It was Tuesday, 17th July 2018, after lunch, when Patrik and I finally left Porto Masnou behind us and headed for France!
Since the weather forecast was ok, we’d decided to take the direct route over the Gulf de Lion to Cassis/FR (if possible) and from there along the Côte d’Azur to Loano/IT. Of course we were first and foremost very happy, and super excited about our adventure and what might be waiting for us!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the winds as predicted, so most of the time we had to use the engine, as we couldn’t afford to lose more time – which was a pity, of course! But, on the other hand, rather too little wind, than a storm, as it apparently isn’t unusual in this area. The mistral has to be respected there!
Anyway, to spare you too many details, I’ll only mention the most exciting episodes.
For example when my first night watch started at 11.30 p.m. (we settled on 2 hours shifts each). Patrik reported to me everything was quiet, a couple of cargo or cruise ships where around, but nothing to worry about. OK, I made myself comfortable in the cockpit, with warm clothes and a blanket (yes, at night it was chilly, while during the days we had over 30 deg. C). After a few minutes I checked the radar and……what the *** was that? A red skull was moving from the right corner above towards us!! It really looked like these pirate skulls, with the crossed bones underneath! My heart missed a beat and I went downstairs, waking up Patrik (sorry darling). He had a look at the screen, but wasn’t bothered at all. He just said, in case it comes too close (within 2 NM), an alarm will go off! Then he went to bed again. GREAT !!
Well, as for me, the calmness was gone. I sat in front of the radar and wouldn’t let the skull out of my eyes! And it did come really close, but finally – and luckily – it drifted away!
Until today, we haven’t found out what that was! No description anywhere, neither Raymarine nor Google can present an explanation….So, in case someone knows, we would be very thankful (or maybe not?!), to learn about this strange phenomenon.
But the night had also its beautiful side: We saw so many stars, like, millions! Even one or two shooting stars were visible! THAT was truly amazing! Unfortunately, with the light pollution these days, you don’t see the sky anymore!
We also experienced incredible sunsets and sunrises, with nothing around us, than……the sea!
Except….the first early morning, around five, we saw “something” far away and it didn’t take long, until we realized, these were dolphins! WOW, and you know what? They suddenly decided to visit us! It was totally crazy, at least seventy dolphins swam around our boat, playing, jumping, speeding, looking at us by swimming sideways…..It was absolutely the best ever! During the day and in the evening we had a few more visits of these amazing creatures and each time Patrik and I couldn’t believe our lucky stars!
Once more we became sad, how these intelligent and freedom-loving mammals are put in tiny tanks, and let them do stupid tricks for a dead fish…..
It was also highly visible that plastic pollution is no rumor! We came across a lot of plastic bottles in all sizes, dishes, inflatable toys, suddenly a sea of Styrofoam….unfortunately, we couldn’t fish out any of it, they were too far away. It’s very sad to see how we treat our blue planet….
After two days of (motor-)sailing we arrived at the Ile de Porquerolle, on 19th July at 6 o’clock in the morning. Cassis was not possible, we would have been there at two or three at night and an anchor spot was not guaranteed. So we sailed a bit further to have some daylight, when maneuvering the boat.
It was a wise decision, as it showed later. The Ile de Porquerolle is a beautiful island and – although masses of tourists are visiting – it shows a very environmentally conscious behaviour. Guests are constantly reminded of how sensitive the nature and its habitants is. Very exemplary!
We decided to spend the day and one night there, to buy groceries and enjoy the beautiful surroundings! All our neighbors – which were changing during the day – were very pleasant and we would have enjoyed chatting a bit more with some of them!
On the 20th, lunchtime we left the Ile de Porquerolle – regretting that we didn’t have more time. Next planned stop was towards St. Tropez, anchoring. From now on we had the famous coast line beside us. No more dolphins, though. It probably was too noisy for them, with all the motor yachts and jet skis, and not enough food available.
Around five we found a nice anchor spot in the Baie de Briande. It’s apparently one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean. And after the two or three “party yachts” had left, it was very peaceful and we enjoyed a lovely evening! Patrik even had a swim J
The next day, we hoped to come to Menton, also anchoring. The wind was good at the beginning and we had a speed of around 7 knots, sadly before lunchtime it died again and we had to start the engine *sigh* At least we arrived in Menton, but with quite high waves and a dark sky. But as soon we dropped the anchor, the weather cleared up and the sea became calmer! Perfect!
Since I’ve prepared dinner during the day, we just had to warm it up again and could eat at a reasonable time! We took a lot of pictures of the picturesque Menton – hopefully one day we can visit it again! The night was a bit bumpy, since there were still some uncomfortable waves around, but it could have been worse!
Full of enthusiasm, we got up the next morning, leaving early, as we knew our next stop would be in Loano – home for our Luna Azzurra! She behaved, by the way, exemplary, how she got us securely through the sea – we truly enjoyed her very much!
On Sunday, 22nd July, during the afternoon, we finally could see Loano – through the binoculars! What a feeling that was – wow! I think these last two hours were the longest under the whole journey. Almost painful ;o)
After 3 p.m. we entered the Marina di Loano, proud and more than happy! YEAH, we did it!!
After Luna Azzurra was safely moored at her spot – M13 – we went to see Elisa at the marina office. She was very happy to see us safe and sound and welcomed us “home”! Then we went back to our boat and enjoyed our well-earned glass of wine / beer! It must have been the best in the world J
Sadly, we couldn’t enjoy much of “dolce far niente”. The next day we had to start cleaning our yacht, inside and outside, throwing things away, more cleaning and sweating (it was over 30 deg. C), Patrik sanded the black painted table in the cockpit (he bought a sander in the end) – at least the worst bit.
We removed her old name “Dorah”, bought 6 brand new fenders, including the “socks”, new mooring lines, went even more shopping… I think I have never cleaned and sweated so much in my entire life!
Anyhow, slowly but surely she looked more and more beautiful, transforming from a sad Cinderella to a pretty “principessa”! The highlight of course was, when we officially baptized her to the name of LUNA AZZURRA! We are sure, she loves that name, it suits her perfectly!
Ah, and we met Matteo and Juliana of course. That’s the couple who will take care of Luna Azzurra, while we are note there. They will be cleaning, welcoming guests, maintaining the necessary, etc. A very lovable pair and we got on from the very beginning!
We even met another guy – organized from Matteo – who runs a B&B nearby and rents out his sailing boat. He showed us his interest of managing Luna Azzurra for us, getting in guests, arranging payments, etc. We would get a part of the profit, of course. Interesting, but it has to be well-considered of course. So we promised to keep in touch and see if we agree on a deal.
On Friday 27th July, lunch time, everything was finished and Luna Azzurra blazed in her new glow! It was really sad, that now, when everything was finished and super clean, we had to leave her and return home! A little tear confirmed our feelings….
It was around 8.30 p.m. when Patrik and I opened the door of our house in Switzerland! Very tired but soooo incredible happy!