Sailing on a Windy Day in Sardinia

Some believe that Sardinia, Italy is the Italian version of paradise. The sun blazes like fire in the sky. The water is clear and you can see deep down into the turquoise sea. Beaches surround the entire island and each one varies with different types of sand. Sand colors vary from pink to dark brown almost black. Some sand is course and rough while other sand is soft and smooth like silk. 

Brittney, my daughter, and I chose this island because we wanted to spend time at and on the water.

Originally our schedule included a day of sea kayaking. However, much to our dismay, our guide, Claudio, called the day before and announced that the winds were very bad and while out paddling the previous day he himself almost did not make it back to shore. 

The forecast was not favorable for us. “We may have to cancel,” he said, “but let’s wait and see tomorrow.”  

Tomorrow came and the wind was worse. Claudio offered to take us on a land tour four-wheeling in the mountains. We agreed and found it interesting.

Claudio taught us about the history and culture of Sardinia. Did you know that cork, the little top that fits snuggly inside your wine bottle, is the bark from a cork tree? I didn’t realize this was where it originated. 

Stacks of cork bark






While we found the trip interesting, our real desire was to be in or on the water. I did some, made some calls, and scheduled a sailing trip for the following day.

It was windy! The sailboat crew included two deckhands and a captain to command the ship. We motored away from the dock and as soon as the sail was set, these words from the theme song of Gilligan’s Island echoed through my mind:  

   Just sit right back

   And you’ll hear a tale

   A tale of a fateful trip,

   That started from this tropic port

   Aboard this tiny ship.

After a few moments I relaxed and relinquished any control I had over the situation. Sometimes it is easier for me to let go and stop worrying when I know I have no power over a situation or its outcome. 

I looked around at the distance between our current spot in the sea and the various islands surrounding us. I determined that I could swim the distance and pull Brittney along with me if necessary. 

The boat tilted to the port side at a 45-degree angle and those of us on that side could touch the water with our hands. It felt like we were going to capsize. Everyone looked scared, but I told Brittney to watch the captain’s face. If he was smiling we were all “good,” if he looked concerned, than we best start praying.  

It was a wild ride, and every 15 minutes or so the captain would give orders to the crew and they would shift the sails. This would tip the boat to the starboard side and the passengers on that side headed closer toward the water. 

After over an hour of terror, we anchored at a beautiful sheltered cove, swam in the calm waters, sat on the beach, and lunched back on the boat. Wine flowed. Tasty appetizers including tuna ceviche began the lunch. Following the first course, perfectly cooked pasta with red sauce arrived at the table with additional bottles of wine.  

The quantity of wine consumed versus water won the race at a ratio of 4 to 1. After an hour, espresso was poured. 

Prior to lunch the boat was relatively quiet with the exception of the Italian family on board that chatted amongst each other—grandma and grandpa, their daughter, her husband, and their young 12-year-old son. Once the food and wine began to flow, conversation commenced amongst all the passengers. 

English was a shared language, and we deliberated about food, politics, and wine.

The crew cleaned up the lunch remains and we headed off, in more strong winds, to another area.

The Italian grandpa thought it was funny when the boat leaned into the water on the side opposite to him. He chanted, “Ciao” which means,” bye” in Italian and waved to us. We on the opposing side chanted, “Ciao” in return when his side was dipping into the sea.

The Italians were much more animated after lunch. I suspect it had something to do with the volume of wine consumed. Unfortunately, a few passengers felt sick from the waves, but the Italian grandma got more and more expressive.

Grandma fit the complete stereotype for an older Italian woman, talking with her hands and speaking loud. I had to laugh. I imagined her right out of an old movie and each time the boat shifted with her side going under she shouted inappropriate words in Italian and gave the high sign and the captain a double birdie. It was crude and rude, but somehow in this situation she was comical.

So if you crave a new kind of adventure, go sailing on a really windy day with a stereotypical Italian grandma and grandpa. Just make sure they serve lots of wine at lunch.

—Tracy Beard

Tracy Beard is a freelance writer specializing in travel, non-profits, alternative medicine, and direct response copywriting. As the founder and past president of an international children’s non-profit, Tracy traveled extensively, empathized with people in need, learned the importance of good health, and raised funds writing exceptional direct response copy. Her thirteen years of experience writing in various genres has added to her expertise. She is a member of AWAI (American Writers and Artists Inc.) and ITWPA (International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance). Check out her website www.tracybeardwrites.com


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A cork tree after its bark has been stripped.