Sunday 15 June 2014


A line of white buoys stretches across the horizon at the entrance of the channel between the island of San Pietro and Sardinia. It is the Mattanza festival, a bloodthirsty affair when the migrating tuna are herded into large nets, and then slaughtered. Fortunately the slaughtering is over by the time we arrive but the nets are still in place, bulging with tuna which we assume are being saved for later.  The channel is gusty and shallow,  more acute because the water is gin clear, magnifying the rocks in dangerous hues of green and brown. 

We are greeted by no less than four marineros on ribs, one of whom deferentially asks permission to come aboard and secures a lazy line to our bow in the strong crosswind while fatty skilfully handles the stern lines. A few squirts from the thrusters and we are in. Air conditioning on, everything else can wait while we rehydrate after a great overnight sail from Menorca.

We are docked in marina Sanfredi, up against the town wall, a stone throw from the cafes and bars of Carloforte, the principal town on Isola di San Pietro.  The harbour master comes to assist with our shore power, inspects the power sockets on the dock and removes our neighbour's cable with a shrug and a conspiratorial smile and connects us in his place.   We walk across the road into the town square and I wonder of there is a wedding or maybe a fiesta from all the hubbub, but no, it is simply Friday evening in Carloforte and the Italians have important things to say to each other, at high volume, reinforced with waved hands and shoulders that shrug in astonishment.

Carloforte is a simple unsophisticated place but it has a welcoming feel.  Narrow streets lead up the steep hillside and every balcony is festooned with washing lines and large pots bursting with Bouganvillia and Oleander.  It has the feel of a family neighbourhood and despite their modest circumstances everyone seems happy to be sitting and talking in the warm evening.  Being in San Pietro the tuna is a must, and we sit on the pavement at a restaurant watching the world go by. Only two hundred miles across the sea from Spain but a world apart. My only frustration is not being able to speak any Italian other than 'Dove si trova el gambinetto' which I think means 'where is the loo?' – but it might mean 'where is the prawn?' so I am reluctant even to use my one single phrase.

Today is Sunday and we have left the friendly marina of Sanfredi for the peace and seclusion of an anchorage in a deeply indented sandy bay on the East coast, which will provide us with protection from the mistral which is on its way, having hit Menorca this morning and is due here tomorrow. From the forecast I think it will be quite gentle but regardless we plant the anchor in thick sand with forty metres of chain. It is now early evening and everyone has left the bay other than a lovely old French ketch crewed by a young couple with a large dog which they ferry ashore on a tiny optimist dinghy, tacking up to the beach.  On the other side is a little Italian yacht with an older couple, although come to think of it they are younger than us! It is that time of day when everyone is sitting in the cockpit eating and drinking as the day cools and the sun drifts towards the horizon. We exchange smiles and waves.  There is a certain kinship between yachts at anchor.


  1. Stunning photos Frewie.. I have 'Med envy' ... Brett & Dee

  2. You're certainly "living the dream" us a preview, and plan, for next year! Dick & Sue

  3. Inspirational writing, as always. Particularly love the bit about the "gambinetto"...