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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Crossing the border
Hot but swell and wind against us
23/08/2009, Just north east of Menton


Roaring Girl has been in France for two years. Quite a lot of it ashore while we went to NZ, and when we were working, so it's very exciting to move on. Down came our tattered French courtesy ensign, stowed away till we get to Corsica, and up went our spiffy new Italian replacement.
It's one of the few times we have seen a land border in daylight from the sea. In 2006, Spain appeared from the high seas out of the fog late in the afternoon; we crossed into and out of Portugal overnight, and the second time, from a long way off shore. The next year, we crossed back into Portugal in the dark, and then transited international waters to reach Morocco. The Spanish/Gibraltar border we saw, of course; when we left though, there was quite a haze and we had the peculiar experience of crossing the 8 mile Gibraltar Strait unable to see both Europe and Africa at once.
From Morocco, we entered Melilla at night, and we crossed open sea to get back to Cartegena in Spain. France in turn loomed out of the mist of the Golfe de Lyons.
So you can see that a clear picture of the ravine that marks the current French/Italian border is an unusual event.
We say 'current' because this has been disputed land for centuries. Even Nice has been Italian, which shows in the lifestyle and the architecture. On the other side of the coin, San Remo was independent till a couple of hundred years ago. Italy itself, as a unified country, is even newer, being created in 1861. As Pip points out, that makes the state younger than New Zealand.

Life on Roaring Girl
Paradise? Hah!
22/08/2009, Rade de Villefranche


Which is more than can be said for Friday night. After two comfortable evenings in Antibes we meandered to our old spot, where we spent three weeks last year.
Well! We had forgotten the swell, which rolled in with a vengeance. That combined with the heat made for a very uncomfortable night. It is extremely hot here: at 0300, it was 28C in the main cabin. Everything creaked and groaned as we rocked and pitched. The worst of being on passage, without the satisfaction of actually going anywhere.
(For anyone who's feeling really picky, this photo was actually taken a couple of days ago at Antibes, but it is a nicer image of our last few days cruisng Southern France than the swell, and we haven't got a recent pic of Villefranche!)
The swell is predicted to persist so we are likely to move on tomorrow. (Finishing this on Saturday evening, it''s not nearly as bad, but we're going anyway!) The forecast for crossing the Gulf of Genoa is not fab: either no wind or 15 knots in the wrong direction for the next 6 days. As ladies try not to sail to windward, we are going round the edge after all, and expect our next stop to be San Remo. Italy at last.

Life on Roaring Girl
In the view
20/08/2009, Antibes


And in the midst of that glorious view, there was our girl!

Life on Roaring Girl
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
Preparing for summer
12/04/2009, Still in Toulon

We are getting ready to go in July. The star attraction in this pic is our new summer cover, made for ease of putting up and getting down. (It won't replace our splendid Force 10 wedding present one when we're in port, but that takes a little while to manipulate so isn't very useful at anchor.) This is modelled on Pip's prototype she worked on last summer, and put together by our clever friend Jan in Ipswich. It's got a few modifications to come, not least putting the right length batten in the stern end so it's not on the wonk. But lots of brill ideas are incorporated, including the Velcro-removal side panels for shade, and the little tabs for tying on solar panels to get the most of the sun when at anchor. It will be very easy to roll up and put away when we want to get going, the wind gets up or we simply fancy the extra UV.
There are other hints of activity in this picture. The water filter is the last piece to re-stow after Pip's heroic struggles with our water system. The shower had faded to a dribble when we were here in February, and she spent a day and half dismantling everything. It now works a treat and we have retreated from crusty-dom! The filter itself is an idea we pinched from a boat on the pontoons at Valencia; it's a standard high-end permanent installation. We've put connectors either side of it, and put it between the dockside tap and our water inlet when we fill up. We often still filter it out of the tap but this is a real help to keeping the nasties away.
The red-lidded drum is the new home for the chain/rope rose for our stern anchor. We are told that this is the way to get cheap moorings in Italy (where marinas are notoriously exorbitant). Instead, get into fishing harbours with an anchor to keep you off the dock. We can't go in stern-to, as we can't get to the dock that way (dinghy, solar panels ....), so instead need to rig an effective way of running an anchor off the transom. Our very helpful guardien, Antoine, is organising a stern roller and fairlead to our requirements. This barrel will hold the rode. Lou Heikell gave us encouraging advice at the CA's Med Section seminar in February. Still - it will be nerve-wracking the first time. We'll let you know how it goes.
The big black object to port under the sprayhood (also being replaced this spring), is the new kayak. Long-promised, we finally bought it at the Earl's Court boat show, and aim to try it out as soon as we're in warmer water. Roll on, summer!


Life on Roaring Girl
Back home!
02/11/2008, Toulon

We are both back for a long weekend, which is great. Despite a strong easterly and overcast skies, occasionally opening for a sharp downpour, it's lovely to be home for a while. Roaring Girl is in good shape, with what we need aboard, and quite safe.
We were so busy when we came in before that this is an opportunity to explore the city and get to know it a bit better, which is fun too. And, although the people of Toulon are complaining (it even snowed on the hills north of town last week!), it is much warmer than London.
Several friends have commented we're out of date on the blog. It's hard keeping it up to date when the key events are - went to office, came home! We've had a few excitements - taking Sarah's mother on the London Eye for example. Hence this spectacular view up the Thames. And Sarah has been sailing twice on Nethunuus, out of Gosport.
Keep in touch anyway, folks, and we'll try to be better at staying current with our adventures.

Life on Roaring Girl
The last anchorage
25/08/2008, Iles Porquerolles

We anchored here again after a very quiet few days in Port Man waiting out a mistral. In this bay, the RIB comes round selling expensive ice-creams; we allowed ourselves the ?'?8; the only money we spent between St Tropez on 20 August and arriving in Toulon on 26 August.
It was a glorious sunset for our last anchorage of the year.
From here, we went into Toulon and found a snug berth on the biggest pontoon in the Darse Vieille. It's all bows or stern to, with good stout lines (two per boat) to keep you off the quay. The Petit Rade (the inner end of the big bay that makes Toulon such a superb harbour) is still very naval, with both big grey boats and zippy black RIBs, full of men with guns. We arrived flying (as usual and amongst other things) an NZ flag and a big rainbow flag, which here is often used as a peace sign. Remember the Rainbow Warrior, mes amis!
For several days, we were watched closely, the RIB-fulls coming close under our stern and looking at us for minutes at a time. Then we took the flags down, as part of the winter prep, and they lost interest.
So Roaring Girl is securely wrapped up, with guardiennage for when we're not here. Pip is going to and fro, in between working on her silversmithing, while Sarah makes a temporary return to office-life.


Life on Roaring Girl
Thar she blows!
21/08/2008, On passage to Port Man

The excitement! We saw sperm whales in Kaikoura (see the blog pages for 9 January this year), but now we saw another one. Of our own, so to speak - of course such a majestic creature belongs to no one.
She was cruising gently on the surface off the Bay of Cavalaire, not far from the shore. We hastily veered away; she was longer than Roaring Girl, but watched in awe until she dived, showing the classic fluke against the Provencal blue sky as she vanished.
We had not realised such big whales came through the Straits and into the Med, but apparently there are quite a few about, especially in a big pelagic sanctuary that stretches from hereabouts to Italy and south of Corsica.

Life on Roaring Girl

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