X - Living back on board Sailaway.
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XI - Eventually we begin Sailing!
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The long road journey begins from the UK to Sailaway, based in Carloforte on the Isola San Pietro, Sardinia, we move onto Sardinia, Italy.
Log Entry Monday 7th August - We are sailing tomorrow, time to stock up our lockers!
We are ready to go, we plan to take Sailaway out for a good sail, to check everything out. It seems so long since we sailed, a good 10 months actually. We plan to stay fairly local, depending on the winds, no positive plans other than we tell the marina, if all goes well we should be out three nights at this stage, may be longer? They thank us for the information as that allows them to hire out our berth in our absence. Today is all about shopping, finishing the preparation and Ann having her final latte for a few days?
As we made our way into town, the main square had been converted into a basket ball pitch, from the equipment in use and the attendance this was not a "one off!" The game was quite interesting, and fast, it was good to see school children so active. Carloforte has great community spirit, everyone we have spoken too, declares it as a great place to bring up children. We are becoming more and more as part of the community, people you see regular in town say "Hi!", in Italian, obviously, we enjoy it here!
Log Entry Friday 4th August - A boat on fire in the next marina, handled brilliantly!
I was working down below on our engine, when Ann called me up, the bellowing smoke had caught her attention?
Ann's initial assessment was correct, one of the boats in the neighbouring marina was on fire, it took hold very fast. There had been a couple of small explosions just before the fire service arrived to assist the marina staff?
Some one made a decision very quickly, to reduce the damage to as many as the nearby vessels as possible they began towing the vessel between the pontoons, out into the open water of the harbour!
Within a few minutes the Coast Guard, search and rescue vessel arrived, it too carrying hoses. The burning vessel was secured against the harbour wall, the fire service had also relocated to the harbour wall. They collectively took control of the fire and took care of fuel and oil spillage with flotation devices.
It was such a professional operation, you would think it was something they did every day, the fire isolated, contained and then put out! I think we deserve a cupper after all that excitement, kettle on!
Log Entry Wednesday 2nd August - Our young one, all grown up and ready to leave home!
As adults we all go through the sadness of our young ones reaching that age when they have to "go their own way" in life!
For "Plant" it is not so much "age" but "height". She has flourished in the hands of the marina staff, over the winter, their kindness and companionship helping her reach an unmanageable size down below decks on Sailaway, she is to take up a land based home. This spring she also flowered for the first time ever, unfortunately the photographs were destroyed. Plant, our British cactus is now 5 years of age and it is time for us to let her go her own way, she is to remain in Carloforte Marina with her new Italian friends. Ann is taking this change far better than I, Ann and Plant have never got on well as all know, a degree of jealousy on Ann's side I think?
Plant, a well-travelled cactus:
1. Plant in her time with us has driven from the UK to the south coast of Turkey, visiting France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatian, Bosnia, Serbia and then across Turkey, 6,500 miles. The Italian Lakes believed to be her favourite place?
2. When finding her new home on Sailaway, she accompanied us around Turkey, the Greek Islands and Peloponnese, Sicily, Aeolian Isles, Sardinia, The Balearics, Spain and then back to Sardinia via the Balearics, approximately 3,560 Nautical miles.
A fantastic achievement for any Cactus, she makes us so proud!
Log Entry Sunday 13th July - Sailaway's Interior returned to a comfortable level!
In the Spring of 2016 in Sicily due to "faulted, Turkish anodes" Sailaway went through an extensive welding exercise requiring the complete strip out and rebuild of the interior! A great job was done by "Marina di Ragusa", our bilge still completely dry! Last year saw us complete a 2500 nautical trip, over 450 hours at sea, to Benidorm and back with only bare wooden floors from which the old carpet had been ripped from? We had lived with the uncomfortable interior because of material unavailability and the time to fit it?
Ann has had to return to the UK for a couple of weeks leaving me alone on Sailaway. My objective is to have as much fun as I can, no, sorry I got carried away in thought? I will return the interior back to a suitable level of comfort for her return, Ann returns tomorrow! The shower is also in need of complete refurbishment, this is our 11th year of living aboard, where has that time gone?
I attack the shower first, it needs work done below the floor too, I am confident it will now out last us!
Fitting the flooring was interesting, never even put up wall paper in the last 20 years, but any thing must be better than what we had? I had our two dolls, we call them "Shitface & Little Tosser" to keep an eye on me. I believe they are reporting back daily to Ann on my activities?
The fitting and securing takes me best part of a week in total. I have plenty of advice from "the kids" as we also sometimes call them! I trim the floor covering sections with wooden slats.
I finish about 3pm today, I pick Ann up tomorrow night. The wooden slats have still to be stained to suit the surrounding wood, stain is not available on the island, but tomorrow when I pick up Ann from the airport, I can get some from the mainland, alone with our certified diving tanks.
Quite happy with my progress, I replace the old cushions with those brought from the UK from the car. I hope Ann does not beat me too hard because the wood trims are not stained - only time will tell?
Log Entry Friday 30th June - Into Oristano "Old Town" for the morning then re-join the coastal route, to the west.
Yesterday we did the waterfront stuff, today first thing we head down to the old town, beginning at "Piazza Duomo" where sits "Cathedrale di Santa Maria Assunta" the whole area, saturated with religious "markers."
The Cathedral has such a history, I supply the "Wikipedia Link", what a fascinating place in local history from the 7th Century until today.
We enter through the grand entrance of the Cathedral.
The internals, again, very impressive, effectively created from six Chapels, three either side holds many dated works of art.
It even holds a small chapel for the Christening of it's followers.
The town Library just down from the square is just as impressive.
We continue only a further 100 metres or so into "Piazza Eleonora D'Arborea" a popular area with an excellent information centre.
We drop down only a short distance to "Della Torre di Porta Pontis in Piazza Roma" the town is full of history as over the centuries it battle for the full control of Sardinia. Interesting pedestrian walkways too, so much in such a small area. Well, in time, following refreshments, of coarse, we head back to the car, we now drive north to "Marina di Torre Grande", then west to "Cabras" on the peninsula, following the shoreline of "Golfo di Oristano".
One of the highlights at Cabras is the Roman ruins at Tharros, that was our destination. We follow the SP6 (road) which grinds to an abrupt halt at Tharros, the carpark is serviced by a number of restaurants. The narrow peninsular is serviced by what we call a "Tourist Train" from the carpark to the very tip of the peninsular, most of it shores lined with beaches. A popular target for tourists for a number of reasons.
We decide to catch the train, it is mid afternoon here now and around 35C, the walk around the ruins is out for us, too hot to look at "old stones!"
The ruins were almost deserted, with the carpark full most visitors were either in the restaurants or on the beaches?
The trip was interesting, plenty to occupy the mind for 45 minutes or so.
We watched boats arrive and leave from the train, quite a nice place to sit out the northerly winds if heading north up the coast?
Log Entry Thursday 29th June - Our Diving Tanks need certification, off to Cagliari, then north to Oristano for the evening.
Our air tanks need calibrating, a 5 year certification for our steel tanks, without certification centres will not re-fill them when empty. It is hard to believe it was now 5 years since we obtained them and Ann's "ticket" as I call it, back in Turkey? The certification could not be carried out on our Island, a trip to Cagliari was needed, all of the information provide to us by one of the dive centres on the island. I had decided to have the regulators (breathing bits) checked too. The task was painless at the "Air Sub Dive Centre", all would be complete in a week or so. From Cagliari, we drove north west to Oristano to check the area out, the west coast seems to be coming up as one of our destinations this year, we have already done, south, east and north of Sardinia, in past times, that is if we ever get out of the marina?
Ann had to return for a week or so to the UK, I collected them as I collected Ann from the airport.
It was late in the day before we got there, we had booked accommodation, we checked in and heading to the waterfront. It was clearly an Italian resort, their main holidays are July, so not as busy as it would be then which, made it much more pleasant to sit on the beach and enjoy a cool drink - Ann had a latte of coarse.
We had our dinner out at a small restaurant not too far from our accommodation, and retired for the evening not too late!
Log Entry Friday 23rd June - The yearly, 3 day Tuna Festival begins today, here in Carloforte.
We were told this was the 14th consecutive, yearly festival, a very successful event for the town which appeared to be bursting at the seems, the ferries extra busy.
In the late afternoon, we head into town to see what is going on, we had been in during the day before and sat on Sailaway, on deck and listened to the musical in the evening, our curiosity this evening got the better of us today. It was busy as expected, the local police trying to balance the pedestrians and the ferry traffic. Great to see "complete congestion" on the narrow main street but no anger, horns sounding or any indication of frustration - just like the UK?
There was a large stage and seating area in amongst the ferry stages, this was where the history of the Tuna Industry was displayed, and there sat the many judges waiting to sample the various tuna dishes in the competition. The public could actually be judge or cook, both tasks obviously undertaken by professionals too.
The main street, waterfront cafes busy too, people everywhere!
The pedestrian traffic was often broken up by street artists, very entertaining and funny to watch the old slap-tick fun.
The main street was lined with kiosks, selling anything from liquorice, beer to toys to keep the kids busy.
The narrow alleys and their cafes are busy too, we head up to "Piazza Repubblica", we could see something going on, not sure what?
In the piazza, they had another performer, working high amongst the ancient olive trees and provide the shade from the daily sun. The guy was working at between 3 - 4 meters off the ground, four sets of two men per set, were holding (by hand) the cables holding the pole and performer vertical. My first though was, this would never happen in the UK, Health & Safety Regulations would not allow it! We stood watching the gent for some time performing his act, even pretending to fall occasionally, I concentrated a lot on the 8 men holding him and his stunts, with ease! The act was very entertaining, and more importantly, nobody was injured or died during the process? Once again it confirms to me that the UK are in a world of their own, bare in mind that Italy are in the EU too! We cripple business and add significant costs to daily tasks via Health & Safety and then blame the EU? Enough of my ranting on!
Two of the eight gents holding the artist and pole - no one died?
We left the proceedings before dark and the live band started - much too old for that sort of nonsense now!
Log Entry Wednesday 21st June - We take a run up to the far north east of the Isola di San Pietro.
Well, in between our "jobs" we seem to do more and more coffees, with Ann's "latte addiction" than anything else? Today we jump into the car and head up to the north east tip of San Pietro, up to "La Punta". Up here was once a thriving Tuna plant with fixed off shore tuna nets across the channel between us and the mainland. There now exists only two nets that we could see, slightly to the north tucked out of the way in a large natural bay. The drive was made interesting by the almost "dirt tracks", ensuring you did not "bottom" the car meant that even an average speed of 20mph was difficult, still we enjoyed the air-con!
Offshore is the Isola Piana and the small port of Villamarina, a few sailboats anchored just to the south of it, using the island as protection from the typical northerly winds. This will probably be one of first anchorages if we ever get out of the marina, I am almost certain "latte's are available on the island?
The nets were being worked, the boats servicing them using the old tuna plant as both a quay and processing area by the looks of it?
Slightly to the south of the point this is a couple of lovely little beaches separated by this warehouse, it appeared to have been possibly some sort of resort, arcade, not sure, nor could I find anything about it locally?
The small inlets were quite busy, a hotel sits only a couple of hundred meters away on the main road. As we were the only car here we assumed they were actually coming down from the hotel?
Log Entry Tuesday 13th June - We take the day off and head off into the island by car.
Amongst the many jobs to do all listed of coarse, we decide to take the day off, take the car and head up the west side of the island (Isola San Pietro) to have a good look around. Well, that does not take much time as the island is only about 5 x 6 miles in size (8 x 9 km). We take our time as we work, each day includes a break for "Ann's latte addiction!", popping into town or, just into the marina Club House. We head up to the area known as "Calafico", a reserve, beach etc, interesting!
We head up as far as possible to drive, to "Faro" the magnificent lighthouse, surround by Military Land, a rather rugged and baron area.
Halted by the Military gates and fences we turn back to "Fico Cove", again a reserve area, isolated but still serviced by good bus from Carloforte We take advantage of a small cafe, ice-cream is just what's needed in heat like this!
Log Entry Saturday 3rd June - Sailaway, fit and well!
We are soon settled in for the evening, the car carries many items to be brought on board, but, that is for tomorrow. When we pulled back the covers and hatches, Sailaway was in perfect condition. The exterior was somewhat different but short term, birds had deposited there waste all over the deck, it was thick! Speaking to the staff for some reason it was only our vessel, none others, hard to believe but, at the end of the day it only required a good clean!
Our bilge was completely dry, a welcome sight after all of the welding on our hull in Marina di Ragusa (Sicily), the replacement of our stern gland assembly, and the 3,000 sea miles covered last year - great news for us!
We have all the normal things to do after a long period of winterisation, 8 months since we left her. The engine, fuel system and gearbox to service, amongst other bits and pieces to change, waterproof or renew. We have as yet no fixed plans for this summer, or what is left for it. We have done, and seen so much already this year we plan to take our time and enjoy our time on board, no urgency to do anything.
Log Entry Friday 2nd June - We leave Belvi and drive directly to Carloforte and Sailaway.
Our time here was now finished, the surrounding area amazing as we remember from 2010, and the people still so friendly. We plan to drive directly to Portovesme on the southeast corner of Sardinia, from there the ferry over to Carloforte - tonight we sleep on Sailaway! With the car packed up once again, Ann pops down to the store for cold drinks for the trip, our trusty VW at the ready. The drive is just over 90 miles (135km) our satnav tells us it's a 2.5 hour trip due to the road type etc, she has not been wrong yet?
With Ann back, we saw "farewell" to the guys sitting sitting drinking coffee outside the hotel - they had "kicked our butt!" is a bar down the street last night, 3 games to 1! They retired after their victory with the Italian flag flying high, not that I understood that as it was just a friendly, "It is not the winning that counts, it is the participation!" (Nonsense clearly, they were just lucky!).
The drive was interesting, obviously we had to stop for Ann's "latte addiction". One the single winding road I spent a little time giving way to the racing locals, they clearly, hopefully knew the roads well based on the points at which they would overtake? I should not complain as Ann repetitively "screams" at my driving, you have to adapt to the local styles, At least I have not yet been banned from overtaking as happened in Turkey, even after 3000 miles (4,500km) across Europe, I am quite proud of myself?
We paid for the ferry tickets and waited the 30 minutes for our turn, just like catching a bus, no room, you wait for the next one.
We find it hard to believe that our trip is nearly over as we approach Isola San Pietro, what an adventure, still, more ahead on Sailaway, once we make our minds up where we are going?
As we pull into Carloforte Harbour we pass the marina, Sailaway has been moved but there she was waiting for us. We had now only a few hundred yards left to cover and complete our 3,000 mile (4,500km) trip, originally estimated at 1600 (2400km), direct that was?