30 May 2024 – Golfo Aranci Sardinia

Since we were in Monastir Tunisia for “the winter” and there appears to be very little written about it in the usual cruiser sites, I decided to write (as I have many times before) about our experiences in Tunisia. This is a link to my NOONSITE article.

We left Monastir Tunisia on a Saturday morning at 6am, bound for the SE corner of Sardinia, a two-overnight passage of 234nm. It was supposed to be a mostly downwind sail, but as often happens, the winds were greater than forecast. Our Tides Marine mainsail track was damaged (first installed in 2001, replaced in 2015) and a new one is on order. We should be picking up and installing a replacement when we pass through Palma Mallorca in a month or so.

We heavily relied on Navily both for investigating anchorages and estimating the effects of wind and swell. This worked out very well, building on the data base of contributions made by so many people before us. I installed an unlimited multi-European eSIM on my phone (which I can HOTSPOT to other devices on the boat), and Diane installed a 10GB per month multi-European eSIM on her phone. We had Internet in every anchorage, and if we didn’t – we left. We first stopped at Paggia di Campulongu, an excellent anchorage – but we moved the next day because a storm was coming in.

The next day, we sought refuge in Port Giunco, another sparsely populate beach (it’s early in the season).

Then, we motor-sailed further up the east coast of Sardinia to Arbatax – where we arrived right in the middle of a pretty energetic squall. After a few hours of lively and exciting motion (verging on dangerous) in the anchorage at Arbatax, the conditions settled and we able to rest.

The next day, we again moved further up the coast to Capo Coda Cavallo, where we stopped for two nights, and took the time to recommission our EchoTec water maker. Last summer, when cruising from Turkey through Greece, I had some problems with the flow meter and pressure regulator. I couldn’t get the pressure higher than 400psi, and consequently the product water was over 800ppm, even with a new membrane. While in Tunisia, I replaced the flow meter and pressure regulator, using parts shipped from Trinidad to Canada, and then hand-carried back to Tunisia. This time, after closing off a few minor leaks (that always happens when parts are changed), I got the pressure all the way up to 900psi, and producing product water testing at 230ppm – just like new.

Eventually, we moved to the anchorage next to Aranci, my first preferred spot. The next morning, we took the next step of dinghy and motor setup. It was then, that we recalled the value of a buddy boat, and the disadvantage of not having one at hand. We have not launched our dinghy or been ashore since leaving Monastir last Saturday. We are now in a perfect anchorage for this, with restaurants and grocery stores ashore. We launched the dinghy and brought it around to lower the outboard – and a lifting harness strap broke. So Diane took nearly an hour to fix that. Then, much to our horror, once the dinghy was launched and in the water (first time in 11 months) we realized the dinghy was seriously leaking from both tube attachment points to the hull – at the stern. There were huge open spaces. These areas were re-glued in Turkey – but it appears that they used PVC glue instead of hypalon glue. BUGGER. No expedition ashore today. We lifted the dinghy onto the foredeck, deflated the tubes, cleaned and re-glued the areas, re-inflated and tied it together. Thankfully, I had two tubes of hypalon glue on hand.

The next morning, we launched the dinghy and it didn’t leak! YAY. Then we mounted the Tohatsu 18HP 2 stroke outboard, and although it was serviced only a few weeks ago in Tunisia, it did not pass cooling water. It occurred to me that despite having it “serviced” by professionals in Trinidad, Malaysia and Tunisia over it’s life of 13 years – it appears that nobody changed the impeller. I never changed it myself, because I thought it looked too difficult. I have no one to blame but myself. We found an “outboard mechanic”, “Johnny” close by. He picked up the outboard from the shore and took it to his shop. With our help, we all struggled for about 5 hours to separate the lower drive unit for access to the impeller. It had obviously never been taken apart and saltwater ages outboards much more quickly than use in freshwater lakes.

The impeller was shredded and needed replacement, but, it still didn’t pass water, evidently because there were bits of the old impeller lodged in hard to access water channels. After considering the age and condition of our Tohatsu (it had a surprising amount of corrosion, and the tilt lever did not operate any more), we finally gave up on our outboard and bought a new Suzuki 4 stroke 20 HP, for 3600 euros. To be more precise, it is ordered and will come in, in 7 business days. I don’t mind rowing to shore, but I have to do it in light wind conditions. Here we sit in Golfo Aranci, a very fine anchorage and town. We have been ashore several times, to go to the grocery store, and help Johnny with our outboard – but the real exploring awaits.

At the moment, we are hunkered down, waiting on anchor until the winds settle down – and in two days time will be able to get ashore again. Sure, we could go ashore today if we were will to spend 175 euros per night in a marina. The air temperature is about18C (night time) to 24/25C in the day, and the water temperature is 22C (but we have not yet gone for a swim). The water is clean, but still a little too cold for us.