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Wintering in Olbia, Sardinia

By Sue Richards last modified Mar 30, 2010 07:10 PM

Published: 2010-03-30 19:10:38
Countries: Italy

The Costa Smeralda along the North Coast of Sardinia is one of the premier sailing destinations in the Mediterranean. We arrived here in September 09 after an Atlantic Crossing and wanted to spend more time.

While staying at the free quay in Olbia, we cycled over to the brand new marina at the Southeastern end of the harbor and found a luxurious and secure set-up with attractive introductory rates for the winter (defined here as the nine-month period from 1 September to 31 May).

We signed up and, with the comfort of a safe berth at our disposal, sailed off and on until early November along the Costa Smeralda, across the straits of Bonifaccio to Corsica, and in the well-protected Bay of Olbia. And after a few months of staying at the dock, we started going out again in February.

We had read about how windy it gets in the Med in the winter, and our experience certainly corroborates this. In the marina, we had more days of 30 – 40 knt winds (mostly from the W or NW) than days without much wind, and several times measured gusts above 50 kts. However, we never felt that our boat was in danger, and we left her for several weeks over Christmas without any problems. Because of the marina's protected location in the large Bay of Olbia and its excellent design and set-up, its waters are flat even when it blows hard. Plus competent staff routinely check up on boats several times a day, and more often in bad weather. The marina staff are also there 7 days a week to help with mooring and any other assistance guests might need.

Unlike many of the resort villages along the Sardinian coast, Olbia, a mid-size town, does not shut down during the winter. Five minutes on foot from the marina is a large shopping center with an excellent grocery store. Taxis are fairly expensive, but there are a couple of restaurants and bars in walking distance, and a bus runs frequently from the shopping center to the city center. There one finds a large choice of stores, bars, and restaurants, including two chandleries, several do-it-yourself stores, and laundromats. We also took advantage of a local language school for Italian lessons.

We enjoyed exploring the island during the off-season (when good deals can be had on car rentals), and also took several trips to the rest of Italy and Europe. Tourist traffic slows down in the winter months, but Olbia's airport still has multiple flights daily to Rome and Milan and regular flights to several other European cities. And as the busiest ferry port on Sardinia, Olbia has year-round daily departures to Rome, Livorno, and Genova.

The marina itself is still a bit of a work in progress; there are nice showers and bathrooms near the office (but a bit of a hike from many of the berths). Others are planned, as are laundry facilities, restaurants, and a lounge for live-aboards, but it might take another year or two until the entire complex is completed. They also have a very easily accessible fuel dock with diesel and petrol, and provide water only on request to visting cruisers.

In the meantime, we wholeheartedly recommend the marina as a friendly and secure wintering spot for live-aboards or people who want to leave their boat in the water without worries. It's nice in the summer as well, of course, but the rates go up during the tourist season, and we for one prefer to be on the move and live on anchor.

Marina di Olbia
phone: +39-0789-645030

Jim and Barbara
S/V Marguerite