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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Beautiful waters

We finally managed it. Two years getting south and we actually swam off Roaring Girl. And the water really is that blue!

Life on Roaring Girl
Entrance to Port Miou

Port Miou is particularly difficult to see. You turn actually into the Baie de Cassis, and the derelict quarry dock is conspicuous to port. Just beyond this, is the entrance to the calanque, but we went past it and had to double back, guided by the sudden appearance of other boats.

Life on Roaring Girl
The Calanques

Calanque is French for creek; these fjord like inlets in the limestone are the result of creeks and rivers eroding narrow channels. These reach deep into the massif, becoming narrower and narrower. Some are just bays, nascent gaps which in a few millennia will provide further harbours for the ever-growing pleasure boating population of the northern Mediterranean. In the meantime, they provide a lunchtime anchorage on a calm day.
Others stretch back for a mile or two, becoming maybe 15m wide before reaching a beach the size of a giant's little finger nail on which to land an exploring dinghy or a day-tripping kayak.
The entrances to these ravines can be very difficult to spot against the high cliffs: yachts or tripper boats pop in and out as if a wardrobe door had spat them back into the reality of the blue sea and relentless sun.

Life on Roaring Girl
Spectacular walls very close
23/06/2008, Morgiou

We anchored for the night in Morgiou. This is a narrow inlet between steep limestone walls. It took us four goes to get the anchor to hold; there's some thick weed down there.
That wasn't the real problem. We tried to use our chum and got the blasted thing well and truly stuck on the chain. It took the three of us over two hours to get the thing off, including getting the dinghy in the water to be able to put enough torque on the shackle to undo it. A saddle shackle is definitely on our shopping list!
This is the view from the cockpit in the morning. Although we were well bedded in and there's no tide, it is still unnerving to anchor in 16m of water quite so close to such a cliff.
Incidentally, Kat had told us of a nudist beach in the vicinity characterised by particularly raunchy behaviour, but we saw nothing so exciting.

Life on Roaring Girl
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
Church of sailors

Inside, the church has undergone a lot of restoration. It is very lovely, though with rather more gold than Anglican-raised eyes are used to! But much more restrained than the dripping gilt and blood of Spain...
This is very much a sailors' church, filled with images of boats. This caravel mosaic is above the altar, in pride of place surmounting another statue of Mary and child.
From the ceiling hang what in any other context would be called mobiles: model sailing ships made in great detail which are motionless in the still air of the basilica. More models are displayed in glass cases in other rooms of the complex, showing ships from the founding of the city to the present day.

Places and people
Still hot!

It was a great night, and stayed about 25 till the sun came up again and it got even hotter.

Places and people
Party, party!

Paul arrived, as planned, at Marseille train station on Saturday afternoon. We were there to meet him, and walked back to the boat. Midsummer night is traditionally a major music festival across France, and Marseilles celebrates with gusto. We wandered the streets of the district known as Le Panier into the wee small hours.
The area was the old town until systematically destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. It was rebuilt in the '50's, and there are many small streets, unpassable for vehicles, and steep stairs clambering up the old cliffs of the defensible creek that attracted the Greek colonists who founded the first city here in 600BC.
At every corner, in every square, there was music. Funk, hip-hop, rap, salsa, rock, fusion. Guitars, accordions, ouds, drums of every shape and size, sax and trumpet and whistle. DJ's spinning, people dancing, drinking, talking, kissing.

Places and people
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

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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