How are we getting on?
(2018 - The year of Kevin's dual knee replacements.)
For the past 5 years we have managed the need for Kevin's knee replacements, last year, 2017, proved extremely difficult and the need for the replacements scheduled for this year, 2018. We rent an apartment in Whickham, Tyne & Wear with the understanding that both replacements would take somewhere in the region of 12 months, there is also an issue with Kevin's two left fingers permanently locked in position, surgery also required? As the time passes Kevin also develops issues with his spine, a MRI Scan reveals that he has 3 prolapsed discs, one in his neck and two in his lower back - surgery also required but the soonest we can see a surgeon is mid-February 2019!
Please read on:-
To view our previous log entries please use the following link:
XIII (October 2017) - We return to the UK.
To view our next log entries please use the following link:
2019 - The year of resolving Kevin's spinal issues!
Log Entry Monday 24th December - A run out in the car to the north of the Island!
It may be Christmas Eve, but to us the better weather with the rain moving on gives us the opportunity to drive to the north of the island, a short drive, Isola San Pietro being only about 6 miles long. The winds are very strong today so we are not surprised by the behaviour of the sea? We arrive at our favourite house on the island, probably ex-coast guard, but today there is a private vehicle parked outside - some one lives there!
The surf between our island (San Pietro) and Isola Piana is sizeable, this area is the favourite surfing area for the islanders, today too wild I guess, there is no one out today!
The old "Tonary", the derelict tuna processing plant is also up here, there is not a bar, cafe or restaurant that does not display aged photographs of this plant in action or at least "the killing zones." This was where the tuna were rounded up in nets and killed by guys in small open boats with large spears.
On the way back to Sailaway we stop at a couple of the small coves, most supporting small vessels of various design.
Log Entry Sunday 23rd December - Three things to celebrate today, the main one Ann's Birthday!
The first issue of the day is "the blocked toilet!" This being one my favourite jobs, the marine toilet being a popular topic of conversation with any boaters! Our problem this time being a small black crab being sucked in via the toilet intake pump, a small creature about 3cm across causing such difficulty and inconvenience - hard to believe? I personally always celebrate such a challenge being completed?
The second celebration of the morning appears as we leave Sailaway, making for the town. As we approach the end of the pontoon, we hear a loud scream, it's Andrea fishing off one of the sailboat's, he displays his sizable prize with pride!
The third and most significant celebration of the day is the afternoon celebration of Ann's birthday!
Log Entry Wednesday 12th December - We are soon settled into the islands way of life!
The beautiful thing about Carloforte is that nothing ever appears to change, our first visit here was in 2008. You still see numerous vehicles parked with the keys in the ignition, with windows open with bags on the seats - Fantastic! We soon settle into this very slow, almost traditional way of life, coffee and croissants being the priority of the day!
The weekly, Wednesday market still an attraction for all, not just to purchase goods but also to chat and catch up!
Log Entry Saturday 8th December - We wake up in Sardinia
As we sat having breakfast, yes, you guessed it "croissant alla crema" I checked our position on our mobile, it then became apparent why the seas had calmed. The weather and seas were coming from the west, the route of the ferry would normally have been down the west coast of Corsica, we had travelled down the east side, hiding from the weather. As a result we entered the bad seas once again as we cleared Corsica, arriving at Porto Torres an hour and a half later but a much more comfortable trip - thank-you Captain. We were soon on the road heading again due south to Portovesme on the south side of Sardinia, from there a short ferry trip over to Carloforte on "Isola San Pietro" and Sailaway. The distance was only about 160 miles but due to the style of road the trip would take us over four hours plus stops!
We eventually arrived at a deserted ferry terminal at Portovesme, purchased our ticket with about 45 minutes to wait for the next ferry. Not really a ferry service as we had experienced, previously, better described as a 40 minute bus trip across the water, most people do not even leave their cars for the trip, we did if only to get a better view from above decks. The trip was again a "rolly" one but nothing like what we had experienced last night.
We were soon entering the port of Carloforte where we had left Sailaway in October 2017, we disembark, our trusty, heavily loaded VW scrapping the bottom as we did so, still no damage done to car or vessel?
"Sailaway, here welcome!"
Log Entry Friday 7th December - Lake Maggiore, we think and our ferry from Genoa.
Following our last visit in 2013 we chose our over night resting place because of it's acclaimed views over the lake, we had a ferry to catch this evening so our stay was to be a short one. Last night we arrived in darkness, this morning I drew back the curtains to take in the view? The only things we could truly see was the immediate area around the hotel, we were literally sitting on the top of low cloud, nothing below us could be see at all? We knew for sure the lake was below us somewhere?
We had a lovely breakfast and checked out, not to be beaten by the low cloud we headed directly down the hillside towards the lake, we found ourselves in a small lakeside park, sure enough we could at last make out the lakeside banks but that was it?
We returned back to the main road and followed it along the lake-shore heading back towards the motorway and due south to Genoa where we would catch our ferry for Sardinia. This time of year the roads were empty, at the time of our last visit the roads were terrible, I remember miles and miles of "bumper to bumper". We had plenty of time so we took our time taking in what scenery we were able?
We eventually joined the motorway heading due south for Genoa, in time stopping for fuel and lunch. Ann had been talking about her favourite Italian snack for some time now, "croissant alla crema" this was her first real chance to try one for over 14 months! Well I am glad she did in a way but when finished she seemed to be wearing most of it?
We arrived at the ferry terminal in good time with just less than two hours before boarding, the terminal was enormous in size?
We checked in and made enquiries about somewhere to have dinner before we boarded we were pointed in the general direction of the terminal building. What we did not realise until we arrived was that we had to check out of the terminal back into the public area, a very easy process I must confess. We walked around the shops, popped our heads out into the cold damp city and then picked one of the many restaurants for our dinner, which was excellent.
It was now time to return back through security and to the car to prepare for boarding. I used my best "Italian" to explain to the security members that we had already checked in and presented our paperwork. The lady and gentleman both looked somewhat confused and replied to my attempt with "Do you speak English?" Well, following my admission that we were in-fact English trying to speak Italian we all laughed and we were process through.
Walking back to the car on the overhead walkways gave you a good idea as to the size and intensity of Genoa!
We were soon aboard our ferry and our cabin allocated, we were due into Porto Torres (Sardinia) about 0730 in the morning! It was not until we had left the port that we realised how bad the weather was, the vessel began rolling quite badly. The noise and vibration quite severe below decks as the propellers occasionally left the water the sea was so bad? Still nothing we could do about it, just try and get as much sleep as possible - the seas seem to calm right down around 0100 hours?
Log Entry Thursday 6th December - We leave Hausen for Genoa (Italy) and our ferry to Sardinia.
We wish our farewells to our friends, thanking them for their hospitality, we hope to call in on our return journey. With over 400 miles to cover on this leg of our trip to Genoa we decide to break it up with an overnight stop at Lake Maggiore in the Italian lakes just south of the Alps.
The trip was again uneventful, however one regret, we used the fastest "tunnel route" with the lack of snow I wished we had used the mountain pass - perhaps next time?
We arrived at Lake Maggiore in darkness so we were unable to benefit from the "acclaimed" views from our veranda over the lake, should be a refreshing morning?. We had last been here in the spring of 2013 on our 8 week trip to Turkey!
Log Entry Monday 3rd December - A trip into the town of Hausen.
With our friends busy this afternoon we pop into the town ourselves, grab a coffee and have a look around. The town of Hausen is exactly what you would expect of a southern German town, very clean, organised and a strong Swiss feel to it!
We have our coffee in one of the small, but busy coffee shops in a small square and wander around the town centre, very picturesque!
The Christmas Market attracts a lot of our attention, nothing surprising to be seen, just interesting to see the difference in interpretation and expectations.
Log Entry Saturday 1st December - We break up our journey to our friends in Hausen (Germany) with a stop in Laon, France!
As we left Calais our plan was to head towards Hausen in Germany, a trip of over 500 miles, too far to complete so we made best way possible - we arrive at Laon and decided to search out accommodation for the evening. As we had left the motorway at a nearby roundabout we had come across men and women in "Yellow Vests" controlling the traffic at their leisure! We, via the UK News were able to catch up with the demonstrators and their cause, we got through the delays reasonably well and found our hotel.
In the morning with increased volume of traffic the delays were somewhat longer, still, they certainly had the support of the local people, sounding their horns as they were released to the open road! Fortunately for us this was our only encounter with the protesters.
With just over 350 mile to cover today to get us to Hausen we settle in for the journey.
Log Entry Friday 30th November - We leave Maldon for Dover and our ferry into Europe!
After a few days with our good friends (John & Mo of Ocean Star) we leave after breakfast, and the traffic and head for Dover, a relative easy trip! This time I did remember to pre-pay the Dartford Crossing Toll! We arrive at the ferry terminal in good time, over the past few years we have used this terminal a few times, the ease of usage and the volume of users always astounds us.
Before we know it we are loaded up and on our way, as we exit the harbour entrance we see the other ferries heading in from Europe. We are soon putting the impressive "White Cliffs of Dover" behind us making for France.
Log Entry Saturday 23rd November - Two new knees, two left fingers released, what next, read on?
Well we thought all "issues" were behind us but recent problems and a subsequent MRI scan Kevin now has 3 prolapsed discs - lucky chap! With most avenues explored the only option is further surgery, the first available appointment being late February - "God bless the NHS!" Our plan now is to return to Sailaway for a few months until the appointment date, this will be our first Christmas aboard for some years. It is our plan to load up our trusty VW once again and cross Europe to Sardinia, leaving the north east of England next week.
Log Entry Sunday 26th August- Just getting on with it!The right knee replacement on Thursday 9th August went well, some complications with regards to bone distortion from the arthritis, to quote my surgeon: "Your leg bones have been busy, we had some bits to remove before we could fit the new components!" No more detail was discussed, other than to possibly expect a little more discomfort and bruising than the left knee.
I had the 38 staples removed Thursday 23rd August, all signs looking good, and began the 6 week Physiotherapy class on Friday 24th August - all good to go!
Log Entry Monday 30th July - Kevin's Right Knee to be replaced Thursday 9th August!
No more to say about it than that!
Log Entry Monday 11th June - More good news about Plant!
Plant has once again flowered as she did last year, she never flowered at all during the 4 years on board Sailaway, she is clearly happy in her new permanent home in Carloforte, San Pietro, South West Sardinia.
Log Entry Monday 28th May 2018 - Update on our position to date.
We now have been back in our apartment in the UK for 6 months - unbelievable!
My, (Kevin's) left knee was eventually replaced on the 1st February 2018 after 6 weeks of delays from the NHS, our overloaded, UK Health System. The results were a little too encouraging, with half the pain and increased mobility I became a little too confident completely ignoring the defective right knee. It took two falls to bring me back to reality and pulling me back to sensibly levels of activity that the right knee can withstand, fortunately there was no long term damage to the false knee? There is clearly limitations as it is a false joint, but, it is much better than it was. The required, effective recovery is vastly understated in my opinion, but as they say "no pain, no gain!"
I am now on the list awaiting the replacement of my right knee, a reasonable target being August - September, and then a further 3-4 months achieving stability - time cannot pass fast enough!
A further note worth mentioning is that Sailaway and Plant are both doing well in our absence, Sailaway, as any steel boat in need of Ann's paintbrush!