Welcome to the zoo: St Tropez

St Tropez is one of those places you love or you hate, and I suspect there are equal numbers in both camps. Roberta and I are divided. I love it here, and she hates it. 

Driving here yesterday was a nightmare. We came from Eze, perhaps 50 miles away, and the drive took 4.5 hours! There wasn’t a wreck or anything — it’s just what it is like to drive to St Tropez in August.

Even Roberta would agree that the port of St Tropez is a “must see”. Imagine 50+ yachts from 100 to 200 feet backed up to a tourist-quai, side to side. Each day the yachts leave to go to the five mile long beach at Pampelone, and each evening they return. The walkway behind the boat is swarmed by thousands of tourists who watch the “beautiful people” on the yachts, hoping to see their favorite celebrity, and their wish is often fulfilled. 

We’ve been coming to St Tropez for many years, but usually wind up anchored outside the port. On one occasion we did come into the marina, and I remember it being “tense”.

To park your boat, you need to “Med Moor”. The definition of Med Mooring here in Europe seems to change from marina to marina. Here at St Tropez, it is defined as dropping your anhcor about 100′ in front of the wall, and then backing to within about 10′ of the wall. The anchor holds your bow, and a line extended to shore holds your stern. Side to side motion is limited by your fenders pushing off the boat next to you.

St Tropez is famous for the “Mistral Winds”; 30+ knot winds that can last for days. We have watched for hours as 100+ foot yachts, in high winds, try to squeeze themselves between two boats. It is not uncommon for the crews to stand on the sides of the boats with fenders which are used to literally roll the boat into position between two other boats as you back up. The fenders literally push away the two boats you are parking between! On several occasions we have watched multi million dollar yachts bang into each other. 

A sidenote: I mentioned to Roberta as we were walking through the marina: Every boat we saw has an automated passarelle (a gang plank). We have one on our boat, and it has been a pain in the tail. It retracts into the lazarette, where it takes up a bunch of valuable space. When I was in the lazarette of another Nordhavn 68 recently I was noting how much more space there was, and thinking I may have made a dumb decision to have added the passarelle. But, last night, walking through the port, I was thinking that if we plan on spending serious time cruising the Med, that it is a necessary evil.

If we wander through the port tonight I’ll try to take some pictures. If you’ve never seen the port of St Tropez at night, there is no way I can explain it with words…

-Ken W

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Credits     |     Video produced by: Rock Steady Media     |     Teletype photo: Arnold Reinhold     |     PDP-11 photo: Trammell Hudson