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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
A rather larger vessel
19/08/2008, Passage to St Raphael

We all took the 1230 ferry across to St Raphael. This is very simple: it leaves from the quay outside the 'new port' (the marina for ordinary sized boats), and you pay on board. (?'?13 one way, ?'?22 return). It wasn't particularly crowded, although the jetty itself is rather a scrum.
In St Raphael, you get a bus to Nice airport. The maps of the town, including the one displayed outside the TIC, show the Gare Routiere (bus station) outside the Gare SNCF. Hah! That's been demolished and is still being rebuilt. The bus station is back down at the Vieux Port, on the opposite side from the ferry.
Even with that diversion Fiona and Melanie caught the 1400 airport express with ease, and we got a text confirming their safe arrival in London. They managed to collect the full set: boat (x3), bus, plane, train (DLR) and tube.
We caught the ferry back, brought a few provisions in the local little supermarket and treated ourselves to drinks in the Hotel Sube. The first floor bar is bang in the middle of the Vieux Port quayside, but remarkably quiet, and has fabulous yacht photos all around the walls. Definitely the best place for a drink in the tawdry vulgarity that marks most of the town.
Our plan now is to wait out the south-westerly (blowing as we write this on Wednesday afternoon), which would give us a beat to the Lies adhere. If the forecasts are right, we will head back to Port Man tomorrow for a last weekend at anchor. From there, on Monday we will sidle round to Plage de la Courtade, where we will ring the port in Toulon to see if our high hopes of a berth there are confirmed. If they are, we will tie up next week in our winter berth, before returning to the UK for Sarah to start her temporary job in South London on 2 September. That will mark the end of 18 months in which we have spent all but three travelling, and allow us to replenish our depleted coffers.

Places and people
The high life
19/08/2008, St Tropez

We finally found a spot in this busy anchorage, about a kilometre east of the entrance to the port of St Tropez. The anchorage is full of super yachts, and quite deep. So far it's been very comfortable, save for wash, though it is quite open to the north east.
Fiona and Melanie invited us out for dinner, to celebrate Sarah's birthday. We went to a good Provencal restaurant called Table du Marche in Rue Georges Clemenceau, and can thoroughly recommend it! We were very full, as well as enjoying cocktails and two excellent bottles of wine. Unaccustomed luxury: thanks to the two of them.
We also discovered that there is a water taxi in St Tropez (not mentioned in the Pilot book, possibly because it's ?'?40 every trip, though the boat can take about 8 people.) Ring on 06 12 40 28 05. Pretty good English spoken. This took the worry out of a potential trip home in Bridget in the dark, and gave us unaccustomed rides in very fast ribs, which were great fun.
On Tuesday morning, there were candles in the fresh baguettes to accompany a very nice bottle of champagne - a great way to start the day!

Places and people
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
Rue Obscure
02/08/2008, Villefranche-sur-Mer

The little town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is very sweet, though geared almost exclusively to tourism. There's a little market at the foot of the old town selling various Provencal goodies, at its strongest when the cruise liners are anchored in the bay, ferrying their bemused hordes ashore. At the top of the town, by the main tourist office, there's a bigger market on Saturdays with a good stall for sausages.
This is also where you catch the bus for Nice, or to Monaco and Menton. (The 100 runs the whole way.) The 82 also takes you into Nice, the 81 runs from the Port de la Sante right to a big shopping centre in Nice with a large Carrefour (much better value than the local shops: buy a passé du jour for ?'?4 which will take you all over the Riviera.)
The local fishing folk still support (and are supported by) a tiny chapel, painted with the story of St Peter by Jean Cocteau in swooping lines that show Jesus laughing at Peter trying to walk on water, angels with magnificent wings surrounding him in Gethsemane, the cock doodling its lungs out, and a special panel of curvaceous Provencal women gutting fish, in honour of their role in the old industry. The decorations are infused by eyes, diamonds, hammerheads and the other arcane of freemasonry, that well-known Galilean, first century sect.
This has long been a border town. In the seventeenth century it was part of Savoy, and when the Duke became King of Sardinia he based his royal fleet here. This led to the creation of the harbour, behind a wall of unusual construction (so the puffery says, tantalisingly not telling you exactly what is unusual about what looks like a perfectly ordinary breakwater), which is now the Port de Plaisance. It looks like a nice marina, though Roaring Girl would be at the top of the range for size there; it is unsurprisingly extremely busy with a fifteen year waiting list for berths.
In addition there is the older Port de la Sante, at the foot of the old town and on the northern edge of the outcrop of which the castle squats. This tiny harbour hosts the remaining fishing fleet, the ever-changing parade of tenders, lifeboats and water taxies from the liners, and occasionally a yacht that snugs itself on the quay for a short period. Just outside this little port, the quay is reserved for dinghies from the many yachts anchored in the Rade, a thoughtful gesture all too rare on this coast. On the little pontoon serving the chartered small boats and taxies, there's also good water where we regularly filled jerry cans.
The town regularly faced bombardment, leading to the streets just behind the waterfront being roofed over, as shown here. They're remarkably quiet in the bustle of shops and lost folk around them, and a welcome stretch of cool in the blazing heat.

Places and people
To the Festival
26/07/2008, Nice

You always find things easier the second time round. If you ever go to Nice Jazz Festival, especially to see the big names, then take heed of the following. The 20 bus route from the Port goes directly to the Jardins Cimiez. It takes about half an hour and costs one euro. The gates open at 1800 (or maybe a bit later, but it's on your ticket). Be there a bit before that to be amongst the very first into the gardens. Go straight to the Arene Jardin (the biggest stage and stake a place as near to the stage as you want to be. One of you goes to the little café set up by the Arene Matisse and pinches as many chairs as you need. (Or carry folding chairs with you, but they're rarely as good a view.) Keep one of you always on station to protect space, chairs, picnic or whatever. Wait three hours.
It works. And it's why we only heard English and American voices for Leonard Cohen: the French fans already knew all this and were sitting comfortably at the front.

Places and people
The Old Town
26/07/2008, Nice

A lovely morning wandering the streets of old Nice and investigating the market. It is pretty touristy; all too often the result of regeneration of such areas is to create a service and retail economy but not enough else. But it is really lovely, with narrow streets opening onto lovely squares or the sea. You can't get really lost, partly because the Vieux Ville isn't all that big, but also because you can always see the hill of the castle or the sea itself.
We got some jobs done too, including at last installing the windex that Paul brought out from England. The new blade screw had arrived from Marlec too, for our big wind generator; however there was no thread left on the blade so Sarah took it off and Pip epoxied in new thread. Sadly, on the Sunday we found that still wasn't enough and there may be a new blade in our near future. In the meantime we'll have to manage with the Ampair and solar panels.

Places and people

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