Blue Merlin

15 November 2009 | in the yard
14 November 2009 | in the dock
02 November 2009 | Round and about
02 November 2009 | Up the river with a paddle
30 October 2009 | Bosa - Nautica Pinna boatyard
29 October 2009 | Bosa, Sardinia

sunny daze

15 November 2009 | in the yard
Weather hot, dress code, bikini. Yup, thats right. its the 15th Nov in the western Med and today has been a bikini day. No wind, clear blue skies and hot as you like.

We both spent the day outside, Alan painting and I stripped both the in mast furling gearboxes. I was only going to clean and paint them, but one job soon becomes ten and its just as well I took them apart as the main mast box bearing is totally shot. I went through 18 pairs of surgical gloves and a load of news paper just to deal with the old grease. Managed to extract the old rusty bearing and its in the bag ready for another trip to town in the week to get spares.

Sunday is the day the locals like to dress and promenade. We had a laugh seeing them come into the yard and walk down the pontoons to their boats, dressed in Beneton sweaters and Gucci coats to keep them warm against the chilly Sardinian winter and theres me stood in a bikini and Alan in shorts. Gawd knows how they would manage if there was a real winter.

This morning it was quiet enough to hear birds, and amongst them were Starlings, Chiff Chaff and several crows. Just like a West Wales Spring day in the woods with Celandines glowing and green fronds of cow parsley reaching for the sun.

Lets hope winter is a short one.

Heres a pic of Alan in a small cave

14 November 2009 | in the dock
Its been a few days since my last contribution, not much has happened except we had a storm last week and several days of rain, and now, while the UK is experiencing storms, we have been basking in 22c temperatures and clear blue skies more alike those days of summer.
Alan has spent a week getting the scratches out and polishing one side of the upper hull and ive finished mounting the steps on both masts and we are now installing wiring and fittings.
We had a trip to Alghero last Tuesday to get a few things including a new macerator pump. We spent Monday indoors as it was raining and fixed up the main bilge pump. It had been out of action for a while but now we can empty the main bilge right to the bottom.

Ive continued being bitten by mossies, this time they are aiming for my chin and shoulder. I went to the super market last night and was relieved to see a whole shelf dedicated to insect problems, so im not alone. Mussolini drained the marshes in this area in 1933 and dissinfected the local houses with DDT, but the mossies remain. Luckily they arnt yet carrying maleria.

Work is still continuing in the yard to dig the hole. Its now 5 mts deep and nearing the bottom. Last night a 70' boat came in to be hauled. Shes the Andrea Jensen, a 64 ton Gaff Ketch, built in Denmark in 1939 as a fishing boat. Now shes based nr Alghero and owned by an English couple.

The nights are drawing in, its dark here by 17.30 and the cicadas have stopped singing this week since the rain. One of the Alsatian dogs in the yard have disappeared and the price of fish is offensive.
I went food shopping last night, and always looking out for a bargain, I spied what appeared to be beef due to its dark red hue and of course the price caught my eye. 1.76Euro on special offer. It was only when I got it home that Alan pointed out its actually horse meat. I guess its the first and last time I shall be eating a scabby horse, casseroled.

Sunday Nov 1st

02 November 2009 | Round and about
Another beautiful hot sunny day. Alan applied another coat of gloss to both masts while I stripped down the Yam and took the carburetor apart and cleaned out the solidified oil which may have caused yesterday's breakdown. The weather forcast isn't so good for tomorrow so we are going to Alghero for supplies, including sourcing some teak, getting bulk vino, head-lining material and I will get a new fuel pump diaphragm and fuel filter.

This afternoon we took a walk up the road behind the boatyard and this time I remembered my camera. I have started naming some of the local points of interest and decided the road up the hill is called Conception road, due to the number of cars parked in lay-bys. The road climbs up the cliff and at the top is a gate from which point there is a great view of Smugglers cove. Walking up the now desolate lane on the top of the plateau, takes us to the quarry and on to Telegraph hill which is the highest point this side of Bosa. Below the road, walking along the shore to the breakwater, we pass one of several WW2 gun emplacements called Dead Dog Lookout due to the dog carcase inside. Outside on the beach is a huge rock standing on its own, guarding the entrance to the river. This is Soldier Rock.

The views from Telegraph Hill are fantastic. The shape of the breakwater under construction is very visible, as is the whole town and Temo river estuary.

Check out the canyon cliffs in this pic

Nov 1st

02 November 2009 | Up the river with a paddle

Today is the first of November. After a hard days work yesterday, Alan and I went out for a meal last night. We had thought of joining the local kids for trick or treating, but after the trick the outboard engine played on us yesterday, we decided a treat was what we needed. The swordfish steaks were delicious in a ristorante the locals use in Bosa. I love sat sitting, people watching, and noticed a few major cultural differences between here and home. People dress smartly but casualy, also very conservativly, no flesh on show, no tummies or tops hanging out. Parents AND teenege kids all sitting together enjoying a family meal with no sign of embarrasment from the kids at being seen with mum and dad. No one was drinking pints of lager, in fact, most people were on coke or minerali acgua, and as with most public places here, although the TV is showing yet another football game, no one conciously watches it.
All in all, a very different and relaxing way to chill and socialise. The UK could learn a lot.

We had an early start as usual, the sky was clear blue and the sun soon drove off the dew from the masts and let us continue with the prep and painting. The guys from the yard came over and helped us roll the main mast over to allow painting the top coats on the second side. I stripped and rubbed down the jamming parts of the 6 mast cleats and gave them a coat of black and left them drying in the sun. Alan prepped the mizzen first and I followed with a gloss coat. Then the same for the main and we were all finished up by 13.30, including another load of washing, all dried and put away. Not ironed of course, im without an ironing board and cant get the wrinkles out when using a towel over the saloon table.

We decided to have the afternoon off and take the dingy up the Temo river, through Bosa town and beyond. We used ropes to lower it from the davits, slid it into the dock, added a can of fuel and screwed the Yam to the transom and took off upstream at a gentle pace, admiring the view from the water perspective. Cormorants, Herons and Kingfishers are in abundance here, and after we passed through Bosa town, the river banks russtled to the sound of the wind in the reeds. A cross between Norfolk Broads meets Arizona desert canyon. A bizzare mix of two landscapes, cactus and river reeds, and then a church came into view. It resembled a typical Spanish Mission you might expect to see in any western film. The river was as smooth as glass, the gentle breeze was pleasantly cooling and the sun warming. How idylic. Cough cough, splutter splutter. The Yam decided to take a break and the tide was on the way in, gently carrying us further upstream, so I began to row back towards Bosa.

After 20 minutes of trying all ways to start and keep it running, Alan eventually gave up trying to coax the Yam back to life and took a turn rowing, eventualy passing under both the town bridges, not letting me take another turn until he was sure no one watching would think him a chauvanist by letting me have another go. Eventually he quit and we swapped places. By now it was slack water and the mossies were biting. A few boats passed by and some comments were made by men who thought it amusing I should be rowing while Alan reclined in the gradually setting sun. We passed under the final bridge and the boat yard came into sight. The view up the river was amazing. The background rocky peaks, the almost full moon, the castle on its promentary, the river fringed by date palm trees and brightly painted houses. In the rush to leave earlier, I didnt take my camera so all we have are memories. We both ached from the rowing but it felt good to be having the exersise.
Here is a pic taken from telegraph hill of the whole Bosa estuary with Blue Merlin at the bottom centre, standing in the boat yard, and the castle above the town and the meandering river disappearing into the hills.

A typical Bosan day

30 October 2009 | Bosa - Nautica Pinna boatyard
Wow, what a day........certainly warm enough for a bikini today, but the guys in the boat yard do little enough work as it is without distractions of a white skin nature. Alan walks round wearing just his shorts anyway, much to the amusement of the locals who are already sporting their winter apparel, plus of course, the sunglasses which no self respecting Italian should ever be seen without.
The birds were chirping and the fish were jumping. Oh its great with the hills at your back and your feet in the water, all the time the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind. Its just like a movie set here, the surrounding hills and canyons are alive with the sight of cactus and Aloe Vera, and Im half expecting to see a cavalry patrol chasing away some redskins. Funny old geology here abouts, a multi layer landscape of rocks laid down in differing forms which include what appears to be pumice, aluvial, sedimentary, volcanic intrusive, old red sandstone and metamorphic, all giving the jumbled appearance of a typical mid west American landscape, just like in the westerns. Steep sided canyons and vertical sided bluffs abound, all topped off with a level plateau.

So there we were, a painting and a polishing, and then while the rest of Sardinia were taking the mid day siesta, I washed the car cos its been covered with salt since we drove here from UK almost two weeks ago. As the afternoon wore on and shadows started appearing, our thoughts turned to measuring the main mast shrouds which need replacing. These are the wire stays which keep the masts upright and transmit the force of the wind from the sails into the hull. At 10mm thick and 19 meters long, they are rather heavy. We have a 100mt drum of cable on board and have measured what we need and so I cut a few lengths off ready to swage on the threaded ends tomorrow.

Both the main and mizzen masts have now been primed and top coated on one side and in the morning, with the help of the boat yard guys, we can turn them over and start painting the other sides. The masts had steps fitted part the way up them, but they were old and bent so we have replaced them with folding cast aluminium ones which wont protrude and interfere with rigging. After drilling and tapping 6mm threads at 500m spacings, I fitted steps to the finished side of the main mast this morning and when the mast is turned over, it will rest on the steps to prevent the paint being marked by the tressles.

Meanwhile, across the yard, work is progressing to install 3 underground fuel tanks, two diesel and one petrol. This means lots of noise and dust. Not good when your trying to paint as the digger and lorry loads of soil and rock pass closely by.
Meanwhile, across the Bosa river, work is progressing to carry barge loads of large rocks out past the river entrance to make a breakwater. For the last 18 months a large barge with a drag-line crane has been working 12 hours per day, 7 days a week, to load and carry the rocks out to sea. The quayside is piled high with rocks as big as cars and it resembles Bedrock.


29 October 2009 | Bosa, Sardinia
Having been the shy types and resisted blogging for ages, its now time to join the new wave and embrace technology to keep a record of daily life aboard and to keep family and friends updated as its not always possible to get back to the UK very often or indeed have long phone conversations.
It also gives us a chance to share with you, the readers, the wonderful places we travel to and explain about nature, weather, culture etc.

Currently we are living aboard our Fisher 46, a 46' long motor sailer yacht, launched in 1982, the 14th and last built in her class to survive, not counting the bizzare steel version from Holland.
We are based for the winter in Bosa, a tiny town 40 miles south of the North West tip of Sardinia which is an Italian island in the Western Mediterranean.

Blue Merlin was hauled out of the water just over 5 weeks ago for winter maintenance, the largest job of which is a complete overhaul of both masts, replacing rigging, wiring and painting. The sails are currently at the sailmakers in Alghero receiving TLC.
The boatyard here in Bosa is a small family run unit, and we are perched on the dockside until we finish working on the masts and then we can get back in the water.
Vessel Name: Blue Merlin
Vessel Make/Model: Fisher 46
Hailing Port: Bosa, Sardinia
Crew: Alan & Amy
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Blue Merlin's Photos -

Who: Alan & Amy
Port: Bosa, Sardinia