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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Back to Theoule
17/08/2008, Theoule

After lunch the wind had freshened and we only used the engine to power the windlass, sailing neatly down the rest of the channel to the west. Our original intention was to go to Rade d'Agay, at the foot of the Esterel Massif. However, the wind was hard on the nose and kicking up a little swell. As both our visitors, unused to the cradling touch of the Middle Sea, had felt a touch of discomfort from earlier swell, we turned away and headed back to our old anchorage of Theoule. Even so, on a close reach, we tucked in a reef (that new sail giving significant extra drive) and a few furls in the genoa, for a comfortable, and fast hour west-north-west across the Golfe de la Napoule.
Here our visitors had a thorough chill-out.


Life on Roaring Girl
Ile de la Tradeliere
17/08/2008, Iles Lerin

From Antibes, with very little wind, we motorsailed round Cap d'Antibes to the Iles Lerin. From the eastern end, we sought the passage between Ile St Marguerite and Ile St Honorat. Off the end of Ile St Marguerite is the Ile de la Tradeliere, site of notable Roman wrecks. You can see why: this low-lying saw-toothed rack of rocks barely deserves the name of island. It's not well marked: unless we knew the waters =we wouldn't come this way in the dark.
Once past it, however, the narrow channel between the islands is well marked (though we didn't see any lights on the buoys.) The channel at one point is only 6m deep. Many yachts are anchored outside, it, especially to the north side, and we ourselves found a spot in 11m of water. It was very full, being the Sunday lunchtime of a bank holiday weekend, and there was quite a bit of wash, but we all swam and enjoyed a great quiche Pip had made the night before.

Life on Roaring Girl
Eruptions in Haute Provence?
16/08/2008, Antibes

From Nice we had a pleasant sail west, back to the Anse de la Salis off Antibes. Down went the new Rocna. The first time we don't think we gave it enough time, but it certainly bit the second time. Fiona and Sarah went swimming; the water was cooler than last time we were there, but still had that silkiness peculiar to this bay.
That night we had this amazing sunset over the hills, followed by firework spectaculars in both Antibes and St Laurent.

Places and people
Painted Pointus
15/08/2008, Nice

Many of these traditional boats are painted with designs of all kinds: here with Mediterranean fish. He worked hard, this guy as he must have circled the harbour about four times, rowing all the way.
Melanie took this picture, as she did many more over the next few days.

Places and people
Festival of the Assumption
15/08/2008, Nice

From Menton, on Thursday, we had another nice sail back towards Nice. We looked at anchoring off St Jean, but again didn't like the feel of the wind. Clearly, we're not fated to spend much time there. Instead, we went back to the Rade for the night, where we anchored comfortably. In the evening the jellyfish went away and we swam, both then and on Friday morning.
We really wanted to get into Nice marina. For one thing, a nasty south westerly was forecast. Secondly, Liz had a plane to catch, and we were meeting Fiona and Melanie from their flight. And thirdly, our new anchor was in their capitainerie.
It took some pleading, some citing of all these circumstances, but the lovely people at Bassin Lympia found us a space, and we tied up just after 1100. Pip took Liz off to the airport (extra time being needed for the buses on a bank holiday), while Sarah tidied up, checked all the lines and made sure everything was secure. As she left, the wind was already blowing 42 knots, kicking up breaking waves inside the marina. Eventually, our neighbours said, they saw over 50 knots, but the boats were all very secure.
By the time we got back with Fiona and Melanie, the storm was over and the traditional pointus boats were able to circle the harbour on time for the celebrations of the Assumption of the Virgin. A big statue of her circled around, along with several other boats, all decked in lovely flowers.
As you can see, big crowds gathered on the opposite dock, including for the Mass celebrated there afterwards. We had pole, if irreligious positions in our own boat, with celebratory glasses of Provencal rose in hand.

Places and people
So pink, dahling!
13/08/2008, Monaco

They also have these uber-camp sofas. Irresistible!


Places and people
Queens of Egypt
13/08/2008, Monaco

To the eastern end of Monaco is the relatively new Grimaldi Forum, a purpose built exhibition hall and conference centre, currently housing the huge exhibition about the Queens of ancient Egypt, from the earliest times to the last Cleopatra. It was a fascinating show, pulling together material from all over the world into a dazzling parade of jewellery, religious objects, statues and paintings, all illustrating the real power held by these women.
The Forum has a stonking bar too, overlooking the sea, with these glorious clam shell seats to serve as double thrones.

Places and people
Superyachts galore
13/08/2008, Port of Monaco

We walked down to the Port Hercule, the marina in central Monaco. It is as you imagine, full of astonishing superyachts to gawp at, multi-story motorboats filled with luxury. The one comfort obviously not prized by their owners is privacy; they berth stern to, inviting the oohs and aahs of the crowds at their sofas, full-scale trees, multiple satellite domes, heli-pads and so on.
As in St Tropez, many sport versions of the red ensign, with the Cayman Islands and Isle of Man dominating. But you see a few with the sun of the Marshall Islands (Pacific), and several with the blue, yellow and green of St Vincent and the Grenadines (Atlantic Ocean). Of course these big yachts are professionally crewed and travel the world to suit their owner's convenience.


Places and people
Decadence and glamour
13/08/2008, Monte Carlo

The 100 bus runs from Menton back through Monte Carlo. Looking carefully at the furbelows and frills that adorn this famous frontage, you can see, just by the large potted palm at the bottom of the steps, Pip and Liz. (Pip's in a black tee shirt and her straw hat.) We'd decided not to actually go in this time (but wait till we come back this way in Spring), but had to have the photo.
Monaco, though tiny, prides itself on having several different areas, of which Monte Carlo is only one. In a funny way, it's like a pocket size Hong Kong; lots of skyscrapers climbing up against steep, green hills, and the sea beyond. But it is relaxed, and (relatively) uncrowded, and rich. Rich, rich, rich. And they don't do the amazing light shows that enliven Kowloon harbour every night.

Places and people
New experiences for Liz
12/08/2008, On passage to Menton

Liz had had a night on Roaring Girl while we were anchored in the Gualdaquivir at Gelves, outside Seville, and an exciting 'taster day' in a 30-footer out of Penarth. That sounded rather exciting, with a strong breeze against them as they sailed back from an anchorage in the Bristol Channel. It did remind us of the drawbacks of British sailing, as she told of the rain and the cold and the wind strength.
So here she is, all tense concentration, on the wheel as the limitless horizon (next land south: Africa) as we sailed quietly north east towards Menton.
We got two nights in the marina at Menton-Garavan (the Vieux Port being full). We'd originally planned for one night but a nasty little blow was forecast so we decided to take life easy for a moment. Menton is the last French town before the border, and has a complicated history of being Italian, Savoyard, part of Monaco and even independent. Now it is firmly French but very Italian in character; the accent has the rhythmic brio of Italian and everyone in the shops and restaurants seems to be tri-lingual. The main shopping street is lined with restaurants and smart boutiques, but beyond the old port there's a splendid morning market, for excellent provisioning. Right by the marina there's also a sizeable supermarket.
We looked hard at wintering in Menton, which is a lovely spot, but it would be very expensive. Turning back west, to our high hopes of a berth in Toulon, will cost us half the price.


Life on Roaring Girl
The new sail
12/08/2008, On passage to Menton

On 12 August, joined by Liz from Cardiff for a few days, we set off for the 10 mile cruise to Menton on the Italian border. It was a lovely, gentle day and we pootled along under full plain sail.
This is the long promised picture of our new main sail, made by Lee Sails of Hong Kong. It is a nice piece of work, and really showed how baggy and full of pin-holes the old one had become; the new one certainly increases our speed. (The old one, made by Gowen of Mersea, was first hoisted in 1994, has crossed the Atlantic and worked hard all it's life; it owed us nothing and is now neatly stowed in the forepeak in case we ever need a spare. The very old one, which we think was the one used when the boat was first commissioned and hence sailed around the world, has finally been cut up and, amongst other things, is supplying UV protection covers for the jerry cans stowed on deck.)
The new one did need us to slightly shorten the battens, but otherwise fits very well. We had supplied the measurements, with help from Gowens themselves, who gave us what they had on file. It is well stitched, triply reinforced at all crucial points, with a strong headboard. The reef points are triple stitched super strong webbing, but if we had asked from rings, Lee would have supplied them.
We reinstalled the old cars and battens, so the first thing we did was make holes in it for the batten ends; which was a bit unnerving. The sail has had a reasonable work out this season, though nothing very strenuous, and has done us well.
Lee did send a poor stack-a-pak, but have replaced it. This has to go to our UK address so we haven't installed it yet, but expect to look very smart when that is finally aboard.
Why a Chinese sail? Basically cost. We had seen the Lee workmanship on a boat in Portimao and thought it was good. We asked the local sailmaker in Port St Louis, and Gowens themselves for quotes. There was only about 100 between them, and we would have probably gone with the local guy for ease of amending any problems. But the Lee quote was over 1000 less, and about half the price, including freight. VAT and import duty put about 200 back onto that, but it was still much cheaper than the alternatives.
The scary bit of course is in getting the measurements right and we put a lot of effort into it. The local guy in Port St Louis measured up, but despite knowing we might want to pay for his time and have the figures, refused to give them to us. Gowens however, were extremely helpful, and Lee Sails themselves made very sure they had the right numbers.
They get paid in US dollars; we did this through our account with NZForex, a currency exchange dealer, which we use for big non-sterling payments, such as over-winter marina fees, as it's the cheapest way we've found. All in all, the only hassle factor (apart from the sail cover) has been the delivery to France, requiring contacting with French customs to pay taxes, while we were in NZ.

Life on Roaring Girl
Bronze goddesses
02/08/2008, Villefranche-sur-Mer

The old castle of Villefranche-sur-Mer now houses the Mairie, a theatre and several museums. One of these houses a great deal of work by the sculptor Volti. He spent much of his life making voluptuous, votary statues of women, interspersed sometimes by tortured Christs, and anguished men drooping on uncomfortable chairs. The exhibition included a very graphic, near-lifesize lesbian couple engaged in intimate activities: enough to make us blush!
Mentioning the Mairie reminds us that corruption is still a live issue on this coast, over a decade after the Mayor of Nice received a long sentence for fraud. The small permanent residency of Villefranche (about 8000 people) are up in arms over the behaviour of their local town hall; over a quarter of them have signed a petition to the departement, asking for the dissolution of the Council for 'bringing the town into disrepute'!
We stayed in the Rade till 12 August. Every few days we motored about three miles offshore and flushed out the holding tank. One Thursday afternoon, the weather decided we were being a bit soft, and with astonishing speed the south-south-westerly blew up a vicious sea that set out bows pitching up and down and quickly snatched up our anchor. We had no joy getting it down again and after two tries made a dash for it round Cap Ferrat to the little bay outside St Jean. Getting out of the Rade put more water across the decks than any time since Biscay, as we climbed up the steep waves that were breaking through the narrow entrance, very close together. We blessed our reliable engine that day!
The Anse de la Scaletta of St Jean-Cap-Ferrat was well-sheltered, but very crowded. We had another struggle with weed but finally got the anchor to set and started clearing up the mess created below. Just as we established some control, the wind changed again, sending a sharp north-easterly onto us, and putting us quite close to the breakwater. So we hauled it all up again and went back to Villefranche. Just goes to show that even in that sheltered spot, you must keep a sharp eye on the weather and be ready to move; coastal anchoring is not like rivers or creeks.

Life on Roaring Girl

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