Cagliari Capers: Battling Bureaucracy and Escaping a Storm

Crossing a Bumpy Patch: Malta to Cagliari

While I’ll refrain from including the detail about Damjan’s haircut (perhaps a story for another day!), the rest of your adventures in Cagliari definitely deserve to be told.

Despite the kind advice from the marina staff in Malta to wait out the storm, we decided to set sail for Cagliari, Sardinia.The weather certainly tested our resolve. Rain lashed down, and large waves pummeled us from the starboard side,occasionally even crashing down from above. Strong winds forced us to reef the sails to the second reef point.

For two challenging days, we battled these rough seas. Exhaustion eventually set in, and with calmer weather on the horizon, we opted to make for the sheltered harbor of Cagliari. While aware that re-entering EU waters might raise some questions with customs and immigration, the prospect of battling those conditions any longer was simply not an option.

As a vessel registered under the BVI flag (British Virgin Islands), we are permitted to stay within EU waters for up to 18 months before needing to leave. While regulations don’t explicitly forbid brief excursions to non-EU countries, the process of re-entering can sometimes be unpredictable, especially in Italy. With a touch of apprehension but a stronger dose of optimism, we approached Cagliari, ready to navigate the customs formalities and eager to explore this beautiful island.

Customs and Immigration:

We ended up spending most of a day in customs and immigration, patiently explaining our decision to re-enter EU waters so soon after leaving. We emphasized that our only reason for returning was to seek shelter from the storm, and that we intended to continue our journey to Casablanca, Morocco, once the weather improved. Thankfully, our explanation was accepted, and they granted us permission to stay in Cagliari for a short while.

Sharing with a Fellow Sailor:

While at the marina, we had the pleasure of meeting a German sailor who had been cruising the Mediterranean for three years. He was planning to set sail for the Caribbean the following year. He initially approached us with a question, but our conversation ended up lasting for six hours! We were fascinated to learn about his experience with single-handed sailing and his unique sleep schedule – 15-minute power naps every hour – which allowed him to function normally throughout long stretches at the helm. He emphasized the importance of radar and alarms during nighttime navigation for safety.

Exploring Cagliari:

The contrast between being stuck at sea and exploring a vibrant city was a welcome change. Our marina was conveniently located just a 20-minute walk from the city center, a stark difference from the days spent confined to our boat. The lower part of Cagliari, located by the river, reminded us of Split, Croatia, with its bustling atmosphere. However, venturing uphill offered a charming contrast, with a more relaxed, almost rural feel. The marina itself boasted a picturesque lighthouse on the opposite side, next to a football stadium. We enjoyed capturing the beauty of the lighthouse at sunset during our walks.

Lessons Learned at Sea:

The rough seas we encountered on this passage took a toll on our sailboat. The steel cables supporting the mast became loose and required tightening. While the manual provided instructions on the appropriate force needed, it turned out that a previous repair job hadn’t been done properly. This experience highlighted the importance of learning how to perform these kinds of maintenance ourselves, ensuring our vessel remains shipshape throughout our journey. We acquired the necessary tools and gained valuable knowledge to tackle similar situations in the future.

Cagliari Escape:

Leaving Cagliari was another bureaucratic hurdle. Immigration, customs, and then again immigration – all separate offices requiring taxi rides and waiting in lines. True Italian bureaucracy! A mountain of paperwork awaited us at each stop. Finally, after a full day, we received the necessary permits, but with a strict 24-hour deadline to depart. That very night, the weather forecast took a turn for the worse – a new storm was brewing and heading our way, estimated to arrive within two days. Hoping to outrun the approaching system (despite our boat’s less-than-impressive speed!), we set sail from Cagliari as the first tendrils of the new storm began to form.

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