[KensBlog] The French Riviera



Greetings!



My apologies for not sending blog entries for several weeks, and then sending you this blog entry, which is unfortunately WAY too long. I had planned NOT to post while in France, as I didn’t think there would be anything to write about. However, I did in fact find things I thought were worth writing about, and have been posting them on the daily Facebook version of my blog. What follows is a condensed version of those postings.

As I type this we are wrapping up our time in France, the final days of which have been spoiled by high winds.

Tomorrow, we start a 26 hour passage to the island of Menorca in Spain.

So, with that preamble, let me take you back to weeks ago, when we were leaving our anchorage at Cap Ferrat, France.





A – Cap Ferrat
B – Antibes
C – St Tropez
D – Plage de la Briande
E – Port Man
F – Le Lavandou
G – Porquerolles
H – Hyeres


At the end of my last blog entry Sans Souci was sitting at anchor in the land of the mega yachts, and looking forward to heading to Antibes, our next stop. Antibes is a very short run from Cap Ferrat and somewhere we really should go, but … we bypassed it to go directly to St Tropez. I’m not 100% sure why. Part of it was simply that Antibes was too close (only a one or two hour run) and the weather was nice. We were in the mood for a longer run.


After some extreme rolling, both of our flopper stoppers were hanging vertically in the water.

After some extreme rolling, both of our flopper stoppers were hanging vertically in the water.



And…there was one other issue. Our anchorage at Cap Ferrat had been prone to swell (waves.) We were rolled around so severely that both of our flopper stoppers required repair. [Note: flopper stoppers are the big metal plates that dangle from long poles on each side of our boat, to help stabilize the boat while at anchor.] After several days in a rolly anchorage being tossed around, we wanted to go somewhere we were 99% sure would be comfortable. Studying the charts we were seeing better anchorages at St Tropez than at Antibes.

St Tropez

We anchored about a mile out of St Tropez in a beautiful anchorage along with maybe a hundred other boats. To our delight the anchorage was very well sheltered and comfortable. It was also an easy tender ride into the town of St Tropez.


La Madrague

La Madrague



We were anchored in front of the long-time home of Brigitte Bardot, a home she has owned and lived in since the 50s. We did see signs that she (or someone) was home, but never saw her come out. She has become quite the activist in her senior years, fighting on behalf of animals, and getting arrested a few times for her strong opinions on immigration.

VIDEO – Inside the port of St Tropez

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Anyway…this video needs a bit of explanation for those who haven’t been here. The tourist thing to do is to watch the big yachts tie up in the port of St Tropez. The space allotted is small and tight, and it’s a windy marina. The boats need to drop anchor and then squeeze their way to the dock. When the wind is blowing there is lots of excitement as the big boats bounce off of each other. The crowd also hopes to see a Paris Hilton or a Kim Kardashian, or whomever the flavor of the month is, on a yacht. (We, actually, were among the crowd in St Tropez many years ago — before we even had a boat — and saw Pamela Anderson on one of those big yachts — back when she was a big star! I was impressed…Roberta, not so much.)

Unfortunately, I was in town when it wasn’t that windy and most the big boats were still out at the beach, so.. hopefully you’ll get the idea.

One interesting thing you discover when you are at anchor and not in the port is that the boats that tie up at the dock are tiny compared to the ones sitting outside the port. The boats tying up are mostly in the 80 to 150′ range. Those pale in size compared to the big boys lined up outside the port, too large to come inside.

As we were tendering home from a dinner in St Tropez I asked Roberta her impressions.

I think you’ll enjoy this short video with her detailed analysis:

VIDEO – Roberta summarizes St Tropez quite succinctly

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In the video you can see Roberta and I trying to steer the tender through traffic as we exit the port. The boats you see are larger than they appear. To give perspective, the boat you see honking and thrusting away from a side-tie is a 165′ Mangusta.

We enjoyed being at St Tropez but were ready to leave, so, after five days of fun, we were ready to move on to the next experience.


Pampelonne Beach, near St Tropez. Miles of beach lined with large and small yachts

Pampelonne Beach, near St Tropez. Miles of beach lined with large and small yachts



Leaving St Tropez was a bit of a challenge. Imagine hundreds of boats all leaving the same place at the same time, many with high speeds and large wakes. Then, mix in a sailing school with dozens of rookies on small catamarans running a regatta with their route traversing all the traffic. The first thirty minutes of our journey was tense, as I zig-zagged through boat traffic and stopped to let many of them pass.

When people refer to the beaches of St Tropez, there’s a good chance they are actually referring to the beach at Pampelonne, about five miles out of town. It’s four miles of beautiful sand beach, and for the big yacht crowd a typical day begins with leaving the port of St Tropez, anchoring in front of the beach at Pampelonne, where the guests are delivered to the beach for a day of fun, after which the boat returns to port.

Pampelonne beach is lined with an endless number of restaurants and bars, each of which will happily rent you a mat on the sand, an umbrella, and sell you drinks all day.

We had been to Pampelonne Beach from our previous trip to St Tropez many years before, so decided to bypass it. The aerial picture you see is not mine. The pictures I took from the boat as we passed by give only a vague hint as to what it is like. It can be a fun place, and I will definitely miss hanging out at Voile Rouge and 55 — but — not this trip.

We headed a few miles past the beach at Pampelonne to Plage de la Briande, a bay with incredibly clear water. The bay faces south, which means we were exposed to swell, and we rolled a bit – but, wow! What a place!The pictures do not do it justice. The bottom is sand and the water is crystal clear.

Plage de la Briande






Plage de la Briande

Plage de la Briande




Incredibly clear beautiful water!

Incredibly clear beautiful water!



Can you believe this crystal clear water?

We spent an idyllic day and evening at anchor before moving on.


Life is never boring on Sans Souci. Our “adventure du jour” came when we were least expecting it.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this incident. I should have grabbed the camera, but…the blog was the last thing on my mind.

As we were departing the anchorage at La Briande, I was on the bow while Roberta was at the helm. Everything seemed normal until I saw the anchor come to the surface. The head of the anchor, which is normally hanging down in the water broke the surface first. The chain was wrapped around the head of the anchor, and its tail was hanging straight down into the water. My guess is that the anchor must have been sitting on the bottom with its tail in the air, and the boat must have pivoted around the anchor. Or ??? I don’t know how it occurred, but…crap…now what?

I tried raising and lowering the anchor a few times, even setting it back down on the bottom to see if it would untangle. I then tried bringing it up to the bowsprit (it’s normal resting place) hoping that might shake it free. Nope – instead, I managed to get the head of the anchor dangling from the bowsprit, caught there like a fallen hiker clinging to a cliff ledge.

Sans Souci has a serious anchor. It weighs 150 kg (around 350 pounds) and my efforts to push it off my bowsprit with a skinny aluminum boat hook were not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, Roberta kept the boat in position, while all the other boats in the anchorage (mostly sailboats) were enjoying the show.

The tail of the anchor was dangling about six feet below the bowsprit. Using the boat hook, and leaning WAY over the bowsprit I was able to tie a line (rope) to the tail of the anchor. I then ran this line through a hawsehole and cleated it off.

Roberta then left the pilot house controls to come forward to the bow to work the windlass controls (the up/down for the anchor). While she did this, I pushed on the anchor as hard as I could, still using the boat hook. I couldn’t exert much “push” with it, but the alternative was having my hands or feet near the anchor, and…that could hurt if anything went wrong.

To make a long story short — it worked! Roberta was able to jiggle the anchor enough with the windlass controls — an inch up, an inch down — that I was able to push it overboard. The line on the tail caused it to flip vertically, the chain untangled, the anchor then lifted correctly and went into its place on the bowsprit. Minutes later we were underway.

Port Man



Next, we dropped anchor in a bay on the island of Port Cros, in an bay called “Port Man” which is a national park.

No cars or other vehicles are allowed on the island. In the cruising guide it describes the island as a place where everything is forbidden (no fires, no camping, no diving, no vehicles, no fishing, etc). Even the anchoring is tightly controlled to keep the boats away from shore. The island is traversed by miles of paths and we tendered to shore to hike, but when we read the “no dogs” sign — wanting to give Toundra and Keeley well-deserved exercise — we gave up on that idea and just enjoyed hanging out.

VIDEO – Drone at Port Man

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We had no concept at the time how important Port Man would become in our lives.

Le Lavandou

Entering marinas is a challenge for Roberta and I.

Sans Souci is a 120 ton boat. Our lines and fenders are over-sized and heavy. The extreme fenders and lines are a reflection of my personality and where we cruise. I tend to overkill it on safety equipment. Our anchor has been replaced twice as larger ones have become available. I mention this because it is only Roberta and I on the boat, and Roberta is petite. She can’t handle some of our heavy lines or even easily fender the boat.

It would be very unusual anywhere in the Med to find another boat near Sans Souci’s size or complexity that does not have crew. The assumption when entering a port is that Sans Souci is staffed by a highly professional crew.

That’s not us.

I wouldn’t claim that we are rookies but I would admit that coming into port can be a challenge in the Mediterranean, and it also has frequent high winds. Therefore, when we start a season of cruising here we accept that we’ll probably be at anchor much of the season. (Just to make clear, though — we have no problem with tying up at docks along-side — meaning, side-tied or with finger piers — which is how most of the rest of the world works…but that’s not way of the Med!!)

But we love being at anchor, so it’s not a problem.

Anyway…one thing I do sometimes is to email marinas and say…

“I am single-handling my boat. I would like to be in your marina (or port) for a few days, but only if you can give me a side-tie (alongside berth) or commit to give me a couple people who can come aboard my boat and help me work lines.”


This effectively closes the door at most marinas, most of which don’t have moorage for a boat our size anyway. The Nordhavns are “beamy” boats, and finding moorage for a boat as wide as ours is difficult. And, then when you make life hard for the marina by being picky about what kind of moorage you want, or asking them to allocate people to you — forget it. Most marinas immediately ignore my correspondence.

But, once in a great while I get an email back saying, “Come on in! We have space for you!” I know that it is a little like winning a lottery, so…when we get an invitation we go into port.

I was surprised by an email from the port of Le Lavandou. We didn’t necessarily want to go into port because we were having an amazing time at anchor, but it would be nice to go to restaurants for a few nights, and the puppies wanted a chance to pee on real grass (and, stretch their legs.) So we went into the marina at Le Lavandou!


If you look closely at this picture Roberta is standing in the shadows. Note that Sans Souci’s fenders are taller than she is!

If you look closely at this picture Roberta is standing in the shadows. Note that Sans Souci’s fenders are taller than she is!



As we were tying up (side-tied) the harbormaster took one look at our boat and said “You are welcome but you must leave before the winds come.” A Mistral (a strong NW wind) was predicted for the coming weekend. The dock we were tied to was the “welcome dock” for the marina and the dock and cleats are meant for smaller, lighter boats. In any serious breeze we’d rip apart the dock. Though we were glad to be in Le Lavandou and enjoy the town, it still isn’t fun to hear someone effectively say, “When the weather turns bad, please go away.”

The marina staff at Le Lavandou was incredible for our arrival. Apparently my email had them worrying if I could get to the dock safely and they had their entire team standing on the dock to greet us. It was a little embarrassing, in that Roberta and I could easily handle the side-tie they gave us (it’s always the Med-mooring that stumps us). But the marina staff were really great! Forget any stereotype you may have heard about French marina staffs. I’ve now dealt with the Capitaineries (their word for the marina staff) at Cap D’Ail, Cap Ferrat, St Tropez and Le Lavandou. All have been ‘over the top’ helpful.


Le Lavandou at night

Le Lavandou at night



Le Lavandou is a very touristy town, with miles of beaches, and 145 restaurants on Trip Advisor. Generally, we don’t love touristy towns, but…we’re tourists, so…no problem.

As a side note, there is a definite culture change westward from St Tropez (as compared to St Tropez itself and eastward to Monaco). The prices have dropped dramatically, as has the percentage of people who speak English. Most of the high-rolling international tourists are between St Tropez and Monaco. Here we are seeing something much closer to “real France.” It is still a tourist zone, but these tend to be middle-class French tourists. It feels like we’ve entered a different France. Personally, we prefer it over the ‘hoity-toity.’

Memories and emotions



There was an incident when we were anchored at Port Man (Ile de Port Cros) that I couldn’t get out of my head.

Roberta and I were sitting in the pilothouse fiddling with our computers when I noticed unusual activity on the approximately 45′ powerboat anchored next to us. It had a davit on the stern and they were lowering what looked like a person into the water.

I quickly realized that it was a handicapped person being lowered into the water by a sling from a stern davit. It was a young man, very small, and very handicapped. Perhaps quadriplegic or had had a very serious brain injury. There was no crew; it appeared to be just him and his family (parents and other relatives) on the boat. None of this was my business, but…it did stir emotions, and from where I was sitting at my computer I couldn’t miss looking out the window.

The mom jumped in the water, constantly talking to the young man in the sling. The process of lowering him into the water seemed to take twenty minutes or so. After he was in the water their large dog also jumped into the water to play. He stayed in the sling while in the water and his mother went to him and held him tight, talking to him, patting him, kissing him the whole time he was in the water. He wasn’t able to move and it was sad to watch, but so very endearing to see the compassion and caring that these parents had for their very sick son. Roberta said that her throat tightened up, thinking about our own two sons and how difficult this must be for his parents. Roberta thought that he might have had an accident and had suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Watching brought a wide range of emotions; from feeling horrible for the young man’s condition, to thinking about how lucky he was to have such amazing parents. The boat was not a fancy one, but seemed to have been chosen because it was equipped to allow their son to participate in the swimming and be part of the family.

Ile de Porqurolles



On to happier subjects: one of the prettiest places to drop an anchor in this part of France is the Ile de Porquerolles.


La Baie de Langoustier, on the island of Porquerolles

La Baie de Langoustier, on the island of Porquerolles



We had plans to visit the island but we were actually at the Ile de Porquerolles to go into the port, not the anchorage. A Mistral was coming (a high wind that can last for over a week) and one of the readers of my blog (Muriel) was kind enough to arrange a side-tie for us at the port.

With the wind coming, we departed early for Porquerolles, arriving around 9am. However, our moorage wouldn’t be available until 6pm, nine hours later. We would need to drop anchor in the nearby bay and wait until we could enter port.

When we started looking for a place to anchor, nothing was available. The island is extremely popular for anchoring. Every square inch of good anchorage was taken, as was most of the bad anchorage. What was left for us was the really impossible places to anchor.

We did find a place, but it was the first time I can remember ever dropping anchor and not feeling good about how well we were anchored.

The problem was the seaweed. There were occasional patches of sand, or so goes the rumor. But, I didn’t see any. Roberta and I dropped the anchor three times in one location, and three times in another. There were a lot of boats at anchor, and they had figured it out, so I’m guessing there is a way to get an anchor through the seaweed – but darned if I know the secret. We think that they must troll around looking for a patch of sand before lowering their anchor.

Ultimately, I dropped the anchor and it seemed to stick, although I suspected that if I gave it a good tug it would pop out immediately. The only idea I had was to drop a bunch of chain and hope that the weight of the chain would be effective against the wind, which was relatively light that day.


The port at l’Ile de Porquerolles

The port at l’Ile de Porquerolles



At 6pm we entered the Port de Porquerolles.

We had a wonderful, easy to get to, side-tie at the dock. Tying up took a while because I thought we’d be in the marina through the coming Mistral (high wind). I tipped 50 euros (around $55 USD) to the harbormaster’s team to assist us, and tied the boat with enough lines that it appeared to have been caught in a spiderweb.

As we finished, I asked one of the marina guys who was helping if he thought we were tied well enough. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “There won’t be much wind tonight and you need to leave early tomorrow. So, I think you are over-tied.”


Sans Souci tied to a ferry dock, at the Ile de Porquerolles

Sans Souci tied to a ferry dock, at the Ile de Porquerolles



What? Oops. There had been a miscommunication somewhere. I do speak French, but not well. The guy went on to explain that we were on the ferry dock and we needed to be gone before the ferry arrived at 9am the next morning.

Crap. My fault, and I had to explain to Roberta, who was not at all unhappy. Life at anchor is a lot more fun than being in port, even when it means we might lose some sleep being bounced around during high winds.

That said, the high winds were projected to last for five days or more. We would need to be at anchor for at least a week, pinned down.

Oh well…

We had a very nice evening in town, and even the dogs had a good time (they got to bark at lots of other dogs, which is doggy-fun.)


We took this picture as we wandering into town for dinner, on the island of Porquerolles

We took this picture as we wandering into town for dinner, on the island of Porquerolles




Wandering through the town on the island of Porquerolles, reading menus. Lots of restaurants to pick from.

Wandering through the town on the island of Porquerolles, reading menus. Lots of restaurants to pick from.




Dinner on the Ile de Porquerolles. Dinner was excellent, but I was miffed that the restaurant wouldn’t give us a chair for the dogs, even though it was two-thirds empty. Oh well .. if it were Seattle they’d be stuck home in the condo.

Dinner on the Ile de Porquerolles. Dinner was excellent, but I was miffed that the restaurant wouldn’t give us a chair for the dogs, even though it was two-thirds empty. Oh well .. if it were Seattle they’d be stuck home in the condo.



Return to Port Man



As requested, we were up at 6am to leave the port. All of our hard work to tie the boat took an hour for me to untie alone.

We did a lot of research to find good places to anchor, and then wound up backtracking to the same anchorage we had been at the prior week (Port Man). It would have been fun to go somewhere new, but if we might be stuck for a week, we’d rather take a sure thing.

So ..

The weather charts were predicting sustained winds at 30 knots, with gusts to 40 knots. This was not going to be fun.

We arrived at the anchorage early. The anchorage is a horseshoe-shaped bay open only to the north-east. The Mistral wind would be coming from the West. We wanted as deep into the bay as possible, but when we arrived the bay was already full of boats and we had to drop anchor at the head to the bay in eighty feet of water. We weren’t worried though, as we were convinced that most of the boats would be leaving before the end of the day and we could work our way deeper into the bay.


Sans Souci anchored in front of an old fort dating back to the 1600s

Sans Souci anchored in front of an old fort dating back to the 1600s



We chose our target location and re-anchored a couple of times to improve our position. By 4pm there were only a couple of boats in the entire bay. We could be anywhere! Roberta and I were discussing whether or not we had goofed and this was a horrible place to sit out the Mistral. It seemed a very real possibility that we’d be alone in the bay for the next week. What was it that the other boats knew about this bay that we didn’t?

Our “perfect location” to drop anchor was wide open so we pulled anchor again and moved into position. Literally, as we were moving, what looked like a parade of sailboats started entering the anchorage. Our concerns that we’d be alone were over. We would have lots of neighbors, but we had the best spot!

Well…

Just after we dropped anchor, and a dozen other boats anchored around us, a huge barge entered the bay, being pulled by a tugboat. Alongside was a large tender with a couple of police. They came straight to us and explained that we’d have to move to make room for the barge. We were anchored in ‘storm mode,’ meaning that we had let out three hundred and fifty feet of chain. Pulling it all up and putting it down again takes time. Meanwhile more boats were flowing into the anchorage.


The barge was there to fix a broken power line. A boat anchored near us brought it up off the bottom with their anchor. I wonder who pays for the damage in a case like that? It could easily have been us, as the power line was not indicated on the chart.

The barge was there to fix a broken power line. A boat anchored near us brought it up off the bottom with their anchor. I wonder who pays for the damage in a case like that? It could easily have been us, as the power line was not indicated on the chart.



We re-anchored again about four hundred feet from the barge, and once anchored the police returned to explain that we needed to move again. Argh!!!!! They said that the barge was large and would need lots of swing room and we were in its way. I was confident we were far enough away, but they were the police and they said I had to move. I noted other boats that I thought were closer to the barge, but the police were firm. So — I moved.

Our day spent seeking a good position was wasted. We found a place in sixty feet of water, much closer to the entry to the bay than I liked, and dropped anchor again.

You guessed it. As we were just finishing dropping the anchor, the police came over and looked angry. They didn’t like how we dropped the anchor! They explained that it was a national park and that we were anchoring too fast. They were thinking that we were dragging the anchor along the bottom and disturbing the seaweed. I tried to explain that I was not dragging the anchor I was merely letting out a lot of chain and that I knew what I was doing.

That was when the real issue surfaced. One of them asked if we were a commercial fishing boat, and pointed at Sans Souci’s flopper stoppers (the giant poles hanging out the side used to help keep the boat stable in a rolly anchorage.) “This is a national park. Have you read the regulations. You cannot fish here,” he said in French. Suddenly it all made sense. I explained, as best I could with my bad French, that we do not fish and explained what the poles are used for. Their mood immediately brightened and they became very friendly. It was nice we were now buddies, but I still had the back row seats for the coming show. I asked how bad my position was and they said that I had the best possible position for the Mistral. I had doubts that is true, but it did make me feel better.


The white splotch you see in the water is our starboard (right) flopper stopper. It opens and closes like a butterfly to smooth motion in the water.

The white splotch you see in the water is our starboard (right) flopper stopper. It opens and closes like a butterfly to smooth motion in the water.




Sans Souci’s flopper stoppers. I can see how the police might have thought we were a fishing boat.

Sans Souci’s flopper stoppers. I can see how the police might have thought we were a fishing boat.



It was by then almost 8pm and we were exhausted. But the wind wasn’t supposed to start until after midnight, and it was calm…so, given that we’d probably be unable to leave the boat for a week, “Why not tender to the nearby island just across the channel for dinner?” It would give us and the dogs a chance to be off the boat for a walk. To make what became a long story short, it was probably not a smart idea, but not for the reasons we expected. The French love their dogs. Our dogs have been happily invited to every restaurant we’ve been to. But unfortunately, one of our dogs does not like other dogs. And when she sees another dog and starts up, the other one follows with a loud piercing scream (literally SCREAM) — we think that she does that as a type of instinctive protective action for the first one…who really is afraid of other dogs. (In reality, the ‘screamer’ is not afraid of other dogs and is very friendly when the first dog is not around.) Anyway, the scream of the ‘protector’ dog and then the follow-on growls and snarls of the ‘afraid’ dog frightens everyone in the vicinity, who look around to see who is being tortured. This particular island is particularly fond of their dogs — and they’re not on leashes or behind fences! The climb up the hill to the restaurant was long and steep and loaded with dogs (and cats, I might add — to add more ‘fun’ to the experience). We wound up carrying our dogs much of the way, and then the restaurant had its own resident dog. And there were several other people there with dogs on leashes under the tables. We asked for the check almost before the food, and gulped it all down as fast as possible, with our dogs on our laps, and the owner’s dog hovering below our table begging for food. It was not our most fun evening! We then raced down the hill and jumped in the tender, returning to Sans Souci just as night settled in.


We believe in over-lighting Sans Souci at night. We were anchored off St Tropez a decade ago when a speeding tender smacked into the side of a boat near us (with fatal consequences.) We’ve never forgotten it and make absolutely sure we are well lit at night.

We believe in over-lighting Sans Souci at night. We were anchored off St Tropez a decade ago when a speeding tender smacked into the side of a boat near us (with fatal consequences.) We’ve never forgotten it and make absolutely sure we are well lit at night.



One fun detail — in the picture above you can see our view of Sans Souci as we returned to the boat. We may be stuck on the boat for the next week, but we will not be suffering. We have TV, internet, air conditioning, lots of food, a well-stocked wine refrigerator, a barbecue, plenty of steaks, each other, and the pooches. Life don’t get much better!

Welcome to the Mistral



The severity of the wind during the first couple of days was far less than we were expecting. We’ve gone through some crazy winds on Sans Souci, and were prepared for several full days of 30 knot plus winds. Instead, we had winds that were mostly between 15 and 20 knots, occasionally bumping down to 5 knots or as high as 29 knots.

That said… there were a few soap operas that played out. We had a sailboat break anchor and come close enough to hitting us that I was on the bow with a fender hoping to mitigate the damage (they realized they were dragging within a minute of a collision and started their engine.)


The small power boat has dragged anchor, slamming into the front of the catamaran. The anchor from the power boat tangled with the anchor chain from the catamaran, adding even more excitement.

The small power boat has dragged anchor, slamming into the front of the catamaran. The anchor from the power boat tangled with the anchor chain from the catamaran, adding even more excitement.



We watched as a small boat broke anchor and collided with a larger catamaran. Luckily there was little damage and no injuries. We also saw a family happily swimming from a sailboat in calm wind, when the wind spiked to 29 knots in seconds just as they were on the swim step retrieving their two-year-old from the water. The swim step lurched, and how the young lad avoided injury I do not know. An hour later I watched another youngster in a tiny tender pulling repeatedly at the starter cord, as he was drifting towards rocks at the mouth of the bay. I was headed to our tender for the rescue when someone else rescued him first.

We survived the first day of the Mistral, but would all the days be so exciting? I hoped not.


I took this picture from the pilot house on Sans Souci of a sailboat that had just left the anchorage minutes before. It was rough inside the anchorage, and rougher outside the anchorage.

I took this picture from the pilot house on Sans Souci of a sailboat that had just left the anchorage minutes before. It was rough inside the anchorage, and rougher outside the anchorage.



This is a picture I took of a sailboat who departed the anchorage. We were sheltered from the worst of the waves, but it was very rough just around the corner from us!

On day 2 of the Mistral, our problem was not high wind — it was low wind and swell! We had anchored on the leeward side of the bay, giving us maximum protection from the wind, plus if we were wanting to put out more chain we would have room to do so since we would be blown toward the middle of the bay. To accomplish this we dropped the anchor such that we were fairly tight to the wind-protected side of the bay, although that would mean that if the wind were to change and come from the opposite direction, our boat could potentially hit land if we didn’t watch things close.

We anticipated a west wind, and that’s what it was — but, when the wind is low enough, as it was many times, the incoming swell (waves) take control and move the boat about. And, whereas the wind direction was fairly predictable, the incoming swell took a while to figure out. Boats seemed to quickly scatter random directions whenever the wind would subside. We worried every time the wind would drop whether or not we would rotate into the rocks.


Sans Souci and the other boats were pushed in varying directions by the wind and swell

Sans Souci and the other boats were pushed in varying directions by the wind and swell



VIDEO – The 95′ boat next to us having a SWELL time

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

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The big story from our time at Port Man was our flopper stoppers. These are the giant poles that dangle large butterfly-shaped metal plates in the water on each side of our boat in order to stabilize us against swell. With all of the swell, boats were rocking and rolling throughout the day. We felt the swell on Sans Souci, but not really much at all. We were fascinated by how fairly stable we were while others were miserable. (the video shows a 95′ powerboat anchored behind us, and the effect of the swell.)

Our stability amongst the misery became a bit embarrassing. One by one boats around the anchorage would send their tenders, and boats entering or leaving the anchorage, would circle our boat and scrutinize the mysterious poles hanging out each side.

We have dubbed it “The Sans Souci Flopper Stopper Dance.”

As each tender, sailboat or small power boat would circle us, the people would be gaping and pointing, and even though we couldn’t hear them we knew what they were saying. Inevitably someone would stand up and extend their arms out to each side, then wave them up and down, pantomiming the movement of our flopper stoppers. Once in a while people would just give us a big thumbs-up, but most of the time we get the Flopper-Stopper dance. It always makes us smile!

We made it to day 3 of the Mistral!

Once the Mistral is over, our next run will be a twenty-six hour passage across a huge and particularly nasty gulf, called the Gulf of Lyon. We’ve crossed it once before on a run (from Barcelona eastward) that I remember as one of the worst ever, and Roberta remembers as being very calm.

The disparity in our recollections reflects what a strange trip it was.

That was early in our cruising career, fifteen years ago, on our first Sans Souci (a Nordhavn 62.)

Somehow, and now I can’t remember how this occurred, we ran into a French lady in a marina on Ibiza and she mentioned she was a captain of a sailboat. We mentioned the upcoming passage and our concerns of crossing the Gulf of Lyon, and somehow she got hired to help out on the passage.

That turned out to be a very large mistake. Lesson learned: Don’t hire crew in marinas without checking references or knowing anything about them at all!

So, with Captain French Lady along to guide us ‘rookies’ we set out for the passage. Immediately it was apparent that she had no idea how to run our boat. Autopilot? Radar? This was my first realization that sailboats and powerboats are different animals. I tried to show her how to do an engine room check, but…teaching purple to a blind man would have been simpler.

Not only was our new ‘crew’ useless, but she also wanted to be served. She needed coffee, food and more. My “no alcohol” policy while underway was also not popular. And, as it turned out, giving her food was a bad idea, as she quickly became seasick! Basically, she simply became cargo…and just laid around, not in the way.

Roberta is right that after a rough-ish start, the seas did calm down, and we had a nice ride for the next ten hours.

But then our engine quit. Our original Sans Souci was a single-engine boat. We were now a hundred miles from shore and powerless. And it was dark — but still calm.

The good news was that the original Sans Souci had a “wing engine”; a small off-center motor that powered a small off-center propeller at the back of the boat. A little motor with a little prop wouldn’t move us fast, but we’d move. It started right up — but we were moving at about the speed of a person walking!

Our 24-hour passage, with 14 left to go (at 8 knots of speed) would instead continue another 30 more hours (at 3.5 knots of speed.) We had more time to go than what we started with!

That was when the squalls began. A squall is a quick burst of rain oft-times accompanied by thunder and wind that could be extremely violent — but over fairly quickly. Normally, squalls last less than 30 minutes. But, during the squall the rain can be so dense that radar doesn’t work and you don’t know where boats are around you.

We went through a series of squalls, with me who is known for worrying even when there is nothing to worry about, agonizing over what would occur should my little backup engine stop working. Time stood still as I filled each minute with an hour of looking at my watch and wishing the run were over.

I made the decision to divert to the nearest port, and spent many long hours getting there. I don’t remember how long it took or where we went, other than it took forever (to me, anyway) and when we got there it was a big industrial port, where we tied to a bunch of old tires on a freighter dock.

Safely on shore I immediately off-loaded Captain French Lady, after paying her fee and considering it far less than I would have happily paid to be rid of her.

I then started calling mechanics and somehow found one willing to come look at our boat.

A diesel mechanic showed up several hours later, and after five minutes in the engine room I heard the main engine start! I asked what had happened, and the explanation was simple.

Before fuel is fed to a diesel engine it is run through a series of filters. If fuel is dirty the first filter it gets to (the primary fuel filter) clogs up. Our original Sans Souci had two side-by-side primary fuel filters, with an easily turned switch to flip between them. The primary fuel filter I was using had clogged. I should have been looking at the pressure gauge on engine room checks and noting that the filter was struggling, and flipped the lever to swap to the other filter. That’s all I would have had to do, but…at the time I had no concept of those things.

I didn’t learn about fuel filters and fuel-related problems until a couple of years later when we were preparing for an Atlantic crossing with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. Bob Senter, who worked for the company that made my engine (Lugger) explained that 99% of the time if a main engine quits at sea, fuel was the culprit.

Lesson learned — among many lessons over the years! The claim is that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. I hope that saying is true, because if it is, I should be up to genius status sometime soon.

Anyway…

Day 3 of the Mistral was strange. Every weather report I read said that there were 25 to 30 knot winds and rough seas all around us. However, in our bay, boats kept coming and going. People were swimming and the seas were staying fairly flat.


Toundra loves the tender. She gets SO excited when we say, \

Toundra loves the tender. She gets SO excited when we say, “Who wants to go in the tender?” She runs to the door, and has a nasty habit of jumping into the tender before we can even get it pulled up to the swim step. We try to control her, but .. when Toundra wants something, she is hard to stop.



This picture was taken when we took the pups for a short ride on the tender, just to give them a little excitement in their day.

RESCUE!



Day 4 – Life is never dull on Sans Souci. The Mistral winds were finally kicking up!

The United Nations would be proud: The French, Swiss and Americans joined forces to bail out the Italians.


While I was sitting in the pilot house at my computer, I noticed the surrounding boats with people standing on their decks all looking toward our direction. I looked out the window near us to see what was so interesting.

A family on a nearby sailboat was dragging their anchor and was headed for the rocks.


The sail on this small sailboat had unfurled. Each time the wind caught the sail it would overpower the anchor and the boat would slide backwards.

The sail on this small sailboat had unfurled. Each time the wind caught the sail it would overpower the anchor and the boat would slide backwards.




The father was working as fast as he could to furl the sail, but the rocks were advancing rapidly.

The father was working as fast as he could to furl the sail, but the rocks were advancing rapidly.



I pointed it out to Roberta and said, “I wonder if I should go over there?” She said, “What could you do?” I wasn’t sure, and had serious doubts I could get there in time, but had to try; they were having serious trouble with their sail having come loose.

Getting there wasn’t as easy as it sounds. By that point, Sans Souci was being struck by swell from both sides, plus a fierce wind. To ensure that I wouldn’t lose the tender I had double-tied it with thick line. Untying was a slow process, and I had to work carefully so as to not accidentally lose control of the tender, sending it to an uncertain future.


Ken, in the tender, going over to the sailboat in hopes of helping

Ken, in the tender, going over to the sailboat in hopes of helping



Meanwhile, the sailboat seemed to be coming under control. From what I could see the forward sail (forgive me, I’m not a sailor and don’t know the terminology) had unfurled and was flapping wildly. This was allowing the sail to catch air and turn the boat sideways to the wind. Each time this occurred the boat would slide backwards towards the rocks behind.

The father and mother were on the bow struggling to reel in the sail, but each time they would almost get it, the sail would rapidly unfurl and catch another burst of wind. The two kids on the boat were looking with fear at the rocks behind them.

When I arrived at the sailboat the situation seemed again under control, and the father waved me off. I shouted to him in French, “Puis-je vous aider?” (Can I help?) His wife seemed to understand and answered in broken English, “I’m not sure how.”

That was when another small tender came alongside me. In it was a couple who spoke to me in flawless English. “We need to tow them,” he said. I reached for a line I had brought realizing it was too short. “You are American?” I asked. “Swiss,” came the response. “The people on the sailboat are Italian.”

He then tossed me a long line he had brought, and asked that I do the towing. “You have the bigger motor,” he said. Yes. My 75hp beat his 15hp.

Meanwhile, Roberta was in the background on the upper deck of Sans Souci shouting, waving her arms and pointing. I knew she was trying to tell me something, but with the wail of the wind there was no way I could understand. I looked at the sailboat and it seemed to me that the sail was coming under control.

What I wouldn’t learn until later, and couldn’t see from my position in the water was that the stern of the sailboat was virtually on the rocks. Roberta was trying to tell me to go around behind and nudge its stern away from those rocks.

Nevertheless, I threw the line to the wife, who quickly cleated it off. My primary concern at that point was wrapping the line around my prop. Between the swell and the wind, maneuvering wasn’t easy. I bounced off the bow of the sailboat harder than I liked trying to get a good angle.

But it worked! The father had finally successfully reeled in the sail, and I pulled them far enough away from the rocks so that he could start his engine. They quickly moved deeper into the bay and re-anchored.


Ken, standing off while deciding what to do

Ken, standing off while deciding what to do




Towing the sailboat to safety

Towing the sailboat to safety




Mission accomplished! Goodbye rocks!

Mission accomplished! Goodbye rocks!



I collected the tow line from the water, and looked for the Swiss gentleman to return his line and say “Thank you!” But, then realized he was in trouble. His tender was caught on the rocks and he was in the water. I got as close as I could and shouted to see what had happened. His wife explained that he had wrapped a line on his prop and was in the water trying to get it off the prop.

When he stood up I asked if I could tow him to deeper water, and he said he preferred where he was on the rocks as he could work while standing or sitting. I said I’d hover in case he needed support.

Meanwhile the Naked French Guy (more on that later) on the sailboat immediately behind me was trying to get my attention. He was shouting and waving making motions with a knife in his hand. I went over and he offered the knife as assistance in removing the line from the Swiss guy’s prop. I looked back and the Swiss gentleman was pushing his tender off the rocks and had cleared his prop.

All was good. I returned the towing line, smiled and waved, and returned to Sans Souci.

Anyway.. .a brief digression regarding the Naked French Guy, who technically wasn’t naked, at least not at that moment. His boat has been next to ours for days, and we have seen a lot of him (pun intended.) He was most notable for usually being naked, and occasionally wearing nothing more than a tiny cod piece over his lower extremity, and leathery brown skin. Combined with the FFN (Federation Francaise de Naturisme) flag his story wasn’t hard to figure out. Dress codes in anchorages tend to be liberal, with personal preferences and moods dominating. No one cares and people wear (or not) what they want. However, this guy and a few other boats in the anchorage have evolved the liberal dress code into almost cult proportions. We’ve had several boats in the anchorage where it is obvious that sun worship is a full-time job. I can honestly say that this was likely to be the only time in my life when I’d encounter a wildly waving and shouting naked guy, brandishing a knife, and consider it normal.

Day 4 of the Mistral.

The conditions had seriously declined. The forecasts for day after day have been for 28 to 32 knot sustained winds. Instead we’ve mostly seen winds from 10 to 15 knots with occasional bursts to 25 knots.

The winds became relentless, and we were seeing 25 to 30 knot winds sustained. Then some 35 knot gusts. The force of wind rises exponentially with its speed.

Port Man is a great anchorage, but not a perfect anchorage. We were protected only on three sides and the incoming swell was creating a current in the anchorage that occasionally turns boats sideways. Once a boat is sideways, the force of the wind on the hull is magnified and boats can break anchor. It makes sleeping difficult, and during the day we constantly watch. Our flopper stoppers help, but it is still miserable and the feeling that something can suddenly go wrong is constantly with us.

The wind was high enough that we really were feeling trapped. It’s a north wind and chilly. The water temperature that was at a very swimmable 82 degrees (Fahrenheit) had dropped to 69 degrees. Swimming has stopped and people are huddled inside their boats waiting it out. I even saw the naked guy wearing a jacket.

Day 5 of the Mistral

Today started beautifully, but then turned to excrement.

The morning was so nice (approx. 10 knots of wind) that we decided to see if we could hike to the fort (Fort Man) on the hill next to us. We hadn’t done it thus far because of the signs saying we’re in a national park, and virtually everything is forbidden – particularly dogs. But we had been on the boat for four straight days and Roberta wanted off and to take the dogs for a walk. So by 7am Roberta and I and Toundra and Keeley were in the tender to go to shore.

What ensued perfectly describes the difference between my personality and Roberta’s.

As we tied to the dock, a commercial boat was dropping off some workers who would be working on the barge still anchored in the bay. Roberta and the dogs had already gotten onto shore and I was securing the tender. The lady driving the boat said, “You can’t be here.” She meant the tender, so I explained we’d be gone in 30 minutes, and asked if it would be ok. She then pointed at Roberta and the dogs and said, “They can’t be here.”

Roberta said to me, “Go back to the boat!” and then turned around to walk up the path. I shouted to Roberta, begging, “We have to go.” And she explained, “These dogs have been on the boat for five days. They need a walk.” I looked at the lady who was already leaving, and released the lines on the tender to take it back to the boat. Forty-five minutes later I retrieved Roberta and pups at the dock.

There was no way Roberta was not walking those dogs. At 7am there were few even awake, much less to offend.

Things were calm enough that I took the tender to lunch on the nearby island, but the wind came back and I had to cut lunch short to return quickly to the boat. I struggled to get back. The wind was at 25 knots and from a slightly different direction, blowing us toward shore.

We re-anchored the boat further into the middle of the bay.

VIDEO – Windy days at Port Man

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This video shows Port Man as it was much of the time. What it doesn’t show is that the water dropped from 82 degrees, to 69 degrees. This is the same location as the drone video I posted a while ago, and it transformed from a wonderful place to something much less fun. At the end of the video you’ll see a sailboat tied to a maintenance barge. The barge is fixing an underwater power-line lifted from the bottom (and, broken) by a boat next to ours one day when it pulled their anchor. I’m not sure what happened with the sailboat. You can see the gentleman from the sailboat diving under the boat. He was diving repeatedly (without tanks) in the cold water for an hour. He did not look happy, but he did fix whatever the problem was.

The good news was that the calm morning, and the shifting direction of the wind, were signs that we were coming to the final days of the Mistral. We weren’t there yet, but the trend was good.

Day 6 of the Mistral

We were up early to move the boat about 15 miles west of where we’ve spent the last week (Port Man) to the Presqu’ile of Hyeres.

We anchored next to a long sandbar stretching north to south with sandy beaches on each side. This anchorage is protected from west/northwest winds such as the Mistral.

The location was arguably much worse than where we had been, but we were in the mood for a change of scenery. The sand bar is low and offers no protection from the wind, but does shorten the fetch (the distance that wind passes over water on its way to our boat) and reduce the swell, though we thought it would help more than it did. We anchored a good 600 yards offshore, and with 25 knots of wind — we were in fairly heavy swell (short waves raised by the wind). We couldn’t anchor any closer to the beach because of the depth. As it was we were in only 15 feet of water.

When the weather gods deal you lemons, make lemon-aid. We turned it into a magical evening!

The winds were still somewhat high, but had lowered — but not so high we couldn’t tender into town.

Like most ports in France, the marina in Hyeres is surrounded by tourist-centric restaurants, the vast majority of which are usually mediocre. We didn’t care, and the doggies didn’t care. We were just thrilled to be back on land for a few hours.

This is the height of high season in France, and the streets were packed with people having a good time. The summer spirit was infectious and we enjoyed just people watching and wandering through all the activity around us. We did some errands: shopping at the nearby supermarket, obtaining money at an ATM, dropping off two large trash bags at the marina dumpster, checking with the local Tabac (tobacco) store to buy more ‘internet’ — where yachties like us can buy pre-paid internet cards. After that — dinner at a restaurant!


Brie de Meaux with Truffles. It tasted even better than it looks. The bread sticks were hardened and perfect for dipping. Both Roberta and I ordered our own. There was no way we were going to share!

Brie de Meaux with Truffles. It tasted even better than it looks. The bread sticks were hardened and perfect for dipping. Both Roberta and I ordered our own. There was no way we were going to share!



For dinner we picked a restaurant that actually surprised us by being excellent, and they were very nice to the pups, giving them their own chair — with a flat pillow to sit on. We both ordered the truffle infused brie (sinful!) and I had a cognac flamed linguine with lobster (even more sinful!) while Roberta ordered an Italian salad — (okay, boring).

And, then the best of all …

As we were walking back to where I had tied up the tender, a family approached us. I was confused about why but they were doing something with their camera. “You want me to take your picture?” I asked, thinking that’s what they wanted. They smiled and shook their heads “no.”

Something was up. This was a very happy family with big smiles on their faces. I then looked at the picture on the camera they were trying to show me. “Port Man! Port Man!” They kept repeating that and suddenly both Roberta and I understood. The picture was our boat. This was the Italian family whose sailboat I had rescued!

After the rescue they had gone off further into the bay and we eventually lost track of them. But there in Hyeres, in a crowded marina with lots of people and dozens of restaurants and bars — we had somehow found each other. They spoke Italian, and not much French. But Roberta and the Italian wife found some common ground in Spanish and we had a terrific greeting. It was incredible. They were very grateful.

And, the good news kept rolling in. The wind suddenly stopped, giving us a calm ride back to Sans Souci, where the setting sun, behind the boat, rewarded us with a great photo.


Sans Souci at anchor off Hyeres, France

Sans Souci at anchor off Hyeres, France



Final day — day 7 — of the Mistral

The day started beautifully. We went ashore late in the morning to walk around and, this time, to shop for generator oil; I needed to do an oil change on my generator. The idea was to grab an early lunch and then return to the boat in calm conditions. The wind was scheduled to start rising around 2pm, and to swap directions, coming from the east rather than from the west. We had planned then to move the boat to the opposite side of the peninsula, to get better protection from an east wind.

However, we liked the town and wanted to stay where we were — and the wind wasn’t forecast to go very high. So, we, and a bunch of other boats anchored around us, decided to just “tough it out.” According to the forecast, we’d be anchored in force 4 conditions (three-foot waves, with slight white caps, on our bow.) The wind was only supposed to stay high for three hours and be mostly at 15 knots. We could handle it; we were well-set on our anchor.

I was wrong. We couldn’t handle it. The east wind went higher than expected, and stayed high. Instead of 15 knots with gusts to 20, we were seeing sustained 25 knot winds with gusts to 30. The three foot waves kept growing. I had 150′ of chain out in only 15′ of water, but the wind had rotated 180 degrees, from when we had first anchored the day before — from a west wind to an east wind — and the holding was poor; we were anchored on thick seaweed (our only option around here.)


In this picture you get a sense of the deep seaweed we have been anchoring on.

In this picture you get a sense of the deep seaweed we have been anchoring on.



This is a picture of what the bottom looked like beneath us. In 15′ of clear water the bottom is very visible. Seaweed!

Around 4pm while waiting for the wind to subside, we suddenly broke anchor and the boat started sliding backwards toward very shallow water and the beach. We were in the pilot house monitoring the situation closely, and immediately started the engines and put out an additional one hundred feet of chain, which did seem to hold us — for a while.

We had stabilized the situation, but it was time to move; we had no room to maneuver to reset our anchor, besides it was very uncomfortable.

The wind was higher than forecast and showing no signs of stopping. Most of the boats that had been around us had left or were in the process of leaving, many of them moving to the nearby island of Porquerolles. We had been there, and the bottom was the same seaweed we had just dragged in. We weren’t in the mood to deal with more seaweed, and wanted a sand beach where we knew our anchor would hold, along with some protection from the wind. So, in what had become ugly force 6 conditions we ran eight miles to a beautiful sand beach, protected from the east.

The ride itself was easy. The only difficult part was in getting the tender ready to be towed. I needed to put the bimini top down, and the motor up, plus swap to a towing line, instead of the smaller line I normally utilize when using the tender while at anchor. Unfortunately, the tender was rising and falling violently in the waves. Getting onto the tender was impossible. I tried, but the risk of injury was too high. I was able to change out to the tow line, and I didn’t like how we’d be towing the tender — but all turned out fine.

The wind did finally drop, but not until midnight. Our new anchorage offered better protection, and great holding on a beautiful sand beach. So…life was good again on Sans Souci. It’s too bad our last eight days in France were spoiled by a long stretch of bad weather, but that’s boating — besides, we had known that we were probably going to deal with France’s famous Mistral wind at least once! We had plenty of fun, so I’m not complaining. But I am hoping for sunshine and calm seas in Spain!


Le Fort de Brégançon. It has been the official retreat for the presidents of France, but in recent years it has rarely been used. To save money it is being converted, or has been converted, to a tourist destination. We aren’t sure if it is open to the public because we couldn’t find a place to park our tender and could only view it from on the water.

Le Fort de Brégançon. It has been the official retreat for the presidents of France, but in recent years it has rarely been used. To save money it is being converted, or has been converted, to a tourist destination. We aren’t sure if it is open to the public because we couldn’t find a place to park our tender and could only view it from on the water.




A Blue-Super-Moon.

A Blue-Super-Moon.







Our second to the last night in France featured a blue moon AND a super moon. This means that the moon was at the closest point to the earth in its orbit (super moon) and, in addition, it was the second full moon within the same calendar month (blue moon). The picture on this posting was taken with my inexpensive Nikon camera using just the built-in lens. It was a most incredible sight in a most magnificent location!!

And finally — au revoir, to France!!!!!



Today awoke gloomy and depressing. But there isn’t much wind. The sea is settling and I’m about to change the oil in the generator and start preparing for departure in the morning.

The weather forecasters are telling us we’ll have a smooth ride under sunny skies to the Balearic Islands in SPAIN — the town of Mahon in Menorca, our first destination!

It will be a 26 hour run, so we’ll be up early to prepare: the tender up on the bow, the flopper stoppers and poles brought in.

Thank you, and apologies for sending such a long “catch-up” blog entry. (I know that it’s been too long of a pause between blogs…)

Ken and Roberta Williams (and Keeley and Toundra)

MV Sans Souci
3 Comments
  • Norm
    Posted at 15:50h, 03 August Reply

    SUBJECT: RE: [KensBlog] The French Riviera
    Amazing, thank you so much for allowing us to travel with you to these exciting places. You are an excellent writer and you make it seem like we are along for the ride, even enjoying the delicious food.
    Blessings to you both and continued safe travels.
    Ps: we will be right along with you all the way.
    Thanks again
    The Spencer”s, Norm and Luetta

  • Brian Aherne
    Posted at 01:20h, 03 August Reply

    SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog] The French Riviera

    Ken-

    Brie de Meaux with Truffles

    If I could only figure out a method of 3D printing the actual meal I would probably not need to do so, but be able to enjoy the real thing in the real place.

    Actually, despite your concern, one of your better blog pieces.

    -Brian Aherne

    PS I think I just blew my whole black and color ink supply by accidentally printing your entire piece twice, rather than just the photo of the Brie de Meaux with Truffles. I am going to blame wireless printing to the next room when asked by my wife.

  • Roy
    Posted at 19:20h, 02 August Reply

    SUBJECT: REPLY TO;;; RE: [KensBlog] The French Riviera
    hello ken and Roberta,
    as you are on the coast of sth france I assume you will be meeting up with Seabird who is in Sardinia at the moment??
    but enjoy your time in Spain my brov-inlaw has a villa there so its always good fun but a bit like home from home with all the brits retired there.the islands are much better especially if you like golf we like a place called green golf with its small villas built around swimming pools and all surrounded by championship quality golf courses, can”play now but remember well when I did.
    god bless and keep on cruising roy and Leanne palmer in London England
    Message Received: Aug 02 2015, 05:10 PM

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