2019 - The year of resolving Kevin's spinal issues - or not!
Last year (2018) Kevin had both his knees replaced, but during that period he also developed spinal issues. This year remains a little uncertain with regard to Kevin's required work on his spine, a MRI Scan revealing that he has 3 prolapsed discs, one in his neck and two in his lower back - surgery said to be required but the soonest we could see a surgeon is mid-February 2019! The Surgeon is adamant that the disc's are not severe enough to create the levels of discomfort Kevin is experiencing. Once he discovers that Kevin has been "Insulin Dependant" for 29 years, to us, with the resulting conversation, it is clear where the blame is going, the result - no surgery! It is now clearly up to us to manage the situation we find ourselves in, lets see how we manage dear Sailaway?
Please read on:-
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2018 - The year of Kevin's dual knee replacements.
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Eventually we begin sailing!
Log Entry Friday 7th June - All stocked up and ready to go sailing - we thought?
To day was a great disappointment, all ready to go we had stocked up with provisions. We are awaiting some exhaust components to up grade our system but that could be a week or so? We are to test Sailaway at sea and at anchor in the mean time, a call from our friend Andrea will declare it's arrival, then we plan to return!
We go to start our engine and to our surprise it will not start - starting battery dead! We are quite taken by it as it has been started several times for various reasons?
I look at the installed battery, it was purchased in Turkey 6 years ago, so I guess it has served us well? The replacement is sourced from the local "auto shop" at a reasonable price when compared against UK pricing - I was pleasantly surprised!
Definitely ready to go now?
Log Entry Monday 3rd June - Almost ready to go sailing!
Well, we are running out of things to check, service and maintain! I spent this morning freeing off our seized 18 year old outboard engine, all but a new spark plug left to do! Sitting idol for two years has not agreed with it at all - I know how it feels!
And with new fuel and a couple of good tugs on the starter cord she's good for another 20 years!
Log Entry Sunday 2nd June - Back to the festival this evening!
Our preparation of Sailaway is coming to a close, we enjoy the maintenance, and of coarse the care we put into the vessel pays us back at sea, at anchor and of coarse longer term. As we sit on board the ferries are noticeably dressed for the festive occasion, we decide to head back into town after dinner to see how the "Giro Tonno Festival" is progressing?
The town is now certainly a lot busier, there is barely a square meter left to park anywhere, we have never seen the town so packed with vehicles.
As soon as we approach the town it is clear that there is a lot more activity than on the opening evening - all good for local trade!
Tonight is a completely different picture to that of Thursday, the busiest stall still being the "Spitzer VW" understandably!
Even we settle into the festive spirit with ice-cream!
Well, it was definitely worth a second look this evening, we are pleased we went into, tomorrow the work begins in pulling it all apart!
Log Entry Friday 31st May - The festival continues as does our daily jobs.
We head into town for our normal "coffee break", spend a couple of hours in what has become our favourite coffee shop and then return to Sailaway.
As we walk down the pontoon we pass one of the locals fishing, we have seen the same guy catching sizable fish, squid and octopus previously. This time he has a flat next and is hauling it what I guess I would describe as "whitebait fish", chatting with him these fish are fried too sounds very similar. He is certainly landing himself quite a haul, perhaps he sells them on?
Log Entry Thursday 30th May - The Tuna Festival, the new Marina Bar and Pizza for dinner.
The town has been preparing for a few day now for it's annual "Giro Tonno", Tuna Festival. A number of years ago the town was famous for it's tuna, it's catching and it's processing. It's processing plant still sits on the north of the island, all closed now for a number of reasons.
Our morning trip into town sees the final touches being made to the relevant areas, the stage used to highlight the tuna cooking competitions, and of coarse live music, there are numerous stalls, predominantly selling local/Sardinian products. Tonight is the grand opening of the event, we plan to return later, perhaps have dinner in town too? We return to Sailaway for lunch and a little more work - we had planned to be ready to sail after two weeks of arriving that date was only a matter of days away? We retuned and continue on board with our work.
Tonight the marina opens it's new bar, we call into to sample it's produce on the way to town. Our friend Kosta & Stefanie are already their with their friend, not wanting to spoil their fun we sit on our own just across from them! The produce is nice but very, very expensive, €8 for a "standard" wine and €10 for Ann's "Spitzer". The marina bar has been changed from a place we would use regularly for coffee breaks of social meets to something, well, that we will not visit too often - shame! We spend a couple hours in the bar and then bid our farewells and head into town.
We were surprised as to how quiet the town was, still it was the first night and with the weekend approaching it must get busier hopefully? It would be a shame, especially for the effort been put into the event?
The bustiest stall by far was the "Spitzer VW Van" creating a lot of interest, interesting concept?
We head into one of the local Pizza café’s on the front street most are sitting outside but too cold for us we are not dressed for it and take a table inside. The table position was our first problem, the second was, neither one of us had our reading glasses but we manage with the assistance of the waitress we manage to order.
Log Entry Friday 24th May - Work & play and the Bee Swarm?.
Today starts like any other, a few bits and pieces done then into town for a coffee, we always return about lunch time. We have not adapted a "siesta strategy" as most seem to do but have lunch and then continue with our jobs? To day was no different, we were both occupied on deck when Ann shouts for me? The boat next door was covered in swarming bees, quite a thick cloud of them could be seen heading our way? I suggested to Ann we stepped off Sailaway, closed hatches etc. and made our way forward on deck. Our movement must have caught their attention, moved higher and over us and moved over the other boats, we returned to our initial activities.
Some friends arrived and called Ann to see where the bees had settled - on a boat, about five up from us, they looked quite settled apparently? A nice surprise for someone?
Log Entry Friday 17th May - Soon back into Carloforte lifestyle!
We soon settle into life on the quiet island, basically a mix of "jobs & coffee shops!"
The town is still quiet, too early in the season, soon "madness" will ascend with the tours, over twenty ferries arriving and leaving the island with tourists and all of the essential supplies the island and it's people need.
From our experience, the prices also change, they go up obviously not down, during the busy periods you have to be constantly aware of what you are paying, especially for coffees etc.
Log Entry Wednesday 15th May - We wake up just off the Northern, Sardinian coast.
We wake quite early as we approach the Sardinian coastline, once ashore we have about a 3.1/2 hour drive to Portovesme where we catch to short ferry to Sailaway. The drive down from the north to south coast is some what discouraging as we pass through temperatures of between 6C & 14C with torrential rain and sunshine - quite a mix? Quite a variance over such a short period in time with no great change in elevation?
We arrive in Portovesme and board the ferry for the short, 40 minute trip to Carloforte on the Isola di San Pietro, Sailaway sits there waiting for us.
And there she is no problems at all, a little work to do no doubt as we check all is working, she has not been to sea for almost 24 months!
Another positive fact is that "Plant" continues to thrive well, especially due to the fact she is the only English cactus in Sardinia!
Log Entry Tuesday 14th May - We arrive at Toulon for our ferry to Porto Torres, Sardinia.
The port where we catch the ferry is directly in the city centre, the traffic is extremely busy but no real issues?
We are processed quite easily as usual and we join the cue to board, in time the car is secured and the ferry leaves port. We watch from our cabin window as we begin to leave France, in the morning we arrive in northern Sardinia.
Log Entry Monday 13th May - We make the trip to the Bastille!
Our journey this morning was simple and direct, to the cable cars to take us up to the Bastille, just off the River Isère where we where yesterday - no problem, even passed all the coffee shops without stopping?
We climb into the cable car, we were looking forward to both the Bastille and also the journey to it, the views and all the trip had to offer. It was originally proclaimed as the first "urban cable car" initially build in 1934, the the "Bubble" version as it is named replaced the original in 1976 and has been in operation ever since.
As we climb the views of the city and the rivers Isère & Drac are amazing, fortunately we have quite a clear day for our trip.
As we approach the Bastille the surrounding Alps become more apparent with the great valleys leading north to south becoming very impressive. We drove through the northern valley to get here, tomorrow we will continue through the valley to the south to make for Toulon and our ferry to Sardinia.
The Bastille gives you an excellent 360 degree view of the Alps, the landscape surround the city is absolutely amazing!
The superbly positioned cafe/restaurant provides additional opportunities to take in the surrounding views.
The view to the east was particularly interesting to us as in the distance we could make out "Mount Blanc". In 2013 we drove to Turkey, en route we took the car lifts up Mount Blanc on the Italian side, fascinating! The whole experience here was great definitely a place to visit, photographs would never make the experience truly clear.
Log Entry Sunday 12th May - Our first day in Grenoble (France).
We had checked into the Kyraid Hotel last night a good three hours behind schedule due to our detention by the police for passing counterfeit money at Aldi - that's the last time we shop there! The first task was to obtain a map of Grenoble and secondly a method of getting the kilometre or so into the town and the Bastille, both obtained at reception. The hotel was good and excellently positioned on the tram line directly into town.
The third task and probably the most challenging was to obtain a couple of day passes for the transport system, it would not take our visa's, cash in notes only coins and we needed 12 Euros, again the hotel reception was called upon? What a beautiful town we had arrived in, surrounded by the Alps and all sides, accessible to the north and south by passes through the mountain range, still snow on the mountain tops around us. The transport system was typical of most you use in Europe, clean and respected? At the end of the 15 minute tram ride we had already decided to stay an extra day and a slight change of plan, today was to be spent on the town, tomorrow, the Bastille.
We headed from the tram through the old town, it is truly a beautiful city, remarkably clean and well kept, no litter, graffiti etc.
The town has further magical attraction, at least to us as it is surrounded by the Alps, we walk through the old town - only one cafe for Ann! Our general direction being north to the River Isère, which feeds into the Rhone, where we plan to take the cable car up to the Bastille in the morning.
We make our way through the old town, through the old Parliamentary square and eventually arrive at the River Isère and in front of us stands the Bastille - our destination in the morning.
The Bastille is a sizeable complex high above the town, clearly quite a tourist attraction today.
We cross the River Isère to the banks below the Bastille, time for a quick bite to eat and refreshment and return to our hotel.
Log Entry Saturday 11th May - We leave our dear friends and head for Grenoble, France - Arrested in Aldi!
With our farewells complete we pack up our trusty VW and leave for Grenoble, we have heard so much about the area and as it sits half way between our present position and Toulon where we take the ferry to Sardinia it is a perfect stop over. With just over 250 miles to cover we decide to stop at a local "Aldi" to stock up on both drink and food for the journey.
We stopped and headed into the store taking only minutes to choose our items and make for the checkout - that's where our day turned bad? I paid with a €20 note, took my change from the young guy and we made for the exit. As we made the door we heard a shout and turned, it was the young guy that had just served us shouting up the store, we turned and continued to the car. It was then the young guy ran up to us and explained that the €20 noted we had passed was "fake" and we had to return to the store as the police had been called - we did as requested!
Once back inside the situation was explained and I had the Supervisor check the rest of the notes I had in my pocket, they all proved to be good fortunately! We immediately called our nearby friend for assistance, we retired to the staff room as we were told a nearby accident had the full attention of the police they would be some time? Some time they were, 3 hours later two armed officers arrive to process our details. As we could not identify where we had obtained the false note, our details were take along with our dear friends, we were to be allowed to leave and the investigation would continue in our absence? We were now 4 hours behind schedule, but happy to be free, I must say the store staff were extremely pleasant it was the most entertaining in a way?
We stop in one of the service areas, we are fascinated by the views of the Alps - still some snow on the tops, just visible below the cloud?
Log Entry Friday 10th May - After almost 2 days of "catching up!" time to enjoy a small part of the Black Forest.
We take the car and disappear into the hillside just above the village, it takes less than 10 minutes to climb high into the hillside! We pull over, park up and then continue on foot, you could be miles from anywhere, they truly live in a beautiful area, all on their door step".
I could have listed hundreds of photographs but none really show the true beauty, without my larger camera it is impossible to make out the snow on the surrounding mountain tops as they disappear into the angry clouds? We were fortunate as the rain stayed off for the afternoon.
Log Entry Tuesday 7th May - On the ferry to Dunkirk, France.
We had 3 nights in Northampton with our eldest daughter, Lisa. On the Sunday we drove down Abbots Langley (Watford) to meet up with Ann's Mum's neighbours, Ron, Hazel and Ernie. It's just gone 5 years since her departure, but we have continued to stay in touch, sending them post cards from the places we visit - they have them all collected and keep them safe. We then "popped" into central London, (Neasdon) to visit Daisy, a niece with a new baby "Dexter". Daisy's brother (Charlie) and his family also join us, a couple of hours of catch up time - we had not seen Charlie for over 25 years at least?
We arrive in good time at Dover, after all we were last here less than 4 months ago, we join the cue for boarding.
We are soon under way and in the busy shipping lanes, our destination Dunkirk this time, 46 miles closer than Calais to the home of our German friends. They live in the "Black Forest" on the German side of city of Basel. We notice out of our window, a small, dinghy size vessel gaining some considerable interest from fellow passengers. You may just be able to make the "dark spot" out in the centre above? Even more interesting the helicopter approaching it from the French coast - your imagination runs wild "immigrants perhaps" trying to cross the Channel to the UK? Unfortunately our vessels speed obscures our view of any further "happenings?"
We are soon after entering the port of Dunkirk, once ashore just over 500 miles to our friends house, we will not make that journey today, we spend our first night in Europe in a small studio apartment just south of Brussels - we will join our friends on Wednesday?
Log Entry Saturday 9th March - Sailaway is lifted out in our absence for the first time, a very worrying time for us!
Sailaway has sat still in the water for almost 18 months, it's 3 years & just over 2000 sea miles since her last lift out, anti-foul etc... -she is certainly read for a clean up!
She is lifted out by Marinatour Yard, the yard associated with the marina, this is the first time she is lifted out without our presence - very nerve racking for us, we await any news from our dear friend "Andrea".
We receive the news and photographs of the yards progress, they find 3 small holes in the hull above the waterline, they are cut back to good metal, welded up and treated accordingly, an excellent job from the photos and very fast!
The failed coating areas are identified and repaired
What difference, "before & after!" a great job, she is now ready for our arrival mid-May!
Log Entry Wednesday 6th February - We arrive back into Dover (UK)
We drive the 750 miles across France to Calais without issues, we stopped twice to break the drive into comfortable distances, last night only 80 miles south of Calais, once at Dover we have a further 90 miles to cover to Northampton where we will spend a couple of nights with our daughter, Lisa.
The crossing from Calais to Dover is a very short crossing, only around 20 miles of sea to cross. The strong winds and large waves breaking over the bow of the ferry keep us occupied as we make our way through the busy shipping lanes of the Channel.
Log Entry Monday 4th February - We leave Porto Torres (Sardinia) for Toulon (France).
Monday soon comes around, our ferry is not until 1600 hours, so we extend our checkout and have a wander around town to fill in our day.
The day soon passes, before we know it we are on board and leaving the port, we arrive in Toulon (France) around 0700 in the morning. We have booked a cabin as we have 750 miles to drive across to France to Calais, easier to "attack" with a reasonable nights sleep behind us. We are soon clear of the port and joining the busy traffic using the narrow channel between Corsica (France) and Sardinia (Italy).
We head directly for the upper lounge, quite comfortable with a good view and live music later on in the evening, we lay claim to our table early.
Log Entry Sunday 3rd February - A couple of nights in Porto Torres.
- We have today to kill, we know the town itself reasonably well, but this is the first time we have used this hotel, "Hotel Bali". The hotel overlooks a large bay and beach, very quiet at this time of year obviously as one would expect. There is no restaurant open due to this fact, our board is bed & breakfast only, not a problem as the town is only 5-10 minutes walk. Today, one of the tasks is to find somewhere to eat this evening.
Our first "port of call" is a small waterfront restaurant we literally stumble across, Ann starts as she means to go on - my drink is the coffee! Unfortunately, upon enquiring it closes on a Sunday afternoon and does not open at the evening - still a lovely lunch.
We walk into the town centre in the evening and discover a rather large restaurant, we almost have the place to ourselves. We settle in, I find the pictures portrayed rather interesting especially as we have visited most of them. Their turnover in delivery pizzas is amazing they have three drivers, all three kept busy during our time inside? Good food, good wine, a good evening all round.
Log Entry Saturday 2nd February - On our way north to Porto Torres for the ferry to Toulon (France).
We have another few days of rotten weather due over the weekend, we have decided to get the drive over today across the island as the roads are not too good ahead of us. We are due very heavy rain across Sardinia in the morning, by then we will be settle in Porto Torres ready for our depart for France late Monday afternoon.
Needless to say the drive passes without any issues, we arrive in Porto Torres at our hotel just before nightfall - perfect.
Log Entry Friday 1st February - It's time to return to the UK, medical appointments coming up!
Amazingly we have been back for some 9 weeks now, it is amazing as to where the time goes, or rather disappears too? We and Baz (our little helper!) has put much effort into the deck, removing the "tired" look, she is in our opinion looking rather smart - if we do say ourselves! Our deck refurbishment has gone remarkably well, there remains only a small section remaining to be completed, we are leaving this "as is?" to allow us to disembark and board without damage to the new deck.
With all of the stainless structure and stanchions remounted and the guard wires re-fixed she is still not ready to go sailing, she desperately needs lifting out, cleaning and anti-fouling. Then, with the usual engine and fuel system servicing she will then be ready to go to sea! We plan to have her lifted out in our absence, this being the first time ever, then, when we return complete the outstanding work and go sailing!
Unfortunately it is now time to leave for the UK, we have a ferry booked on Monday 4th February, from the north of Sardinia to take us to France.
Log Entry Sunday 27th January - Last night we were hit with the worst gale yet!
Last night we were hit by very strong winds, gusts of over 50 knots were forecast, and we could easily believe it as the wind blew on the side of Sailaway pushing her over at an angle most of the night. It was interesting both of us rolling across our bed! The wind began to drop off around dawn as forecast, we were up early and I climbed up on deck to check for any damage - there was no damage at all, not even a stressed rope. We had to go into town to pick some things up from the store, before we thought we would check out the boats in the marina, we were horrified as to how many vessels were damaged?.
The sailboat next to us in our normal berth in the marina was lying across our berth, it had broke free during the night, the winds had torn out the cleats. The cleats are fasteners to which mooring ropes are secured. The boat had been re-secured by different means but the broken cleat still lay in the water! If we had been in our normal place then, when it broke free our neighbour would have hit us, probably numerous time before we could have secured it?
Talking to the Marino (Andrea), the pontoon to the west with only a couple of small boats secured had broken free completely, separating from the main pontoon moving of to the south about 5 meters from it's original position.
One of the larger power boats had broken it's anchoring chain and eye! The eye had been propelled through the rear fibre glass panel - some one could have been seriously hurt or even killed? Andrea showed me a photograph on his phone of the stainless steel eye sitting on the settee in the lounge area inside the boat?
As we walk around the vessels it was easy to see the numerous vessels damaged from the very strong wind winds and the even stronger gusts - we actually lost count as to how many?
As we walk back to Sailaway we reflect on her alone on the pontoon, safe and secure, who knows what damage she may have sustained if we had been in our normal berth in the marina?
Log Entry Saturday 26th January - A break in the weather allows the work to continue.
A break in the weather allows us to continue with the deck rebuild, we reposition the stainless pulpit, or what is the large front stainless framework. Due to it's shape and the fact that it hangs over the bow of Sailaway and of coarse, now there is only Ann and I we use ropes to secure the frame in position. This allows us suspend it's weight while we bolt the frame down to the deck. We can now re-attach the guard wires that run the length of the deck.
Log Entry Thursday 24th January 2019 - We are continually hit with storms, today hailstones!
Log Entry Sunday 20th January 2019 - We are moved to a deserted section of the marina to allow work to continue.
Baz left us yesterday, we dropped him back at the airport yesterday, his help had been invaluable over the week - shame it had passed so soon? Upon our return to the marina we are asked if we would like to be moved over to the other marina across the harbour. We are told that "over there there is no-one to see what we are doing?" We guess that there must have been some complaints or concerns over the work we were doing? We are not concerned, in fact quite pleased as we can now move on to work we certainly could not have completed in close proximity to other vessels.
We move over and settle down into our new, rather lonely pontoon, another positive is that we are now right in the centre of town.
We bash on with the external work, stripping off most of our stainless frame work, repairing the deck and cosmetic damage caused by weather - "all hands on deck!"
I must confess Sailaway is becoming to look like the smart, sea going vessel we know her to be, she has certainly lost her "tired" appearance!
Log Entry Sunday 13th January 2019 - Still a little windy to work at first but we manage a little later in the day?
We have a run up to the very north of the island up to the old Tonary, where the caught tuna were processed in days gone by? The strong waves are still breaking hard off the reefs and shallows, hard to imagine how significant they were to stop the ferry functioning?
After a trip around the island we return to Carloforte along side the disused salt works where the flamingos feed, Baz has now seen the entire island in a morning!
Then, back to Sailaway, the work begins and continues till dusk, all hands on deck literally!
Log Entry Wednesday 9th January 2019 - Our day in Cagliari.
We picked up Baz from the airport late last night, had dinner in the old town and then retired for the evening.
I the morning our breakfast is typical, we take our time catching up and planning the day, a quiet day around the city is decided on.
Our accommodation is right on the waterfront over looking the city marina, we walk through the old town and up to the Bastione Saint Remy, the best advantage point over the city.
The buildings are predominantly official, municipal building, there is usually, in the busier time of the year a cafe in the courtyard, not today!
The view over the city is fantastic, stretching over to the coast and across the salt marches where the flamingos feed.
We exit the complex through the main gates back into the city and head for the cafe across from the gates - lunch before we head back to Portovesme for the ferry over to the island.
The next morning we take the coast road around the south of Sardinia, beautiful beaches and resorts but all closed!
Log Entry Tuesday 8th January 2019 - Another day on the mainland, off to Cagliari Airport to collect our "little helper" Baz!
We have our daughters, boyfriend "Baz" arriving today for a week to help us with some of the work on Sailaway, his help was offered following a conversation based on how we were struggling with certain jobs holding us back. We have had gale force winds for two days now and due to continue for a further two, the jobs we have in mind for Baz do require more settled weather so, we have decided to spend a couple of days in Cagliari until the winds fall off!
As we walk along the pontoon to the car we come across an example of pollution and its effect on marine life. There is a plastic bag in the water, on it are two jellyfish trapped on the surface of the bag by the air within it? I release the jellyfish and pull out the bag - not concerned by the amount of time the little sods have stung me!
With my good deed done, we purchase our ferry tickets and board the ferry, our first stop on the mainland is "Brico" in Cagliari, the large D.I.Y store. We have a long list, items we cannot get on the island and some just far cheaper than the local store on the island.
Log Entry Saturday 5th January 2019 - A trip across the mainland to alleviate the boredom!
While we love working on Sailaway everyone deserves a break, we decide to take the ferry across to the mainland for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to literally "get off the island!" also to take the opportunity to visit the much larger supermarkets! We take the ferry across to Porto Portovesme and drive south to Isola Sant' Antioco, to the south east of us, a mere 15 mile trip or so? The island is supported with a causeway, there is also a ferry running directly to Calasetta on the island from Carloforte but it did escape my mind - age? The town of Sant'Antioco is well equipped with supermarkets, even hosts a "Lidl", Ann is excited? Once on the island the first town is Sant'Antioco with it's supermarkets, with our trusty VW full of goodies, we drive to Calasetta to explore.
The town of Calasetta is very interesting and picturesque, a small town with a small marina and fishing shelter, really quiet at this time of year, barely a cafe open? You can clearly see from the closed establishments how different this place is in the summer.
One thing I am always fascinated about, every small port in the Mediterranean has a form of fishing fleet, it survives, the boats are usually well maintained, handed down through the generations? We are all aware as to how "fished out" these waters are too, but the UK, a completely different story. Most fishing harbours empty, or, converted into a marina or tourist spot - our fishing industry, or what is left of it, definitely seems to take a back seat where as in the Mediterranean it seems fully supported?
We walk the water front, spend an hour in the only open cafe, then hit the road back to Portovesme to the north to catch the ferry back with our car full of goodies! If we had thought it out we could have taken the ferry back from here but, we have a return ticket costing €25, not to be wasted to save a 15 mile drive? That is another excellent point, Italian nations received discounted travel to us, they pay 20% of what we tourists pay - good on them too! Their government clearly cares, this goes for any form of transport apparently?
Log Entry Tuesday 1st January 2019 -It may be New Years Day but we have to keep ourselves busy!
Well, we have to be busy, I take on the work servicing the engine and Ann modifies our new shower curtain as needed, with a nautical theme obviously!