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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
The other end of the spectrum
11/07/2008, Just exiting the Golfe de St Tropez

This appeared to be a private motor yacht, though followed by two separately driven tenders (both quite substantial vessels.) It did seem to have an ordinary (UK) red ensign on the back.
Wow!

Places and people
A few ordinary boats
10/07/2008, St Tropez

On the main port quay there are lines of enormous motorboats (and a very few sailing yachts), their professional crew washing, or stowing, or simply making sure nobody lays a finger on the gleaming woodwork.
The Rough Guide comments that a lot of these monuments to spending huge amounts of cash have 'union jacks', or rather red ensigns. It seems so at first, but as you look closer you see that many are from the Cayman Islands. Their ensign is defaced with a shield, and many flaunt Georgetown as their port of registry. We don't know the exact political status of the Islands (known at one time as the Tortugas for the many turtles that nested there) but their economic situation is vastly different from the UK. But we wonder how many bemused tourists think that UK plc must be coining it, to judge by the boats.
There are a few small ordinary sailing boats, tucked away amongst the grandeur at the eastern end of the quay, looking defiant and ready to go. (There's also a bigger area of marina for the hoi polloi, just around the corner, but it's still going to be mega-expensive. We didn't ask.)
We spent a hot day in the town, mostly running errands. We needed supplies, and found a monoprix that wasn't too outrageously inflated. The chandlery isn't too bad either; we acquired some good goggles (much needed for checking the anchor is set properly) and a chart of the coast towards Nice. We've got them electronically but for the sort of anchoring we're doing it can be very comforting to have the paper as well. Plus we treated ourselves to a nice lunch out (our first since Les Baux).
In theory you can call a taxi to the supermarket. In practice we made a hot and sweaty walk there. Even the cabbies in St Tropez are dressed up, with big neo-Romantic open shirt cuffs edged with lace, designer dark glasses and a lot of gold.
The Baie de Canoubiers is a useful shelter, though the holding is a bit variable. You can walk to St Tropez, though we declined the heatstroke and took the bus. In the Baie itself there is very little, save a good recycling dump and an extremely expensive shop. Most importantly, it is free, the water's clean for swimming and you are well protected from the mistral.

Places and people
Pirate treasure
10/07/2008, St Tropez

It looks like the piled spices, dried fruit and mysterious unguents of the Moroccan markets. But, no. Much more prosaic, it's sweets. Jelly babies of every size and description, piled high for the biggest pick&mix you ever saw on St Tropez waterfront.

Places and people
Beach and Buoys
06/07/2008

Cavalaire does have this enormous beach, which stretches around the south east facing bay for about two miles. Now it's all bit up, but (in memory) only the western tip was developed 40 years ago, the rest being pretty deserted.
There are lots of these white buoys; the note in our second hand pilot book says, rather indignantly, 'NOT cheaper than the marina'. I'm sure some at least would take the weight of a cruising boat. They're certainly watched; while we were fossicking about taking pictures, out came the marina boat, offering to assist.
We politely declined and set off south-east to round Cap Lardier. Our original intention had been to possible dinghy ashore in Cavalaire, and then anchor to the east of Cap Lardier. In fact, it was only 1330, a beautiful day, and well: we sailed all round Cap Camarat and up to the Golfe de St Tropez. There were a few interesting moments when we reefed: turning into the Gulf coincided with a wind increase to about 24 knots, and putting us on a close reach. And despite our best efforts, the reefing lines weren't exactly right. Ah well! Early in the season and all that, and no harm done.
We came to rest in the Baie de Canabiers, just east of San Tropez (and free), which has reasonably good shelter from everything except gale force northerlies.

Places and people
Port de Cavalaire-sur-mer
06/07/2008

In 1967, the family Tanburn took the unprecedented step of a camping holiday. In the South of France! Exotic beyond belief and the source of many foundation myths. Helicopters landing on the beach. Meeting rich people. Riding Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (found filming in a tiny hill village).
Sarah doesn't remember that much of Cavalaire itself, but it was surely tiny then; just the campground, some hotels maybe, a small town. Not this marina, that's for sure. This is the entrance, which has a clearly buoyed dredged channel to it. We didn't go in: it would be ?'?38 a night for us and sentiment isn't that strong.
You can anchor off, but only someway out, and (see above) we don't have an outboard at the moment.

Places and people
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
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
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
Church of sailors
Sarah
22/06/2008

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!
21/06/2008

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!
21/06/2008

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
Drowning in colour
Sarah & Pip
22/05/2008, Les Baux: Cathedral des Images

Five minutes walk from Les Baux is the amazing Cathedral des Images, an old limestone quarry. The removal of great blocks of stone created a series of enormous galleries which look as if they are themselves built and dressed, but are the bare walls left behind by the quarrymen.
For some 30 years, this has been the home of an annual spectacle, commissioned and curated by the private owners. This year, it is an homage to Van Gogh, who of course spent some time in the region, particularly at Arles and St Remy de Provence, both of them close to here.
The start of the exhibition is a series of photographic reproductions of his self-portraits. The copies are very high quality. Next to each one, there is a reproduction of a detail, usually an eye. These capture the complexity of colour and brush work, the astonishing greens and blues and purples that create the auburn stubble across a cheekbone, or the sallow curve of the eye socket.
From here, you enter an enormous cavern with scattered pillars. Great projections of paintings play across these surfaces, changing in a sedate dance to Beethoven and Mozart. You stand in the astonishing yellow of the cornfields, disappear into the starry night. Above you the great heads of Provencal people bend down to look at the gawping audience, listen to the running school children. The delicate faces of Chinese and Japanese women, themselves details beside a window or behind a still life, peer across the dark floor.
A stunning experience, which for both of us gave a new understanding of colour. A new feel for how it might be used and how the artist transmogrifies the bright poppy leaves or threatening clouds. We certainly gained an understanding that we wouldn't have got from seeing the originals (some of which we have seen!), because of the detail, the quality of reproduction and the sheer scale.
A must-see if you are in the region, and if the Cathedral des Images expositions are always this good, then put Les Baux and the quarry on your list any time you come this way.

Places and people

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