Sat/05/12, Porto Pollo, Corsica
(New photos of Toulon and Porto Pollo in the gallery)
Well, we are no longer near mainland France, Fandancer has safely made it to Corsica! Wooo!
Toulon marina charged us 40 euro for ONE NIGHT, shock horror, so the next day we moved over to St Mandrier and anchored outside the little harbour there, for free. It was lovely and quiet but when the ferries started going in and out of port it got a bit rocky with the wash they created. The next day, Wednesday, we left at 845am and set off for our trip to Corsica. We headed firstly for les Porqueroles, the island group nearest to Toulon, but we decided not to stop, and just kept going. This was the longest trip I have done non-stop, in total it was 28 hours, 130 miles. There was virtually no wind at all, so we had to motor sail all the way, but the brand new Beta engine we had installed was magnificent, not one hiccup.
Tim loves his new autopilot, christened Otto. With one press of a button, Otto takes charge, allowing Tim to leave the helm to tweak things. He loves to tweak - the sails, rigging, GPS, radio, he can go down below and check the engine, he can peruse the charts and pilot books to his heart's content, and has even been known to make the odd cup of tea!
Lunch and supper very exciting though. Not up to my usual culinary standards. Baguettes again for lunch, then for supper Tim had warmed up left over shepherd's pie and I had some savoury rice.
The sunrise the next morning was wonderful. beautiful pink skies, no clouds at all. We could just make out the distant mountains of Corsica in the distance. At one point, a little bird followed us for some way, he was a bit like a finch, yellowy gray feathers, maybe a flycatcher? He came and sat in the cockpit for a while, on top of the GPS and the navigation books. i put out
some bread and water for him, but he wasn't that interested.
We were also followed by some dolphins on several occasions. No matter how many times you see them, they are always a treat. Apart from the wildlife, there was very little else to see. The occasional ferry in the distance, and one huge big container ship.
We decided not to stop at Ajaccio, which was our original plan. The mooring fees are very expensive. Instead we found the little harbour of Porto Pollo about five miles south, where we anchored in the bay for free. It is always a bit of a faff untying the dinghy, pumping it up, getting it over the side, rowing it ashore, locking it up, etc, but beats paying up to 50 euros a night in a marina. The beach at Porto Pollo was wonderful, golden sand, a cafe and beach bar, free wifi. But I think we will leave here tomorrow or Monday and head south for Bonifacio, so more news in a few days .......
Well, we're sailing to Corsica tomorrow! The weather forecast for the next few days is good, light winds, warm and sunny. It will take us about 20 hours.
We left Port St Louis and had a great seven hour sail to La Ciotat, along the coast past Marseille. A beautiful old harbour, we moored next to the world's biggest gin palace superyacht.
We left early the next morning and motor sailed to Toulon, as the wind was mostly on the nose, so it was a bit bumpy, but OK. Even managed to rustle up some brie and pate baguettes for lunch while on the move. We got to Toulon at about 3 pm but didnt realise it was a french bank holiday so the Capitainerie was closed and no indication of where we could berth. So we tied up on the fuel pontoon until told to move by an irate frenchman. We eventually moored stern to onto a pontoon, and found out the next day that the mooring fee was 40 euro a night! So this afternoon we are leaving to go to a little anchorage on the opposite side of the bay.
Toulon is a very interesting town, I liked it very much. It is a French navy base, a bit like Portsmouth but more elegant. A few big grey boats moored in the bay. There are some 1960s buildings along the seafront, but when you get behind these, you can discover lots of narrow streets and tall buildings. Some new photos in gallery.
So next time I am on here, we will hopefully be in Corsica, then Sardinia. if you want to come and visit, you are very welcome, lots of airports and cheap flights!
More news soon xx
Tue/05/12, La Ciotat
Just a quick note. We left Port St Louis at 1050 Monday, and had a wonderful sail along the French coast, past Marseille, to the old port of La Ciotat. Very picturesque. But a huge base for mega size gin palace boats too. This is supposed to be one of the cheaper places to berth, and eat out, along the south coast of France. We paid 19.50euros to berth here for one night. It really is a lovely harbour, surrounded by many different restaurants. We chose a Moroccan place, and each had the most wonderful lamb tagine for only 9.50euro each, plus drinks.
We are leaving soon, it's only 0820am, we were up and walking about even before the market stalls were fully set up! We are heading for Toulon tonight, about 20 miles along the coast, eastwards. The light wind will be on the nose, so mostly motor sailing for a while.
I have some new photos but not easy to put them on here via iPad, so will use e laptop next time.
Miss you all lots! More news soon ........
Thu/05/12, Port St Louis
I'm pleased to say that I am now able to plot our new position, Fandancer is now in the Mediterranean port of Port St Louis. We left Beaucaire on Monday 30 April and travelled a short distance to St Gilles down the canal and stayed overnight and most of the next day as it was a holiday in France on Tuesday 1 May and the locks were closed. We moored very close to the St Gilles lock on Tuesday night and woke to a beautiful sunrise on the Wednesday and we went through the lock at 0730.
After we left the canal, we joined the Petit Rhone and went upstream for about 3 hours until meeting the Rhone proper. We had been keeping a careful eye on the weather all week, and also the current on the Rhone, which can be very strong at times, but we had absolutely no problems and made rapid progress to Port St Louis, we had to slow down a bit so we got there for the lock opening at 4pm. We met up with a friendly Australian couple, also in a yacht, and moored near them in the marina.
On Thursday morning, Tim got the boat ready for the re-masting, getting the bottle screws ready, the spreaders, etc. We motored to the Navy Service yard and arrived at our allocated time. Of course, being France there was no one from the yard to meet us, so Tim expertly motored Fandancer in astern to the little dock area, and eventually the team of yard workers arrived and did an excellent job replacing both masts. We were thinking of how to dispose of the three wooden mast supports that Tim had carefully made before we left England, and just as we were taking them off the boat, a French couple came and spoke to us and said they were looking for some mast supports as they were soon doing the reverse trip to us and going up the French canals. It was their lucky day, we gladly handed them over.
We then motored back to our marina space and Tim spent the rest of the day sorting the rigging, adjusting all the bottle screws, setting the mast, etc. tomorrow we will put the spars back on and also the sails. Then maybe we can go for a short shake-down sail!
Well, it wont be long until I feel like a proper Sailblogger, and my location will change! I keep getting a message saying my location hasn't changed for over 30 days - well that's not quite true, we often go to a different cafe for lunch, I went to the supermarket, and I walked to Tarascon the other day ..... Oh, I see, it means the boat location! Well I'm very pleased to inform you that this blog might be a little more exciting very soon, because as from Sunday, Fandancer will no longer be in Beaucaire!
We are finally ready to move on to the next stage of our adventure. The new autopilot which we brought back from the UK has been installed by my extremely clever husband. He can't wait to calibrate it when we get to the sea - apparently you have to make the boat go round in circles and wavy lines for a while, so the computer inside the autopilot can 'learn' the boat's movements. Sounds like a normal stint on the helm for me, I won't have any trouble steering wavy lines or circles!
We took a trip to Port St Louis on the bus last Monday and booked to have the masts lifted back in at the Navy Services Boatyard. No idea why it is called that. They appear very efficient and professional. From Beaucaire there is one lock, then we will stay overnight near St Gilles. The next day we have to go up the Petit Rhone, then down the mighty Rhone to Port St Louis, ghrough one more lock and a lifting bridge. After the masts are in, we will then berth in the town marina for a day or two, doing some sea trials to make sure the sails and rigging are set correctly, and to calibrate the autopilot. And I will be visiting the big InterMarche supermarket to stock up on some goodies for the next part of our voyage, a couple of nice cheeses, a dozen bottles of wine, a bottle of Pastis and a bottle of Scotch should do nicely........
Thanks to everyone who has made nice comments about the blog, and been wondering why it has dried up recently.
We've been back in the UK for over a fortnight now, but will be returning to FandAncer in Beaucaire on Sunday 15 April, flying to Avignon. We hadn't planned to be here for so long, but decided to buy a new auto pilot for Fandancer and the parts haven't arrived yet, they are coming from Raymarine in Belgium. If they are still not here by Saturday we will get them sent out to us.
I have missed being in the UK so much! Especially the tv, the newspapers and magazines, and the shopping! Oooh I've done lots of shopping this week!
It's been great to catch up with family and friends, and we've had lots of nice meals out, but the service and prices have made us realise how good the restaurant food is in France!
While we've been here, we have been sorting out and emptying our rented garage store, and discovered quite a lot of boat related items that are now on EBay! Anyone want an ancient pump for a boat loo, or a couple,of ancient bronze winches, or an electric router or a wood workers mallet ( don't ask!)...
We're off to see Titanic In 3D tonight, my daughter has never seen it! Better not tell her the ending ......
More news soon!