On March 17th, Beth reached the grand old age
of 11. She had an mp3 player, music, clothes, money, flowers, chocolates, nail
varnish, makeup and hair stuff, the Dolphinz Nintendo DS game. She is now often
to be found listening to music in her bunk – practicing for when she is a
Beth with her mp3
We went out for a birthday meal, and had a ‘cake fest’ in
the gazebo with balloon volleyball and Twister.
Beth on her birthday – looking far too grown up to be my
Bethany presiding over her birthday cake
Kite flying on Poetto
Valentina scooped up Beth and Bryn to go kite flying on
Poetto beach. We dispatched them with our trusty boat-issue kites, but in the
event these were no match for the industrial variety used as a form of transport
here in Italy!
Beth helps to fly a 2.5 metre kite on Poetto
Bryn hitching a ride on a kite-powered
Woolly mammoths, wild
ponies and ancient ruins
The Russian Woolly Mammoth exhibition is touring Europe
and is currently in Sardinia. Valentina
organized a couple of cars and we joined her and Valeria, Max, Andrea, and Big
Dave (BRUMBY) to see the exhibition. After a picnic lunch, we drove up onto a
high-level plateau called the Giara, and finally back down to the nuraghic
complex at Barumini.
“Mummy, can we have a mammoth? Mummy, can we have a
mammoth? Mummy, can we have…”
Mr and Mrs W Mammoth plus their 2.4
0.4 of a woolly mammoth family.
We reckon that this was the ancestor of a Bassett Hound
having a bad day.
Dessicated baby elephant – just add water to
Prehistoric Sardinia had
a pygmy woolly mammoth.
The rain held off long enough for us to eat our picnic.
Big Dave (BRUMBY) and
Valentina and Max.
Valeria and Andrea.
A surprise birthday cake and pressie were produced at the
end of the picnic.
We left the mammoths behind to drive up onto the Giara –
a 45 km2 plateau of basalt that rises to about 600 metres. According
to the guide book, the plateau has a unique eco-system, with shallow lakes that
form in depressions in the basalt, woods of stunted cork oaks, and a population
of small, dark, wild ponies that are probably descendants of the horses brought
to Sardinia by the Phoenicians 2500 years ago.
The rugged landscape (and a wild pony) of the
the Giara, we drove on to the Su Nuraxi Nuraghic complex in Barumini,
which is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in
Sardinia. The complex was uncovered in 1950 by
local farmers who thought that it was just a mound of earth. It was recognized
as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The complex, which actually looks like
a massive castle, started off as a single, 20-metre high tower constructed about
1400 years BC. Over time, four smaller towers were added on, each one
representing a cardinal point, followed by a defensive wall around the entire
A model of the original central tower and two of the
cardinal towers of the Su Nuraxi Nuraghi.
The central tower
Looking down to the well and entrance to the main tower
from the defensive wall.
Inside the main tower – it is hard to believe that this
was constructed 1400 years BC.
The complex then grew organically as circular dwellings
were added around the edge, with a specific building for community meetings. The
complex was abandoned, but repopulated during Phoenician, Punic and Roman times.
The official tour – which took us inside the original tower, up and down narrow
stone stairways, and through stone tunnels – was in Italian, but luckily we had
our own personal archeologist (Valentina) to translate and elaborate for us.
This would be a fantastic place for a game of hide-and-seek…
Looking down on one of the cardinal towers and the
circular dwellings that make up the complex.
Spring – the great bottom
is slowly unfolding here in Sardinia, with
pink blossom appearing on the trees throughout the city, and 'V's of
flamingoes heading south (they sound like geese flying overhead but when you
look up, the ‘V’s are composed of huge, pink-tinged birds with absurdly long
necks and legs). The weather is still unsettled, but we are getting more and
more sunny days between the cold, wet, windy ones. We can tell that the weather
is improving because we get to eat breakfast outside more often. On one such
occasion we were sitting there about to start eating – cornflakes, sultanas,
banana, milk, etc. in the bowls – and the table collapsed (it is designed so
that the two outside leaves to fold out, with brackets that click into place to
keep it up). It hit our knees and the two leaves flipped up catapulting a couple
of bowls-worth of breakfast down the companionway into the boat (and onto our
bed) while the rest (including an open carton of milk) hit our knees before the
cockpit floor. We all sat there in shocked silence, dripping milk, before
getting the giggles. Luckily, we were able to hose the lot away down the
self-drainers in the cockpit, and there wasn’t too much milk in the bed.
I've finished the dental work that I needed doing – 6
weeks of staring at the Philips fluorescent tubes while having 5 old fillings
drilled out and replaced, a couple of new fillings and a double root canal. This
has blown all of the money we had just managed to put away as the new engine
fund. Oh well, looks like I won’t be able to give up the day job just
Everyone is gearing up for the new sailing season, many
lifting out to scrub their bottom and renew their antifouling. PYXIS, TYFON and
MOYA have been out and are now back in, and NEREUS II is languishing on the hard
waiting for a suitable weather window to be refloated.
A rare glimpse of PYXIS’
We went out for the day with PYXIS, sailing to Poetto
beach where we anchored and inspected the growth on CAPE’s bottom. It wasn’t too bad considering that she
hasn’t been antifouled for 3 years. She has acquired a ‘bulb’ of mussels,
barnacles and spiro worm at the bottom edge of her rudder and keel, and a
general coating of slime and barnacles over the winter, but the growth will come
off with a heavy scraper session under snorkel power. Valentina has offered to
help us tackle the rudder and keel with scuba gear, so we will be able to avoid
a lift out this year and put the money into the engine fund instead.
The boring boat job
The boat jobs continue. David has modified the base of
the bed in Bryn’s cabin to improve the storage and access to the lockers
underneath (as well as removing the bits of wood that stick up between the bunk
cushions and which always cripple you when you kneel on the bed). We bought a
new mattress for our bunk in a sale, which then had to be cut to shape (using
the carving knife) and the cover sewn back together by hand (I couldn’t get the
mattress under the foot of the sewing machine).
Cutting the mattress to fit our bunk, and sewing the
cover back in place.
The children have earned extra pocket money doing boat
jobs for other people – cleaning the decks and bilges of MASCOT 3, and polishing
MOYA’s stern from the dinghy. They also gave CAPE’s bilges a good
Bryn scrubbing the
One of the local chandlers had a closing down sale and we
got some boaty bits and pieces for a good price (a boarding ladder, some rope,
new fishing line, a canoe).
Beth trying out the new
Even more cake and
Birthdays for Bill (YELLOW BIRD) and Lynn (MASCOT 3) provided
excuses for get-togethers in the gazebo with even more cake and
Bill blowing out his
Lyn cutting her cake.
Lyn’s party degenerated into a disco extravaganza and
Lon and Lynn (MASCOT 3) have now left for sunnier climes
(Tunisia), and a few boats (ENYA and PYXIS) are just
waiting for a suitable weather window to leave. As the Easter weekend was
probably the last time that all the winter liveaboards were going to be
together, we had a Farewell BBQ – with live music (Sailing) provided by Beth, Bryn,
Gary (WILD OATS)
and Martin the Music.
“One, two, three,
The ‘intrepid Smith
‘intrepid Smith Family’ continue to appear in print – with Part II of this trip
now available in the May issue of Sailing Today. Two down, two more to
come, and I am negotiating with my publisher about future installments with
which to bore the yachting community.
The arty bit at the
I found a little time for some