French Riviera (cont).

The French Riviera (cont)
3rd. August 2009

We leave Monaco this morning with many happy memories.
We motor sail further west about fifteen n.miles to Antibes. This is a charming old walled town and we are sorry to find the Picasso exhibition just closing when we arrive. We plan to come back but it is closed tomorrow, being a Monday.
We are warned how expensive it is here and find it to be true. Just having a drink each is €10- (one beer and one mineral water). We decide dinner on the boat is an excellent idea.
We anchor offshore as the forecast is for a calm night.
The forecast is for strong winds from the S.W., 6 to 7 kts., gusting up to 8. We are protected from all winds here except the east, so we stay here for a quiet day. It is a good opportunity to catch up with odd jobs. We enjoy a long swim, and a walk along the coast road.

Sail school

There is a very enthusiastic sail school here and we are keen to watch the tiny yachts being towed along one after the other, with their colourful sails. It is marvelous the see the children are learning the principles of sailing so young. They are lucky. The winds from the S.E. are gusting up to 20kts.( and much later to 30 kts. )so they are having excellent experience out there.
We have just decided to go to bed, when the wind comes around to the east, blowing up to force 4 then force 5.(20 kts.) Ross announces we have to move the yacht. I am very unenthusiastic until I go out to the cock pit and see how the boat has swung around with the onshore wind and we are very close to the shore and some nasty rocks, so there is no choice. The waves rolling in are 3 m. and I feel much happier when Ross has his life jacket on. It is a very rolly and rough trip out of the bay, but it only takes 1.5 hours to re-anchor in a protected bay off St. Juan les Pins.

4th. August 2009
We have a lovely long sleep until 6.30am and are woken by a slight swell coming in as a result of last night´s winds. There are many boats in this cove this morning. They obviously came in for protection too. It´s not very relaxing lying in bed as even this slight 2ft. swell is enough to set off knockings and bangings on the boat. We decide to up anchor and move on.
This morning we have a lovely 5 hour track, with both sails up, some of the way without the engine, averaging 6kts. along the coast, passing Cannes and St. Tropez to moor at Cavalarie. The marina is full except for one berth but for a much larger boat, and so is very expensive, so with a forecast of variable winds of only 1-3 kts. we are happy to moor on a buoy outside the marina. We are meeting up with Amps and Geoff this afternoon. They are having a family holiday staying at a beautiful property near the small village of La Croix Valmer just west of St.Tropez.
We have the most lovely and fun few days here. The old and renovated farmhouse, full of charm, is set on 35 acres. The surrounding gardens and pool setting are very attractive and the rest of the land is natural bushland, including cork trees and gums, rising high up behind the property. The views from up the top over the coastline and sea below are stunning.
We all have a day out sailing . It is great fun with 10 of us on board, and George who is two and a half years old. He is the model child, especially as it is an eight hour day. Imogen is a lovely mother. Also on board are Jono Mackie and Richard Robson who are staying with Mick, and we happen to know both their parents in Melbourne.

Richard, Jono and Mick

Amps and Geoff

It is the perfect day out on the water today, with many other boats about of all different shapes and sizes. We drop the anchor at Baie de Briande. We plan to swim off the boat here and have lunch. Unfortunatey there are some unpleasant looking jellyfish in the water and Jono is stung by one. It is obviously very painful and flares up into welts quickly. We treat it with a vinegar dousing, icing and then an anti-inflammatory cream. Our pilot book describes them as Medusa jelly fish. We move the yacht to another anchorage but they are still about. We spend time here over lunch and some people go ashore. Others have a quick dip when the water appears to be clear of the jelly fish. We are all disappointed about the jellyfish episode because we think that one of the advantages of being in the Mediterranean is being free of these creatures.

The icecream boat!

We then motor sail round Cape Camarat to the Baie de Pampellone where we can see the famous four kms stretch of Pampellone beach. We then track out to sea for some way so we can sail back with one tack to Cavalarie. The wooded coast line here is lovely.

Geoff concentrating at the wheel

Tonight we play a game of "in the bag", organized by Tamsen and Rori. This is challenging and produces lots of laughter. Our hosts family team won!
This morning Amps and Tamsen take Ross and me into St. Tropaz. We enjoy this major tourist place with is bustling people and amazing super yachts along the seafront; the quiet and shaded walk up to the citadel; the stunning views down over the town, boats and across the sea; the charming, narrow back streets with their many galleries; and people watching over a cup of coffee. Some of the clothes are so outlandish, and some are obviously very expensive and tasteful. The fish market here is very impressive.

View from the Citadel

Walk along the waterfront at StTropaz

A back street in St Tropaz

Pampellone Beach

We all meet on the beach in time for a swim (unfortunately there are a few Medusa stingers here too) before our lunch booking at the Beach Club for three o´clock. The first sitting is booked out early, so this is the second sitting. Is is worth waiting for. The cuisine is delicious and the ambience couldn´t be better. The colours in the decor just seem to blend in with the sea.There are mist sprays floating over us for a cooling effect.

Lunch at the Beach Club

Geoff walks with us along the beach to Club 55, the famous beach club here, just so we can see what it is like. This is supposed to be the most famous and where the high society are most likely to be seen. It is very attractive but the restaurant is actually back from the beach and set down lower so you are not able to see the beach and the sea, so we far preferred where we were. All along Pampellone beach there are boats anchored, from the smallest yachts and run-abouts to the the largest and most expensive super-yachts. The crews come in by dinghy for lunch and swim off the boats.

The bar at Club 55

We call in to see Mick, Richard and Jono at Nicky´s Bar. Apparently there are eight of these establishments in the world. It has to be seen to be believed. You may enter for free, but we are told the mark up on the drinks is unbelievable. Imogen takes us to where the boys are settled. They arrived early to find a perfect spot to view the action.
We have never seen such decadence. People are literally pouring bottles of the best and most expensive champagne over each other´s heads.! A very tanned girl with very few clothes on is dancing to loud music around the pool. There are obviously people on drugs here, and many have had large amounts to drink. Amazingly everyone just seems to be part of the scene and no-one appears out of control. They all seem to be absorbed in the mood here and enjoying a real "time out". The bar closes at 9pm. which is probably a very smart idea.
This evening we are invited to dinner with the Hones to their friend´s holiday home here. It is a renovated railway station, with lovely surrounds and a view of the small village up on the hill, Gasson.

7th. August 2009
We leave Amps and Geoff this morning after a wonderful view days with their family. They have given us such a wonderful time, with so much fun, and a much better knowledge of this area than we could ever have found on our own.

Amps and Geoff´s holiday house

Saying good-bye

Geoff takes us back to the dinghy and comes out to have a cup of coffee with us. It is a shame he isn´t able to have another sail, but he has other commitments.

We do some provisioning and visit an internet cafe before heading out to Iles d´ Hyeres. These are written up in the book "Fifty places to sail before you die" and have been recommended by several people.
We anchor at Port -Man , recommended as a safe anchorage, on Ile de . Late afternoon we venture ashore to walk along the a coastal walk but soon realize we are in a Naturalistic area, which we are not very comfortable about. This anchorage is lovely, especially when the softly golden full moon creeps up over the hill behind us later tonight.

8th. August 2009
We have a swim in these beautiful waters, and both do some sketches and painting. At lunch time we go the short distance across to Ile de Cros. This is an idylic place to come in a yacht, with its magnificent blue/turquoise waters, and a National Park to walk around the coast track with all its stunning views. It doesn´t seem to matter there are many other boats here as it is so quiet and peaceful.
We are fortunate our friends from Rome coming on board tomorrow have a car so plan to come to Cavalaire to meet us. Otherwise we would have had to take the boat into St. Tropaz which woud be more difficult. The transport from St Tropaz to here is difficut.
We come back from the islands late afternoon and are fortunate to get a berth here. The weather is so calm, and it is the weekend so boats are more likely to stay out overnight. We really need to wash down the boat (we haven´t been in a marina for sometime) and need to provision, fill the gas tanks and the dinghy fuel tank.