Sailing in Sardinia
My grandmother always used to tell me, don’t let the grass grow under your feet, and it’s safe to say I’ve taken her words to heart in 2019. This summer in particular was full of adventure but the undisputed highlight was a sailing trip to Sardinia. Carlos got his skipper’s license earlier in the year, and we wasted no time planning our first trip together. While sailing has been on his bucket list for years, traveling to Sardinia was at the top of my mine. We’d heard the sailing conditions there were optimal so we reserved our boat and began making plans. In July, when we arrived in Olbia, the island (and most of Western Europe) was experiencing a heat wave, and our small monohull had no air conditioning. It felt like a sauna as we unloaded our provisions and luggage into the belly of the boat. When it comes to floating in open water in a closet-sized vessel with no hired captain or crew, there are countless uncertainties to consider. Needless to say, we were scared and quickly began to question our plan. While there were myriad challenges, however, what we didn’t expect were the rewards this time would bring. In facing our fear and embracing our vulnerability, we experienced a new part of the world and a new way of traveling with childlike wonder.
As someone who likes being in control, I relate more to a power boat mentality, always ready to fire up the engine and control my own path. However, those few days spent on our little sailboat taught me to slow down and trust the journey. For the first time in a long time, I found myself living in the present moment. Days were filled not by structure or timelines but my simple pleasures, like watching the clouds pass overhead or reading in the sunshine. Sailing offers all kinds of metaphors for life. At times, the lines are messy or the seas are rough, but ultimately, the wind turns and we find our way forward in the world. Going without a crew was also a lesson in teamwork and communication. Because it was just the two of us, we each had our own daily responsibilities. While Carlos manned the sails, the radio, and the navigation, I planned the meals and took charge of our anchor and mooring lines. We divvied up the laundry and took turns spraying down the boat, amongst other menial chores.
Over the course of our trip, we sailed north from Olbia to different anchorages and port towns, like Porto Cervo, which is home to ritzy shops and restaurants washed in candy-colored paint. There are also beautiful hotels here, like Hotel Pitrizza, which is carved into the rocky cliffside. I especially liked the anchorage of Cala Santa Maria, with its pristine pool-like waters. La Maddalena was another lovely stop. Up until 2008, this island was a US Naval Base and the people here speak perfect English. Most special were the quiet anchorages where there was no one at all. Surrounded by breathtakingly sparse and rugged terrain, we felt a world away from our life back home. Though summer has now gone for another year, I will forever relish the memories of this trip, from our tiny, triangle-shaped bed with its misfitted sheets to our air dried laundry and backgammon matches. I can still see the lonely, weathered lighthouses and the jagged, ghoulish rocks clawing from the surface of the sea. I can feel the crisp, cool waters from our early morning swims and taste the bowls of buttery pasta with Sardinian pecorino and ripe summer tomatoes we prepared in the small galley. These snapshots are etched into my memory, like the beautiful homes etched into the hillsides, dripping with moss and magenta flowers. Every night, we would fall asleep with the small window hatch hanging open over our bed. Through this window, I saw the inky sky glinting with jeweled stars and felt the salty air drift over us. Lulled to sleep beneath this celestial setting, I felt humbled by the sea, the sky, and the sheer beauty of this place. I vowed to return home with less noise and more mindfulness, choosing to truly see and experience the world’s abundant gifts at every turn of the compass.