What a sailing life: Palma one night, Tahiti the next
41° 12′ 40.1724” N
9° 24′ 15.7428” E
June 30th to 4th of July
Porto Palma is a large open cove with ample space for anchorage, and during the daytime you can even be part of an exciting sailing competition. Two sailing schools use the bay to practice racing for youngsters and sailing for beginners. 30 boats are on the water. We have thrown our anchor in the middle of the race course and, as afternoon entertainment, we can follow every tactical maneuver, every piece of fine sportsmanship and every failure, when a boat ends top down.
Cale Coticcio is another, somewhat smaller, anchorage cove. It is called Tahiti Bay by the locals, perhaps because of the popularity, the many day-sailors who come from nearby cities and spend the day in the azure-blue waters.
In this part of the world Palma and Tahiti have in common, that they are both part of the La Maddalena archipelago. We have reached Italian Sardinia. The two bays are located on the island of Caprera, which, together with the main island of Maddalena and 12 other islands, form a large and tightly regulated natural park.
You buy permission to be in the area. The price is 60 € per week for a sailing yacht. Nature prefers sailingboats, so we get a discount. The license gives you the right to sail and anchor in the area, when following a detailed set of rules.
The rules say, that you cannot pick flowers here and you cannot collect stones. They say do not go ashore here, unless you are accompanied by a nature-guide. Do not go fishing here. Do not snorkel here. Do not deep dive. Do not pump out water from dishwashing and showers. Do not be here at all. It all varies from bay to bay.
The rules are so complex, that we give up figuring them out. We stay aboard Ronja, enjoy the bathing life, and show our permission when asked by park officials in inflatable boats.
Especially Tahiti Bay is in the daytime a circus of whining children, shouting parents, rustling anchor chains, loud outboard motors and sailing ice cream sellers, who manage to get 5 € for an ice cream, that costs 1,65 € in the local supermarket.
At about 19 o’clock, peace settles over Tahiti Bay. The locals sail back to their home ports, and from being 70 boats we are only 7, when darkness and an remarkably clear sky with stars descend upon Tahiti. On Sardinia, that is.
The islands are absolutely beautiful, but hardly more beautiful than so many other places in the area. And we do not understand the logic of the natural park. Why do they use so many resources to check if we have paid? Why do they not use the resources to put out permanent anchor buoys in the bays, so we don’t have to damage the Possidonia grass on the seabed, every time we throw out the anchor.
One might think – probably wrongly – that all the talk about a nature park is mostly about getting even more people to understand, that these 14 islands are something quite special, in an area, where numerous beautiful destinations fight for the favour of sailors.
Bonus info: Cala Gavetta on the Maddalena island is a positive surprise. Charming town, lively in the daytime, peaceful at night. We stayed two days in the harbour. The first day cost 27 € for a berth. The next day the same berth cost 56 €. Why? Because it was July 1st, and the price list changes to high season price, which is double the price the day before.