The end of winter

Fri 16 Apr 2010 09:00
Here in Cagliari, spring has crept up on us, and brought with it a change
of rhythm. The days have become pleasantly warm and the call of the sea is
becoming more insistent, so it’s time to prepare for the cruising season.
There are rigs to be checked, itineraries to be planned and the grime of
winter to be scrubbed off the decks. For the last six months, Volare has
been reduced to a floating caravan, securely roped to the pontoon and
keeping us out of the weather, but now it’s time to convert her back to a
sailing yacht, ready to take us to new places and new adventures.

For us the season will be short, because we will be returning to London in
the middle of May. This will give us about 6 weeks to explore a bit more
of Sardinia and to visit Corsica and Elba, on the trail of Napoleon
Bonaparte. It’s an exciting prospect to be moving again and but it will be
hard to say goodbye to all the friends we’ve met during our six month stay
in Cagliari. Time has zipped by amazingly quickly and we have a warehouse
of great memories to remind us of our stay here. The yacht crews who have
been overwintering with us will depart in various directions. Some will
move on to new cruising grounds in mainland Italy, Tunisia and Sicily,
whilst others will push on into the eastern Mediterranean, all the way to
the Middle East. We wish everybody safe journeys and fair winds!

When we first arrived in October last year, the only person we knew was
Gianfranco, a single-handed yachtsman we’d met in Majorca earlier in the
summer, who had recommended Cagliari to us for overwintering. Now, after
six months in temporary residence, it’s usual to walk into town and bump
into someone we know. As well as the liveaboard crews from elsewhere, we
have met so many generous and hospitable local people who have made us
feel quite at home.

I’d also like to be able to say that I am now fluent in Italian, but this
is not quite the case, because most people in our circle speak good
English and it’s been too easy to revert to the mother tongue. However, my
Italian is much improved from when we arrived and I can now read it pretty
well. Conversation is more difficult because your brain has to work
lightning fast and by the time you’ve got the gist, the person you’re
speaking with has moved on another two sentences!

At the end of our spring cruise, we’ll head back to Cagliari, where we
will leave Volare for however long we are back in the UK. It will feel
strange to leave her behind, because for so long she has become our home,
our protection and our sole means of transport. We intend to nip down to
Sardinia at intervals during the year to check on her and to take holidays
and short breaks. Volare is in good shape at the moment, having received
winter maintenance, including a lift-out and scrub recently. I was
relieved to see when she came out of the water that the (expensive) copper
coat antifoul paint had held up really well and that after a bit of light
sanding and a touch-up here and there, she was ready to go straight back
in. This represented quite a saving over having a full antifoul done
(local yards do not permit owners to antifoul their own boats).

So that’s nearly it for now, folks. The end of a wonderful year, in which
we met so many good people who helped us out, made us feel welcome and
made us laugh. I hope it won’t be too long before we come back, head out
to new cruising grounds and do it all again.

The two photographs I've attached are of Bonifacio in Corsica, a
spectacular place where we stayed for a few days last week.