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La Ciotat, Anchoring and Porquerolles

April 29, 2011

Since Marseille we have been very busy, keeping a 50ft yacht clean is no mean task, moving it from place to place is the easy part!

Iles du Frioul

We left Marseille in the flat calm of a French morning, a cheery wave to our French neighbours (6 on a 30ft classic!), put our fishing lines out (one can hope) and headed out back the way we’d come. It was nice to see the islands in the light as all we’d seen on the way in was their lights. Once clear of the islands we headed on a course of 132 degrees to yet another point that only Bob can see, Donkey doing the hard work and us with our tea and peanuts!

What to do when there’s no wind? Make bread! I remember my Dad telling me how they’d spent hours in the Atlantic making bread, so out came the cook books and we decided on ‘Salt and Pepper Breadsticks’. The recipe was for 12, but only 2 of us, so we did quarters. It’s pretty hard to weigh ingredients on scales that are usually accurate to 1g so a lot of guessing went into it, 1 hour later, warmed and risen and into the oven they went.

Lunch at 1 was an exciting affair. We had the French ham and cheese, the salad and the drinks but what about the bread? Well – for a first go it was pretty fantastic! Have a look at our lunch picture!

Lunch a deux

We then had to change course to arrive at our chosen destination of La Ciotat.An unknown place to us but looked good on paper, realistically it was the only port we’d fit in! It was an easy entrance, easy parking, and a beautiful little harbour. Slowly we got surrounded, first were a couple on a Bavaria 41 ‘Kinsale’ who do the same thing as we’re hoping to do and then came the French sailing school…no lifejackets, Donkey being overworked, instructor?! 

A lovely cheap night – only 25 Euros! 

So, around came Thursday and the day I’ve been dreading forever – the day to try the anchor… We were first out of La Ciotat, the French boats still drinking coffee as we left, and up went the sails. We were making 4 knots just about (but after 2 hours realised it was more like 3!) and of course the fishing line was out. We were treated to a fabulous aerobatic display from a plane practising picking up water from the sea and a couple of hours later we were visited by ‘Dwayne’ and his mates. The ‘Douane DF90’ came racing up, opened his window, took our name, logged it, waved and drove off again!


Today was Phil’s turn at bread making and he didn’t disappoint – Focaccia for lunch with ham and cheese. We tried salad but by this point it was a little windy so the champagne was left in the fridge. The sails were up and we were making 7 – 8 knots upwind. A couple of small adjustments were made to the boat during this part of the day, the stormsail forestay has parted company with the deck and is now in its bow position, then when we tacked of course the genoa caught and has a small tear in the foot. Nothing a day in a marina can’t fix. 

Phil's Focaccia

So we eventually decided no more tacking and rolled up the genoa and motor-sailed to Porquerolles – another rocky island with lots of places to anchor (if you’re first there). We were lucky and got into our chosen spot, nosing our way into Baie du Langoustier, to a nice shallow depth of 2.5m under the keel and dropped the humungous hook overboard.
We landed a little close to a Maltese boat called ‘Inuit’ so when the locals departed we moved up a bit, only for our space to be taken by 2 French boats!! The good news this morning was we were still there! The anchor had worked and my somewhat disturbed sleep was all in vain!  

Anchorage at Porquerolles

So finally, today, Friday, we upped anchor and the wind as always was East, around force 2 – 3 but directly from where we were heading! So Donkey and Bob were called upon once again and off we went to some invisible spot in the ocean! We were passed, at some speed, around 0900 by the Corsica/Sardinia Ferries boat obviously in a rush to get to Corsica/Sardinia. Fortunately he was bright yellow and we spotted him miles away and stayed well clear!
A pretty uneventful journey really, saw some nice rocks, beautiful houses on the ends of rocks and lots of boats bobbing around. Having managed to see the forecast on our onboard tv, we decided it best not to join in the bobbing around and kept going with Donkey. We arrived at Le Lavandou around 1130 and were told no room so we radioed Bormes les Mimosas and the very nice lady said she had 1 berth and we’d fit in it! So gently, very gently, with this over-eager donkey, and of course Thierry – have I introduced you yet? Thierry is our thrust at the front, without whom French marinas would simply not be possible for us! We edged our way in and found, surprisingly a rather large space (turns out it’s 2!).
So we are now in Bormes, the wind is blowing goats off the surrounding mountains and a few brave windsurfers are chancing it between the two marinas. We are staying put for 2 nights, having paid our 90 Euros and having seen the 70kmh winds forecast for tomorrow from, you guessed it, where we want to go…
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