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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Passage to Cavalaire and St Tropez
06/07/2008

6/7/08


We departed Port Man about 0900 on Sunday. First of all Pip swum over and put a rope on the little buoy that roughly marked our anchor. Then we hauled it in, with the chum on the bottom of it. We don't like to tie it to the anchor; too many stories of sports fishing boats tying themselves to your marker buoy and moving your anchor!
Bridgit, as you can see, is securely on the davits. We would only ever do this in a calm situation and for fairly short trips. With lots of fenders and careful strapping, however, she sits there very comfortably.
It's lovely to have the foredeck clear when we're sailing, especially on this passage when we went from the cruising chute to a tightly reefed genoa, with several sail changes in between. It also clears the space for serious sun-bathing, and Pip can work on her tan lines (eradication of). Those pix are censored!

Life on Roaring Girl
The rubbish run
05/07/2008

The pretty house (absolutely inaccessible and invisible from the beach itself) is at the head of the anchorage. In front of it, to the right of the picture, is a wee jetty for tying up dinghies. Turn left and scramble over some rocks and you will find the track to the Fort. On the way are a couple of useful skips. So on Saturday, as it was calm in the morning, Sarah decided to sail Bridget ashore and take the rubbish away.
What a palaver! Those of you who sling your black sacks outside once a week have no idea. Two small black bags after a week, not including the recycling which is awaiting a proper destination.
There wasn't much wind for the trip up the port, with some gusts helping the tacks. Once we got to the narrow channel for the jetty, out came the oars. Tied up, took rubbish to bin, got feet only slightly wet. Got back in dinghy.
Hoisted sail; sheet had come off so hastily dropped sail and reattached. Wind coming up so bombed up narrow channel and into anchorage at very high speed. Whoops! Big gust so sailed at rope to ensure we didn't hit any of the anchored boats swinging about. Got off rope. Off again, glance under sail. S??"T! Two motorboats, one very large are both manoeuvring for an anchoring spot. Not only are they right in our path - they're right over Roaring Girl's anchor (which we had marked with a small buoy carefully marked with a 'no anchoring' sign). They're shouting at each other and we steer straight back to the rope out of danger. Sort ourselves out and dash forward again, right under the bows of one of the boats, calling 'c'est notre ancre. Notre chaine! Pas la!) And with great relief arrive back at Roaring Girl; even she is swinging around in the gusts now sweeping through.
Hoik everything back on board. Watch everyone trying to anchor and failing. Keep an eye on our own anchor to make sure people don't anchor on top of it. And you thought remembering Tuesday is bin day was an effort!

Life on Roaring Girl
Family friends?
04/07/2008, Port Man

An evening visitor. Irresistible photo. (For those who don't know, Sarah's older brother is James.)

Places and people
Port Man
03/07/2008

Another blow was forecast, so we hauled up the anchor again and headed to a small creek on the north-eastern tip of Ile de Port Cros, called Port Man. This whole island is national park, heavily protected from fires (no smoking, camping, barbecues) and development.
This is a narrow anchorage, further shrunk by the no-anchoring areas at each side, roped off to protect the weed on the bottom. The sides are very steep and covered in the aromatic pine forest, home to some of the noisiest cicadas we've ever heard. It gets very full at weekends (according both to Peregrine and the pilot book), but we timed our arrival for 1100 on Thursday. There are four distinct waves of movement on this coast: morning departures (0700 to 0900); lunchtime (1130 to 1400); afternoon dip (1700 to 1900) and overnight arrivals (1800 to 2100). So 1100 is a good arrival time to secure a slot.
It's also pretty deep, but we were glad to get ourselves a nice spot in 13m of water and get the anchor in securely after only 2 or 3 attempts. We are definitely considering finding another secondary anchor as our trusty 60lb CQR is challenged by thick weed. It ploughs up the stuff (which is ecologically very bad news) and doesn't hold easily.
Once in, we had very good protection from the westerly and north-westerlies. We could see the white water in the sea between us and the mainland, and the clouds boiling over the hills around us, but inside the crevasse we never saw more than 24 knots of wind and held pretty steady.

Life on Roaring Girl
Downsides
01/07/2008, Plage de Courtade

A downside can be the casual damage inflicted on one's boat. Pip and I came back from a trip ashore to find someone must have swiped Roaring Girl. There's this nasty scrape along her topsides and part of our pushpit (1" diameter steel) is scraped and bent. What's more, as we discovered two days later, the throttle arm on the outboard is broken, so we must row or sail to get ashore.
Whoever did it had vanished, leaving no note or acknowledgement. Grrr!

Life on Roaring Girl
Gorge du Loup
01/07/2008, Ile Porquerolle

Ile Porquerolle is an important conservation area, and home of the Botanical Conservatory, a government project to protect Meidterranean diversity. Joel of Peregrine and Sarah walked across the island, and back via the Conservatory; it's only about 5km. The picture, when I get to load it, is the tiny creek, Gorge du Loup, showing the incredible transparency of the water.
After three days we moved round the corner to Plage de Notre Dame (actually the picture in the last post), which is slightly quieter. This is usually a slightly easier (less weedy) anchorage, but it quickly went into our all time top 3 b----ration factor places, as it took us about 15 goes to get the hook to stay caught! Lots of weed.
We moved in the company of new friends Michelle and Joel on Peregrine, who shared lots of great knowledge about their anchorages in France and Italy with us, which was really useful.
The move also introduced us to circumnavigators Warren and Jill on their restored RNLI lifeboat, sailing yacht Swn-y-mor (which means Sound of the Sea in Welsh). As we write we can't remember her age, but we think she was working up till the seventies. Warren and Jill had caught a tuna but couldn't eat it all, and generously donated three huge tuna steaks to Roaring Girl. They made four excellent meals!
One of the great upsides of cruising is the people you meet.


Places and people
Gentle anchorages
30/06/2008, Ile Porquerolle

The mistral had left behind several baking hot, calm days. We had meant to anchor in the appropriately named Plage d'Argent (silver), but it looked very full and so for a couple of days we found a nice spot of Plage de la Courtade. This is quite open, but even on a Saturday we found a good spot and got the anchor to stick pretty thoroughly.
This beach is just beside the village of Porquerolle (which also hosts an expensive marina: the anchorage is free). This is a very chic resort, with some expensive hotels, though also host to hordes of day trippers. It has some extremely expensive grocery shops. We spent ?'?20 on some fruit and cheese! Our main consolation is that that is the only money we spent in 10 days.

Life on Roaring Girl
Passage to Ile Porquerolle
Fine
28/06/2008

28/6/08


We waited in La Ciotat till Saturday 28 June; we'd meant to leave on Friday but a mistral was forecast so we hung around. In end it didn't get above force 4 or 5, and would have blown us straight downwind to our destination, so we could have gone. But it's not a wind to trifle with.
We left shortly after 0800 and ended up motor sailing all the way. Our destination, the Iles d'Hyeres had been strongly recommended by lots of cruisers as a beautiful place, if a bit crowded at times. We rounded Cap Sicie, apparently a place of considerable dread hereabouts as it kicks up a nasty sea in a mistral. There is a west-going current hereabouts, which fights the mistral wind, so it makes sense, but at least there aren't any tidal races to add to the mix.
The Iles d'Hyeres are often called the Porquerolle, after the biggest island. The archipelago lies just east of a hammerhead shaped headland called Presqu'ile (peninsula) de Giens. This is nearly an island, as the 'shaft' of the hammer is itself eplit in to by a large etang, and indeed the sandbars around it have been flooded in big storms.
The (very simple) passage past the peninsula and its outlying rocks takes you south of the Ile de Grand Ribeau; this is its lighthouse on our port bow.

Life on Roaring Girl
Not only Auckland but Hollywood (or at least Hove).
26/06/2008

In addition to making superyachts and running space for leisure craft, La Ciotat's main claim to fame is as the place where the earliest moving pictures were made. They were first shown in Paris in 1895, and were treated with awe and astonishment there as well as London and New York. On 21 March 1899, at the Eden theatre, an audience of 250 people were amazed by a short film of a train arriving at the La Ciotat freight station. The story goes that people were so startled, they ran out of the cinema, thinking the train would come through the wall.
The Lumiere brothers, who invented the cinematograph, came from this area, and were inspired by photography and the light of the locality. The Eden is the oldest moving picture house in the world, and is now undergoing renovation as a museum.
We plan to stay here tomorrow given the forecast and leave for the Iles d'Hyere on Saturday. Classic Med: either too much wind or none at all!.

Places and people
Entrance to La Ciotat
26/06/2008

Ciotat used to be a centre of industrial shipbuilding, and the gantries and so on are all still there. When the yards closed down, local shipworkers organised a sit-in to prevent the land being taken over for seaside real estate. Their fath and hard work have paid off; Ciotat has become a major centre for building and renovating superyachts, mostly but not only motorboats. A real success for everyone involved and it shows that there are real regeneration opportunities in the leisure marine sector.
So, the gantries and so on are still there. Just north is the entrance to the Vieux Port; despite what Heikell says, you can go in there and tie up on the quay (far port edge of the basin). This puts you under the yacht club, and in the centre of town. It is however very noisy at night (lots of clubs), and they will move you constantly if a superyacht needs a space on the quay. As the man from the Capitainerie said, this is a commercial harbour, not a marina. It is roughly the same price as the Port de Plaisance. (?'?26-29 per night for a 12m boat, including a 50 centime tax per person and including electricity and water.)
This marina consists of two basins, protected from the gulf by large breakwaters. The visitors pontoon (and nearly all visitors) is in the southern of the two, and that is the entrance in the picture. Very simple. The visitors' berths are along the quay inside the breakwater, immediately to starboard of the entry. Most people come in stern to; as you can see (if you have cannily recognised Roaring Girl on the end of the line of yachts), we prefer to be bows to. We have yet to sort out our stern anchoring techniques or indeed how to get off our crowded transom and on to the land.
The Capitainerie for the marina is at the inner end of the visitors' pontoon, open long hours in the summer. English is a bit limited, and Sarah ended up translating for an incoming yachtsman who rang ahead only to find his French wasn't up to the task. Will this mean a discount on our berth? We very much doubt it!
The hardest part of berthing here is that they use chains for the lines that keep you off the quay. These are extremely heavy. When we arrived it took us a big struggle to get the right chain and get it on. And today (Thursday), there is a mistral forecast for tomorrow, so we decided to move along the three empty berths to port. Rather than drive out and in again we moved ourselves, step by argumentative step. In the process we hauled up about four chains and nearly killed ourselves. At one point the nice monsieur on the next boat came on board and hauled chain for us. No point in completely unnecessary lesbian pride in 30 degrees. Did we mention that these chains are really, really heavy?
Anyway, we are now settled, properly off the quay, in control of all our lines and able to amend them if the mistral gives us a hard tim

Life on Roaring Girl
Ah! There she flies.
25/06/2008

Round the eastern side of the promontory, in the quarter-mile wide passage between the mainland and the teeny Isle Vert, you can see the point.

Life on Roaring Girl
That rhino again
25/06/2008

This big headland, which marks the end of the calanques, is called Bec d'Aigle, or Eagle's Beak. We think that, coming close in from the West, it looks more like a rhino.

Life on Roaring Girl

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