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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Cool hotels
19/08/2009, Cap d'Antibes


The UK lesbian glossy Diva remains an enjoyable treat sometimes, though we don't find it really reflects our lives. To our amusement, August's issue featured a picture of the tres posh Hotel du Cap. We're not sure the lesbian credentials stand up to much (F Scott Fitzgerald, Deitrich in straight mode, and Angeline Jolie aren't that convincing) - but the picture was fab.
And lo! We were sailing past it that afternoon. So here's Sarah, holding Diva, with the hotel in the background. We may not stay in such places but we took the pic from our own decks!
We meandered round the corner and dropped the hook in another old favourite, the Anse de la Salis. It's always a pretty spot, quite comfortable (though there's a little swell in this slight north easterly), the holding's good, and it's easy to visit Antibes. And the water is lovely - very silky.
We jumped in for a swim, to be accosted by a young seagull. She got between us and the bathing ladder, and meeped at us in a pathetic fashion. We were a bit pathetic too: she had a very sharp beak. She paddled around the boat after us, thoroughly investigating the through-hulls and diving to look at the loop in the anchor chain. Mum came overhead, flying very low over Sarah, so she swam away in terror. We've never seen gull behaviour like it before: the chick was either an Einstein of her species or incredibly stupid. We'll never know!


Life on Roaring Girl
Company
18/08/2009, Port Man


David was anchored there on his boat, Flying Rival; we'd not seen him since leaving Port Napoleon over a year ago, so it was cool to meet up. He came over to Roaring Girl and we had a convivial evening discussing boat mods, families and friends in common.
This is him waving us off the next day.

Life on Roaring Girl
On our way!
18/08/2009, Toulon

Because of all that, we actually left on Tuesday morning.
Over the winter, we've had some changes made to the anchor locker, so we didn't want the first use to be in the dark. So we chugged out on Tuesday. Sarah's showing off an international wardrobe: the hat is French (courtesy of Fiona and Melanie last year), the yachtie shirt is from Hong Kong, the shorts from NZ (courtesy of Pip's Mum) and the sandals are from Grenada in Spain. And the henna is Moroccan. A record of our wanderings.
We put the sails up, and sorted out the reefing lines. Unfortunately, there was damn all breeze and the only time the engine went off was for 15 minutes in the Petit Passe at the western end of the Ile Porquerolle. We went chugging on, though, to our old fave of Port Man.

Life on Roaring Girl
Recovering from up the mast!
Baking hot
17/08/2009, Toulon


The bruises are a result of spending several hours at the top of the mizzen mast rethreading the topping lift. This was completely self-inflicted: Sarah tried to replace it with a thicker line, and lost the mousing line in the process. (For you non-yachties, that's the thin piece of string that you use as a guide to get a bigger piece of rope down inside the mast.)
So she discovered that the arrangement at the top of the mizzen involves a very small gap and lots of effort to deal with it. And although the Petzl harness is actually very comfortable, it doesn't half leave some marks. They don't actually hurt the way they look, honest!
Doing the job made Sarah remember Rob and Kat. He's Australian and she's from the US, and they over-wintered the same year at Port Napoleon. Kat's a fiendish Scrabble player, and Rob incredibly competent in all sorts of ways. When all our mast top mousing proved to have been shredded by the mistral, he climbed both our masts, with no safety line, to thread something through so we could deal with the job.
Sadly Rob is pretty unwell right now, and they are back in Oz. It's been a hard year for serious illness amongst our friends and family, making gall-bladders and bruises pretty minor. We send all those we know who are fighting life-threatening problems, and those people caring for them, lots of love and positive vibes for their ability to fight and recover.


Life on Roaring Girl
Afloat at last
Extremely HOT!!
16/08/2009, Toulon Darse Veille

From Toulon station we took a cab to the ferry which runs across to Les Sablettes. It's a short walk from the navette to the boat yard, though long enough for two hot, tired women to do some bickering. But then we were home!
There was Roaring Girl on her cradle, waiting for us. Antoine (our very helpful agent here) had left one propped up for us, which was just as well as the Capitainerie shuts at 1800 and the ladders are locked away. That evening we cleared enough space to sleep, hoiked the sails into the cockpit, ate a bad meal in the port-based restaurant, and slept extremely well.
On the Wednesday we both worked hard, especially Pip. By the end of the day, Roaring Girl's hull was sanded, repainted, the anode was changed, and we were all ready to splash on Thursday morning. Some of the rigging was back on, the mizzen all sorted and some tidying done as well. That night we had an excellent meal at a small restaurant at the plage Pin Roland, the other side of the isthmus. Lots of very good food, and (we have to admit) excellent-looking waiting staff as well.
In general Pin Roland is a useful spot. It is in the pilot book, though Heikell is a bit dismissive. But if you need somewhere to haul out along this coast, you could do much worse. The prices are currently roughly comparable to Port Napoleon, and it's much easier to get to. You would still have to cycle to Les Sablettes for a supermarche, but there's a much wider choice of restaurants and bars. The yard is friendly, with lots of people about, many liveaboards, and no problems about working on your boat. They don't like people living aboard for too long on the hard but a week seems to be no problem.
There is little space for boats afloat, however, which is a shame. Within three hours, we motored over to Toulon, who welcomed us back in a friendly fashion. This (and indeed all the entries since the bathroom) are written on the Sunday, after three days hard work in the heat.
Most of the work is now done, though Sarah still has to climb both masts again, and Pip is working on improving the padding on the davits. But nearly everything is in place, the sails are all on, and RG is looking very swish in her new stak-a-pak. Some of you will remember that we bought a new mainsail last year, which we are very pleased with, but the stak-a-pak didn't fit. Lee sails sent us a new one, but it didn't catch up with us till too late, so this was the first time of putting it on. So smart.
Tomorrow we have a list of errands, not least a stock up on fresh food in Toulon's excellent market. Then it's off at last. The first day we intend a short shake-down to Ile Porquerolle, where we hope to meet up with our friend David from Port Napoleon. And then we're heading east.




Life on Roaring Girl
Lots of Louvre windows
11/08/2009, Paris

The next day we went for a wander. Our hotel, the very reasonable and beautifully located Jeanne d'Arc, was right in the Marais, just yards from the Place des Vosges. We went west, through the Jewish quarter (yummy breakfast), past the Centre Beaubourg and towards the Louvre. Here it is, with those thousands of windows.
The meander back along the Seine was lovely, and one or two house fripperies somehow joined the luggage.
An early lunch and then time for the train to Toulon. That was a simple enough journey, stopping only at Avignon before Toulon. We spend a lot of time on trains in both England and France and have a higher opinion of the British version than many. The TGV, as on this occasion, has a lot going for it. The seats are very comfortable and it's so fast. That high speed is something that the UK hasn't got to grips with yet.
But there are some things that work better in the UK. The information system is miles better: to get non-TGV trains that cross departments and regions in France is a mysterious process. Buying tickets is much easier in the UK, and there are cheaper prices to be had. Also the UK trains don't have those really high steps that can make luggage handling (let along wheelchairs, buggies or children) so hard.
We look forward to discovering how the Italian system compares!

Places and people
Romantic pictures
10/08/2009

We took numerous pix of each other (as you do), and this one of Pip is the best - she's looking very splendid too!

Places and people
Night Cruise
10/08/2009, On the Seine

We took a romantic night cruise, from Notre Dame upriver beyond Ile de la Cite and then down as far as the Eiffel tower, which was looking very splendid, and by far the brightest monument in the City of Lights.

Places and people
Paris!
10/08/2009


The doc told Sarah not to fly until 4 weeks after the op, which was a good additional incentive to take the train. And to make it easier, we decided to stop a night in Paris. Pip had never been there before, except for the Metro between the Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyons. Sarah lived there for a while - 30 years ago! (How did that happen, then?) But she'd not been back much, so this was an adventure for both of us.
At that time, Sarah had stayed a short while at the famous Shakespeare & Co bookshop, just opposite Notre Dame , and it was her only postal address for most of her stay in Paris. It's famous for being the home of the Anglophone literary scene in Paris since the 1920's, particularly for Americans. It hasn't changed a lot - it's still heaped with books from the last 100 years of American, British and Irish literature. It's got more touristy (or it seems that way) and it's still staffed by enthusiastic youngsters who in some important way do not get the complexity, longevity and pluralism of Europe. Sarah found a useful book though - that's still the same.
We stayed to listen to the historian Gregor Dallas talk about Abelard and Heloise. What might have been very interesting actually became incredibly dull, as he stretched out the story beyond belief. His main point seemed to be that Heloise had objected strongly to being made to become a nun, and that it was Abelard who had made her do it. But it took him over an hour to get to this position. After about 75 minutes, we slipped away.
We'd missed the boat trip we planned to take, so Pip headed us back to a bar in the Latin Quarter that had caught her eye on an earlier wander past. The chandeliers were hung with bra's. And there were women there. Lots of women. So we ventured in and ordered fancy cocktails. They came with sparklers. And sparkly it was: we had ventured into a male strip joint! Pip was facing the video screen and came over all fluffy. We drank our cocktails and returned to the street.
Paris is full of lesbian bars: Sarah had offered to find one. But this was a spontaneous discovery with a twist.

Places and people
Visiting Cardiff
05/08/2009

We visited Sarah's mother in Norfolk, and made an important trip to Cardiff. Our dear friend Polly is still unresponsive, and it is not clear whether she will ever improve beyond her current state. It was a shattering experience to see her. Her sister Jenny and partner Lizzie are working so hard to protect and represent her, while remaining realistic about future choices, and staying in their own jobs.
The picture above is Polly at Rye, in Sussex, taken somewhere during our convoluted trip delivering Roaring Girl from Ipswich to Brighton six and half years ago.

Places and people
Bathroom done
26/07/2009

And here it is completed (or very nearly). Pip has done a huge amount of work, painting nearly every wall in the house, organising plumbers, electricians, carpeting and generally running herself ragged. Sarah finished the contract in Merton, had a few days grace and then went into hospital for surgery. Which went very well, and adds an impressive four new scars to her already criss-crossed stomach.

Places and people
Property plutocrats?
26/07/2009

Well! We succumbed to the collapse of the property market and bought a house. The aim is to let it out rather than live in it, though in fact we will be there over this winter, and let it afterwards.
Depending on the market and our own finances, we might even buy another one in the autumn - it beats putting into a bank to do nothing!
This house needs of quite a bit of work. Above is the bathroom before Pip stripped it out ...

Places and people

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