2011 Sailing the Mediterranean
Our adventure never starts the day you begin your journal. Our adventure started way back when, but I will skip all that and take you to the place I am today. As Ken and I sit in the cockpit with computers in our lap and the last pour of a cheap Dieux Papes wine.
We have been in Port napoleon slowly re-rigging Grateful Red, cleaning from top to bottom and re-directing our storage spaces on the boat. You know what they say about “valuable real-estate” , everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Well, after 2+ days of slowly rigging the boat, cleaning, sorting, and all the last minute repairs. By Saturday night, we both were able to sit on our own settee, eat popcorn, and do our personal stuff.
We arrived to Port Napoleon on Thursday mid-day. Found the boat in the water,but no mast yet. This is something we did anticipate so not worries. The boat was filthy after a winter on the hard. Most repairs went very well and I was pleased to find my wine glass holders and extra shelf in the pantry finally was completed. (I have asked for this for several years). One thing that needs to be completed is the installation of the new compressor for the refrigerator. Without this, we deal with difficult food storage and always looking for ice. Very difficult in the med to find good ice qtys. Ken brought the compressor over in checked baggage, a task that had some risks with Air France. But when we arrived in Marseilles, the bag with the compressor was there also! Now, to get it installed and working! We wait for Monday when it is scheduled to be done.
Friday, Ken and the rigger worked all day after the mast was set. I set off for the Grocery store and knowing we did not have a refrigerator, and the car for only one day, was cautious of what I purchased. If the refrigerator is up and running on Monday, I will bike into Port St. Louis and get some perishables that are more tempting for dinner menu.
Saturday. My job, after hosing down the deck of the boat, and removing the winters dust and grim, was to return the rental car to Martigues. This was researched earlier using the local Tourist office and was scheduled so that I could take the local bus back. It would be a 1 hour bus ride then I would get a taxi to Port Napoleon. The local Tourist office gave me times of the buses, location between the rental office and the station, and assured me it would be an easy task. They were not aware as I found out that the Martigues Europcar office had moved to Port du Bouc and was Not near a bus stop. In the end, as my phone was almost at 0 charge, I found the new office, bought a sub and a beer at a next door outdoor cafe, waited until the office reopened at 2pm, called a taxi from Port Napoleon, got the price of 50 euro’s (about 40 more than a bus ride) and found that I returned home about one hour later than the bus would have taken. My taxi driver was pleased to add my fare to his return from the Marseilles airport. He was kind and only charged me 30 instead of 50 euro’s. Ken says that this is because he felt pity for my miserable morning and that in his eyes I was cute!
The remainder of the day was glorious as the boat was sparkling, the projects were moving along and our plans for leaving Tuesday were looking good. Only one additional hiccup in the day was my visit to the ladies room at Josephine’s (Port Napoleons only restaurant). The stall I went into had a major flaw that I did not realize until too late. When I was finished and preparing to leave my stall, I realized that the door handle was missing and I was locked in. I waited for several minutes thinking that this was certainly insulted to injury. Luckily, an English speaking woman entered the bathroom and responded to my pleas and let me out. The handle was still intact from the outside so she could open the door. I left quickly, but now wonder how many others might have gotten locked in the same stall until someone repaired it.
Well, looking forward to tomorrow.
Much better today. Slept until 8:30, got up and promptly started more projects. Things to do today. Organize and stow racing sails, (three tied on the deck), 3 spinnakers, inventory all crew jackets and bibs. (sending some home due to lack of use). We have the bikes in their bags on the deck along the lifelines, but we think we will see if someone is interested in buying them from us. We gave 4 extra fenders to a lovely Dutch couple a few boats away. They were in the Chandlery looking at some and Ken offered in exchange for a glass of wine we will share tomorrow night.
We put up the jib and on the furler, had a late breakfast, early lunch of fried potatoes, bacon and eggs! After lunch, we started on the new mainsail. Right away we experienced an issue with the new pin at the gooseneck that holds the tack of the main sail to the boom. This being a new sail, came with this shackle. We never dreamed it would not work as it came straight from the sail maker. At first, Ken got the pin to go in with a minimum of effort, but soon realized it would not go all the way. By that time it was too late and the pin was stuck! Utilizing all our tools, and almost all of Ken’s strength, after more than one hour, we finally got the pin back out. We replaced the pin with some spectra line. We were glad we spent the early time to eat as we were well into the afternoon. With the main sail on, we flaked and tied, covered with the canvas cover and gladly had our first rum and coke of the season!!!
We have Monday to complete our tasks before we plan to take off. We hope the compressor will be installed tomorrow in the morning so we will have a refrigerator again. Sailing without could be a hassle. Ice is not available in most ports. We need to figure out fuel, a transom fender, the traveler lines installed, and a various other 100 things before the days end. I have the upholstery covers back on all the settee’s and the V-Berth cushions. We had them stored to protect them from all the racing salt and crew grim. Several years ago, we commissioned a seamstress to make sunbrella fabric interior covers so we could take the nice covers off when we knew we would get the inside of the boat wet. Worked so well!!!
May 3, 2011
Tuesday came and the refrigerator was still an issue as the winds picked up. Ken was nervous to go. I wanted to “hunker” down for a few days and wait for the winds to die. No chance! At 2pm, we paid our bill, said our goodbyes, and as Ken threw the dock lines, I motored out. This is where the fun began! Within 50 meters, I realized that I was not getting forward response from the throttle. With the wind in our back, it was easy not to realize this until too late. No place to pull over or hail for help. We fiddled with the throttle a bit and Ken made the executive decision that with the wind forecast, we could sail all the way to St. Tropez. This also meant that it would be a non-stop sail with only the two of us and no cold beer! We put up the front sail half furled as this was all we needed. Shot down the canal to the Golfe. The minute we were in the shipping channel, the most horrendous rainfall came over us. It gave us little warning, but I managed to pull out some of our foul weather gear and we hobbled through the wind and the rain. The first hour of our 24hour sail was enough adventure for me!
It did settle down and we soon we had our charts, our shift responsibilities, and our options if things did not go our way. First thing was to secure the anchor. Ken has an aversion to getting this done before a big sail due to past history, but for me this was a vital safety check. Of course, I had to go up to the bow in the pouring rain and get the anchor rode and chain attached to the anchor. Without autopilot, we could not do this. This done, the rest was just time and adjusting to the weather and our shifts.
Needless to say, the winds hurled us to our destination. We thought at one point we would stop at the Porquorelles to sleep for a few hours, but when we sailed into the bay area around 1am we thought we should just sail on. With a 6 knot boat speed, we could reach St. Tropez in about 6-7 hours. But as you know, the winds don’t always do what you want. Within on hour, after several hours of averaging 7 knots of boat speed, we dropped down to 3-4. That lasted for several hours and into the morning. Long night, long morning, but there was Bridgette Bardots bronze statue greeting us as we reached the Golfe de St. Tropez.
I call Patrick at Monaco Marine and told him that we had no motor power and we would love to get assistance past the Jetty and into his boatyard for some service work. We decided with our winds and our boat speed, we would not reach the jetty at Cogolin until about 3pm. We had at this time our main and Front sail up. Getting the main down without motor was a trick and I am sure we had some spectators that thought we were “practicing” with a new shiny boat. Ken wanted to “sail” into the marina and I was prettified of the jetties, but reached Patrick at Monaco Marine, and he greeted us halfway and used his skiff as a “brake” as we docked safely. The wind helped us sail into the marina with only our furled front sail.
This evening, I don’t know why I am doing anything like typing, because we both are spent cookies and have bruises and pain everywhere. It is tough for anyone, let alone 2 in their 50’s to sail one hour on, one hour off for 24 hours knowing you don’t have a motor that can keep you from harm. Sailing skill and good winds are our best friends.
Well, anyway, we are in St. Tropez (next village to Monaco Marine) and by Saturday, I will have seen several French friends and will revisit the famous Saturday Market (and see Zu Zu at the fish market)