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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
No sailing this time
Sarah and Pip

The wind had come round to the east-south-east, obstinately on the nose. We turned east again and wove our way through the islands that lie south of Marseilles, at the beginning of the coast of the Calanques. Even without sails, Paul enjoyed being back on the helm.

Life on Roaring Girl
Vieux Port
20/06/2008, Marseille

We entered into Marseille, the last mile or so as always taking longer than you think. The pilot book mentions the church high on the hill south of the port; this is Notre Dame de la Garde, which for centuries has been a marker for mariners coming into the city. As you get closer the cathedral on the waterfront, with its huge onion domes, is a great marker. The entrance is just to its south, and the tower marking the entrance to the Vieux Port becomes clear as you close the breakwater.
It is a very easy entrance, going through the breakwaters and then gently right into the big basin. The biggest challenges are the huge numbers of leisure vessels, ferry boats and others zipping about, and the number of buildings to gawp at. To port is the Fort St Jean, and on the right the imposing Palais de Pharo.
The Vieux Port is enormous. The huge basin is chock-a-block with yachts, mobo's, small fishing boats, ferries and trippers, kayaks, sculls. You name it. There are over 3000 moorings in here. And 40 berths for visitors!
The moorings are run by a huge variety of private clubs, only two of which accept visitors. These are SNM and CNTL. We had rung ahead, so we had a place reserved at SNM. (CNTL is cheaper but was full because of a regatta.) Including electricity and (rudimentary) facilities, this was ?'?25.50 a day; dear in one way but in the most fantastic position in the heart of a major city.
It is very difficult for our skills and small camera to capture the scale and bustle of the Port; this picture was taken at about 0100 from the top of Fort St Jean.

Life on Roaring Girl
Sails and all!

At the south-eastern corner of the Golfe, we turned left around Cape Couronne. The wind followed us round, keeping pretty much on the starboard quarter so we stayed with the mizzen and genoa, lolloping along at about 6 knots. The visibility was so good we could see the hills of Marseille 13 miles ahead.
This coast is called the Cote Bleue, and has various small calanques and anchorages in it, but we kept going past them, and the Ile Ratonneau, where we had originally planned to spend Thursday night.

Life on Roaring Girl
Escape at last

In identical weather conditions the following day, we left about 1400. Pip had fitted a new water filter, and after lots of checks we slipped away.
The Golfe de Fos is very industrial, and a major oil port. All the strikes have brought the area to a halt, and we counted 21 tankers anchored and waiting to offload or collect.

Life on Roaring Girl
Speaking of Mudskipper
19/06/2008, Essex!

Here's a picture of her, taken in October 2005, off Brightlingsea in Essex. They're somewhere between western Andalucia and Madeira right now, so g'day mates and fair winds.

Life on Roaring Girl
Hello Golfe de Fos
Sarah & Pip

Getting out of Port Napoleon means sticking carefully to a narrow channel, kept well dredged and buoyed, while the cockle-fishers wade in the mud about 10 feet away. We motored gently along and out into the industrialised Golfe de Fos, and 11m of water.
Waah! The engine temperature suddenly goes critical. We hoiked out the genoa, turned off the engine, rounded up and dropped the anchor. Nothing like practicing emergency procedures about half a mile from your berth. Happily the gooey mud of the Rhone delta grabbed the anchor and held it firm. We had a good transit on this yellow freighter, and sat solid for the next three hours.
Poor Pip spent that time sweating and swearing over the engine. Change the impeller. Check the seacock. Tackle water filter. Break water filter! By-pass water filter.
At least, then the engine ran without over heating and we very gingerly, anchor at the ready, motored back towards the visitor pontoon. (We couldn't sail it, as the channel is barely a boat length wide and was directly to windward.) More mossies and the irritation of a return, but it was the only safe thing to do.

Life on Roaring Girl
Goodbye Port Napoleon
Brisk westerly
19/06/2008, A short way off the coqst

We were finally ready for departure on Thursday, with a nice westerly to speed us towards Marseille. Last minute things as always kept us busy, but we finally slipped our lines about 1330. Several people came to say goodbye and this picture was taken by Liz of Junnica.
Well, our friends Pete and Ruth of Mudskipper have always advised against people seeing you off, preferring a stealthy departure.

Life on Roaring Girl
Sarah & Pip
11/06/2008, Port Napoleon

On Wednesday night we had a party, with 13 people aboard. We couldn't get a picture with them all in, but reading round from the top left you can see Virginie's knees (from Lagon Bleu), Kat from Reliant, Stephane of Mana, Kiel of Gouasse, Rob of Reliant, Pip, the very edge of Ivor of Diura, and the backs of heads of Harry and Liz of Junnica. That's France, the US, Australia, NZ, Northern Ireland and England all in one cockpit! (Sadly the Japanese couldn't make it.)
We hope to be off next week, Our first stop will be Marseilles, where Paul is coming to join us on Saturday for a few days as we cruise slowly east along the Calanques towards the Cote d'Azur. A gentle summer is the plan, recovering from our travels of the last two years and the hard work of the last two months.

Life on Roaring Girl
Sarah & Pip
10/06/2008, Port Napoleon

At last! On Tuesday 10 June, we finally got afloat. For Sarah 7 weeks and 5 days on the hard was well long enough.
We have done a lot of work. Put nearly everything we possess back on board. Replaced the fridge pump (twice, as the first substitute was too noisy), put all the standing rigging back on. Replaced the cutlass bearing, put in a new oven and associated galley remodelling, new anodes, antifouled. All that boat stuff. It is an old definition of cruising that it consists of fixing your boat in exotic places. Well, Port Napoleon isn't exotic, but you get the idea.
There'll be another post on the cooker when it's finally connected. (The gas man promises he cometh this afternoon!) But note the smart new red sail cover on the main boom. This encloses our very nice new sail from Lee Sails in Hong Kong. Of course we haven't sailed with it yet, just hoisted it to check it fits, which it does.
The sail itself looks great. Sadly the stak-a-pak is too small. We have emailed Lee Sails and await their comments (and preferably replacement). In the meantime, we will put the old one back on. Again, we will post more on this: the basic story is that we had seen Lee Sails on another boat (Magic Marlin of Jersey, moored next to us at Portimao a year ago), and liked the quality. The price was less than half of European competition, given quotes we obtained both in France and the UK. That was about 1000 euros difference! And apart from our sail-pack problem, it's lovely and has been an easy process.
We are glad we got in on Tuesday as the mistral returned on Thursday. Hence all the springs on the lines, taking the snatch out of the way RG moves in the stronger gusts. Although they creak a bit, they make life aboard much more comfortable.
It is fantastic to be back in the water.

Life on Roaring Girl
The mouth of the mighty Rhone
Sarah & Pip
10/06/2008, Up the mast

Port Napoleon stands about one mile upriver from the shifting sandbanks and whirling currents of the Rhone river mouth. The canal, that caused Port St Louis to be built in 1880, was created to enable the large peniches that carry goods on the inland waterways to avoid its treacherous waters, going directly from the relative haven of the river to the expanse of the Golfe de Fos.
Roaring Girl's mast stands nearly 14m above the deck, and when she's in her cradle the deck is about 4m from the ground. So the top of the mast is 18m up, and on a clear day there is a stunning view out across the mouth of the river to the sea.

Life on Roaring Girl
Up! Close!
Sarah & Pip
10/06/2008, Port Napoleon

Just to prove the distant shape is really her!

Life on Roaring Girl
Ooops replacing halyards
Sarah & Pip
10/06/2008, Port Napoleon

A big challenge preparing the boat this year has been reinstating the running rigging (the ropes that hold up and manage the sails). We took it all off last autumn to protect it from sun and the mistral. But, and it's a bit but, we (Sarah really) didn't do a fab job.
When you take off a halyard, the ropes that haul a sail up a mast, you need to put a thin line on that can be used to put the halyard back on. This is particularly important if the halyard in question runs down inside the mast. As do four on Roaring Girl's main mast and three on her mizzen. It is pretty important if the rope doesn't run inside the mast, as applies to another five on the main. Of all these lines, three external lines and one internal mast head line survived the winter, albeit badly tangled. All the others had broken or frayed, victims of poor arrangement and the vicious mistral!
We owe a big vote of thanks to Rob of Reliant, as he climbed both masts without a safety line to get a mast-head halyard sorted out. Once we had one in place, Sarah spent a lot of time climbing up and down and replacing the halyards.
It isn't simple to get a rope to go down inside some 13m of mast. With the help of Harry and Liz of Junnica we devised a clever solution. A stretch of the weighted line that holds netting in place was provided by Liz, and we plaited it into a short stretch, further weighted with a bolt. This was sewn onto one end of 30m of 8mm string. At the top of the mast, Sarah fed it through the sheaves, and carefully dropped it down. (Sometimes it snarled, necessitating pulling it back up and trying again). At the bottom, Pip had a hook fashioned from an old wire coathanger, and fished out this thin line through the mast slots. The proper halyard is then moused (attached) to the thin line, and hauled up the mast and down into place.
The picture is Sarah at the top of the mast.

Life on Roaring Girl

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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