saturday afternoon. It is also quite expensive as there is no other option nearby and there are no niche items eg. gluten-free, vegan etc. There is no delivery service but you can easily push the trolley back to the boat. I would probably recommend pre-provisioning for a large crew or late arrival.

After a busy day, there are two restaurants in the marina plus some snack bars/cafes. Food is reasonably priced and you can always just have a pizza for the cheap option!


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - Sunday

Heading South!
The full and thorough area briefing by Sergio on Sunday morning is not to be missed. Full of great local information about procedures, safe harbours, and hazards. Due to the strong winds north of the harbour on our first day, we decided to head south and take it easy.

Moresca (lunch stop)

This was a pretty little bay but a bit too close to a fish farm and also busy with local “day boats” from Olbia because of the weekend.

Tavolara (overnight)

A great anchorage with lots of space, a nice sandy beach and impressive scenery. There are mooring buoys but these are for the stylish Italian speed boats so are expensive and unnecessary, holding is good for anchoring and free-swinging. I would suggest avoiding the weekends as you get a lot of day trip boats from Olbia, but they usually leave between 5-7 pm so it is very relaxing overnight. Two restaurants in the bay (one casual, one upmarket), most of their trade comes from the day trip people at lunchtime so they are not always open for dinner in the low season but if there are enough yachts they will.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Monday

Exploring La Maddalena

Setting off early we navigated around the eastern end of Tavolara to keep a clear heading north towards La Maddalena National Park. The permit for which is easily purchased in advance online. We perused many of the potential stops on route to our final destination for the evening.

Porto Cevro – Pop in

This is a very tight and exclusive marina for upmarket superyachts and elegant classic vessels. There wasn’t much going on in the early season but I am sure the atmosphere in July & August is great if you are looking for a night out in the Monaco of Italy. You can also moor on the quay or floating pontoon in nearby Porto Vecchio for a quieter (and cheaper) night.

Caprera, Porto Palma

This is a very "nice" bay, nothing overly special but the approach is easy without too many hazards, the water is good for swimming and there is lots of space and it is well protected from nearly all wind directions. You can take a buoy or anchor.

Cala di Villa marina, San Stefano

This is a tricky rocky little bay but it offers great shelter and scenery if you can get a space, it is suitable for lunch or overnight. The sculpture of Garibaldi in the rockface on the cliff is not to be missed!

Maddalena Town, Maddalena Island

This looked very large and busy so we avoided it as we were already fully stocked with food and water so there was no need for a pit-stop yet. It would be great if you need shelter as there are lots of harbour options with 4-5 different marinas/quays!

Palau, Sardinia – this looks cute from a distance, not as large as Maddalena town but still with a good number of berths and is very close/accessible for an overnight if you are struggling to get in elsewhere.

Cala Corsara, Spargi Island

At the South end of the island, this is a great lunch stop or overnight anchorage with a great beach and some fantastic scenery. All of the “day boats” and motor yachts leave around 5-6 pm when it becomes very peaceful and the local pigs frolic on the beach!


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - TUESDAY

Fantastic sailing to Bonifacio, Corsica The journey from La Maddalena park area to the southern tip of Corsica is a sailor’s blue moon with the right angle and amount of wind for a perfect passage. We set off first thing and arrived by lunch to enjoy the afternoon sightseeing.

Bonifacio is incredible and definitely worth a visit. You should definitely pre-book a mooring online in advance (a few days should be sufficient) as we nearly struggled to get a space in May. The cost with power and water was approximately €70 for a 38ft monohull.

There is plenty to do, see, eat and drink in town. You can stock up on French pastries and wine but you will need to break out your French! When it's warm I recommend catching the tourist train up the hill into town and then walking back down later. There are several walking trails around the down with fantastic views so if you prefer exercise then definitely take a stroll out of town.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - WEDNESDAY

Lavezzi Island, France We left Bonifacio late and full of croissants so opted for an easy afternoon and overnight anchorage in nearby Lavezzi island en route back to Italian waters. While from a distance this island does not appear to offer enough shelter overnight, once inside the bay we were well-protected and comfortable. Navigation around the many rocks is a little hair-raising but quite manageable with a good look-out and there is plenty of space and good holding. As usual, the day boats disappear before sunset leaving just sailors and seagulls.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 6 - THURSDAY

Cala Coticcio & Cala Portese
Fantastic sailing again across the straits of Bonifacio, downwind this time, as we watched on in awe as a regatta of high-performance and classic sailing vessels steamed past us with ease. Stopping at Cala Coticcio for lunch is one of the most popular beaches in the Maddalena Archipelago. It is a gorgeous spot but does get quite busy and is not great for an overnight anchorage as the hills create some interesting wind gusts throughout the evening and overnight as the temperature changes. Heading just south to Cala Portese is the popular option recommended.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 7 - FRIDAY

Cala do Volpe & Portisco Marina We spent a lazy final day ambling down the Sardinian coastline and anchoring for lunch in Cala di Volpe, a huge bay with long beaches and a perfect pit-stop before returning to Portisco marina for check-out and departure.