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Rome - 18th. May 2009

We plan a week here to prepare the yacht for another sailing season. No matter how organized we are it is always frustrating to get people to commit themselves and actually turn up as they assure us the will. We were here 3 weeks ago, ( via Copenhagen to celebrate Scott and Jeanette´s engagement) and thought everything was in control, but nothing has been done as promised. However, the boat is taken out of the water as scheduled, and now Ross is here to chase people up things are happening. There is quite a list to be attended to.
In the meantime we are staying in a small seaside hotel with a lovely view over the sea, as we are unable to live on the boat when she is on dry dock. This is very pleasant and has an extra bonus of an excellent internet connection.

Views from the hotel

Ross leaves very early each morning and spends a full day on the boat at least to 6.30p.m., ensuring people do as they promise.

Freespirit and Impulsive on the hard stand

Robert servicing the winches

22nd. May 2009
We hope the boat is being lifted back into the water today. Everything is ready except the propeller. Unfortunately one of the bolts attaching it to its shaft is jammed and the tool supplied in the kit Ross bought over from Melbourne is inadequate for the job (in fact it broke!). Let's hope it can be sorted this morning.
This proves to be a huge problem, including loosing our place in the queue to be taken out of the water. The shipyard men are a great help and eventually get the bolts out after using their oxy-torch. They also say we can get the boat out at the end of the day but there is an emergency lift out of a huge cruiser taking in water so we have to wait until tomorrow.

We are here with Phil and Robbie. Our boats are side by side in dry dock. We all have to go our own ways during the day but it is lovely to catch up over a relaxed dinner and compare notes and frustrations.We have our last dinner together tonight as they are going ahead now. We have decided to have another full season in the Mediteranean. We have shared wonderful times over the last view years, and really appreciate all the support they have given us.

Rome with Scott and Jeanette

23rd. May 2009

Quite by chance Scott and Jeanette are in Rome for the Danish long weekend, and they booked some time ago. How lucky are we? Rome is a wonderful city, and it is extra special enjoying it with Scott and Jeanette. It is very disappointing Ross can´t come in until this evening because the boat isn´t going back into the water until later. I meet them at the foot of the Spanish steps. Scott has organized a horse drawn cart for an hour which is a lovely way to explore through the narrow, winding, cobble streets, and pass by some of the famous sites here e.g. The Trevi fountain, Belini´s statues , the courts and Musselini´s statue. We arrive at a restaurant in the Jewish quarter for an outdoor lunch with sensational cuisine.

This afternoon Jeanette and I have a special time in Romo Centro looking for fabric for her wedding dress. She has details of shops and warehouses to look in. Jeanette has chosen the design so knows what she is looking for, but it´s not easy. One of the warehouses has so many rows of wonderful fabrics it is overwhelming, but the staff are most helpful, and she has success in one of these shops. This is very exciting as she knows this fabric is not available in Copenhagen.

Searching for fabrics

Sitting with Jeanette on the rooftop of their hotel at their hotel near the Spanish steps is a lovely, peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. We are resting and waiting while Scott is meeting Ross at the station.
We decide to venture out to the Tretavere area to find dinner a one of the many restaurants there. This area is buzzing on Saturday night and all the restaurants appear full. We settle on a family run place which is fun and with typical, local cuisine.
After dinner we walk back towards Rome via the small island. It is such a beautiful area here by the river, especially with all the night lights on.
Ross and I have a very long taxi drive back to the marina. The driver came up the coast road which was a big mistake because every town on the way was in full swing and the traffic was terrible.
We are able to sleep on the boat tonight. We have checked out of the hotel where we felt so welcome.

Sunday 24th.May
Scott and Jeanette are hoping to have a sail with us this morning but unfortunately the boat isn´t available.( It is Scott´s birthday on Tuesday so it has been lovely to be here to celebrate with him (usually we are on the other side of the world). It probably works out for the best as they have a lovely relaxed day in Rome. It is 36 here so they didn´t need to be spending an hour each way on public transport to come to the marina and back. They plan to join us later in the summer so we are looking forward to that.
Ross and I spend the day organizing the boat. We want to leave tomorrow afternoon to sail to Sardinia in time to meet Prue and Bob as planned on Tuesday.
The Albertini family join us on Impulsive for a drink and then they take us out for a wonderful seafood dinner nearby. We are thrilled they plan to join us later in the season to sail.

Albertini´s visit to Impulsive

Dinner with the Albertinis

Monday, 25th. May 2009
It finally looks as if we will leave today. A B. and G. part had to come from Holland and it looked as if there was a problem when it had not arrived this morning. It was for the depth sounder and it would have been dangerous to leave without it. Luckily a call came at 11am to say had arrived and it has now been fitted. Now all that remain is the gunnel repair (to damage caused by a willy - willy pulling off a cleat. After the usual 3 or 4 chase up calls that job is now underway. In fact we leave 15 minutes after its completion, take on fuel and set off for an overnight sail to Corsica.
This has been a stressful and exhausting time for Ross.


25th. May 2009
We refuel and are ready to depart from Porto di Roma at 6p.m. for an overnight sail to Olbia, on the n.e. coast of Sardinia. It is a beautiful night, with calm seas. A fine sliver of a moon rises slowly in the sky and there are thousands of stars.It is just lovely to be out here sailing after all the preparations. There are many large cargo ships and cruises to be aware of, and some pass closeby needing close attention to ensure we are nowhere near a collision course. The radar and AIS equipment are most helpful for working this out.
Our only problem is we discover one of the gas sensors is not operating for cooking dinner. We decide to have a salad! All is well but it is something we will have to fix before we set off from Olbia.

26th. May 2009
The skipper has us to the old wharf in Olbia at 12.30 pm on the dot to meet Prue and Bob as planned. They have been to a medical conference in Milano.
Our only unexpected problem here is the engine cuts out for no apparent reason as we turn to come alongside the wharf. This makes for a rather dramatic arrival but Ross uses the separate starter switch and apart from coming in quite quickly all is well.
We are thrilled to see Bob walking along the wharf and have a lovely catch up with them both over lunch ashore.
This afternoon Ross and Bob have a frustrating afternoon trying to locate a gas sensor with no luck. Prue and search out the super mercato, which is quite well stocked except there is no fresh seafood which we need.
Later Ross, Prue and Bob set off in the dinghy to the shipyard to find help for the gas situation. After tidying Impulsive I visit the german boat tied up ahead of us. They are starting their 10th. year of sailing in the Mediterranean and have lots of suggestions for us, but none for the gas sensor! They join us all later for a drink on Impulsive.
We have dinner on the boat , imrovising with the microwave, which I have little experience with, but with Prue´s help it works out.

27th. May 2009
Early today we take the yacht around to the shipyard. It is difficult to manage the stern- to tie up here because of the strong wind. We really appreciate having the extra hands on deck. Prue and I have an explore in town and enjoy the main street particularly.
With the usual Italian time operating it is some time before the gas tank is diverted straight to the gas tanks by-passing the solonoid and therefore the gas sensors. There is a lot of waiting around and a new part has to be made. We will have another sensor (and some spares!) sent over to be refitted as it is a safety measure.

Lighthouse in the channel leaving Olbia

With 15kts. of wind we motor sail eastwards to Isola Tavolara. We pass by a large wreck as we come towards this island which is a very distinctve, large narrow island of granite with a spit at the n.e. end, with lovely small beaches. This end of the island is part of a military zone and is also part of a marine reserve. We all enjoy this lovely place, especially now we are out at an island. There are only a few houses ashore, an interesting cemetery and a restaurant which won´t open until summer. There is an old limestone kiln which operated here many years ago.We enjoy several walks seeing many varieties of wildflowers, including rock roses in abundance (apparently as they are throughout Sardinia and Corsica), and have several refreshing swims here.



Wildflowers Ross picked

We really enjoy being the only boat here overnight. We actually have a game of bridge. Prue is the clear winner and enjoys the most wonderful cards I have ever seen dealt in one sitting.
However small groups of "tourists" begin arriving by 10a.m. the following morning.

28th. May 2009
Leaving Tavolara

Later this morning we sail s.e. to the tiny Isola Molara where we anchor for lunch. From here we continue on further south to Porto Bandinghi, on the mainland. This is a large bay with several different coves. Walking and swimming here late afternoon is very pleasant. There are several other yachts anchored here including a charming french couple who are trying to free their prop from some thick cord.

29th. May 2009
Cala di Volpe is our next anchorage. This is a beautiful place. The hotel at the head of the bay is very elegant. We have lunch here looking over the turquoise waters, and some of the "beautiful" people walking around in their finery and very high heels. Prue and I enjoy window shopping here.

Cali di Volpe

We have a long walk later and a swim at one of the most exquisite little beaches we have ever seen, in the clearest turquoise water getting darker as it gets deeper. All the beaches drop off quickly to about 10m.

View from our walk

A favourite beach

We have a barb-e-que on the boat tonight.

30th May 2009
This morning we set off to Porto Cervo. This is one of the most famous sailing ports in the world and hosts some of the annual famous races.

Watching a yacht race

It attracts royalty and celebrities alike and apparently is very crowded over the summer months. We all have a lovely time here because it is just the beginning of the season so there are enough interesting luxury boats (worth millions of dollars) and well dressed people to give the place life and a taste of what it is like in the height of the season.
It is a lovely place to wander around and has an excellent supermercato with lovely fresh seafood and a delicious election of cheeses, especially the gorgonzola.


Pecorino, a hard goats cheese, and gioddu, like the greek fetta are other very delicious cheeses here. Pasta and risottos with seafoods are typical here. Little lobsters are always on the menus. There are several good Sardinian wines eg Torbato (white) from Alghero which Bob found, and Alghero rose was a favourite with lunch. It is easier to provision here for shorter trips of only a few days than for some of our longer legs last year.
We have a very special dinner in a restaurant by the water looking over the whole scene here.
Restaurant where we had dinner

Walking back to the dinghy it is fun to see people dining and wining on the stern of their luxury cruisers. Some of them have the most amazing floral arrangements. It is also intrigueing watching how many of the women totter around on the uneven, often cobbled, walk-ways on such high heels.
(Prue and Bob have both been to a medial conference in Milano. They comment on the world wide problem, and back it up with statistics , of obesity especially in children and teenagers. This leads to type 2 diabetes and then can reduce life expectancy. We see a lot of evidence of this in Sardinia).
This part of the coast is called the Costa Smeralda It was developed in 1962 by business men headed by the the Aga Khan. It has been built to fit in with the environmentally to hold the natural beauty here, and obviously cost millions of dollars.

Porto Cervo

31st. May 2009
We sail n.w. around to Porto Palma. on the southern coast of Isola Caprera. (Garibaldi spent the last few years of his life on this island in exile). It is a glorious hot, sunny day. It is very colourful here as there are two sailing schools out and about in their small yachts , and some of the larger ones have spinnakers flying. The island is mostly a nature reserve. We go ashore to walk out to the old ruins of a large fort. This island has a causeway across from I. La Maddalena and is very busy with day trippers today. There is heavy traffic on the narrow road and it is hot to do the 4 or 5 ks. walk so Ross went on and we three returned to a quiet little beach for a swim. The beaches here are very picturesque. Being the beginning of the season the water feels brisk but once in it is very refreshing, especially as it is so clear and such beautiful colours.

Porto Palma

Later we have a walk over near one of the sailing schools and talk to some of students. They come and stay to have a week´s training which is very impressive.
The weather forecast suggests a strong wind coming in from the s.w. so we move across to another small cove with protection from this wind. We have a cosy dinner inside tonight as the heavy rains set in for the night, but we are quiet protected from the wind.

1st. June 2009
Today it is raining. We have a quiet start to the day including Bob giving us a nautical quizz on Venice. He is reading a very informative book about this so we all learn interesting facts eg. about the compass and navigation in early times .
Soon we head off n.w. to La Maddalena on the island of the same name. This is a delightful town where we tie up stern-to in the marina which is looking nearly full.
It is built up into the hillside and has all the buildings have the yellows, ochres and pink colours with bogainvillias cascading down in their many gorgeous colours. There are many olianders here, and as we have seen elsewhere in Sardinia,are used to line the streets.


Typical window box

There is some excitement when a flash power boat comes in next to us and the staff on the dock don´t catch their stern line and it is caught in their prop. This is what we all dread! A large audience watches all this. However they soon have a diver there and it is quickly cleared.
Our next neighbours here are five charming frenchmen from Paris. The skipper keeps his yacht in Corsica.
We experience the most beautiful sunset here with reflections stretching in wonderful colours over the water.

The frenchmen come for a drink after dinner and thoroughly enjoy Bob´s cognac. The skipper has reasonable english and has many useful ideas. He brings us a special bottle of french white wine which they insist is for us to drink after they leave the boat. It is very delicious and much appreciated.
The following morning there is a commemorative service to Garibaldi in the square just near Impulsive. This is very impressive with participants from the army and navy in full uniform and the navy priest in full robes to do the blessing. As with all these towns we enjoy the chiming bells.

Service for Garibaldi

2nd. June 2009
Today we try to sail n.w. to a recommended place on the w. coast of Isola Razzoli. Passing n.w. from I. La Maddalena Ross realizes the wind is too much from the west for us to be protected there so we come back to Cala Villamarine on Is Stefano. This is a lovely quiet anchorage in a narrow little cove. We are the first boat here to anchor which is fortunate because several more come in and not many can fit. One young couple try for literally hours to anchor . Ross offers to help but they want to do it themselves. We know how frustrating it can be! We are sad to see them give up and leave.
Ross, Prue and Bob have a lovely long walk on the Island. They find a large statue
which is unfinished (of a first world war naval hero), and an old castle and fort.
Prue organizes a lovely dinner tonight with a delicious salad and lightly fried aubergine and zucchini to go with Ross´ barb-e-que steaks.

3rd. June 2009
This morning we a have a wonderful sail reaching 8.5 kts. up the east coast of I. Caprera to Cala Cotticio.

Sailing out to Cala Cotticio

This a a beautiful place with exquisite small beaches, and lovely waters. We can see many blue fish swimming around the boat. The snorkeling here is supposed to be good but the water is cold out here.

Cala Cottico

We keep wondering what these places will be like in summer. We are lucky to anchor here first again (our well organized skipper) but soon there are 10 boats in here and 2 large cruises and a yacht in the small neighbouring cove.
Contrary to the forecast we have winds gusting up to 36 kts. going back so have another willing sail

The skipper enjoying the willing sail

I think Prue and Bob experience every sailing condition with us except flying the spinnaker. They haven´t sailed before and cope very well in these strong winds. Bob is now our knot expert.
We come into the mainland at Palau. This marina is full, apparently from May until September, but luckily there is one strong visitors buoy free just outside. The skipper isn´t pleased with my efforts of approaching this but I find it very difficult as there is a small yacht moored very closeby and we are in shallow water. Having the extra hands on board here is a great help It took some time but is a save mooring.
We can use the yacht club facilities so all go ashore for a long, hot shower. We have had to be careful with water the last few days because there is a problem with the water maker and we didn´t realize we can´t drink the water available at the marinas in Sardinia. We have to wait until we get to Corsica to fill the water tanks.
We like this small town and have a dinner ashore in a family run vibrant restaurant recommended by the car hire girl.

4th. June 2009
We are up early this morning to drive Prue and Bob back to the Olbia airport. It is fun and games getting the heavy cases onto the dinghy and ashore. We say goodbye to Prue and Bob after a fun-filled nine days.
It is surprisingly green driving across farmland to Sassari and there are flanders poppies, wild cornflowers and tall, white laced flowers by the side of the road and in the paddocks. There are tall, rugged mountain ranges in the background.
I had to shop barefoot for sandals having left mine in the dinghy. (the $500- Bosch sandals seemed a bit over the top!). We enjoyed a coffee and pastry Italian style at a coffee bar in the centre of the town.

We drove to Alghero on the west coast and enjoyed walking the narrow lanes of the old town near the waterfront. After cozze (mussels) for lunch, we visited a Nurrage (circular tower and surroundin village buildings built in 1500 B.C. on the road to the spectacular Capo Caccia.


Nurrage - meeting place

View from Capo Caccia

We drove back to Palau via Porto Torres along the picturesque coastal road.
Then we had a major session at the lavanderi.
We had dinner at a family ristorantewith more mussels and good red vino di casa.

5th. June 2009
We are up for a lazy day today but the wind comes into the south so we do some quick provisioning (luckily a fruit shop and supermarcato are just opening after siesta time - we keep forgetting this routine), and sail up to Cala Lunga on the west side of Isola di Rizzoli averaging 7.5 kts.
Carla Lunga is a narrow inlet that has only 3 mooring buoys right next to jagged rocks.

Cala Lunga

Luckily someone departs just as we come in. We enjoy a quiet night hanging from the mooring until early morning when the wind swings hard into the west from which we are not sheltered. When a neighbours mooring breaks free we decide it is time to head off to Bonnafaccio. Farewell to Sardinia. We found it an unpretentious, friendly place with much better shelter and sailing than we expected.

Favourite recipe this leg: Salad with fava beans
1 can medammes (fava beans)
1 can chickpeas
finely sliced "curly" cabbage
chopped artichokes
large filet of cooked salmon - broken up
1 diced avacado
pumpkin seeds

gently toss and add vinegarette dressing


We´re back in Rome:it´s Roma time
(So no-one´s there when they say they´ll be)
And we wear a track to the ATM
(It´s the normal cash economy)

When the last jobs are done (in the nick of time)
We are out on a blue Tyrrenian sea
Through the disc of water the dolphins come
And say "Welcome back,this is where you should be"

We meet Prue and Bob at Olbia
Where we moor at the old town quay
Can we find a gas sensor? There´s no such thing
So a plumbing job´s done at the cantiere

Isola Tavolara stands
As a landmark mass of ancient rock
It´s calm in here and much more fun
Than the mistral affected Olbia dock

We tie to a buoy at Isola Molarra
Then anchor at Porto Brandinghi
Here the early sun worshippers demonstrate
The shortfalls of this year´s bikini

The waiters at Cala di Volpe resort
Wear beautifully pressed cream linen
A debate about dress arises here
Especially amongst the women

Perhaps it´s an introductory test
For Costa Smeralda´s nearby
Where the rich and beautiful people play
We decide that we should at least try

But when equally pressing problems abound
(Will Prue and Bob pass the knot test
Will the rose last? Will the cheese hold out?)
Does it matter much how we´re dressed?

Porto Cervo´s a pleasant out of season place
Are the famous and rich still alive?
There´s only a little discreet Russian cruiser
To suggest what will later arrive

There are dazzling displays of our language skills
(We excel with te and cafe)
We stroll past the glamorous fashion salons
Then dine overlooking the bay

It´s a short hop to calm Porto Palma
On Isola di (rainy) Caprera
The sailing school stops entertaining us
So we move round to La Maddalena

The forecast is now 30 knots from north west
So we´re keen to tie up to the dock
The pizzas are good,the tour guide excels
We don´t dine till round 10 o´clock

We befriend the French crew of the neighbouring yacht
(The cognac improves comprehension)
Then we spend the next few hours adjusting our lines
(It´s the angle,the length and the tension)

Cala Lunga was where we were heading today
But the wind comes up from the west
So we hide in Cala Villemarina
(We alone pass the anchoring test)

We´re the first to arrive at Cala Cotticcio
(There are 10 boats when we depart)
It´s a gentle farewell for Prue and Bob
But the forecast is still a black art

For it blows from the west,it reaches force 8
As we tear down the coast at 8 knots
There´s no space in Palau so we tie to a buoy
The crew are now proud of their knots

Did they get their much valued certificate?
I´m afraid it´s too hard to recall
Blame the last supper at La Taverna
The Alghero rose did it all

The westerly keeps us in Palau net day
But now we are sailing again
Isola Rizzardi´s the end of Sardegna
The score? At least 8 out of 10.

May,June 2009.