21 September we departed Saint Tropez at 7:00am and I have to say its getting cooler in the mornings! Much cooler in the last few days than we are used to! We have to put the cover on the bed now and I have even started wearing T shirts and jeans rather than shorts and singlet tops! However, the sun was coming up as we departed and it was stunning. There were jet tails from planes in the sky and it was just beautiful!
We had a long day and arrived in Port Miou at 5:30pm, thankfully the Captinere and his assistant were there in a dinghy to assist us with the stern tie up. Robbie cracked a beer and also gave them both one. It had been a long day. The weather forecast is not good so we are going to be here for a few days. Fortunately it is a beautiful spot, a very protected narrow inlet surrounded by high cliffs. Lots of moorings and stern tie rings in the cliffs. 40 euro a night, but no power or water so not so cheap but with the weather out there we are happy to pay it and have a calm anchorage with little or no swell and roll!
***8888Robbie got out his fishing rods and had a fish, and actually caught a nice sized squid. I wasn’t too keen to eat it with so many boats moored in this inlet though.
22 September We spent the next day doing jobs, me paperwork for the accountant and Robbie boat jobs. Peter and Heidi went exploring, to Cassis, and checked out the route for us to get to Marseille the next day. Southern Star may be a movie star!! There was a film crew filming in the morning right in front of us but we didn’t notice anyone famous!
23 September We took our duck with Peter and Heidi to the end of the inlet, disposed of our rubbish and jumped in the taxi that Peter and Heidi had organised for us the day before into Cassis, the closest town. Cassis is a delightful village set around a quaint harbour and very likeable. The taxi dropped us off at the bus stop where we caught the bus into Marseille. A very scenic 40 minute drive into the city.
Our main purpose of going into Marseille was to head to the Port area and the chandlery shops to hopefully purchase some cruising guides for Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, which we did. I have to say they are very expensive, on average 80 euro per book!
A nice harbour area and they had a huge undercover area which had a mirror on the underneath side, hence the photo looking down on us!
24 September Pretty quiet day, Robbie and I took the duck around to Cassis, it only took 10 minutes. It’s such a cute little town, we tied the duck up at the quay right in front of one of the many restaurants. We had a walk through the village and ended up having lunch at one of the waterside restaurants. We then had a mission to buy a chicken and some steak for Peter and Heidi and finally found one butcher/delicatessen. The meat looked really nice so we decided to get some for ourselves also. The chickens were 12 euro each ($20 Aus. Approx.) and the steak was 46 euro for 4 pieces. ($80 Aus) Shisen Housen this is expensive! They better be good!
25 September departed at 7:30am was too dark at 7am for the 55 nautical mile journey to Saint Marie de la Mer. We had an average passage with up to 20knots of wind on the nose, so not the most pleasant voyage, but we’ve had lots worse! We found a nice little marina called Port Gardian and we arrived around 4:30pm and were assisted to a berth, alongside tie up for a change which is really good. (means we can just step off onto the dock from the side of the boat, rather than a stern tie up where you normally need a step plank called a passarelle) 50 Euro for a night which includes water and electricity, so a much better deal than the last place.
26 September We spent all day cleaning the boat, I did the inside and then moved outside to help Robbie. We must have used about 3 tonne of water we think. We also gave the duck a really thorough clean, taking off all the seats and scrubbing those also. I also cleaned all the fenders with special rubber duck and fender cleaner. This stuff got most of the marks off which is good as they were looking a bit second hand I have to say. They get pretty dirty rubbing up against the docks and marina pontoons.
We finished around 5pm, totally exhausted and then sat on the bow in the sun and relaxed, and relished on the thought of our spotless boat. All day we had a lot of people stopping to ask “have you come all the way from New Zealand”? They are usually quite amazed when we say yes. It’s difficult with the language problem with some people but we generally can communicate. It’s great when you get someone who can speak English!
We showered and then dragged our weary bodies into town for dinner with Peter and Heidi, and their youngest son Ole, who drove all the way from Germany and arrived late last night to spend a few days on Stormvogel before he resumes his music studies. (Ole is the very talented musician who composes and arranges the music for Peters Video clips and the one he did for us in Ikaria) I had a Paella which was very nice and Robbie had a very ordinary Pizza.
27 September Well we had a very lazy morning after our efforts yesterday and didn’t get out of bed until after 9am. Shocking really but both our bodies were protesting! We are starting to get organised for our Atlantic crossing and we skyped Mark and Jennifer, from the USA registered Nordhavn, Starlet, whom we will be buddying up with, to travel across the Atlantic. (Canary Islands to the Caribbean) We are now discussing timelines and where and when we will meet up with them. We are also researching weather routers who will give us advice about the weather and the best route to take according to the conditions at the time. This will be our biggest Ocean crossing, around 18-20 days and the most notorious Ocean for bad weather that we have tackled.
We then jumped into Ole’s car with Peter and Heidi and drove 30 kilometres, including crossing the river by ferry to a gorgeous castle, whose walls surround a quaint village of shops, restaurants and houses, called Aigues-Mortes. It was a lovely drive through the countryside to get there, and we saw pink Flamingo’s in the watery marsh lands and lots of Grey (white) horses, which used to run wild here. Also a lot of vineyards, very picturesque.
We got back to the marina and decided to move and anchored in the bay just outside the marina, it was really flat and calm.
28 September We departed from Port Gardian at 8:30am to move to Sete, this is a gorgeous town surrounding the fishing harbour, with lots of canals. We arrived at 1:45pm and got a berth in marina for 53 euro per night, it drops down to 31 euro per night on 1st
October, officially the end of the high season.
Conditions were so nice we decided to have sundowners in the duck while having a tour of Sete, with Peter, Heidi and Ole. So armed with a bottle of wine and a couple of beers we ticked around the canals, and had a lovely sightseeing tour. There are a number of big fishing boats here, some in almost brand new condition, and some the complete opposite! They all mostly had smaller boats with them and very big nets. The boats come back in followed by many birds, the most we have seen on our journey.
29 September We set off late morning for another adventure by car. It wasn’t a very nice day and was actually raining! We have been so lucky on the whole trip we could count on one hand how many wet days we have had. We drove along the coast road out of the main town of Sete, there is miles of sandy beaches, all deserted today though. We had a walk through one small town and even the coffee shops were shut, there was very little sign of life. We ended up finding a wine cave! What is this? I had never heard of it before. It’s basically a wholesale wine cellar, with tasting, bulk wines and usually a restaurant but it was shut today. We brought a couple of bottles of champagne, a Rose and normal, that we all shared and also purchased some bottles of red wine, champagne and some of the bulk red and white wine. Lucky we had Ole as the sober driver! I don’t know why we brought so much as we are doing Octsober in a couple of days but hopefully it will still be OK in a months’ time.
30 September We farewelled Ole this morning, he is driving back home to Germany today. We had a quiet morning doing jobs and then walked into the town where they have open air markets on a Wednesday. Really interesting stalls with all sorts of different dried meats, cheeses, breads, the hugest mushrooms we have ever seen and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Robbie brought more of his favourite fresh Pate and promptly sat in a bar and had fresh bread and pate with his beer! I am in love with the Croissants so Heidi and I had one each and Peter shared the Pate. We then wandered through the permanent large indoor markets which is mainly seafood.
1st October The weather forecast is not good so we stay another day and depart for Barcelona tomorrow. The waves are crashing over the barrier wall at the back of the marina. Today there was a guy in a small boat collecting all the mussels that are growing around the marina on the pontoons. Oh oh, they look they are going to the markets! We won’t be ordering mussels again!!
I walked into town for some last minute shopping and would you believe I was able to walk into a pharmacy and get 6 months’ supply of my medication for blood pressure over the counter, and no ID required either! In Australia we need a Doctor’s prescription for this. I guess it might be different if it was strong drugs?
2nd October We planned to depart at 9am but both Stormvogel and we were ready earlier so we left at 8:30am Stormvogel got fuel at the fuel wharf, 1.2 euro per litre. We are about half full now but will not get fuel now until Ceuta, where we can get it duty free for around 1 euro per litre. When you are buying a few thousand litres, .20 euro makes quite a difference!
Conditions were surprisingly quite uncomfortable this morning, the swell was all over the place and the wind was up to about 18 knots by our instruments, Stormvogels instruments showed up to 25 knots. Their wind monitor is probably 8 metres higher than ours, hence the difference.