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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
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

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Who we are
Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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