I really thought that the holidaying of Paula and her two friends would be the end of anything interesting to ‘blog about’ but I think I may have been wrong – you will be the judge…
We had taken a berth in St. Laurent Du Var as our winter berth in Baie des Anges was not available until the 1st of September. The only redeeming feature of the temporary berth (which the Capitainerie wrongly described as ‘Tranquille’) was that it was confirmed until I returned from my short trip home to leave the ladies alone. I couldn’t expect Paula to shuffle Hejira from berth to berth according to daily availability. The mooring was right at the end of the breakwater at the entrance to the marina.
It was therefore a very long walk to any facility or beach. On the other side of the entrance was a nightclub which pumped out loud music and flashing lights until 4am and the water pressure on the dock was little more than a dribble. It was so close to the airport that I walked there on my departure and return which, as you can imagine, was a mixed blessing. Surprisingly, however, the ladies seemed to have had a good time in my absence with the sun and sea in plentiful supply. There was also the added pleasure of watching the comings and goings in and out of the marina, the interaction with their neighbours and the entertaining manoeuvres on and off of the fuel dock opposite – they were quite the experts by the time I returned! The formula of having a short sailing (?) cruise before I left them to their own devices also apparently met with their approval – we shall see.
So, it was me and Paula adrift for 4 days until we could take up our berth in Baie des Anges and I could begin to plan and brief the winter jobs and projects. Aware that I had spent the summer being excessively ambitious and overdoing things, I had not enjoyed relaxing on board and chillin’ out as maybe I should have. It was therefore easy to make our first destination the delightful anchorage between the Lerins Islands of Ile Sainte-Marguerite and Ile Saint-Honorat which was a mere 12 miles away. This is a very popular destination for local boats being just off Cannes and we chose to anchor in deeper water among the larger boats.
As a result, we were not troubled by the uncomfortable proximity of the ‘day boats’ at anchor. We took the dinghy ashore to the smaller island of Honerat, leaving it in the very convenient and free tiny harbour near the anchorage. The island is home to a Monastery and the monks make rather expensive organic wine which is for sale in a small shop. The walk around the perimeter of the island is a delight with the shaded woodland path providing glimpses of the foreshore and azure sea.
There is a charismatic castle and the public have access during the day to the rather spartan church and cloisters.
Ile Saint-Honorat is only served by infrequent boats provided by the monks so the visitor numbers are subdued and the island has an almost serene aura as a result. It is apparently possible to stay for a week long retreat – if you are that way inclined…
Returning to Hejira, we took a dip but, unfortunately, Paula had a close encounter with a jelly fish which came up in a swelling like a giant painful nettle sting. I offered to pee on it as this is reputed to relieve the symptoms but the liberal application of vinegar and anti-histamine cream was preferred – I can’t understand why and was rather disappointed!
After a very quiet overnight at anchor, we reviewed our options for the following day and surprisingly agreed to stay put and visit the other island of Sainte-Marguerite. I have visited this island on a number of occasions but always from the north and never ventured beyond the restaurants and the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ Fort. The Cruising Association app. suggested that landing from the south was something of a challenge and so it proved. The only viable places were cordoned off for swimming so we resorted to stopping and raising the outboard, rowing into the rocky shore and pulling up above the waterline amongst the thankfully rounded rocks.
The island was significantly busier than its smaller neighbour with regular tripper boats supplying it with visitors from Cannes. Despite its visitor numbers, the island retains a charm and the peaceful perimeter walk provides a stunning new vista at every turn and this is all despite its relative proximity to the Riviera conurbations.
We have all heard the incessant cicada cacophony and I have often tried to find the insects without previous success. You can see from this picture that they are very well camouflaged against a tree. It is apparently only the male cicada that actually makes the noise in an effort to attract a mate and it is not from rubbing its legs together.
The sound comes from an organ in its back called a tymbal which is a sort of sound box and contains a series of ribs that buckle one after another producing the clicking noise.
In the evening, many of the anchored boats return home, the surface of the water ceases to be churned up and the anchorage becomes delightfully tranquil.
With the weekend encroaching, the prospect of the ensuing bedlam in the popular Lerins anchorage suggested that we should move on and with no chance of actually sailing in the calm conditions, we chose to investigate and possibly anchor in Golfe Juan.
One of the villages on the Golfe is Juan-les-Pins, immortalised in Peter Sarstedt’s 1969 (you have to be a certain age) number one hit ‘Where do you go to (my lovely)’. So the prospect of ‘carefully designed topless swimsuits’ was quite appealing – to me at least!
Reviewing the coastline as we slipped into Golfe Juan under engine, we were not attracted by the apartment block density at the head of the bay and opted for an anchorage at Abri de L’Olivette tucked inside Cap D’Antibes. The vista was undoubtedly more attractive but our trip ashore into a tiny harbour, despite a walk, failed to reveal any bars, just very sumptuous gated villas.
There was however plenty of entertainment in the anchorage which was also favoured by some of the ‘big boys’ who seemed very happy to put on a show with their toys.
As the evening progressed, the anchorage thinned out and it turned out to be a wonderfully still, calm and quiet night. Sound travels over water but there was nothing heard from any distant disco, it was wonderfully tranquil. Clearly the affluent residents of Cap D’Antibes don’t tolerate any disturbance to their expensive seclusion.
I have been told that the aeroplanes approaching Nice Airport are not allowed to overfly the Cap and the flight path diverts around it – this is something that even the Queen doesn’t seem able to achieve over Windsor!
The morning dawned to a cloudless sky and it was with mixed feelings that I realised that my adventure started exactly 3 months ago on the first of June and I would be returning to my point of departure, the marina at Baie des Anges.
A short motor took us to the marina which will be recognisable to anyone who has flown into Nice Airport with its strangely attractive pyramid apartment blocks such a dominating feature of the landscape.
Fuelled and back on our berth, it’s time to prepare and plan for the future adventures of the good ship ‘Hejira’. I must remember to resist being excessively ambitious as with our son Oliver getting married next August, it will be pretty busy domestically next year.
I will do the occasional update as and when there is anything of interest (?) to report.
I hope that our missives have been enjoyed by the readership as much as I and my various crew have enjoyed writing them. There may have been some insight into yachting, particularly the unique nature of Mediterranean yachting, which has either inspired you to get involved yourself or convinced you that it is the very last thing you would want to do. Your comments on the blogs (best put them on the blogs, not email) are always appreciated and it seems to have been the forum for some philosophical, ecological and political banter if I can call it that. Please keep the comments coming and spread the word!
Now it’s back to the realities and perversely, the attractiveness of the cold and wet British seasons – next winter, the Caribbean maybe………….?