||We settled down for
winter in Alghero. I say settled down, but our experience of
overwintering last year in Rota had taught us that we should expect to be
pretty busy. A full year of cruising had given us a bigger list than
ever of tweaks and modifications that we'd like to make to Samarang as
well as the usual painting and decorating type jobs that everyone has to
do to their home from time to time, but come around more often in a marine
But priority number one was to
start learning Italian. We'd been in Sardinia now for 2 months and
in spite of our best efforts it had been impossible to find any sort of
self teach Italian course except for one aimed at 5 year old
children. Our vocabulary based on "cappucetta rossa"
(little red riding hood) and phrases like "dami la bambola"
(give me the dolly) were proving less than useful in our conversations
with shipwrights and the like.
There were several
language schools, though not all of them open (it was nearly winter), but
we settled on Oltremare (http://www.centro-oltremare.it). A new school, in its second year, owned and
run by Paola Cattani, which in addition to languages ran courses in Sard
cookery. Based on our experience of learning Spanish the previous
year we had decided to take a far more intensive approach to get us
speaking useable Italian more quickly. We signed up for 4 hours a
day, 5 days a week for the first month, followed by a second month at 3 days a
week, plus homework and the occasional film.
But before we could
start, Paola invited us to lunch at the school to sample some typical Sard
cuisine. We expected some nibbles and a couple of glasses of
wine. We didn't expect mixed antipasti, gnocchietti with tomato and
sausage, a roast suckling pig with roast garlic potatoes and salad,
followed up with Sard cakes, pastries and chocolates and all accompanied
by a selection of Sard wines, red and white Mirto and of course
We were to be treated
to a feast of a similar scale at dinner a couple of weeks later produced
by the student (note the singular) of the cookery course on her last day.
The main course was lamb cooked in red wine with kilos of olives and
oven-baked potatoes with rosemary. Delicious.
|Life in the marina was to prove quite
different from the previous year in Rota. It is a much smaller
marina and there were only two boats other than us which would be lived aboard
full time during the winter; though other owners would drop in from time
to time courtesy of Ryan Air's fantastic prices. The other permanent
occupants were: Mike & Lorraine on Klatawa, this was their first year
afloat (in a yacht that is - they also own a canal boat in the UK), and
Dave & Rosa on Argo, in Alghero for their second year and in the
process of negotiating the intricate Italian legal system in their effort
to acquire a permanent home in Sardinia. Dave was also to become a
fellow student at Oltremare - Rosa being Spanish was already virtually
fluent in Italian.
A major plus for Aquatica (http://www.aquaticasardegna.it/)is the marina owners and staff -
Roberto, Fabrizio & Alex. Negotiating our spares through
customs, providing an introduction to the bank manager, giving us a lift to
the airport, etc, etc nothing seemed too much trouble.
The only difficulty we ever had with Aquatica was trying
to pay them! It took weeks "Roberto, can I pay you for my
berth?" "Better to speak to Fabrizio." a week
goes by "Fabrizio, can I pay you for my berth?"
"OK, I'll come to your boat tomorrow." Another fortnight later
"Hey Fabrizio, can I pay you for my berth now?"
"Later, come and see me, but only when I'm here." Am I
losing it? Surely you're here now, aren't you? And anyway how could I
possibly see you when you're not here? I'm reminded of Major Major in
Catch 22. We did finally get to pay them, but they would only take part
fee - "pay us the rest when you leave."
And then, when Fabrizio had finally got our new heat
exchanger released from customs and delivered to the marina - "If you
can pay for the delivery without tax." Well of
course I preferred, but in spite of Fabrizio's attempted explanation of
the way the Italian year end works, I never did really understand how I
was avoiding it, or how I could extend the principle to other bigger
purchases. So I settled for adopting the gift horses mouth approach.
As well as the guys at the marina there were a couple of
other stars of the winter. The first of these were Marina Diesel (http://www.marinadiesel.it/)
run by the Troia brothers Salvatore and Franco and their
sister Nicoletta. - Perkins, Bukh, Beta, Scan agents and fixers of just
about anything mechanical. Both Salvatore and Franco are ex ships
engineers so know their way around a boat and both speak pretty good
English. We got to know Salvatore well as with much chuckling on his
part we continued to torture him with our terrible Italian when we could
all much more easily have talked in his far better English. These
guys seem to have built a business based on doing what they say they will
for a fair price and being around to tweak anything that needs tweaking
weeks after they've completed the job. We just wish they had a
branch in every port we visit!
Another success story was Schenker
from Napoli (http://www.schenker.it/),
who supplied our watermaker. Riccardo Verde provided unlimited
answers to my seemingly endless list of questions.
Introduced me to some English words I had to look up in the dictionary (eg
- orthogonal). The great thing was, that with Ricardo's help we
installed the system, switched it on and it just worked - best water we've
ever tasted. Even more importantly for us as cruising sailors,
Riccardo was also 100% there to help when things went wrong a few months
as you'll read in a couple of pages.
|Anyway, Alghero is a pretty old town
with a sense of history and the Sardinian hinterland is wild and majestic,
but unfortunately things like carnivale and Settimana Santa were nothing in
comparison to Andalucia. This, combined with the only tiny cruising
community meant that our social life was much quieter with the result that
work on the boat made better progress. Some excerpts from Lindy's diary
and e-mails will give you a feel for our winter on
October - Alghero
started immediately with washing, drying and packing away of sails (stops
them going 'green'), washing of ropes - in the washing machine with loads
of fabric conditioner - to get them clean and soft again; repairing
various bits and then there are the big jobs on the list - painting outside and
inside, varnishing, removing rust, repairing the leaking dinghy (again),
servicing the outboard and main engine; replacing hydraulic pump of
steering, buying a water maker, buying a generator ...and so on. We
have also been doing an intensive Italian course (rather than 2/3 hours a
week in Spain) which meant 4 hrs daily, 5 days a week for 4 weeks and now
we have reduced this to 4 hrs daily 3 days a week for 4 weeks with an
Italian film (with Italian subtitles) once a week plus magazines.
We also get homework!! As
you can imagine we are not bored.
bad news is that our new tenants (Tim Christmas and family – a Dickens
fan with a sense of humour perhaps?) have not paid any more rent since
they moved in (having paid 1 month + deposit).
The agent thinks they have no intention of paying, have phoned -
left messages, driven round, knocked on the door - no answer - curtains
closed, lights on, brand new Bentley Continental + BMW in drive. Our
friends in the village tell us that the top rumour in the Old Vine
is that they're making porno movies.
have been issued a notice to pay or vacate by 26 Nov.
Time up. Now the
solicitors have to apply to the court (? 8 weeks) to get a possession
order, and then bailiffs... more
bad news is that we didn't take out the insurance so not only are we
losing the rent but we have to pay the solicitors, barrister, bailiffs..
just returned from UK and having a rest! -
had to spend quite a lot of time at Ketley Cottage (10 hours
cleaning to start, as a prospective new tenant was on the horizon, and
then we decided to put more things away in our cupboard which involved
buying boxes, bubble wrap, tape etc, replacing lots of light bulbs and so
on). You will gather from
this that Tim Christmas has left - he didn't tell anyone, just took the
keys and went one night, leaving all his bills (including some for an
Aston Martin), parking fines, debt collectors letters, a summons for
unpaid council tax, food in the fridge, pans in the sink and a collapsed
Barry also fixed the bed. At
least we have the house back.
- who decided to send the snow to Sardinia??
Everyone here says the weather is so cold and it doesn't normally
rain so much and normally you have T-shirts on in March....but we hear it
is much worse in the UK and hope you are not suffering too much.
returning we have spent 4 weeks painting and varnishing the aft cabin, the
passageway, the saloon and the galley, including the ceilings which
involves removing all the trim for sanding and varnishing separately.
The aft cabin was emptied and all mattresses etc were stacked in
the forecabin - we slept in the saloon in sleeping bags for 3 weeks.
When the aft cabin/passageway was complete, everything was moved
back and we had a day off. Then
the saloon cushions were stacked in the forecabin, books in the foreword
shower/aft cabin etc, all trim removed, pictures down...and we spent a day
sanding. We ate out for 4
nights because there was nowhere to sit down and cooking was very
difficult. When it was less
difficult we hired a DVD, heated a meal in the oven and sat/lay on the
bed. After the saloon was
finished (7 days) the books and pictures were cleaned and returned very
slowly - our shoulders/elbows/wrists need a rest and the forecabin is next
AND the floors. The joys of
living on a boat!!
are signs that the effects of continual exposure to paint fumes in the
confined environment are starting to show on at least one of the crew:
are informed that contracts have been exchanged with a new tenant who will
move in imminently, which is such a relief
no rent for over 4 months is becoming a worry.
The good news is that they want the house for 12-18 months so as
long as they pay the rent and keep the house and garden looking good .....
they do have two small dogs!!
weather is now good - up in the 20s during the day with lots of sunshine
but still unsettled showers/wind at times.
have now completed our painting/varnishing of all surfaces below decks
except for the floors which will need a bit of organising.
We are now doing above decks with treating of rust patches,
repainting and making new covers for things. When we are ready (a few
weeks or so) we will take the boat round to the north of Sardinia to come
out of the water to
the bottom blasted back to steel, and then coated with some new paint (6
coats) and antifoul with copper in it. It's
supposed to last for 10 years without re-antifouling.
That's the idea anyway and as we are thinking of heading for Brazil
next winter we are going to get everything done this year.
Oh - and Barry also sent me up the mast to free a halyard and
clean/spray the main sail track down the mast.
Our neighbours were very impressed at the "girly" being
winched up and once at the top (60 ft) it wasn't so bad and I took some
pictures while I was there.
is simply too much to do and too many places to go and see....we are busy
but enjoyably so....and there will never be enough time which we accept.
Bye for now...