21 June 2020: We arrived back in the late evening having had a lift from my Roman friend Michele. We were so excited to see Linea again. We took all the clutter out of the front bunk so that Erin had a sliver of space to sleep in and we all crashed out.
We retrieved the bikes from their spot in the marina and began to put the boat (Bavaria Lagoon 430) back together. Sheena came down from Rome for a night and we cycled about and swam. We re-acquainted ourselves with Pepe from the vegetable stall and the vini sfosi (Wine on tap shop! £2.10 per litre, bring your own bottles!) I bet his sales had gone right through the flour since our departure in November.
Erin was a joy to have on board. She got stuck in to the many tasks we threw at her. She produced some videos for her You Tube Channel The Travel Tapes, too. We played Rummykub. We had our own mini lock down/bubble.
Soon we were ready for a shakedown sail and this years’ blue water cruising. We decided to go to the Pontine Islands about 35miles southwest of Gaeta. We were due to be lifted out of the water the following week to have the hull cleaned and to fit the newly refurbished and shiny Max Prop propeller and fancy new rope cutter, so a few days away would be great. On the 1st July we headed out of the marina to the anchorage. We finished off the remaining jobs and checked the wind. We were off with our buddy boat TakaMaka. Initially, we were heading for Ponza but the wind angle was better for Ventotene so we headed further south. We anchored off between Ventotene and San Sebastion. It was a very swelly anchorage. Maik came over for dinner. It was a nice evening. The next day things had calmed enough for us to get the dinghy off and go ashore. Ventotene was delightful. We liked the old Roman harbour hewn out of rock and the town square perched up high on the rock above. We had a people watching coffee in the square.
Later, we sailed over to Ponza, seeing a huge pod of dolphins on the way which lifted our spirits some more.
The anchorage in Ponza was spectacular. Sheer cliffs line the shore. Fallen arches remain stranded in the water. Caves and tunnels abound. We explored the next day and Erin and Ian bravely dived through the tunnels with the numerous jelly fish whilst Maik and I manned the dinghy.
We then moved round to the west side of the island as the wind was due to change in the middle of the night and boy were we glad we had. By 0200h there must have been at least 20 yachts coming in to escape from the wind and the waves that must have been pounding the eastern shoreline!
Later in the morning, my friends Sheena and Cecilia came into the bay on their friend Lorenzo’s beautiful yacht which they had chartered for Cecilia’s birthday. Erin and I paddle-boarded over and we had a lovely chat and catch up.
Then it was time to leave again. We went back round to the east side and anchored just north of the harbour at Ponza. We took a trip to shore but Ponza town was nothing like as charming as Ventotene, so after having a coffee and purchasing some delicious pizzas and breads for lunch (£27!) we went back to Linea to do an hour’s bottom scraping. Sheen arrived and came over for a chat. It has been so nice to see more of Sheen since we have been in Italy. It is almost 40 years since we first meet at Carnegie College of PE and HMS, Leeds.
We had a lovely downwind sail with the gennaker flying all the way back to Gaeta only to be told that the lift out had been postponed. Hey ho!
We still had things to do and soon it would be my birthday.
I had a fabulous day. Some gorgeous pressies, a lovely lunch at Le Macellerie in Gaeta old town and then film night on board Maik’s spacious catamaran TakaMaka!
The lift out never actually happened as it was postponed again until Tuesday and we had to catch the wind for a suitable crossing to Sardinia.
We waved goodbye to Maik and the next morning at 0600h we motored out of Gaeta for possibly the last time.
Our sail across to Sardinia was fantastic and stress free. We arrived in pitch dark and had to hove to just off the anchorage until dawn when we could safely go in to Brandinchi bay and anchor. It is nice to be back in familiar territory. We chilled for a few days. Marvelled at the visiting dolphin and took a walk along the beach. Ian and Erin practiced their SUP (stand up paddleboarding) techniques.
We moved to San Paolo bay with a stunning view of Tavolara mountain and met up with Heatwave, Heiko and Birgit, friends from MDR.
Chores to be done: laundry, shopping and trying a Sardinian beer, Ichnusa.
We managed to get our gas bottle refilled here by the delightful Stephano who came down to the small marina to deliver it!
Next stop was Olbia Town quay where we were to pick up Josh. All went smoothly except that I needed to go to the dentist to sort out a sore tooth after I bit on a very hard piece of dried fruit in my muesli!!
One root canal treatment later all was good. We had re- provisioned, fuelled up, and filled up with water. Fantastic – good to go!
Or maybe not.
During the last few days Ian had noticed that the house batteries were not keeping their charge. We really need their power to pump water to the taps, provide light and power for phones and charts etc.
So the decision was made that they needed to be replaced. We sussed out where we could get them. The lovely Claudio at EuroNautica organised everything and delivered them to us on the quay in Olbia. We tested them and winched them on board. We winched the old ones out and he took them away for disposal. Ian connected them all up and we have full power again.