Hyeres Iles

8th. August 2009
This morning we track the short distance across to Ile de Port Cros to the Port de Man. We enjoy swimming in the sensation water here, and a lovely shaded walk.

View from walking track

In the evening we track back to Port Cavalarie to prepare for our friends arriving tomorrow.
The internet cafe near the marina has the best connection we have had so far so I stay until 1am. to get everything up to date. It will be some time before we find another one. The atmosphere here is very vibrant as most of the people are watching a football match on the big screen. I feel quite safe walking back to the boat by myself.

9th. August, 2009
This morning we are up early to provision the boat, buy dinghy fuel and try to fill the gas tanks. We are unable to do the latter and hope we have enough gas to last to the next port.
Our friends from Rome, the Albertinis, who we met in Italy last season, arrive at 10am. It is a lovely experience to have Piergiorgio, Mara and their eighteen year old daughter, Sylvia with us. We so enjoy hearing Italian being spoken, and are learning some too. After a wonderful Italian dinner Mara cooked for us at their home last September we are hoping we are able to present some delicious meals - we plan just to serve simple, local fresh produce menus!
We track over to Ile de Port-Cros again. It is a perfect wind for a sail with both sails up. Unfortunately the mainsail cover is drawn in under the spindle and jams it so we are unable to use this sail, so we just use the headsail.

Sorting out the mainsail

Mara learning the knots!

We anchor at Port- Man again, a most beautiful place. It looks like a marina here, there are so many boats anchored in very close proximity to one another. There is nothing here except crystal clear water to swim in, and lovely walks.

Port Man

Ross and Piergiorgio bring the mainsail down and once the cover is sorted, we re-furl it.

10th. August, 2009
Today is a walking day. We are hoping to get to Porquerolles, but there is no certainty of a berth there, and because we need protection from S.W. and west winds , we stay where we are. There isn´t this protection at Porquerolles. The Albertinis enjoy bread so we bake some( there is no corner shop here!)
We set off early to walk across the island through the wooded tracks, which are well shaded, to Port Cros. It is lively here with ferries arriving from the mainland bringing many people to this very small town. They set off to the various beaches for the day.
We walk back along the coastal scenic track, which in many parts reminds us of Wilson´s Promintory with the stunning views across the sparkling sea to the cliff faces. We all enjoy a relaxed day in such a lovely place.

Along the walking track

11th.August, 2009
This is a sailing day. The forecast is excellent to track around to Porquerolles, on the north of the island of Porquerolles. There is just enough wind to sail back towards Hyeres on the coast, and we are pleased the mainsail is operating again. This is the area where they hold famous races and is popular for leisure cruising.
The Porquerolles marina is full so with a calm forecast we anchor just outside.

The icecream "boat"

We take the dinghy ashore and walk to Plage d´Argent. We have never seen such a crowded beach so chose not to swim here but go back to Pte.Prime where the dinghy is tied up. It is a very pretty small isthmus beach with few people here.
There is a lot of swell at the anchorage with all the ferries coming and going but it makes for an easy dinghy ride into the town for a walk and dinner. Once the last ferry has left it is a very calm anchorage. Also there are fewer people about.

12th. August 2009
Today is a cycling day.
We are overwhelmed by the number of people who arrive by the ferries from the mainland for a day trip. There are also hundreds of boats in the marina and anchored outside off the beaches.
We set off early to ride to Plage Notre Dame, which is not as crowded as the beach yesterday. The water is crystal clear and beautiful to swim in.
We ride across the island through vineyards to Calanque de l ´Ousteau. There is no shade here so we have our picnic lunch nearby under trees, some of which are eucalypts. Some of this ride reminds us of Rottnest island off the Western Australian coast, as you unexpectedly come to very scenic coastal views.

Riding across the island

End of bike ride

Porquerolles is very busy this afternoon so we re-stock the provisions, have a refreshing granita, and return to Impulsive - our little haven away from the crowds.
We have a relaxed and quiet sail as we track around to Langoustier Baie on the west coast. We only average 3 kts. but as Piergiorgio is such a keen sailor the skipper decides this is O.K. (Ross usually starts the engine if it is less than 5 kts.) It is just glorious out here with boats with their sails up everywhere.

Mara and Sylvia soaking up the sun
Mara and Sylvia cook us a delicious pasta dish tonight, and we have great fun in the galley.

Mara´s pasta dinner

Tonight there is quite a swell in this delightful little bay so Ross puts out a "flopper stopper", hanging it from the spinnaker pole off the beam. This is quite effective, especially as Sylvia suffers from a swell.
The sunset is exquisite tonight, throwing pink and soft orange tinges over the nearby fort and surrounding the water.

13th. August 2009
Mara is particularly fit so we have been swimming and walking a lot which suits us, especially in these idyllic conditions.

Flying the spinnaker

Today we have a spinnaker run from Langoustier cove across to Rade d ´Hyeres to Preque Ile de Giens, on the mainland. This is a tiny cove, idyllic for lunch on Impulsive, and swimming.
The distances to all these places are relatively short so it is easy to find appropriate protection for the night. With the given forecast, which is very calm, Ross decides we should return to Porquerolles to anchor for the night.

Tonight we make sushi and eat with chopsticks. This is great fun as the Albertinis have only had sushi once, as a take away meal in Rome. It was very expensive and they have never used chopsticks.
We need the flopper stopper again tonight. They are a wonderful asset even though we don´t use them often.

14th. August 2009

Checking the weather

This morning we have a lovely sail with both sails up , averaging 6 kts., to anchor off Port Capte, on the mainland. We go ashore looking for flamingos which inhabit the large salt lake here.
We have much advice where to look for them and walk a long way in search of these elusive birds. We have just about given up when Pierogeorgio spots a large flock of them in flight. What a magnificent sight.
After lunch we take the Albertinis into Hyeres port. There is no room in the marina to berth Impulsive so we just nudge her bow up to an arm of the marina between two other yachts and let them hop off. This is a very hasty farewell but a better option than doing a dinghy run with five of us and all their luggage.
We have had such a great time with them despite the language barrier. Also we have learned a lot more about Italian culture, and cooking.
Sylvia was planning to come to Australia for the experience and to improve her English. We had spent some time looking into this for her but her plans have changed. She did extremely well in her final school exams with the maximum marks possible so has been accepted to the American college in Rome on a scholarship. To enter this institution she has to pass an english exam in early January, so now plans to go to Malta to do a three month intensive english course there. if she passes this she will be accepted for the course she wants, involving economics and politics to go into a diplomatic course. They still hope to travel to Australia some time so hopefully we will meet up again in the not too distant future.
Again we anchor outside which we prefer to do in calm weather.

Hyeres, with its main streets lined with palm trees, is the southern most municipality of Provence. The old town is set back some distance from the waterfront but we have run out of walking legs. Also we have a more pressing problem. Having tried to fill the gas tanks again (we were so lucky they lasted with the Albertinis on board) we discover that you cannot simply fill gas tanks anymore in France because of safety guidelines. Ross considers buying new tanks containing gas but the fittings are too different. Plumbers are restricted in what they can do with these tanks.
Also, tomorrow is a national holiday , and it is a long weekend. The capitainaire are very supportive here and one of the young men drives us to a gas station they feel can solve the problem, but with no luck.
We have friends arriving from U.K. on Sunday night so the cooking arrangements are looking dicey. Ross is considering buying a camp stove, and we have the microwave.
Not being able to do any more about it tonight we have a scrumptious dinner by the water front , and later walk past the many street stores set up in the cool of the evening.
We speak to Andrew and Jill when we return to the yacht and are very disappointed to hear they have unavoidable problems at home and are unable to come. Fortunately we saw them earlier this year, and hopefully they can join us next season.

Favourite recipes this leg
Sea Bass with wild rice (sea bass is said to be the best local fish here)
1 Sea bass per person
Sea bass is cleaned and stuffed with fennel stalks and flowers, and wrapped in foil
Barb-e-que for about 20mins. and check it´s cooked through

Serve with wild rice, asparagus and salad.

Mara´s pasta dish
Heat good olive oil in pan with 3 whole cloves of garlic - to flavour the oil, then remove the garlic
Add a lge. punnet of cherry tomatoes - heat through and mash with a fork.
Add a jar of chopped anchovies. Put aside.

In the meantime cook the Trofie pasta (Lee and I bought this in Porto Venero). This is very small (about 25 cms. long), thin, loose spirals made with wheat and flour. Drain and spoon through the above mixture.

Serve with a green salad.

15th. August 2009
After leaving Hyeres, and rounding Cape de l ´Ă‰sterel, and then passing Presqu´ile de Grens, we have a spinnaker run towards Toulon. This is always our favourite mode of sailing and we have been pleased to have these recent opportunities to fly it.
We pass by the flat salt lake (always looking for flamingoes) which make Cap prequ´ile headland look like an island from the sea.
It is very attractive coming into Toulon as it is surrounded by wooded hills and some mountains with bare rock faces.
The capitainerie are very helpful here and we can have a berth. We have been at anchor for 11 nights within the last fortnight (Impulsive was tied up in the marina when we stayed at Amps and Geoff´s). We really need to give her a thorough wash down and try to find a solution to the gas issue.
It must be our lucky day. Ross puts the gas tanks on the marina-arm where we are tied up, ready to search for assistance with it after lunch. One of our neighbours realizes our problem and offers Ross his attachment to fill our tanks. He also knows where to buy a cylinder of gas to do this. It will be best to refil the tanks in the evening as the empty tanks must be as cold as possible, and the other tank as warm as possible to ensure a steady flow of gas. We have the big tank hanging out in the sun to warm the gas.We provision at another well stocked Carre-fours supermarket because everything is closed tomorrow with the public holiday.
We enjoy dinner in one of the many waterside restaurants. It is a fun place to people watch. Later there is a fantastic display of fireworks to celebrate the National Day.

16th. August 2009
Today is spent organizing the boat, eg. five loads of washing and washing down Impulsive etc. Ross has great success with the gas after talking with our neighbour, Max again.
We are in the Old Port at Toulon, Darse Vieille. The waterfront buildings are nothing special but their are older ones in behind here. Looking for the cathedral we happen upon the Provencial market. This is spread through the streetsunder the shade of plane trees, with stall after stall of the freshest looking fruit and vegetables we have seen. I eat the most exquisite peach with such a delicious flavour.
This afternoon we are entertained by an amazing air-show. It really makes my tummy churn to watch how closely and how fast they fly together. We have dinner on the yacht looking over to the waterside restaurnts with all their lights reflecting on the water.
This is the end of our time in the Cote d´Azur.