We left Carloforte early on a dull morning with rain still in the air. To be honest, we weren't sorry to be leaving. Rod Heikell raves about the place in his pilot book. All I can say is that it must have been different in the eighties when he originally visited. The pictures on the postcards also seem unrecognisable. Neil did find a good walk in the hills but we were unfortunate with the weather during our stay. Perhaps we were expecting too much.
Having a fishing monster next to us on the harbour wall did have its advantages, however. We'd noticed a steady flow of visitors leaving with carrier bags, buying their fish straight from the boat. When a German couple further along the quay suggested going halves on a kilo of prawns we jumped at the idea. So lunch was a bit more interesting than usual - the freshest of prawns tossed in a hot pan with butter, olive oil and garlic for a few minutes, accompanied by crusty bread and a glass or two of vino bianco frizzante. We'll be picking up prawn legs for weeks.
It had become very sociable here on the harbour wall. A league of nations had gathered, fortunately all with English as a common language, sharing drinks while swapping tips and experiences.
Vic had warned us about a fishing boat that came alongside one end of the wall and we'd picked a space in the middle accordingly. We'd mentioned this to the boat builders but as they had arrived before us and had seen no sign of it, referring to the fishing harbour further up the bay, we bowed to their experience.
The port authorities came calling yesterday afternoon and warned the catamaran on the end and the boat builders next to us that the fishing boat was due to come in during the night. He recommended the catamaran moved to inside the breakwater and that our neighbours would probably be in the way as well. The former took his advice while the latter, muttering about having as much right to the harbour wall as anyone else, had us shunting further along to give them more space.
It felt like I'd just gone to sleep, that really deep, paralysing sleep. From the dreamless oblivion part of me was still sentient enough to know what was going on. Engines revved, bow thrusters, well, thrusted and there was much shouting. I was aware of Neil getting up and knew I should do the same. But the selfish gene kept pushing me down telling me it was their own fault.
Eventually, even my conscience got the better of me and I dragged myself up too, just in time to see our neighbours struggling to manoeuvre out of their space, their steel bow perilously close to Seren Môr and Neil fendering her off! The fishing boat wasn't prepared to give them any more time and was already moving into the space.
So we now have new neighbours - a big, get-out-of-my-way monster that doesn't take no for an answer.
It's raining here today so with nothing better to do I've made a video. If you feel so inclined you can watch it here.
We've probably spent about 18 of the last 24 months in Spain. So perhaps it's not surprising that Carloforte has come as something of a culture shock. It's difficult to put a finger on why exactly it feels so different.
There's the language, of course, and I suppose we'd come to take for granted being able to at least communicate in shops and restaurants and to get the gist when someone gave us directions, for example. Here we're totally at a loss. Nobody, but nobody speaks English whilst our Italian owes much to Brad Pitt in 'Inglorious Bastards'. We don't even have an Italian dictionary or guide book. Some words do seem to have a similarity to Spanish or French which should help but it's all about the pronunciation. Portuguese looked similar to Spanish on paper but sounded more like Russian!
Perhaps it's me, but the narrow streets that would have invited exploration in Spain somehow seem threatening here. Perhaps it has to do with the rather rundown feel of the place. On the positive side, there's an excellent supermarket within reasonable walking distance. It has every sort of pasta imaginable, of course, and a variety of other goods that is very tempting after the rather repetitive supermarkets of Spain. However, it is noticeably more expensive, particularly the wine.
After a couple of aborted attempts Neil has managed to get a dongle so we have internet access now. This means we can keep an eye on the weather forecast as the navtex has remained stubbornly silent and the marinas don't post a forecast in their offices. It looks like there is some rain on the way so we will probably sit that out here before moving on. We still haven't decided where to, though.
Our little stowaway
We've made it to Carloforte on Isola di San Pietro, a small island off the Sardinian mainland. Motoring was the order of the day, I'm afraid, although the wind did help a little. Perhaps we should have been like the neighbouring boat who took five days to get here rather than put the engine on. Then again he built his own boat.
Arriving in less than 32 hours was a bonus as far as we're concerned, not to mention the amazing sea state which meant we could both actually get some real sleep. We may even have seen a turtle today. I say "may" as all we really saw was a flipper (if that's the right word) paddling along.
We're on the harbour wall, side to, and it feels very comfortable. Shame it looks out onto the car park but you can't have everything. So now it's time to explore the town. Does anyone know how to say "Do you speak English?" in Italian?