The Course is Set - To Corsica
15 July 2012 | Cap Ferrat
It’s been 15 days since we reached mainland France and they have been the toughest I’ve had in the Mediterranean so far. One of the problems is that any natural harbor that was along this coast was blocked off and made into a marina or commercial port starting 500 years ago. So there really are very few well protected bays to anchor in. Another is that the weather and wind change direction as quickly as politician do and the forecasts are usually 100% backwards. If the wind is forecast for westerlies at 10 knots, we get easterlies at 20. It’s really unbelievable how quickly the wind clocks around 180 degrees and goes from zero to hurricane strength. There’s a story related to this that I’ll leave untold for now.
Because of this, I have not been able to leave sight of Palarran and sometimes haven’t been able to actually leave her at all. Three days were lost because I had to maintain an anchor watch all day. There really are not many options for marinas either as they are not prepared for the beam of a catamaran, and if I can get a spot, they charge unbelievable rates. As an example, we got a wonderful spot in the marina in Cassis. Before I brought the boat in they quoted me a rate of 125 euros per day. When I went to clear out the same man said, “Oh, and it is 2 X because you are a catamaran”. I had told him that before I arrived but we obviously had a communication issue. Now, normally you might argue the point more but one of the wise things these guys do is take your boat papers on arrival. That is like taking your passport away. You have to have them and until you pay up – you don’t get them back. So after some conversation, I agreed to pay and my dock guys parting words where “I’m not doing this because I hate Americans”. Really?, What made you think that I was thinking that?
St. Tropez is really a fantastic village. I loved the shops, restaurants, and their fresh food market. We didn’t find it pretentious. The beach wasn’t what I had remembered from 15 years ago but that’s what old age will do to you (no gusto). Jeanne and I took a long walk and had a very good lunch together. This was the first time we had been able to enjoy each other’s company alone in something like 3 months. From St. Tropez we headed to Cannes and Ile Ste-Marguerite and St. Honorat.
Susie, Mark, Jeanne, and Lindy went into Cannes for the day and Elaina, Nick and I went scuba diving. Ok, I have to say it pretty plainly, the diving really, really skinks here. All we have seen is algae covered rocks and sea grass. The fish – nada. The highlight of this day was Nick, Mark, and I going onto the Island when all the tourists had left and walking around. We somehow snuck through the gate to Fort Royal (it was open and no one was around) and toured on our own. What a lovely island, I would recommend anyone visiting this area to put it on their must do list.
Antibes was another town that was absolutely stunning but I missed due to anchor watch. I was really kind of upset at the end of the day but felt there was not much choice. The group toured the Picasso museum and did some shopping. From Antibes we went to Villefranche. This is a long narrow bay that is only open to the south. There was a fairly good swell that ran into it which caused Palarran to rock side to side quite badly but we all enjoyed our best dinner on shore for this segment. We had planned to stay in this harbor for three days. Susie, Mark, and Lindy had to fly out of Nice and Nick’s friend Andrew was arriving also. Susie and Mark went into Nice to do a wander-about and we enjoyed the Ville. It was exactly like what I had hoped for, narrow, winding, flower laden passages filled with shops and restaurants. We did the laundry and had sat down for lunch when I felt the wind blow up the street and knock over several umbrellas that were shading lunch tables. This is where the story I don’t want to tell comes in so I’ll skip to our next stop – St. Jean Cap Ferrat.
St. Jean Cap Ferrat is where the really big and expensive villas are along the Riviera. You may have seen them when you read about famous people vacationing in the French Riviera because this is where they come. The group headed to Monaco and Eze yesterday while I stood watch on Palarran. I had really looked forward to seeing Eze and according to the gang, I did miss something special. But again I was needed on the boat as this was Bastille Day (like our 4th of July) and hundreds of boaters decided to anchor exactly where Palarran was. One guy on a large cabin cruiser started to get close so I pulled in about 50’ of chain on our anchor. For a moment this actually made us get even closer and the guy came unglued. I’m standing there thinking “I was here first” but that apparently didn’t matter to Count Buttwipe. He was yelling “Just leave, go home back to England”. Very presumptuous as I could have been Australian.
Susie, Mark, and Lindy left at 5:30 this morning for their long flight home and Andrew arrived around noon. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow to get ready for heading to Corsica. Laundry needs to be done, restocking groceries, and refueling are our top priorities. We will leave mainland France around 5:00pm tomorrow for the 110 mile crossing. The weather forecast is for calm winds so we are rigging for gale force winds. So, we will leave and I’ll probably not come back to this country again. France would be truly great if it didn’t have so many French people in it. I will miss the food and wine though.