To continue our journey into 2009 :Italy (2009)
Log Entry Tuesday 25th November - Return to the UK
A trouble some leg injury to Kevin has given us problems all summer, medical treatment as we traveled had failed to provide a solution. Here in Carloforte language is the issue, further two visits to the local hospital still left the issue unresolved. We decide to head back to the UK to find a solution.
Log Entry Sunday 9th November - The Circus comes to town in a London bus!
The Island is visited by a traveling family, they left the UK in 1977, there youngest son is now 12! The bus has a UK plate but it was impossible to tell how old it really was. The side of the bus was decorated with their route, they had indeed been round the world - many adventures to tell.
We turned up in the town square to see the show, a mix of trappist, clown and juggler activities - the kids loved it, as did some of the adults.
It was a shame the photographs did not portray well their efforts, amazing when you consider that their lively hood is funded by donations, Ann has started me practicing juggling twice a day!
Log Entry Saturday 8th November - Kevin rises to the challenge!
Today Ann washes a few of our things through, she hangs them out to dry and we head into the town. When we return nothing unusual is noticed, we have our normal glass of wine on deck ready to watch the sun go down. When Ann takes in the dry clothes she notices - all four pair of her knickers are missing! One can imagine the things that go through ones mind, some one has been on board - they must have been stolen? I (Kevin) thought that very unlikely and pointed out that as there are no resident sail makers on the Island, the need for that quantity of material was very unlikely? Ann remained quiet and said nothing!
With nothing ahead other than dinner I decide to investigate further - the sun is still strong, looking over board all become clear. The wind had got up during the afternoon and over come the pegs - Ann's pants were lying at the bottom of the marina, the locals were obviously forgiven. I rise to the challenge, pull out our fishing gear and create a "trawling rig". With time and patience and a further couple of glasses of wine all four pairs were recovered along with two bath towels, neither one of them ours!
It kept me amused any way!
Log Entry Thursday 6th November - A day trip to Port Scuso (Sardinian mainland)
We had originally landed in Porto Scuso at 0400hrs, Tuesday 23rd September, our stay had been brief only a few hours - see log entry of the same date. We had often talked of taking the ferry over to nearby Porto Vesme and have a look around. The ferry took us into Porto Vesme, an industrial waste land dominated by a large aluminium manufacturing plant, we walked to Porto Scuso.
It was interesting for us to see the small harbour we entered and left in the dark! We gazed across at the light house marking "Isoletta Ghinghetta" a series of rocks lying just off the mainland - the channel we had arrived through. It is amazing how different things look in daylight - that night in question the channel had seemed far wider? (fortunately).
The town of Porto Scuso was quite small as we expected, being some what of a local tourist resort a lot was closed for the winter. It had however benefited from sizable investment around the harbour and local town but, unfortunately was beginning to look very tired. The investment had certainly not been follow through with good maintenance/house keeping. I dare say the massive local industry had an influence in that, a some what sad looking place?
As we walked back to the ferry terminal the wild life was interesting as was the foliage, to see Cacti, Palms and Bamboo all growing in such close proximity was unusual we thought?
Log Entry Tuesday 28th October - It's raining!
We had been very fortunate up until now, coastal thunder storms had been forecast many times as is traditional this time of year - all had passed us by? This time we were not to escape, a frontal system was to bombard us for a week or so.
The rain was indeed torrential restricting even our walks to town, the temperatures still remain in the 20's. We must not complain too much especially as our family inform us of the freezing weather and indeed snow back in the UK!
Log Entry Monday 27th October - Ocean Star afloat again!
John & Maureen of Ocean Star had now been in the boat yard for a week with family arriving tomorrow to stay onboard for a weeks holiday. The initial plan had been to have the damage welded up, the welder never turned up! A little disappointing, John and Maureen made alternative repairs, waiting for some one to turn up was not an option due to circumstances. The boat would be stored in a yard in Cagliari 60 mile further east on the mainland for the winter - work could easily be completed there should it be needed.
With a little hassle from John, the crane turned up as promised, the lift is prepared - the women supervise in the mid-day sun.
With Ocean Star afloat again, all the normal checks are made below before the slings are removed, she is then returned to its temporary berth and made ready for the pending visitors. Once all is secured in the berth, as is tradition a celebratory drink is undertaken to toast Ocean Star's safe journey across the harbour!
Log Entry Sunday 26th October - Hunt the Flamingos
The weather remains fairly settled but for how long is difficult to determine, we have heard from a few of the visitors about the flamingos living the salt marches, the now disused area formally used to extract the salt from sea water. Off we go to the western outskirts of the town, sure enough there they were safely feeding a few hundred yards off the road side.
Our camera does not do them justice, the zoom facility not showing their true beauty, quite exhilarating to see them truly wild with little or no interest shown by the locals.
Log Entry Tuesday 21st October - Farewell to Bill and Diane (Argonaut) again!
Bill & Diane had left earlier but an un forecast head wind and building sea brought about the decision to return and await more favourable winds for their trip to Cagliari - that time was again here (all hoped!) they were due to leave in the morning, we meet aboard Argonaut for "farewell drinks".
Farewells were once again made, along with pledges to stay in touch - we are convinced they just like farewell parties! If they are still here in the morning there is talk of the locals getting a petition together (not sure what for?).
Log Entry Monday 20th October - Ocean Star's lift out
It comes to the time for Ocean Star to be lifted out eventually a couple of delays postpone the lift - but that is "Island Life", even an emergency has to wait until everyone is ready! The task is interesting under taken in a totally different way to "our norm", we are used to see yachts lifted with a cradle type affair in which the vessel is driven. Here a compromise is made with a regular crane and fixed frame - probably ideal for fishing vessels. With a mast the task requires a little more management.
All goes well and Ocean Star is lowered into position on the quay and safely "chocked" into the cradle. More importantly the damage is clearly evident, a split in the front of the keel is letting the water in it is accompanied by a serious bruising and local distortion to the keel. The task of repair now the issue - if and when they turn up as promised!
Log Entry Sunday 19th October - Farewell to Bill and Diane (Argonaut)
Bill & Diane are due to leave in the morning for Cagliari on the south west corner of the mainland (Sardinia), we are invited for "Happy Hour" on board Argonaut along with John & Mo (Ocean Star). We have an enjoyable afternoon sharing experiences, Bill & Diane left the USA in May, there currant destination Tunisia. John & Mo due to a very recent miss-fortune, (hitting an un chartered reef) has brought then here for an emergency lift out as they are taking in water.
As the "tea & coffee" flows well for most of the afternoon we progress to dinner in a local bistro! Once fed and watered we return to our vessels bidding our farewells to Bill and Diane.
Log Entry Monday 6th October - A day trip to Calasetta (Isola di S.Antioco)
We decide to make a day trip some two miles across the "Canale di San Pietro" to Isola di S.Antioco to the small port of Calasetta. The trip was short and very uneventfully other than it gave us a closer view of the mainland of Sardinia. The small island is joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway which was started by the Carthaginians and completed by the Romans. Close to the causeway is a small port aptly named "Porto Ponte Romano". Technically the whole area is part of a ancient and complicated past, unfortunately very little is evident today.
As we approach Calasetta we pass the original port which has now been converted to a " Porto Turistico", developed into a marina and small pleasure craft moorings. All with money supplied via the EU, ashore we later see the usual declarations of how many €million's have been invested - regularly visible to us in all countries we have traveled through as yet. Surely the UK must be awarded some thing and if so where does it go? Beyond the Porto Turistico a small commercial port has been developed for the fishing fleet and visiting ferries - provides an excellant anchorage for visiting pleasure craft too.
The fishing fleet seems sizable, or certainly the port is capable of supporting a large fleet - much greater in size than Carloforte.
The whole water front is still under development (with EU cash), with the tourist business demising it appears work has begun on a new phase, creating a massive "cobbled promenade" along the waterfront.
The perimeter of the town is very picturesque, complimented with numerous coves and beaches, fairly deserted now at this time of year - surprising to us as the temperatures now still vary between 25 & 30 Celsius.
The water as usually are colourful and very clear, we watch a local gent waist deep in water gathering "something" from amongst the rocks and placing them into a floating bucket.
The commercial element of the town is centred around the town hall, the pedestrian walkways obviously full of cafes and restaurants during the busy season. The streets are much busier than Carloforte with regular traffic, understandable due to its road link with the mainland, as consequence you notice even the streets are significantly wider?
Log Entry Saturday 4th October - A sinking feeling in Carloforte!
We had been subject to the "traditional north westerlies" for some days, their strength varying day by day. They finally peaked on Wednesday resulting in two days of gale force winds as a low pressure system passed north of us. It brought it's own casualty, a 11 meter sailboat sank in the marina - its recovery created some interest.
With the assistance of a local company the vessel was partially raised with floatation bags secured under the hull by divers, the vessel was then towed along side the adjacent promenade where a crane could gain access.
With divers positioning the lifting slings under the vessels hull it is partially lifted, a portable pump is used to remove water from the cockpit. As the water is removed the vessel is slowly raised by the crane, eventually access is gained into the cabin, the pump then continues to remove the water from inside. Once the vessel is empty of water the floatation bags are removed, no cause for the ingress of water can be found? Once the hull etc is fully checked it is then returned to it's berth - quite a mystery!
The quay side is filled with all sorts of people, the Coastguard and harbour authorities all have their reports to complete.
Log Entry Saturday 27th September
The town of Carloforte is beginning to grow on us and is becoming a serious consideration for our winter berth, at least for the colder months ahead of us.
We begin to explore all requirements, the nearest airport is Cagliari on the mainland, a ferry and trip by road required?
We discuss our plans over a true "Italian pizza" and of coarse a glass or two of "vino" to wash it down.
Log Entry Wednesday 24th September - Carloforte (Isola di S.Pietro)
It only takes us an hour to cross over from Porto Scuso to Carloforte (Isola di S.Pietro) the harbour entrance is easy to find - we follow the numerous ferries in coming from all directions, and at speed. As we enter the harbour, staying clear of the ferry basin ahead we make for the Marina di Carloforte. As we do so we are met by an gentleman in a rib from the marina. The gentleman was bronzed, with a dark complexion, dressed in a "shorts and tea shirt uniform". As he approached Sailaway he raised his sun glasses, placing them over his forehead, he asked did we need a berth? When I said yes, he replied "follow me!", dropping his sun glasses down over his eyes he shot off ahead to guide us in. I was some what confused to hear from behind me (from Ann) "I would follow you anywhere!" I did not pursue the comment any further - I was too tired.
The marina is well serviced and maintained positioned in the centre of the town. The gentleman directs us to a suitable berth and is there to assist us in "bows-to". I notice at this point Ann is now wearing a new outfit, strange time to change one's cloths I thought? Ann passes our lines to him along with what I later found out was her mobile number - she never received a call??
Carloforte is the main town on the island, every thing used, purchased or owned is brought in from the mainland by ferry, it is not large enough to sustain an airport. The ferry traffic is therefore substantial, visiting cars are deposited straight onto the main road through the town.
On the out skirts of the town a small salt water canal feeds the salt marshes, obviously still in use to refine salt straight from the sea water.
The town is compact, but well equipped, every thing appears available, we source a launderette and a few bits and pieces we require to make some minor repairs. The local market an excellant source for fruit and vegetables as the sell their home produced goods - at a very good price too!
We struggler at first with the market, little or no English is spoken here - we appear a ready form of entertainment for the locals. Another challenge for us is actually paying for goods, the stall holders all appear to be at the stalls to socialise rather than "business", the noise levels from the chattering and shouting greetings to passers by is quite substantial. Once one refrains from waiting to be served but rather demands to be, all if fine - we now under stand how it works here.
Log Entry Tuesday 23rd September - Arrival at Portoscusso
Our destination was a small port called Portoscusso on the south west corner of Sardinia, we had hoped to meet up with a couple of friends (Kit & Belinda of Quilcene) we had stayed in touch by email but had not seen them since France. They had recently returned from the UK and were on their way to Sicily and like us had been awaiting good weather, they may have left as we did?
We arrived at the marina at 0400 hours, there was no answer on the VHF so we made our way in, there was no one in the office so we tied up along side a motor boat out side the marina office and made for our beds after the usual celebratory drink toasting our safe arrival. The trip had taken 65 hours - the engine was never off, it groaned as we switched her off!
We were awoken by a disgruntled Italian about 0745, he clearly did not like us tied up along side. He went to loosen our ropes, I asked him to stop in my best Italian and enquired about the Marina office - there was no one there yet. Within 30 minutes or so a more helpful gentleman arrived (from the office), he informs us that Kit & Belinda had already left, further more he had no free berths for us we would have to travel across the bay to Carloforte on Isola Di. S. Pedro. Off we go again!
Log Entry Monday 22nd September - En Route to Sardinia
We are now partly through our trip to Sardinia, the calm stays with us - the engine is still on. The only wind speed reading on our instruments is that of our speed over the ground, quite unbelievable. It is important to keep the crews moral up - I keep Ann busy in the galley, night falls yet again.
As we enter Italian waters we change our courtesy flag, the Spanish flag comes down and we raise the Italian flag.