39° 56′ 16.2384” N
9° 42′ 15.714” E
July 13 to July 18th
I do not know what it is with us and town festivals. Ever since we lived in Elsinore 20 years ago and sailed up and down the Swedish coast, we have had the accidental misfortune, that we often go inadvertently to the quay in small towns, just as they are starting their annual town festival – you know, that kind of festival, that goes on until two o’clock in the night, and after that the party goes on in the neighbouring boat, where party-participants continue to the bright morning with more and more snuffling voices.
We know the signals: Colourful swings, carousels, radio cars, flashing lights and from early evening high music from six-seven rides at the same time.
Nevertheless, we go to the dock in Arbatax. It is the only harbour in within miles that has a diesel station, and as we enter the harbour we recognise radio cars with the glimpse of an eye, but it’s too late to retreat. We have another 34 miles to the next port.
Next day we have dinner with two former colleagues from Odense, and then follows two days of strong wind. We are caught in the middle of a harbour festival. Sigh.
Three days of radio cars and dazzling disco rhythms. I desperately try to recall the time when the arrival of a Tivoli to the show area of my childhood town in Denmark gave me palpitations and the hope for beautiful, unknown experiences. But this feeling is lost. I can no longer mobilise enthusiasm for that kind of thing. Diplomatically said.
We had stayed for a couple of days in Santa Maria Navarrese but have now sailed three miles south to fill diesel in our tank and to seek fresh air and new experiences.
Many sailors prefer Santa Maria Navarrese to Arbatax. Santa Maria Navarrese is surrounded by high mountains and high piers, superbly protected from winds from all directions, a secure harbour with 16 restaurants and beautiful beaches with parasols and sunbeds. It has everything a vacationing heart can ask for.
But the air stands still. It’s a bit like being beaten in the head with a hammer of heat. Nothing moves. Arbatax is an alternative to this. It is less protected, more open, and for that reason, cool air flows constantly from the sea. You do not bathe from a beach in Arbatax but from cliffs, and the range of restaurants are scarce.
Anyway. Arbatax is an alternative. You should just avoid the second weekend in July, where they have a three-day harbour festival with radio cars, horns, drum dance and on sunday a ceremony where a sainted figure sails at the head of an armada of local boats three times around the huge outer pool of the harbour, while presumable 10,000 spectators are watching from land.
But then again. Who in this world would enter the port of Arbatax in the second weekend in July?
Bonus info: If you are in Santa Maria Navarrese and want to eat out, try Mec Puddu’s. It is Sardinian fast food in good quality and at reasonable prices. If you are in Arbatax then try the marina’s restaurant. Pretty good with amazing views. At the local ship chandler you can have a meter of rope for your newly purchased fender with a tailor-made tackle for two just euros. We like that.