It’s hard to believe we are in our 5th season on Andrea Jensen here in Alghero, Sardegna, one of the Mediterraneans stunning Italian Islands. AJ is dear to us and indeed to all who have been lucky enough to sail in her. But I do have to admit, it’s not all been plain sailing. We have experienced a roller coaster of emotions since we first became the proud owners of our little ship in February 2016. We left our families in the UK and moved lock, stock and barrel to Sardinia.
The season started with a disappointing panic in May 2016. We had bookings but no license from the Port Coast Guard Office in Alghero. We were the new British owners of Andrea Jensen and the Italian bureaucracy seemed impossible to navigate. We had to cancel the initial sailing bookings because without a licence, we could not operate. All we could do was keep turning up at official offices day after day and plead that someone would give us the official stamp to get started! This needed enormous patience but it finally paid off. On May the 10th we had our license and could confirm with our first 2 paying customers and of course – it rained!
I could not believe it when our 2 guests told us where they were from, Billingham in the UK. It’s the next town to the one in which I was born, in the North East of England. How bizarre was that? They were brilliant guests and did not mind the rain (it was only a light shower actually). What a relief, we had a lovely day out and received our first 5 star review on Trip Advisor. Our new life aboard Andrea Jensen had begun. What an adventure!
The wind dropped and the sun shone so why not get our new volunteer to climb the mast? Welcome on board Ant and Ella! No time to waste, we start our fabulous day trips in 3 days time and there is still lots to do (I cannot believe its Easter already). Something important is missing from the boat? Yes you guessed it, the SAILS! We are not going to get far with out them. But before they can go back on we had some blocks to change at the top of the MIzzen mast. Thankfully we had a brave volunteer. Thanks Ant!
Ella, in the meantime was getting to work on some sanding and painting. Those all important finishing touches make all the difference! Great work guys. Thanks.
We still have a lot to finish off on the boat before next week which is Easter. We want to be ready for paying guests by 19th April. Our pre season on-line bookings are very slow this year and we think maybe Brexit is to blame. But that is all I am going to say about that! Our volunteer crew arrive from the UK on Sunday too, which will mean lots of training needs to start next week and we hope they catch on quick!
So back to Villanova Monteleone, we came here at the weekend due to the rain forecast in Alghero. I have posted some pics which I took this morning from our roof top terrace. As you can see the sky is a bit gloomy, but we never tire of the fantastic views across Monte Minerva, Rocca Doria and beyond, which we overlook from our roof top vantage point. Isn’t it stunning? We are 576 meters up above Alghero and on average it’s about 5C cooler up here, so today it was 8.5C when we go up, a bit chilly!
Our mountain top village is very rural and very traditional Sardo, that’s why we love it. It’s worlds apart from bustling Alghero city, but only 23 Km away. There are about 2,000 inhabitants who rely heavily on a Pastoral existence, most men being farmers, shepherds mainly. Families tend to share a small holding, somewhere in the surrounding countryside with small numbers of sheep, goats and cattle (and of course the loyal sheep dogs) which provide both their food and livelihoods. There is a large, local modern looking dairy cooperative in the village, which employs locals making very well known Pecorino cheese for the export market mainly. The locals speak Sardo, not Italian (so much for us trying to learn Italian, which we are doing, all be it very slowly) and are predominantly erderly. Life here is very simple and very family orientated. The young leave the rural villages (once they have finished school) for the busier towns and mainland Italy, where they try to find work. English was not taught in schools in Sardinia until very recently, so only young Sardinians know any English.