14/May/2012, Port Napoleon
XII Bar Blues is now restored to her proper element with sails bent on and the new electrical systems seemingly working well. There is much still to do before she can go off cruising but this week should see most, if not all, of that stuff ticked off.
Reports emanating from the UK about miserable weather are, of course, cheering news for the crew enjoying some warm, albeit rather windy, weather in the Mediterranean.
The skipper has the special pleasure to come of an hour so to be spent up the mast - shame he can't stand heights - to be compensated for by a spell to be spent communing with the GenSet which lives much closer to the water, althought it's accommodation might be seen by many as being a touch on the cramped side.
The real challenge to come is to acquire SIM cards for our data "dongles" in order to avoid the rip-off rates charged for data roaming. It will be interesting to see whether the various French telcos and mobile operators still persist in their bizarre policy of allowing you to top up your account in a shop using a credit card but will not allow you to use the same card for the same purpose on-line (unless it's a French card of course). Perhaps M. Hollande will sort it out when he's finished dealing with Angela.
16/July/2011, St Tropez
From Isle de Lerin we motored west (although not on Route 66) to the other set of islands round here which are the Isles de Hyeres which are often, wrongly, referred to as The Porquerolles.
Port Man being essentially full we anchored just opposite off the western end of Isle de Levant near Heliopolis. From there to Bregancon (about 5 miles) for the night and back to Port Man early the next morning to get a good spot.
Having taken on much-needed fuel in Le Lavandou we returned to Bregancon for another peaceful night.
The arrival of a gale warning on the Sat C terminal was a bit unwelcome so we set off the next day to hide in the marina in Cavalaire where we were treated to a pretty impressive fireworks display in celebration of 14th July (Bastille Day). Not up to Mustique standards but a good effort nonetheless.
Then to St Tropez via Cap Taillat - we reckon the accumulated value of the superyachts here exceeds the GDP of several of the smaller countries !
8/July/2011, Juan les Pins
The wind gods have offered a light easterly flow along the south coast of France so we left Saint Raphael for a pleasant reach to the Isles de Lerin off Cannes. Regular readers (ha bloody ha) will remember that it was from these islands that St Patrick set off on "the task of converting the heathen Irish" (Heilkell). The remaining heathens among the rest of us can ponder the wisdom of all of this over a decent Martini.
We're now in playground of the rich and famous that is Juan les Pins ( cue Peter Sarstedt). XII Bar Blues is not exactly the largest yacht in the anchorage as the picture shows
20/June/2011, Saint Raphael
A forecast (correct as it turned out) of torrential rain and thunderstorms convinced the crew that a visit to a decent caff in Arles might be a better idea than going off sailing from Port Napoleon on the intended day.
Twenty four hours later few excuses remained so we left in sunshine and a light northerly, bound for La Ciotat. The thunderstorms were still around however and we spent a nervy few hours wandering about the ocean with a big metal stick held aloft - eventually all this cleared away and we enjoyed a gentle sail along the coast East of Marseille to find our intended anchorage where the more intrepid (foolhardy?) member of the crew decided to try swimming on the grounds that the water was nice and clear (and well below the recommended temperature of 22.2). He survived the experience and the crew dined well on board whilst applying themselves to the task of road-testing the local wine.
A bit of motoring in flat calm conditions gave way to a fairly brisk reach to our next anchorage under the lee of the castle at Cap de Bregancon. This castle is the summer residence of the President of the Republic and whilst we knew that M. Sarkozy was away trying to stitch up the Greeks with some dodgy refinancing deal, the crew were hopeful of an invitation to dinner from the first lady - it was not to be and her efforts as a chanteuse have been wiped from iPods in protest !
Thence to Cavalaire to await the owner and other representatives of senior management. We received a warm welcome and a convenient berth at reasonable rates and starting taking an interest in the weather forecast as the plan now called for a return to the West.
Needless to say, in the best traditions of cruising, the wind now swung into the west and promised to stay there at some strength for days and days. Being made of sterner stuff we, of course, elected to go downwind and ended up in Saint Raphael where the boat now rests.
Saint R is a jolly fancy spot with an air of the real Riviera about it. It also has good communications with a direct train and bus link to NIce and, indeed, to Marseille.
Cruising efforts will be resumed in early July.
20/June/2011, Port Napoleon
The past year has seen XII Bar Blues refitted to bring her fully up-to-date and ready for the next decade of sailing.
To make life a bit easier we've fitted a retractable bow thruster (a Sleipner "side power") and an electrification kit to the port halyard winch. The work was carried out by Osmotech of the Hamble who flew one of their technical guys to the South of France to do the installations.
The bow thruster makes all that business of reversing into stern-to moorings in the Mediterranean an altogether less taxing experience and the Andersen electric winch makes easy work of hoisting the mainsail, furling the jib, pulling down reefs and taking the skipper to the top of the mast.
An air conditioning unit in the aft cabin makes for a better night's sleep in the warmth of the Med or tropics and overcomes the limitations of ventilation that these boats otherwise "enjoy".
We've replaced the generator with a new Fischer Panda 5000i and had a bunch of maintenance things done on the main engine. Whilst on the topic of motive power we've also replaced all the standing rigging and the boat now has shiny new rods everywhere.
The most obvious change, however, is that XII Bar Blues is no longer a blue boat and is now resplendent in new white Awlgrip. That with the watermaker overhaul and various pump replacements means that we now have a practically new boat - Oh! and we have a new Rocna anchor to replace the Delta that we've used for years. The Rocna really does seem to set immediately as claimed by its makers but more on this in later postings.
23/October/2009, Port Napoleon
The weather having presented the necessary window we left the Costa Brava for our final crossing back to France. An afternoon departure was chosen to give an arrival in the Golf de Fos at first light. The thunderstorms that have been wandering across this part of the Mediterranean were still in evidence but fortunately stayed well east of our track and provided an occasional light show to enliven the night. We're all used to seeing dolphins leaping about near yachts but on this trip we saw hundreds of tuna doing much the same thing. This went on for several hours so may be some kind of migration or perhaps these fishy chaps just like to move around a bit.
The refinery in the Golf de Fos provides a useful visual homing beacon - its flares can be seen twenty miles away at night. Some good sailing in a lightish north-westerly and a bit of motoring brought us to XII Bar Blues's base camp at first light as planned. We dropped anchor behind the long spit of sand that protects the southern end of the golf and after breakfast we motored into the marina at Port Napoleon to start the business of putting the boat to bed for the winter.
The watermaker tale ended happily with the needed parts arriving from California in a few days and fitted in good time by Northshore who are the Spectra agents in Mallorca. Similarly the outboard motor returned to full time duty without further intervention and has worked without hesitation since we left Corsica.
After many days of polishing and fettling we eventually left France to return north by aeroplane at the end of September having logged some 1600 miles since setting out at the beginning of July - a decent trip round the bay and the boat still looks shiny !