I am planning on a holiday next year along the lines of sailing from Chichester to St Valerie-sur-somme then across internal waterways to the south of France and then to spend the remainder of this year sailing towards and around the Tyrrhenian sea initially near Corsica.  Any suggestions, recommendations or warnings?

148 thoughts on “European holiday

  1. Going back through these blogs now.  I am really sorry for the quality of the punctuation.  It got better when I took the PC.  I also want to post this link to an article on Nelson and his relationship with the Island of Maddalena. http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2007articles/article2.html I am told there are records of his logs including descriptions of entering and exiting the archipelago in seperate gales.  I would like to read these if anybody knows a link?

  2. I am now back in the UK polishing my CV and sorting stuff out around the house.

    Mary is still in the water, as far as I know.  I have ordered a tarp, to be sent directly to Bosa.  I have serviced the engine and pulled the mast down.  I need to repair the cabin roof where I stuck the reefing handle through it, I missed the hatch this time.

    It took me two days to get back as I had to pick up my car from Valence.  The most expensive part of the trip being the channel crossing.  £80 as I booked on the day, it would be £25 if I booked the day before.  It would have been £95 if I had just turned up at the terminal.  I looked at flights and Stansted to Alghero return is £35 if I book two weeks in advance.   Might go to check her once I know she is out of the water. The temp is low 20s at the moment.

    Not sure what will happen next year it depends on work,  but i still have alot of the Tyrrhenian sea to see.  Realistically I am concerned about the time I can devote to sailing once back in full time work.  Selling up would be a sensible option but I wouldn’t get a good price there.  I am prefering leaving her out of the water and doing repairs then sailing to the italian main land maybe over a couple of years through a couple of marinas.  lets face it the season I longer, the flights are cheap, the sailing is great, the marinas are cheaper you just can’t get a decent pint of IPA.

    So on  positive note I want to sort out an auto-helm and a fridge.

  3. I find that Calista is well ballanced when sailing – so I can actually leave the helm to put the kettle on and she will still be on course. It is partly to do with the friction in the steering – just like lashing the helm.

    You might try lifting the keels a bit to bring the centre of lateral resistance of the hull back, unless you have the spinnaker up as a genoa when you would need to move them forward (which you of course cant do).

    Fitting an autohelm is straight forward. The pin goes into the aft face of the wipstaff, and shock cord holds it in place. Just a small loop which goes over the operating arm so it cant fall off. The other end needs a block of wood or a bracket fixing to the bulkhead at the back of the cockpit, with the hole for the body to mount onto.


    You look to have a very flat spinnaker – which seems to draw well with the wind abeam. How close to the wind will it work?


    My latest improvement is a feathering propeller – which adds at least 1 knot to the boat speed in lower wind speeds. For example last year I would have been beating to windward in a force 3 at about 3.5 knots, and wondering if I should start the engine. Now I am managing 4.5 in the same conditions and definetely not thinking about starting the engine. It has made a really significant difference. Of course it works really well when motoring as well, 6.5 knots at cruising revs, and powerful astern thrust. (I also notice that I can gain another knot ie 7.5 knots while motoring by lifting the keels fully).

  4. 25th 12.62Volts 444.3 hours Bosa.

    After my comments on low wind conditions it appeared that I lacked patience and consistency so this being my last days sail I thought I would stick to it. After all it wasn’t that far.  Ann and Tony had made one suggestion which made sence and that was to use tell tails or “woolies” as Ann called them.  But short of ruining a jumper I didn’t have the thread.

    I sailed off anchor, not hard as their was only two other boats in quite a large area.  I stared on genoa but once past the harbour wall I headed south and changed to spinnaker.  Which she kept up all day about 8:30 to 17:00 with varying levels of fullness.  I would say i averaged 2kts in a forcast that suggested 15kms of wind.

    I tried various tricks using a very light line as the spinnaker sheet.  But I also tried using the topping lift as the spinnnaker would be shrouded by the hull if the air dropped off.  I also feel single handing would benefit from an autohelm as a quick 10 second diversion like a biscuit could see her off course and the wind out of her sails.

    Interestingly though was that passing the final headland saw the wind pick up and me shift along at 5kts.  But the spinnaker was unstable as it wasn’t intended to be so high.

    How have people fitted autohelm?

    Bosa is both a pretty and an interesting harbour to enter.  But now it has an outer wall it isn’t a scary entrance.

  5. 24th 12.71 Volts 439.5 hours.  Alghero

    Port Conte is a fine place to wake up.  I went for a swim.  When I arrived the catamaran I saw leave invited me over for supper.  Would you believe it, it was a couple I had met through the cruising association and who had inspired confidence in the low cost of sailing in sardinia.  

    So this morning they came over in their dingy with their bikes to say they were off to Alghero.  Now I know they had been sailing for a while and they are a lovely couple so I suggested we sailed to Alghero and they would only have to cycle one way.  It was interesting to have crew particularly experienced crew.  We went through a couple of sail changes and ended up with the spinnaker.   With tacking out of the bay it took 4 hours.

    After lunch they left and I had a bit of a look around town.  I had moordd on the town quay as this is free if you know where to moor.  But it was warm and I didn’t fancy becoming a spectacle whilst I ate.  So I went out of the marina to an anchorage just north and kedged the back out to point into the swell.  The breeze out there was better than being in town.  It is still warm here.

  6. Three good books that can help improve boat speed in light airs are The Manual of Sail Trim by Stuart H. Walker, MD, High Performance Sailing by Frank Bethwaite, & the Aerodynamics of Sails and Racing Tactics by Dr. Manfred Curry. Uffa Fox wrote a number of sailing books too and there are many others.

    If the Atalanta sails like a dinghy, loosening the halyard like Trevor mentions, to the point where the luff begins to wrinkle along the mast probably helps with sail shape.  Maintaining full curves to “power-up” and then “flatening” a bit to reduce drag resistance once your speed is up.

    Flying the spinnaker on the edge of luffing helps get the most out of this sail.  It should be flown high and full out away from the main sail when going downwind.

    Finding ways to lighten up the gear on-board helps with light air speed too.  Boats with longer waterlines are generally faster unless the boat is planning.  

    I’m dozzin away at the computer so done for today.


  7. I am going to respond to your comments about sailing in light airs!

    It is perhaps the most demanding part of sailing – and even the most experienced of us dont allways get it perfect. Firstly tha sail plan of the boat is pretty much a fixed thing – and any fundamental changes would have an effect on the performance of the boat as a whole. Larger mast and taller sails feo example will make a boat go faster in light winds but will adversely effect stability, and certainly cause a boat to heal much more when the wind gets up. So sticking with the existing sail plan (which works well and is safe) clearly a large genoa is the easy thing to add. The deep section mast which most Atalantas have is capable of being converted to mast head rig. The Atalanta was offered as 3/4 rig and mast head – and the only difference on the mast was a different fitting at the mast head. Even the early boats with narrow section masts are able to carry a mast head genoa in winds up to force 3, and a mast head spinnaker under the same conditions.

    So you could certainly buy or borrow a mast head genoa and/or mast head spinnaker.

    When is each appropriate? Clearly the genoa is designed for beating to windward, so is appropriate for use when the wind is between 45 degrees and say 90 degrees off the bows. Of course you can use it down wind and even pole it out – but a spinnaker will always make the boat faster down wind.

    Spinnakers are usually designed for downwind sailing say 135 degrees off the wind or more. There are special spinnakers designed for reaching but most of us just live with the one downwind spinnaker. You can use it reaching – but you might find that you are sailing sideways. We have used Calista’s spinnaker on a beam reach (90 degrees off the wind). It feels faster than the genoa to me – so give it a try.

    The next thing is how the sails are set. In light airs the sails should be set so they have deep curves in them, dont tighten the halyard fully, and slacken the foot of the sail by loosening the lashing at the back end of the boom. Same with the genoa – slacken the halyard a bit. When you actually set the sails keep the sheets slacker than you think they should be. Tell tales (bits of ribbon on the genoa and the mainsail are really useful for working out when the sail is properly sheeted. Start with the main. The top of the sail should be parrallel to the burgee or windex. That probably means that the boom is directly over the leeward end of the main sheet track when going to windward in light airs. If you have tell tales attached to the leach of the mainsail (probably on the ends of the batton pockets) then they should be stable, flying parallel to the sail. When it is correctly set it probably feels like you want to sheet the mainsail in more!

    In the same way the genoa should be sheeted in until it just stops shaking. If you have telltales then the red and green telltales should be lying flat along the sail, parallel to the airflow over the sail. When it is sheeted in too much the telltales on the far side of the sail ( to leeward) will break away from the flow and flutter around. The opposite is also true – when not tight enough the windward tell tales will flutter. You also need to make adjustments slowly and gently in light winds – and that includes everything from moving about the boat, to strreing, to adjusting sails


    There is also the fine art of trying to predict where there will be wind. For example when the sun is shining there will be a sea breeze effect. Hot air rising over the land rises pulling air in off the sea. The effect can be felt up to 2 miles off shore – but it might be much less – depends on where you are and how much temperature differential there is between sea and land. Certainly should be stronger closer to the land. If you are sailing around islands the stronger wind will always be to windward of the island – so keep out of the wind shadow behind islands! In the gap between islands the wind will also increase.


    If you want to read up on these techniques the best place to find information would be in books on dinghy sailing. The finer bits of sail trimming will certainly be in such books – as will stuff on sailing in light winds. There are also plenty of books on weather for yachts – and they will cover things like land and sea breezes, etc.

  8. Good luck getting to Bosa for the final leg. Here of some pictures of our encounter in Isola Rossa to remind you of the fairer climate before jumpers and dewdrops. I have added a link to my website containing many photos of the Atalanta Mary and Skipper Rodger in action around the north coast of Sardinia for interested readers……Alan Kelly Photography

  9. 23rd 12.70 Volts 439.5 hours. Porto Conte

    What I didn’t realise was that another english boat had anchored at the same spot.  After breakfast they sailed past.  I asked their destination, which was the same as mine.  I said I was waiting for the wind to get up, they said there was enough.  They sailed off.

    I am not competitive but I am here to learn to sail profficiently and took this as a challenge.  I wouldn’t be able to keep up but I would try to sail.  I had half the distance to cover.  I sailed off the anchor and through the Pelosa Passage at about 1.5 kts.  

    Round on the western side of the island I managed some distance before trying to set spinnaker which gave a usable 3 kts.  Then the wind just died.  The problem is that other boats closer to the coast were moving.  I put the motor on and moved closer into the coast.  I had tidied the spinnaker away and was now on genoa.

    I turned the motor back off and managed some speed.  Now I am not convinced I have learned sufficiently how to choose and set the correct sail.  I also believe Mary is under canvased particularly for 4kts of wind.  The question is what to do about it?  I think the main is fine and certainly consistency on the helm is a must.  But I keep wondering about a one of these huge genoas rigged from the top of the mast perhaps to a bowsprit (probably the spinaker boom out forwards).  Either way I find it frustrating to see other boats sail and overtake you even taking into account their longer hull.

    I believe the atalanta to be a safe family boat and she has been most forgiving.  But now I am looking to get purposeful headway out of light winds and I am not getting it.  What are the proposed solutions?

  10. 22nd ? Ile Piana south of Asinara.

    It is a long stretch 40 odd miles across the Golfe dell’ Asinara.  Note the spelling will often depend on what chart I am reading, it could be English, French or Italian.

    At least this would put me in a strong position to get to bosa in time to lay the boat up.  Most mornings see the boat covered in dew and I am often wearing a jumper.

    Pretty uneventful other than seeing dolphins briefly.  I mostly motored as I needed to cover distance and the wind wasn’t up to it.

    I went to look at the mooring bouys to the north of Asinara but the ghost town looked spooky and I preferred the anchorage south of ile Piana to the south.  Asinara was a quarenteen island before becoming a prison and now is a nature reserve.  Known locally as donkey island.

    I managed to get the anchor down before sundown after a long days travel.

  11. 21st 12.70 Volts 426 hrs Capo Testa (Baia di Reparata)

    Filled up fuel 12 litres, not bad as I believe the last time was Isola Rossa.  But the winds for the next week aren’t great.  I also got a load of washing done.  This cost 9 euro for a wash and dry, and folded into a nice pile.  It was a large reusable shopping bag full.  I also went for another walk around town.

    I managed to leave around midday.  The entrance is still awsome on leaving. 

    I was aiming for Capo Testa and after having another look at Cala Spinosa and the big rocks that surround it I anchored in Baia di Reparata.  I had some fun with the anchor as it didn’t bite.  I eventually put the second anchor down but after some messing about I wasn’t 100% confident.  But with the two anchors I was ok.

  12. May Aeolus treat Atalanta well. You might check along the keel for soft spots in the planking in addition to

    the keel bolts when Fairey Mary is out for the winter.

  13. 20th Bonifacio

    By the time I had sorted myself out and watched the fish for an hour or so it was about 10 before I left the bay.  I was particular about setting way points as this leg takes me through the centre of a lot if rocky outcrops some submerged.

    Talk about the “ridiculous to the sublime” there is very little wind and although I managed to sail almost as far as Ile Porraggia I gave up and motored.  This bit of the trip is pure sight seeing.  The southern cape is covered in what looks like expensive houses.  Rounding “Cap Pertusato” it all becomes white cliffs.

    The entrance to Bonifacio is incredible with the town on the rocky outcrop and the harbour entrance cut into the cliffs.  To quote the pilot guide.  “Bonifacio has been identified with the harbour of the Laestrygonians in the Odyssey and it matches the description well”.  Entering it certainly has that feeling about it.  I was half expecting a huge plasticine monster to come out from behind the cliff in its best stop motion scaryness.

  14. 19th Golfe de Porto Novo

    (18th ) The showers weren’t working at Porto Vecchio (Euro 13 per night).  So I bought a garden hose which I also needed to fill the water tanks.  I lifted the boom and tied the watering flower (aka shower head) to the main sheet and had a fine shower in the cockpit.  After beating into the wind coming into the bay I was covered in salt and soaked to the skin.

    (19th) The forecast is for the wind to die down over the day so I hoped to go to the marina in Ile Cavallo but chose Porto Novo as a backout plan.  I thought that like yesterday it may be calm outside the bay.  Not today.

    I had a good run.  I mean a good run as me as a selfish sailor without crew complaining about the up weather beat.  I learned that I get a good run on a starboard tack but a reefed mainsail is tricky on a port tack.  I spoke to somebody in Porto Vecchio who spoke of stuffing pillows and carpet into the reefing rolls to tighten up the belly.  Now I understand.  Has anybody put reefing ties in their main sail to address this problem?

    Anyway Mary and I were crashing along quite purposefully at 4kts pinching the wind.  There were some significant “holes” in the sea between waves that scrubbed a couple of knots off in one hit.  I started looking for these to avoid them or back off the wind so as to not hit these directly.

    I ended up opting for Porto Novo as it was getting dark and the islands off the south east coast of Corsica are not somewhere I want to be without visibility.

    Porto Novo was a nice change as there were only two other boats visible and the bay is surrounded by scrub.  I set two anchors again.  A fine end to a fine sail, though I was a bit nervous of a wet patch on the floor after such a day of banging about.  I think it is keel bolts, I will need to check these when it is out for winter.

  15. 18th Porto Vecchio

    Keen to get on and accompanying the German boat we set out.  They left first having two to set up their boat and keen not to rush things I left a bit later.  I left reefed and with No Jib with a head wind I managed to sail off the anchorage again. 

    It was a grand days sail leaving with short sail which suited the conditions I soon had to change sail to genoa and let all of the main out.  Sailing down wind I was almost becalmed as I passed Iles Cerbicale only to be caught by a huge gust which had me rounding up.  The pilot guide suggests that in a westerly Porto Vecchio is subject to gusts so I shortened sail again.  Good thing I did as when I rounded Punta di a Chiappa it was blowing force 6 out of Golfe do Porto-Vecchio.  I downed sail as it was on the nose and I wasn’t sufficiently familiar to tack up the bay.

    I motored into the marina, which was still subject to gusts but not so much.  I wasn’t proud of my mooring failing to back into the windward pontoon I managed to moor up on the downwind pontoon with some help.  I am more comfortable controlling the boat going upwind as the two rudders mean prop-stear has a big impact.  Maybe I still need practice.  In this case it probably is more to do with the time it takes me to get the boat into a balanced point and the space needed to do it.

  16. 17th Sept Rondinara

    The day of the big blow.  115km/hr in Bonifacio according to meteo france.  The German boat and I had tied a line between the two boats to allow safe passage.  I.e. not to be blown out to sea whilst in the dingy.  I now had two anchors out having a good fisherman’s anchor on board and using the chain from the kedge anchor.  I would set the danforth ( all chain ) and make sure it has bitten.  I would then motor over it and set the fishermans on chain and warp.  Taking the weight on the warp meant less noise and some give.  Though I am  not sure if this didn’t contribute to heeling.  This is where the boat would come up on the spring in the warp then bear away as the wind caught the bow then spring again.

    Anyway I spent this windy day helping the Germans pull their dingy motor apart to clean the carburetor.  Apparently when crossing the sea a wave had lifted their centre board and twisted it sufficiently to come out and drift off submerging the outboard.  They were now controlling the air intake using the choke.  I guess the main jet wasn’t fully functional.

    For me this is a wonderful thing to be doing, playing with oily things.

    That evening we has a soiree on Mary hiding in the warmth of the cabin as the wind had brought a northern air.  We discussed the prospect of moving on as the wind was expected to be less at 50 to 60 km/hr.   I was keen to move on, after all it is a sailing holiday and Mary is capable.

  17. I have used linseed oil on bare wood before applying conventional varnish. In fact I used to use it every time. It has to be boiled linseed oil though – raw never sets at all. The idea was to have a partly dried oil layer so when the varnish was damaged the oil seeped out and dried. Seemed to work – used to swear by it. Have just started to use more expensive products!

  18. Have used Coelan on coach roof in past v expensive and difficult to patch if small area becomes damaged due to fact that its difficult to store part used tins due to its use of moisture to cure also when water got under it due to damage large sheets came away, I’ve now used a 2 part polyurethane varnish which was easier to apply and hopefully will last longer only time will tell

  19. Coelan good if applied as instructed, but isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as varnish, has plastic look I was also advised to use linseed oil before varnishing to stop it cracking has anyone tried this?

  20. Anybody tried Coelan?  The ketch I saw had its woodwork painted in the stuff 5 years ago and has spent those years on the med.  I still looked good.  I also recall a yard on the east coast using it to good effect.

  21. I’ve been using epoxy from reactive resins they do a primer resin that soaks into the wood and can be used on damp timber which is a great help in the uk. If you ring them you can talk to the people who make the resin who’ll advise on usage and even alter the mix to customise it to your application if they can, as Trevor said we get a 15% discount quote Atalanta owners on ordering

  22. 15-16th September 12.56 Volts 420.5 hours

    I am literally playing chess with the weather.  There is a storm today and meteo france is saying 80km winds in Porto Vecchio then monday afternoon it will be 60km winds building upto the gale on Tuesday.  The choice is stay on anchor in this well protected bay or go and hide in a marina.  Either Port Vecchio or Bonifacio would be achievable but I have just spent 4 nights in a good marina and fancy weathering it on anchor.  One thing that makes it easier is that there are two German blokes here on a 21ft tiki (http://wharram.com/site/gallery/coastal-trek-designs/tiki21) who have sailed from Livorno on the Italian mainland.  We took the outboard off their boat and stuck it on my dingy so we can get to better fishing spots.  I managed to catch two small fish that I felt very sorry for, and put back in the water.

    It isn’t a bad place to sit out a gale.  There is a bar on shore but it may now be closed…

  23. I was advised to use G4,thinned with cellulose thinners, before applying epoxy resin The G4 dries very quickly you can apply extra coats of G4 when tacky It will penetrate the timber far more than the epoxy Description “Bonda G4 primer is a highly effective primer sealer and is recommended for use before the application of fibreglass resin. Bonda G4 allows resin to properly adhere to a varierty of substrates especially wood, metal and concrete. A prior appliction of Bonda G4 primer can prevent fibreglass delamintion between substrates. Although hardened by moisture any porous surfaces should be dry to enable penetration.”

  24. 14th September 12.61 Volts 419.8 hours of engine Port de Rondinara.

    Magnificent sail today I stayed on a bouy off Isola Budelli which is nestled between rocky outcrops making for a beautiful place.  As I was the most leewards of the boats I decided to sail off they bouy.  Not sure if I managed it by luck more than good management, but I did it and it felt good.  I tacked up between Isola Budelli and Isola Spargi conscious of leeway and the nasty pointy rocks.  I will admit to fluffing a tack and stalling.  The wind was forward of beam I was running with No1 Jib (sheeted outside the shrouds, inside only works for the smallest jib but does let me point rather well) and full main.  I was happy with the purposeful progress and the set of the sails.  The backstay pulleys work well.  Once past Punta Lodi I headed on the same heading to Ile Cavallo where I stopped for lunch in Cala di Zeri.

    This is a clear blue bay with loads of fish, you can see these in the photo the black specks near the boat are fish.  It was amazing to jump in for a swim.  I tried photographing them but my underwater camera is my normal camera in a plastic jar flexible enough to press the buttons through.  I did manage to take a photo of the underneath of the boat though.

    Cavallo to Golfe di Rondinara was a 6 mile stretch with the wind just aft of beam.  I wasn’t actually going to sail off the anchor as there was a boat behind me.  But as it turned out I never put it in gear.  I decided to try full genoa and no main,  I am glad I did.  In the lee of the land the was some chop coming up from the Bonifacio straights which hit me largely on the beam and sometimes crashed over the top.   I felt I was overpowering it, a bit, as the wind was getting up but I thought I should trust the boat.  But to be honest I possibly would have gotten more speed with the Jib and a smidge of main.  I was going along at about 6kts.

    As it turned out it was blowing quite strongly as I entered the gulf and it was quite a handful to stow the genoa without getting too close to the rocks.  It is supposed to be good holding but it took me two tries before I set my anchor.

  25. Your latest photos are bery interesting. It looks like it is only a surface layer of varnish which is peeling – so you might get away with sanding it back thoroughly and revarnishing.


    I am planning to fit solar panels to Calista. I was interested to see that you had one on the read cabin hatch. How did you organise the cable from the hatch to the boat? Does it just dangle when the hatch opens, or have you organised something more complex? I wondered about using one of those coiled wires like you get on a telephone.

  26. Just to add my two pence on your request for advice on the deck and coachroof.


    Coachroof: In my experience varnishwork needs revarnishing each year, particularly when exposed to the high UV levels encountered in the Med. I dont know which vernish you have been using – but it is probably worth buying yacht varnish locally to make sure it has the correct level of UV protection. See what do the locals recommend wnere you lay up. If it is peeling badly you will probably have to strip it back to bare wood. My technique to avoid having to strip it back AGAIN is to add at least one coat per year, which renews the UV protection.

    Decks: You mention cracks. It is a problem we all face. The cracks appear in the joint between each strip of veneer. It is the underlying crack in the glue line which allows movement and cracks the paint. My technique is to repair the cracks as they occur. I strip the paint off around the crack, run a fine blade down the crack between the veneers, and apply filled epoxy resin. Then when cured sand and repaint. I have so far always used West Epoxies, but Dominic (Mourn Goblin) has been using a flexible resin from Reactive Resins who will gve a discount to members (15% if I remamber correctly). 


    The easiest way to make the saw cut is with one of those vibrating saws that you can buy these days. Just make sure that you dont cut too deeply, and that you follow the crack. The veneers were 2.5mm thick originally so you dont want to go down far. The advantage is that you clear out the old glue and expose fresh timber for glueing, without making a wide cut.

  27. 13th September 12.57 Volts 417.9 hours on engine

    After 4 nights sheltering from the wind it is reassuring that the batteries are in good shape.  I don’t use shore power.  Maybe I will starting adding electronics that will require it, starting with autohelm.  Then a fridge.

    There is another bigger blow starting on Sunday and getting to a full gale on Tuesday.  I want to spend tonight anchored off Isola Budelli but due to the weather I will head north tomorrow and seek shelter on the lee of Corsica.

    I am going to return home at the beginning of October and take the boat out of the water then, in Bosa.  I can then return depending on cheap flights to work on the boat.  The cabin roof is peeling like any brit on holiday and I need to repair where I put the reefing handle through it.  The deck is cracking in places including where I had painted it.  I guess that it needs taking right back in those places and filling before painting.  Comments on this are most welcome.

    Anyway the theme of today is a beat to windward which is something I want to get better at.  When I get coverage again I will post my findings.  I have taken the foresail sheets inside the shrouds to getter better pointing. I have also set up pullies on the backstay to shape the main.

    I will let you know how I get on.

  28. 9th 12.75 volts 417.9 hours

    Porto Pozzo to Maddalena.  Although I did turn the engine on I managed to sail off the anchorage.  I was particular about setting up waypoints because the entrance to Maddalena can be tricky and there are plenty of rocks.  The wind was still up so I would have minimal error margin.  I had also opted for using the no. 1 jib and reefed the main.  It was gusting as I left the bay.

    When I gibed around the first waypoint the sheet must have clipped the anchor and freed itself from the clew.  I quickly dropped the foresail and re-attached the sheet feeling the edge of the sail from the top.  All this while the boat was rounding up towards rocks.  Rushing it I had managed to wrap the foot of the sail around the forestay.  Not that bad I would just have to deal with it, I doubt it would do it any harm.

    The wind was picking up so I put the main away and sailed on the jib as I had in the bad weather out of Calvi.  Though I don’t think this was as bad as that.  Certainly the sea state was less though I was rolling a bit.  I was still shifting at 4 kts.

    I got into Maddalena and was directed to a mooring which was wrong for all the prevailing conditions I would have to reverse up wind and turn the stern in, theoretically.  Luckily the marina staff were there with their bumper boats so overcame any adverse conditions.

    I went into town and managed to sort out a SIM.  I am afraid to say I have been ignoring my geeky side who was in its elements.  I have to say to have enjoyed something I would otherwise have been very frustrated by.

    I later spent the afternoon watching other boats coming in and the dexterity of the marina staff.  How they don’t get serious injuries yearly I don’t know.

    Maddalena church museum has a pair of candle sticks and a cross given by Nelson in thanks for the inhabitants of Maddalena after he visited many times with the fleet in 1803, 1804 and 1805.  These are accompanied by a letter of thanks.  I would be interested to hear of an account of his visits in more detail.

    The weather is a bit nasty and won’t clear until Friday.

  29. 8th 12.78 volts 415.8 hours

    From Capo Testa I went to Porto Pozzo via Santa Teresa di Gallura.  I have mentioned before how I will stop for lunch/shopping to avoid paying marina fees.  I dropped off at Santa Teresa di Gallura to get a new hat and see the place and hopefully find a new SIM card.  Nice place but the marina is a way from the town centre.  It being a Sunday the vodafone shop was shut, by shop I mean a tin shed on the port side.

    I carried on the wind was picking up as a brisk westerly but I was still with full sail and goose winged again.  I kept this until almost to Porto Pozzo where I reefed the main away and entered the bay under genoa.

    I had passed a large expensive but beautiful overhung fore and aft sailing boat gliding close to the wind.  It was really beautiful thing to see.  Later I saw a gaff rigged ketch ( mizzen replaced by Bimini ).  Glad to see a real boat I was happy to see when they came into Porto Pozzo too.  It belonged to an English couple who had brought it down a couple of years ago through the Midi canal and have been sailing it around since.   They were kind enough to pick me up and we went ashore to try to find a weather report.  There was a bar and the barman basically read the weather off his phone for us.  The wind was going to pick up overnight die back a bit in the morning then pick up again for a couple of days.

    The anchorage is described as suspect.  I was on the windward shore so if my anchor dragged the anchor alarm would have a maximum time to warn me.

  30. 7th 13.01 Volts 411.1 Hours

    Very glad to get going again.  After a brief and unsuccessful argument with the marina over the opportunity they had to charge me less.  The prices were Euro 27 for 9x3metres and Euro 21 for 8×3.  Admittedly and fairly they quoted me Euro 27 ( for August this became 19 in September ).  As Mary’s documents say 8.02 I was charged the larger rate.  I argued that 8.02×2.29 is less that 8×3.  But fair play to them they run a good marina and were very helpful.  It was my inner Scott getting the better of me.

    I was heading for Capo Testa which is a rocky outcrop which as been sculpted by the strong winds that cut through the Bonifacio straight.  There are three anchorages off this point and with the swell coming from the north the southern bay would be the obvious, but for some reason I didn’t want to stay in there and so it would appear would anybody else as it was empty.  My preference was Cala Spinosa but it is a small bay and the rocks are big as was the swell.  So I anchored up in Baia Reparata which was partially open to the swell but sufficiently protected.  I also used a kedge anchor to hold the boat into the swell and beam on to the wind.  This makes it far more comfortable.

    I lost my hat overboard today and failed to recover it which was a frightening thought.  I was in the fore  hatch changing sail and went through the boat to pick the hook up on the way.  By the time I came out I had lost sight of it, I guess it sank.

    On a positive note I saw jumping tuna again.

  31. 5th Sept.

    Ok not that good I am back on daily bandage changes.  Bit of a downer but it has turned out well as both Alan and Jen have joined me for day trips to local bays where we anchored and played around in the dingy.  It is almost as if we were in a fish tank as there are so many colourful fish around the boat.

    It is blowing a scirocco today blowing where the harbour is most exposed so watcing people moor is fun.  I am in the local cafe where I get WiFi and looking out the window it is now raining stair rods.

    We had an interesting mooring yesterday with the wind, prop steer and the lads from the marina bumping me into place.  Except they bumped the front of the boat swinging the back around forcing me power out of the slot before we hit the downwind down-propsteer boat. But made it in second time and all without touching the neighbouring boats.

    It must be said that the atalanta gets alot of praise and admiration.  One German tourist even went so far as to say “She is the most beautiful boat in the marina”.  I believe he sails near Berlin. 

  32. 2nd September

    Not that good at resting.  The weather being reasonable we, Alan, Jen and I, decided to make a day trip to Castelsarda.  I tried to make it a calm trip but the sea got up a bit so with the motor and foresail we made the 10 miles inless than two hours.  The entrance to the marina is northwards protected by a chicane.   It was a bit hairy getting in as I imagined surfing in and having to round up at the last minute.  I was more nervous as I had friends on board.

    We were warned by the marina that there was the possibility of squalls and that we should not attempt a return trip.  So I stayed there while Alan and Jen returned to their hotel.

    I did some shopping and went for a walk.  I noticed a classic flying a british flag.  So hoping not to intrude I went to introduce myself.  The boat was “Wake of Hamble” a David Hallyard designed boat which had been left in a marina (tecnomar.net) until its repair bill exceeded its value.  It has been well restored by the owners grandson who was now sailing it with two friends.

    I fancied accompanying it across to the Asinara national park.  Sleeping on anchor has its advantages too as this was the last day of August the marina costs would almost halve the day after (Castelsardo went 22 to 12 euro).  I was also itching for a good sail.

    We left at the same time but with no wind I chose spinnaker and headed more down wind.  They headed more upwind.  After 4 hours sail we arrived at almost the same time.  They anchored on the north of isle piana amoungst other boats, in a really lovely spot.  But Anchoring is banned in this area so I went to the south of the island where it is allowed.  I am conscious of the damage an anchor can do to sea grass and didn’t want to cause any.

    The spot I stayed in was better protected so I settled in to eat and watch a fabulous sunset.

    The next morning I needed to get to a pharmacy so stopped off in Stintino.  I was lucky enough to see what looked like a local boat race but as there was no wind it wasn’t action packed.

    I headed off for the 30 miles back to isola Rossa.  I had a grate sail back and believe I have learned something about flattening the sail using the main sheet runner.

    Back in time for languistines on a BBQ.

    Today we are chilling as Alan and I are hoping to head off to Bonifacio tomorrow.  Bit too much for Jen though.  25 miles should be a good run. 

    I am going to gat my bandage changed in a bit.  Wish me luck.

  33. 27th August

    The distance to Isola Rossa is 40ish miles.  10 hours was a reasonable guess.

    There was little wind to start with and this was more of a transport than travel day so I ran on engine.  I managed to leave at about 8am.  I but the sails up as soon as I made the westmost waypoint.  This put the wind, what little there was on beam.  As there was enough to hold the shape of the foresail that went up too.

    By 12:30 I was able to turn the engine off although this dropped the speed from almost 6 to 4.5kts.  

    It was a lovely feeling to be so far away from anybody else with the purposeful drive of the sails.  There were a number of birds hunting some coming close to the boat.  At one point I noticed a number of them in one area.  Then noticed why, they were hunting a school of tuna with a couple of fish jumping out of the water.  They were about a foot long.

    It was almost 5pm by the time I arrived at Isola Rossa.  Rolling in with the swell at just under 4 kts.

    I was meeting Alan here and eventually saw him on the breakwater taking photos as we came in.

    With my finger I am trying to avoid picking up bow lines now with Alan and two of the marina staff  I was well looked after.

    There is a medical center here with a lovely nurse who can look after my finger.  So it is likely to be a couple of days rest.  But I have a sence of arrival.  Shame I can’t go swimming.

  34. 26th August.


    After getting a load of washing done I left to go to Campomoto as there appeared to be a break in the weather that meant the 27th would be a good day to cross to Sardinia.

    A bit of a bouncy night but free after paying €30 per night for Propriana.  But it is near the gulf of the bay and being on anchor means a quicker get away.   I slept early and throughly and got up early for the off.

  35. 26th August.  Propriana

    On the pilgrimage to redress the feeling of freeloading I recognised a young lad and thought it couldn’ t be…  it was the young lad from the family who organised the ambulance.  I don’t remember names if I ever knew, it did not seem Iimportant at the time I guess.  They were having a drink before catching the ferry back to Marseille ( In a Mistral, I hope it was ok ).  Somebody up there is looking out for me and certainly this family down here was.  I needed to change the bandages and needed to find a nurse to do it.   As embarrasing as it was to ask there was somebody I liked and could trust.  I am again very much in their debt.  Hopefully we will meet again.  Unfortunately they had to catch the ferry but h

    appy to have my dressing sorted out I carried on with the original quest and returned a bottle to the couple who fed me the night  before.

    Then I aimed to catch up wth the boat that offered me rafting space.  I was also glad for a beer.  To cut a long story short they came over to Mary for supper.  The four of us fitted well, with the rear cabin beds as seat cushions it was very comfortable.  Some wine was consumed while we discussed boats and books.  The skipper had read the Hornblower books (E.M.Forester?) as have I.

  36. Spelling is overrated, hope your enjoying the reading of the Lonely Sea & the Sky. It doesn’t go well in the skies over Japan as I recall.

  37. 25th Propriano

    12.76 Volts 391 engine hours.

    After 2 nights of cage rest (incarcerated for my own good) in the hospital.  I am glad I had the presence of mind to bring a book.  I sat in hospital watching weather reports of a coming Mistral wondering how I was going to get back to the boat.  There doesn’t appear to be water taxies.

    Mary was in a good anchorage but I wouldn’t want to leave her there for a Mistral.  I was now going to be able to move her before the wind came in.

    The hospital organised me a taxi who took me to a private beach just off the ile.  They left me there with my two shopping bags of drugs and dressings as well as my ‘handbag/grabbag’.

    I managed to wave a family down and ask for a lift back.  The jetty I was on was surrounded by rocks but their boat was a small motorboat.  Having conveyed why I was waving them down they moved to position the boat for me to hop aboard.  I had no sooner got on board as the father moving about to help pulled the kill cord on the motor and it cut out.  We started drifting off and onto a nearby rock.  We didn’t hit it hard and I was comfortable that we were in no danger.  But I felt doubly small as I couldn’t help.  They threw the anchor in and got into a safe position and after an attempt at a manual start the engine started on the button.  This family took me back to Mary where the the GPS was sounding the alarm for arrival.

    The family who organised the ambulance were there and reminded me of the coming Mistral. I was really happy to see the family again,  I suggested that they look for the association web site.  I hope they get in touch they deserve more than a side note in my adventure.  As it was only 13:00 and a quick look at the chart showed I was 4 hours away from Propriano if I motored at 5kts.  Best get back on the horse that bucked me off I guess.  Get over to Propriano and have another couple of days resting the finger whilst the wind goes through.

    I set up the foresail and was ready.  One thing that had been playing on my mind is that apart from going against a swell the other way to get your hands wet is lifting the anchor chain.  I managed to use my fore arm to pin the chain and as I was protected there wasn’t much weight on it so I managed fine.

    I got away and set up the sails for a motor sail.  I managed to run the experiment of not using the foot of cable at the bottom of the foresail.  As I was on motor it is difficult to say.  It does reduce visibility though.  I quickly rounded cape miro and was faced with a long downwind section to Propriano.

    Going with the swell meant there was little chance of spray and it seemed a shame to motor for this run.  So set up the goose-wing and polled out the foresail and sat in for a relaxed 4kts all the way in.  It is not only a lovely sail but misleadingly quick.

    I started thinking about how I was going to get the sails down,  but this was no problem.  I store the main reefed on the boom and managed to get the foresail in by sheeting it to dead centre before dropping the halyard.  It came down dry into the fore hatch.

    The next trick was finding a mooring.  I radioed in and got no response I went and hovered outside the captainarie they said I should wait outside and they would radio.   I thought this was not a good idea possession is 9/10ths of mooring.  I thought I could tie up on the end of a pontoon and did.  I left the boat and went to the office.  Another boat had taken the visitors pontoon as they had been towed in with a broken motor.  They offered to let me raft up, I would do this in preference to where I was.  But before this the showers closed at 8pm and it was 7:40.  So I grabbed a shower hoping they could find a better mooring whilst I did.  The boat on the visitors pontoon invited me over for a drink, raft up drink, it was sounding good.

    After the shower I went back to the office.  They said I could take G9 a 17metre berth for the night as it was getting dark but move to D30 in the morning.  I fluffed the mooring in G9 and some people came to help.  They had seen me a Sagone.  Wind pushed me back into the pontoon not too quickly and no damage done.  The wife of the man who helped me came over and offered me some pasta, I couldn’t refuse.  No sooner had I finished off the mooring than she came over with a cold 3rd of a bottle of rose.

    This morning I got up before the wind to move the boat.  No sooner had I tucked Mary up as a bloke came over and said he was promised the spot???  I went to the office and shortly after breakfast I was asked to move to a new pontoon and tie side on.  At least it meant not having to pick up a wet bow line.

    Now I am not so much moored as stitched to the pontoon.

    I am off to get a bottle for the family who fed me last night and redress the balance of the universe.

  38. I chopped the top of my left thumb off with a mitre saw when I was 17 and I can still recall the  agony of it after 65 years, so you have my sympathy.  Thank you for your engaging Log and I wish you a continuing exciting trip.

    Colin A95

  39. 22nd Ajaccio -ile Piana

    7:30 12.76Volts 386.6 hours.  I managed a trim (haircut) this morning. 

    The fore sail has about a foot of wire at its foot this raises the sail allowing me to see under it (or to lift it over stanchio

    ns ).  I see other boats with the lower part of the sail and wonder if I am loosing much wind under the sail.   So this morning I tried attaching the foot of the sail without this foot of wire.  There was very little wind as I left I thought it best to stay on motor.

    The southern part of Ajaccio bay is very pretty and you can start to see rocks shaped by the wind.  As I got close to ile Piana I was looking for an anchorage but there are many isolated rocks.  Knowing the charts are not always accurate I anchored up.  I was hoping to tie stern to but wanted to check for rocks.

    Now, I have a nasty habit of climbing down the rudders instead of getting the ladder out.  I dont want to just jump over the side if there are going to be rocks.  Not heeding the earlier “warnings” I am in Ajaccio hospital having lost 5mm off the tip of my ring finger. 

    They want to keep me in overnight because they have put me on antibiotics.  I have TV and AC and a flushing toilet.

    Keeping the finger dry and out of harms way will be interesting bit as I only have short hops planned I should alright.  It probably means more motor for a couple of days anyway.  The tanks are full.

    Luckly I get an European health card sorted out before I left.

    It was also lucky for me that a nearby boat had a nurse on board but I will remember swimming across to them. One of the children on board had a similar injury due to catching his finger in a door. 

  40. 21st Ajaccio -holding tank

    8:00 13.40Volts 386.6 engine hours.

    I tried to use the opportunity of a large port to sort out a holding tank.  The difficulty is in finding a space.  I want to fit a gravity draining system.  So I went to the chandlers but they had none in stock.  I thought I might be able to order it in so found the parts.

    I think I need an holding tank.  As this is polyetheline I can use a diesel container but proper holding tanks have the correct fittings and a better use of space ( no handle ).  I would also need a through hull vent and a filter.

    Basically after a days running about finding where holes were etc I discover that this years stock is gone and the new design doesn’t arrive until october.

    The chandler didn’t have the hull vent either.  I was hoping to fit this behind the hatch hole but conceiled by the hatch itself. As the vent would be steel.

    The distributer had another shop in Propriano and they have the vent and filter.

    After this fruitless search I sat down to some Corsican tripe to which I added potatoes and chillies.  Followed by a rock-melon.

  41. 20th Sagone – Ajaccio 22 miles

    8am 12.88Volts and 0 engine hours.

    This doesn’t look good as the voltage has dropped off implying that I cannot survive on panels alone?  Anyway I packed the dingy up and got ready to leave.  What I have started getting into the habit of is to plan the journey as a series of way points and type these in to the GPS.  This way if it gets nasty and I am too busy to check charts I can at least the GPS will give me some comfort.  What is important is when out and you don’t know which headland you are heading for this helps.

    Anyway I was visited by two swimming old ladies again.  They like the boat and swimming out to it probably gave a target to their morning swim.  Either way I enjoyed my broken french discussion of the boat.  I hope they get in touch I did suggest they did an internet search.  They say it is the Mediterranean diet I think it is the constant swimming.

    Whilst setting up I was also treated to an air show as two fire fighting boats flew circles overhead before collecting water.  Later I saw that they were fighting a fire on the other side of the island.

    I left to a fair wind which appeared to be headed generally head on.  Once I got out of the bay and set the sails up it became sufficiently on beam to give a nice sail 4knots on a steady breeze.  This lasted a couple of hours before the swell stared to get up and the wind came more around to the nose.  The sea was lumpy enough and the wind slight enough that I would keep loosing the wind so out of frustration I turned the engine on to get around “Cap de Feno”.  However once around with the wind aft of beam I set the sails and turned the engine back off.

    I was now aiming for a small passage between the main land and “Iles Sanguinaires”.  The wind must be getting up ( I suspect that the thermal effect of the land is significant ).  I was healing a bit too much to feel in control so i reefed and got 5.5 knots.  However I needed to be heading upwind of the gap not for the centre as when I got close I felt too close to the lee shore.  If you think about it the if you aim for the point then the closer you get to it the more you will be heading up to wind, by a factor determined by leeway.  Anyway I lost my nerve and decided to motor and pull the head sail down.  The foresail halliard winch caught on the spinnaker up haul sheet but the sail had to come down the engine may not be able to fight against that sail in a gust and they were nasty rocks on that lee shore.  Ignoring panic I got the sail down and kicked the engine in.  Even with that it was a bit hair raising.

    Once past I was in a down wind stretch to Ajaccio and the promise of a shower.  The swell was following so all in all a good run.  There was another boat I was “tracking” trying to improve my speed.

    I got into Ajaccio and tried to radio in for a place…. no reply.  So I went in to look for a place on the visitors pontoon.  I found a place which I could just fit in and went to look for the captain.  There were no places but he suggested that I could wait an hour then he didn’t know what.  I went back to the boat and asked the boat behind me.  Apparently I would most probably end up staying there for the night.  Some time later somebody came past and asked me to see the captain to pay my nights moorage (Euro 23).  So I did and and extra 2.50 for a shower, my first since Marseille.

    I mentioned earlier that the more vulgar boats were English, well I have now learned that they are cayman islands.  Need I say more.  I walked into town and had a look at the big boats.  Then found a small cafe on the way back for a cold beer.  I even hassled the owner to chill the glass.  She was nice and did so in good humour.

    A short while later a group of handsome young men turned up in a kind of uniform.  They were crew for one of the private boats.  They were joined by a lady who worked as “ground support”.  There is quite an industry based around these boats and they all seemed to know each other, worldwide.  I must say they were very professional seeing their jobs very much as one of catering not dissimilar to an hotel.

    I also gained some respect for the owners not showing off as I had suspected but generally chilling and spending family time away from stressful and demanding work.

  42. 19th Sagone – victualing

    7:45 12.96Volts and 385.0 engine hours.

    I have no fridge and it is quite warm.  What I have discovered is that yogurt keeps and cereal with yogurt and honey works well.  There has been one experiment I have been trying to do which I decided I would do today.  So after a trip onshore to find a loo and a swim I decided to try.  See the accompanying photos.  I was aiming to combine this recipe http://500yearvision.com/2010/04/bohemian-flapjack/ with a solar oven based on a car windscreen cover.  See the pictures.  I managed to get 70degrees but think the flapjacks require 200.  I think I will need a small mat black tin possibly in a plastic bag.  Needless to say this batch failed but I will continue to try, any suggestions welcome.  I at least know I can get hot water.

    After this I lumped the bike into the dingy and went in search of supplies.  This would have gone better had I pumped up the rear tire, which I hadn’t expected to go down and took some netting or backpack of some form.  This venture is best described in the accompanying pictures.  But an overloaded bike on a half flat tyre is an adventure in itself.

    I got back put the bike away and food away (Euro 110 of it, not including booze) and headed back into town for some bread and a snorkel.

    By the time I had finished this I went back to the restaurant near the peer with the intention of a beer but decided to stay for food.  There was a fisherman eating what looked like pasta with a mushroom sauce so I asked if I could order the same as him.  He said he was eating bread, which he was at the time.  The dish was rump steak with pasta in a mushroom sauce which I suspect contained truffle essence too.  Either way for Euro 18 it was rather nice with a glass of house red.  I was feeling a bit more human and sat there looking over the bay ( I could see Mary from my table ).

  43. 18th  Anse de Chiuni to Sagone approx 10.7 miles

    9:15 12.90 Volts and 383.6 engine hours.

    I am going to try to be a bit more structured and include when I fill up water and fuel.  One thing I want to understand is the benefit of the panel.  As well as a moor factual understanding of costs.

    I spent the morning swimming as the anchorage was amongst rocks there were lots of fish.  I need a snorkel I have goggles but I can spend hours watching the fish.  I had no problem lifting the anchor and set of in a slight wind.  I called into Cargese for fuel and had to wait for a big catamaran to fill first.  It was very busy as there are lots of small boats around here.  I put 23.82 Litres at 1.56 cents per litre.  This is the first time I have filled up since Marseille.

    The run from Cargese to Sagone was again down wind but I just polled out the Genoa and slowly crept along.  On arrival the bay is covered with little boats on bouys and you need to find a space between them.  I first anchored near another yacht in about 8 metres of water.  Again I was very close to coming up to anchor on sail but indecision as to the best place to moor required the motor.  I had just got the main down when a ferry crossed my bow and haven been given the time to look about I though it prudent to go further into the bay, as suggested by Heikell (imray pilot book).

    As I anchored up the sun was setting turning the hills into a purple.  You can look up the valley from Sagone and see a craggy mountain so tall it is bare, hopefully I have a photo that shows this.  It is really a lovely place with an enormous beach.

    The pilot book says there is a supermarket here and I needed supplies so I decided to blow the dingy up and go ashore in search of a cold beer and a portion of cow.  The first restaurant was too posh and the second only accepted cash, I had none.  They sent me in the direction of the ATM which when I got there was out of action.  It was a long walk and some distance.  I managed to find another restaurant that took card.  I ate quickly but trying to keep the appearance of hunger to a polite level.

    When I got back to the boat it had swung around as the breeze had swapped from daytime onshore to nighttime offshore.  The pilot suggested using a kedge anchor to hold the bow out to the prevailing swell.  So as I had the dingy and the breeze wasn’t that strong I set the kedge.  I set up a compass so I could see if I was swinging and went to sleep.

  44. 17th Girolata to Anse de Chiuni. (NB I have made a mess of dates)

    I spent the morning airing stuff on the boat and filling the water tanks.  I swam ashore and floated the tanks on fenders.  I didn’t want to blow up the dingy and it was more fun this way.  I also managed to throw away the rubbish.

    I left after the strongest sun of the day (about 2pm) and tacked out of the bay and then straight on past the Golfe de Porto.  Nearing Cape Rossu I was overtaken by a boat but noticed his Genoa came down an extra foot and skirted the top of his stanchions.   I though I could do with a bigger Genoa for light winds?  So I thought as the stretch from Cape Rossu to Anse de Chiuni was a down wind stretch I would fly the Spinnaker again.  This time I set a pulley up on the bottom of the foresail halyard as the down haul.  This worked well as it was balanced when I had to gybe.

    I could have sailed onto anchor but the bay is littered with rocks and I was in two minds whether to anchor in shallow more exposed water as a westerly swell will pick up in this bay.  Or whether to anchor near another yacht closer to the rocks.  By the time I had made my mind up I had lost the the advantage of the wind and thought it prudent to motor and put the sail away at a safe distance.

    I anchored up but the anchor drifted a bit so I relayed it and tested it.  It didn’t budge so I dived over and had a look.  Lovely in rocks in 5 metres of water.  I hope I can get it out…

  45. 14th Baie de Crovani to Girolata.

    Having read up on the pilot guide and still feeling I was owed a bit of pampering I chose Girolata.  It isn’t accessible from land so all of the supplies are brought in from sea.

    The trip down there reminds me why I chose Corsica as the destination for this trip.  The granite mountains are magnificent and the camera does little to justify them.  The colour on the shrubbery, rocks and sea is very beautiful.When I arrive there are lads ( I am old enough to call them lads.. ) on ribs directing people to mooring bouys.  I was asked my depth and as a result of a potentially minimal depth was directed to a bouy near the beach.  It cost me Euro 23 for the night and with the keels down I had a foot clearance.

    I went into town for a cold beer and to pay my mooring.  There were no showers and no public toilet you had to use a restaurants.

    I found a restaurant with a cold beer and a toilet.  The waitress spoke perfect English and hopefully enjoyed my company as much as I did hers, bit hard to say when you haven’t spoken to anybody for 6 days.  But I was interested to see how this place worked and she had an interesting life.  The town is mostly a tourist town with about 4 inhabitants over winter.  It is mostly restaurants feeding stopovers for tourist boats visiting the La Scandola reserve.  Lunch time is the big deal with 4 or 5 tourist boats loaded with people filling the restaurants.  By night the jetty was loaded with 4 big money boats.  Apparently some of the most vulgar boats are English.  I left my camera and phone in the restaurant thinking I was going to have to swim back to the boat.  I managed however to blag a lift back with a nice Italian couple.

  46. 13th Revellata to Baie de Crovani

    Well all I can say is that I now trust my anchor.  I heard the wind and probably would have worried more if I wasn’t so tired.  Nice breeze through the boat though.  I got up early with a bit of a lumpy sea.  There were other boats still there so I thought I would be safer to trust the anchor than try moving.  But as these started to peel away I looked for an anchorage that was protected from this wind.

    The waves were beginning to look like Bondi breaking as they passed the boat.  So I got the anchor up and powered out of the bay.  Pulling the anchor in is a matter of using the downward side of the wave and hanging on going up the wave.  This is dangerous as you need to clamp the chain.  Possibly swapping one of the rollers for a chain clamp would be an idea.  I have managed to keep my fingers but have bruised the back of my hand, not too badly though but warning enough.

    Once out of the bay the waves became alot bigger with some combining with vertical peaks as high as the side of the boat.  To get around the headland (Pt la Revellata) I had to head firstly into the waves then go across and then with them.  I remember one wave when heading up at an angle approaching from the side and thinking “where are you going to go, I can’t climb a 4ft vertical wall of water?”  Fair enough the top foot went over the side and down my back.  Keep in mind that I am in shorts and tee-shirt and soaked to the skin.  This is the benefit of sailing in a warm climate.  Mary seems to climb these waves in quite a stable way and  I am having more fun than concern.

    After passing the point I notice most other boats have a bit of foresail out and no main.  So to give the motor a rest I follow suit.  To set the sails I turn up to wind and hope she stays pointed that way long enough.

    I get the jib out and put a jacket on and settle in for a joyride down to Baie de Crovani.  Once I have tucked in past the headland the sea settles but the wind still powers over the hills.  It is a lovely big bay but I failed to lay the anchor properly in 10 metres of water and somebody points out that I am drifting.  So I relay the anchor and test it.

    I had started reading Francis Chichester “The Lonely Sea and Sky” on the crossing not wanting to take the e-reader outside.  So after a swim I settled down to read this while the wind abated.  I like this book as my worries about trip planning are insignificant in comparison.

  47. 13th Port Cros to Revellata.

    I guessed it would take about 36 hours to cross so didn’t think an early start would help much so called into the marina to stock up on water.  You pay overnight so mooring up and going shopping is accepted, I did this at Porquelles.  In Port Cros the amount of water is limited to 20 litres and as it drips out of the tap I guess most people don’t take that.

    I set off at 10:30am in very little wind.  I have stuck a wet flannel under my hat to avoid heat.

    As there is so little wind and such a distance to make I thought the only thing to do was to put up the spinnaker so I thought the lines out using an eye in the toe rail as the downhaul.  I think the base of the mast isn’t strong enough and does not give enough leverage.I set this at 14:00 and it stayed up until 18:00 I need to figure out how to get the spinnaker down without getting it wet.

    18:40 first dolphin going in the other direction doing a couple of leaps to check out the Atalanta.  It looked late for a business meeting.

    By 1am I had hardly made half way but I didn’t want to run the engine by night but by 5am I had hardly made any distance.  I should have really basically floated and slept properly.  A sea anchor with the lights on, there wasn’t that much traffic.I did enjoy watching the jellyfish because the pressure of the bow wave upset them and they started glowing.  So when you went through a swarm of them there was faint glows going off around the front of the boat.  I managed to get one in a keel box which lit it up.  I tried to photograph it but it didn’t work.  Not sure what he made of the flash though.

    5am and I turned the engine on making 5 knots.  When I first made out Corsica I must have been some 30 miles away.  It is covered in cloud but I could see a peak out of the top.  As I got closer it got more covered in cloud so I was still steering by compass until quite close.  The wind had picked up but as I didn’t want to arrive at night I motor assisted.

    I arrived at Calvi and moored up in the visitors spot.  I spoke to some lad who said there were no spaces.  I wanted a proper meal and a bit of pampering (shower,  large cold beer etc..)  There were bouys but that was a different company to the marina and I should use VHF 08.  I tried but didn’t want to pay for something and not get the access to town.

    I went around to Golfe de la Revellata which the guide says is well protected and anchored off the beach in about 2-3 metres of water.  There were a number of other boats some just for the day.  I was very tired and dived in for a swim with a warm beer.

    As another boat was leaving he said the wind was getting up but it is usually well protected in the bay I should be alright…

  48. Perhaps a recap as I have without 3G coverage and even now only have good 2G.

    10th Marseille to Anse des Sablettes

    11th – Porquerolles

    12th – Port Cros

    13th Port Cros to Calvi with overnight passage.

    14th overnight arriving at Calvi no space at the marina so anchor in Golf de la Revellata

    15th – Baie de Crovani

    16th – Girolata

    17th – Anse de Chiuni

  49. I am liking the iles of hyeres.  Not a bad idea to trailer down here for a week.  Most people anchor for free outside the marinas.  But the sailing is great.  I spent last night outside Port Cros having tacked across the Rade D’Hyeres at a constant 4-5 knots.  Again I was being overpowered so reefed the main which settled here and gave me an extra half a knot.

    Well this is the big one 100miles to Corsica the wind is set to pick up a bit but not too much.  I need to maintain a good speed to get there in any reasonable time.  Either way it will involve a night crossing.  I have checked my lights got the charts.  Checked the weather and got some wet weather gear handy in case.

    Hopefully I can lash the helm and read a but I am excited and hope to see some wildlife.  The water is clear here and rincing my cerial bowl in the morning brings out fish.  I have also seen a couple of small jellyfish.  But every day the keels become clearer.

    Well wish me fair winds.

  50. 11 August lumpy night but no wind in the morning.  I decide to do some clothes washing and have a swim.  At about 2pm I set sails and pulled the anchor in.  Boats are anchored quite close to each other so I was quite close to another boat by the time the anchor was in its cradle.  I was ticking forward on motor but had enough time to do all I needed to.

    The wind was still slack but with all the sails out I averaged 2-3 knots.  I had 15 to go so it was a slow but comfortable afternoon.  It is here I saw the submarine surface.  The boat behind must have been quite close it would have been a shock for them.

    I am seeing most other boats seem to make the same passage quicker so I know I have room for improvement.

    When I got to the anchorage there were a lot of boats so you end up quite close.  There is one large boat that I was less than a boat length from but as I wake up this morning he has swung around and is quite far away.

    I have an anchor alarm on the tablet with a nice diagram of where I am relative to the anchor.  I hope it works when it needs to.

    I haven’t set foot on land since Marseille but I need to get some supplies in and it looks like the Ile de Porquerolles is nice.  I will need to check the pilot guide.

  51. Enjoying the tales of Fairey Mary, sounds like a good run out of Marseille.  There’s a balance point between letting out the main and powering up with a full shape sail when driving through lumpy seas.  I’ve never sailed an Atalanta but I think you might try keeping more power in the main and not letting it out too far because the forward motion helps resist rolling.  Reaching at 7 knots either winged out or with the sails on the same side is making me jealous. Shadowing the Genoa is usually not a problem but you do want to keep both sails full and expose as much sail area as possible when going downwind. Sometimes the wind ossillates through a wide range (typically a NW’ly in New England) and it’s difficult to keep the sails adjusted to an optimum where only minimal helm is needed but that is what you want to shoot for, minimal rudder use and steer by sail trimming.  The curvature of the leach and the luff of the sail are good references… do like the locals do, you might notice more from the club boats sail trim.  Flatten the sails when going to windward but not too flat, keep your tell tails flowing…. you’ll be advising the rest of us after a few more days.

  52. 10 August I finally left Marseille not knowing what to expect.  I got out of the bay and started setting the sails up.  Because I was expecting strong winds I set the jib and full main.  By the time I got halfway to “Les Calanques” I decided that I didn’t have enough sail set so I dragged the Genoa through the boat and latched it on dumped the Jib then hoisted the Genoa.  This was better after all there were club boats out flying spinnaker.

    I rounded Ile Maire heading above Ile Jaire being a bit nervous as they are not that far apart what I hadn’t expected was that the wind funneled around the cape I heeled over massively the rudders held well but something made me round up I guess it was the proximity to land.  I dumped the foresail and tried again.  Again I heeled badly and rounded up.  There was too much power in the main, so I put a small reef in the main, thinking that the boom reefing actually does work well.  I then re-hoisted the Genoa and had the best sail often hitting 7 knots.  The set of sail made sense and was probably based on reading one of Uffa Fox’s books on Sailing.  When the wind is significantly aft of beam the foresail has a far better shape than the main.  Letting the main out causes it to spill when going over the swell which increases the rolling.

    I did try goose winging but the swell which was still significant from the Mistral made this uncomfortable and required too much effort.  However I the wind was going in the direction I wanted to go and had dropped off now.  Not sure if I should reef the main more and expose more foresail as the main was shadowing the genoa.  I was steering off direction to keep wind in the foresail.

    Then another boat sailed past which had set a goose wing by polling out their foresail (roller reefing) so I got the foresail pole out and set it up and was away.  I thought about a prevent-er for the main as I had accidentally gibed but discovered that if you let the main track out fully it reduces the distance the main has to pick up speed in a gibe.  I also noticed what I see to be a cunning design.  The track has wedges that place the main sheet pully.  On a crash-gibe these absorb the energy by sliding.

    Anyway I was only able to make 4 knots now but kept the goose wing up for maybe 4 hours before the wind and sea got confused off “Cap Sicie” I had made good distance and 8 hours so I put the motor on and went round the corner where there were a number of yachts to anchor up for the night.

    It is a bit lumpy but free and watching the med evening colours over the mountains is well worth it.  A good end to my first full days single handed sailing, and what a day it had been.

    Any suggestions for setting of sails welcome.

  53. My friend returned to England and the arival of a Mistral wind kept me in Marseille for three nights.  It is a fine place but there are better and 18 euros a night builds up.  I took the opportunity to set the rigging up and tape over the split pins.  I also gave somebody a hand to hang their rudder properly.  They had sailed from port st louis with only the top two pins of the three actually holding,

    I was already to leave when the wind picked up so I booked another night.

  54. Really enjoying your blog. From down here at the end of the earth in dark and damp NZ your adventures in the sun sound like heaven …Wish we were there! 


  55. Since returning I notice the significant effect the sun has on the boat.  A couple of places I have newly painted have split with shrinking wood and the outer coat of varnish on the cabin roof has split in many places.  Where the paint is old its deterioration has accelerated.

    Nothing serious yet but remarkable non the less.

    The mosquitoes are evident and we were both sporting a number of bites by the time my friend left.

  56. Next morning we row ashore and look for facilities.  We find a cafe with a hammock and facilities.  I have bought walking boots and these would have been a better choice for the rocks but we made it back down the hill and back to the boat.

    After a small swim we headed out the short distance to Marseille where my friend would be catching a flight, leaving my car in Valence until November.  This was obviously easier than the 12 hours+ of traveling back by car.

    Sailing into Marseille with the fortifications and the surrounding mountains is spectacular.  The cost for mooring is 18 Euro and we are right in the middle of the old town.  There is also a lovely collection of wooden boats but most of the plastic boats are small motor boats.

    There is no lack of choice for somewhere to eat and drink.  I also sort out my internet connection as the card needed topping up and I forgot my number.  This is the problem with a wifi dongle.  But sorted now at Euro35 for 3gig over 6 months.

  57. After a trip to the chandlers to get another rigging pin, swimming goggles and some charts we head out.

    Golfe de Fos is very industrial and has alot of large shipping.  There are a number of large boats at anchor so I spend some time calculating if they are moving.  There are a couple of shipping lanes as well.

    We eventually get out of the Golfe De Fos but as we are heading directly in the direction of the wind and waves we find ourselves bouncing through waves.  You soon begin to appreciate the heat when you are soaked to the skin.

    As I have plenty of time to work on my sailing technique, which obviously needs work, I decide it would be a more successful day if we motor-sailed and got to where we wanted to go to.  This was the “Havre de Morgiret” on the “Iles du Frioul”.

    Havre De Morgiret is a protected anchorage on a small island off Marseille with clear blue sea where we anchored up for the night.  It is everything I have come down here to enjoy.  Anchor up and swim, no fees and a glass of wine and playing about on the dingy.  I am glad my friend had the opportunity to see this.

  58. 5th August and it is all getting exciting as tonight we will be at St Louis the gateway to the med.

    The scenery is peppered with Castles but is basically hot.  There is a nice breeze that comes with the forward motion of the boat and under our sun cover all is good.

    It is with some sadness that we pass Arles as we left early hoping to stop for the heat of the day here and travel again after some lunch.  But although it is a lovely looking town there is no moorings it is a very Roman looking town.  There are dolphins with tour boats, it must be said there are a lot of tourist barges none of which look particularly full.

    Anyway past Arles there are no more bridges so I lift he mast, loose another pin overboard, use a screwdriver instead and hoist the mainsail and motor-sail our way to Port St-Louis.  The river is wide and longer flat so having the main up makes the whole thing more stable.  With some gusts it gives my friend a sample of what he is to expect at sea.

    We timed our arrival at Port St-Louis quite well more out of good luck than good management as I hadn’t read the port entry times.

    It isn’t a bad place but not somewhere I would like to spend some time.

  59. From Viviers we traveled to Avignon these are long days leaving at about 10ish and keeping on going until 5pm but with the current we cover quite a distance.

    Today we go through Bollene lock, although it is not particularly remarkable it is probably the biggest at 15metres of drop.  For us it was quite exciting as it was full with one large commercial barge, carrying 5x6x3 shipping containers, as well as 3 other small boats.  The only mooring available was on the port side and I has my fenders set up on the starboard side.  We also missed the mooring as the wind blew us off so I headed for a mooring on the starboard side of the lock only to find that the bollard was missing and had to return to the port mooring.  With the mast down but in position it hangs out the back by quite a distance so avoiding the other boats in the restricted space was interesting but by pushing off the starboard side I was able to bring the back around and back back to the port mooring.  All done with no damage done.

    Avignon isn’t actually on the Rhone but on a tributary so you need to turn around and go back up river to the mooring.  The bouyage was interesting but we were very glad to arrive as it was very hot and there wasn’t that much of a breeze.  So on arrival we found a bar with air conditioning and ordered two litres of beer that came out in enormous glass tankards that did imply our eye was bigger than our belly.

    We found a good restaurant and settled down to a hots night sleep.

  60. 3rd August we left reasonably early in the morning after a croissant of course and headed for Viviers.  This place was recommended and as it was on an tributary river I thought I might be able to get a swim in.  It was warm.

    What I hadn’t expected was that the bridges seemed lower although it may be that I was no longer familiar with them.  So disaster struck and although I had applied the learning so far, using the topping lift etc I managed to push the reefing handle through the cabin roof and dent the mast and boom.  As you can understand I was gutted, but as I reminded myself the boats value lies in its usefulness and damage is an inevitable outcome of usage.   So as my friend was with me I was able to glue together some of it leaving one side with a hole that will need some of the laminates replacing but due to the location it may have to wait until the end of the year.

    Anyway Viviers is a lovely unspoiled little town with a good restaurant and fine views.  There is a restaurant near the marina with a dance floor which attracted all ages and reminded me of company Christmas parties.

    In case you were wondering we usually sleep with the hatches open and properly parked we get a good breeze through the boat.  The weather is solidly around the 30s.

  61. Thursday 1st August.  Valence isn’t the easiest place to visit and for the first week a friend was going to join me.  This works out well not only because he is a great friend but also because it gives me a hand for the first days on the Med.  So we decided to drive down and he could drive back.  This also enabled me to bring extra stuff.

    We took a 6pm ferry allowing me to sort things out in the morning.  The problem is that it is an 8 hour drive from Calais to Valence.  So after a long drive we arrived at 3am local time (2pm UK time).

    They were predicting heavy winds for the next day so we spent it sorting the boat out and shopping.  This also enabled me to catch up with friends.

  62. I have brass eye on the bottom front of the mast which I attach the spinnaker pole downhaul to. I also use it to fit the end of the pole when I raise and lower the mast.

    By the way I have just ordered some 1/2″ stainless nuts (for the gooseneck) from stainlessautomotivefastenings.co.uk. Just in case I have miss spelled that you would find it by searching on the name as 3 seperate words. They were 80p each – plus the carraige and vat of course.

  63. On Hiran the boom Goose-neck in fixed on with two thin nuts but a hole has been drilled through below to allow a retaining pin to be inserted.  Belt and Braces.


  64. I am now on the train to Calais after spending a week doing repairs and patching paintwork.  I have replaced the hatch top and rebeded the lower part of the main track.  I hve repainted the cockpit floor (only to take the boatout for a shakedown before the paint was hard enough).  I didn’t go with the baby blue but stuck to the existing colour or something that could be mistaken for it when it gets grubby.  I have also gone around and repainted the scratches in the hull.

    Most of all I have mode some good friends in their “zone technic” who provided the plywood for the hatch.  I ate with them and have fond memories of people singing and playing guitar.  My distinct lack of French was a hinderance but not a barrier.  I have a lovely boat that these people appreciated so we share interests if not a language.

    On my return it will be less than a week and I will be in open sea!!

  65. No – you havn’t cottoned on. I looked up the manufacturers specification from the drawing of the goosneck. It specifies two stainless lock nuts. They are thinner than standard nuts. What you had on the boat may not be original. So you need to get a second lock nut!

  66. Thanks,  I have the locking nut but lost the one it locks against.  It is slightly thicker.  I also lost the pin used to hold the forestay but managed to get a replacement 10x30mm it seems a little loose.

    The light blue is a compromise between the current colours which I am quite fond of and practicality.  In this case it is also a bit of a homage to Mediterranean boats. 

  67. The nut that holds the boom onto the mast is a 1/2 inch BSW lock nut. There are meant to be 2 off – locking it on.

  68. Firstly comments on deck painting. There is a lot to be said for white decks because they are much cooler to stand on, and keep the inside of the boat cooler. The difference between white and a light blue is significant. You now know why Calista’s decks are white! Gets dirty quickly and marks easily – but it is worth it to keep things cool in the heat.


    The nut. Is this the one which holds the boom onto the mast? If it is it is a Whitworth thread. If you are coming back to the UK you might be able to get a replacement  from a fixings supplier – or even ebay. I will look up the drawing and see if I can identify the thread for you.

  69. As Trevor said you cover many miles in a day on the Rhone.  Yesterday I did 71kms including 3 locks and that was leaving at 10 and arriving at about 6.  The water has lots of eddies so you have to keep working the tiller.  

    The weather isn’t the best I wore oilies yesterday and today has been drizzling so far.

    The thing about places to stay on the Rhone is that the mixture of flow, wind and big shipping means you need to find sheltered moorings.  More so than the Seine, Nord and Ois.

    I stopped on Thursday night at Condrieu this is a lovely stop but with a small supermarket and a bread shop in the town.  It is built into an old flow of the Rhone  when they cut a tight bend out.  They also made a watersports basin with a cable system for skiing.


    They also had little personal floats for fishermen there is a picture on their website.  I feel I have missed the opportunity to play with an all terrain segway though.

    Yesterday, Friday,  I carried on to Valence.  There is a large marina here with chandlers and diy shop near by.  I am probably going to leave the boat here for a month (€165) it is probably 3 days away from the Med. and at least half the price of anything further south.

    I am going to spend a couple of days prepairing the boat first.  This raises some interesting questions.  I think I need to give the deck another coat of paint as I have been repairing areas that have cracked.  I mentioned earlier that I bought a baby blue, well I am thinking about painting the deck in that.  It doesn’t look as good as the blue grey that is currently there but on thursday when the sun did come out the difference in temperature between the blue grey and the white both inside and outside was remarkable.  As this is the colour used on greek boats it makes sense.  It is actually hot to walk on the blue grey when it gets hot.  I have burned myself on some of the bronze fittings.

    I have also lost one of the nuts used to hold the boom in place over the side.  The camber of the thread is diffferent.  Anybody know where I can get another?

  70. Just thought you might appreciate being told that your blog and photos are being followed with great interest.

    Your photos of Lyon show the river to be quite high – much higher than when we were there. So the Rhone will be flowing fast. Not a problem going down as long as you dont need to turn around.

    Looking forward to hearing you have reached the sea!



  71. I left Macon taking the bypass avoiding the low bridge.  I sailed for most of the day even going under bridges dipping the mast with the main up and avoiding the need for the motor.  However at one particularly low bridge I managed to push the reefing handle through the hatch.  At least it was the hatch and reasonably easy to replace that bit of ply.  It has bent the handle which will need straightening.  It is frustrating when these things happen but all part of it.  Just after fixing the damage to the bow.

    The wind is less but not the heat we had in Auxonne.

     Somebody recommended Montmerle-sur-Saone so I stayed there.  The mooring is near a Spar shop and close to the town centre so a nice change from Macon.  I did get charged €8 for the mooring even though it was unprotected from the wash.  Other than a single boat it shortly after midnight there was no disturbance.

    The next day I was to head for Lyon and as it has many bridges debated taking the mast back down.  I decided to leave it up as there was a breeze and I would much prefer to sail.  By lunchtime I had reached Trevoux and as the wind was now running in the same direction and speed as the river I decided to bring the mast down properly. As well as the possibility of low and many bridges but more out of fear of further damage.

    Trevoux is very pretty I think I have uploaded a picture.

    I am glad I decided to bring the mast down as I was able to enjoy the entry to Lyon all the more.  It is a tidy city to enter by boat.  There were lots of rowers.

    Lyon is the last of the Saone from here on it is the Rhone.  It is apparently running fast I might get a look.  It is also windy today so it could get interesting.  I spoke to somebody who said it took him 8 days to come up at times doing 2km/hr.  My guide says 4 days going down.  I will stop somewhere for a couple of weeks as I need to be back in the UK.

    Today I have done my washing and hope to see some of this cultured city.

  72. I did stay in Macon for the Sunday.  I tried to walk the dog into town on the saturday night but it didn’t happen.  So on Sunday I spent the morning doing boat repairs including where I had run into the bank.  The paint I managed to get is an oxford blue not the navy blue the hulls actually painted but it looks better that a scratch.

    Towards lunchtime giving the paint time to dry I put a lead on the dog and forced her to walk in.  We eventually got there to the cafe de bois which was one of the few things open.  That and the tourist office.  After a fine burger type lunch and a good rest for the dog we went to the tourist office.

    The guide rates Macon for being a centre for wine so I was keen to learn more.  As luck would have it there is a good place to taste the wines of Macon half way back to the marina.  The lady working there was knowledgable having spent some years studying the field.

    One of the things I found most interesting is that most of the wines in burgundy are either chardonnay or pinot noir.  The main varieties used in the making of champagne.  I tasted four different chardonnays all from the region and all tasted very different.  There is a good map on http://www.burgundy-wines.fr which shows what regions go to making up the burgundy wines and what it means when you buy a wine labelled Macon.

  73. Chalon-sur-Saone is an upmarket marina costing €15 for the night but it had a shopping complex over the road and and old town across the bridge.  I made use of the shops leaving the dog with the nice people in the marina office.  I bought a new tablet larger than the one I lost and a seperate camera as I was finding that I was leaving the tablet behind when visiting towns.  Becides the loss would be minimised if the camera went for a swim.

    It wasn’t until lunch time before I left but there was a consistent breeze.  Save for using the engine to go under bridges and through the one lock I managed to get away with sailing.  Well the current in the river accounted for the large part of the motion.  But if I have enough for steerage then I am fine.  Beats the sound of the engine.

    I headed for Tournus which the guide (fluval) says “Tournus is the point where the Saone leaves the pointed roofs of northern Burgundy to flow amid the concave tiles of the southern French regions”.  The landscape is also changing.  Compare the photos with near Pontailler.

    Although it is hard work and I haven’t had time to sit and read I am glad to be sailing.

    Today I am heading for Macon where I am told is wine tasting to be had so I may stay for sunday depending on the marina.

  74. I have splashed out on a new tablet so hopefully the typo’s will be minimised.


    Verdun-sur-le-doubs was a nice stop and I was grateful of a swim but I think the storm has heralded a change in the weather.  It has chilled off to a comfortable level.  The trip from Verdun to Chelon-sur-Saone was an interesting one.  It will come as little surprise that a big part of what I wanted to acheive this year is more experience sailing.  So it follows that I should be taking opportunities as they arise.   So on leaving Verdun I have this in mind however the weather was still in storm mode.  Building up in squalls until a storm followed by calm.  But experience I was seeking and experience I was getting.  Lesson one when not to try to use the engine to power out of a problem as in a squall the sails are more powerful.  Lesson two how to use the kedge anchor to pull the boat off a lea shore.  No harm done as I chose a muddy shoreline.

    I cannot say how often I am happy that the boat is both light and has lifting keels.  As a training ground 5 metres with often a muddy bottom is comforting.

    Shortly after this the storm  came through.  The first reaction was to keep things dry including the dog.  I on the other hand I got soaked to the skin.  It has been warm so even this has its up side.  Chalon is a pretty place and the feeling of playing about in the rain and ending the day in such a place is quite something.  I was very much on the “cream crackered” side of things.  So much so I turned down the offer of a drink.

    A good meal after sorting the boat out was what I had in mind. Mosquitoes are getting to be a problem so cut an old tent up to make use of the gause.  The dog and I slept with the door open covered with the tent door.

  75. I left St Jean as it was gettng warm saying goodbye to the cafe national after had put up with my dog for the day. For some reason it meant alot to me that when I looked back whilst sizing the bridge up for mast space that he was standing out the front waving goodbye. Then again I drank alot of beer there. Coat of varnish then check on the dog and have a beer then sanding painting and check on the dog again. Seurre had good moori gs and looked interesting but it was too early and when moving I have the benefit of aparent wind. I headed onto Verdun-sur-le-Doubs the mooring tbere is on the Doubs so looked like I might get a swim as it turned out there was a ramp upstream of the moorigs so I also dragged to dog in wearing her life jacket but it allowed her to cool off. I paid to have a load of washing done and as it was hot hung it up about the boat. It started to rain so i bstuck them in the back cabin waiting for some sun. Good call really as that night we had a impressive storm sufficient to fill the dogs dinner dish with water, it is a big one. The dog was restless with the lighting. So next morning I hung the washing out again

  76. Too bad about the tablet, maybe we’ll see the fish go online. Your typos are increasing with the ebook which is understandable, leafy cafe sounds good on a hot day. t

  77. Te passage from Auxonne to St-Jean-de-Losne has two bridges and as it was a bit windy I stopped after the first bridge and put the mast up and attempted to remind myself what this sailing lark is all about. Well the wind is mostly up the river and gusty. I couldn’t point high enough with the foresail so basically motorsailed for all but the last bit where the wind came off the fields. I was probably worth ifor that 5 minutes when I could turn the engine off. To be honest part of it was that this town has two chandlers and I wanted to check things out. There had been a barge festival here over the weekend so mooring was scarse. I found a space on the town quay which is free. This was monday and quite hot 30degrees I am told. Today isabout as hot and as thdog has befriended a leafy cafe I have taken the day to sand back and dress the boom and repaint the part of the deck that I painted in an unmatching colour. No idea ho ever thought the deck was baby blue. Mind you Greek boats are ths colour and the deck is now getting too hot to stand on.

  78. I left Pontailler after getting some fuel and headed for Auxonne. I had a lovely lunch at anchor at a spot that looked down the river at Auxonne I took a photo that is now lost. It was very quiet and I was able to have a swim a d clear the weed from the prop. I sat in the cockpit a d read for a while. The only problem was that the dog needed the loo so we carried on to Auxonne. I got there to fi d boats spread out and a small spot I could claim on the end of the pontoon. It was during this that my samsung tablet went for a swim. The water is too mucky to see so I spent some time pushing myself down with the boat and pontoon feeling the bottom with my feet, nothing. Ican console myself with the thought that it was getting old and I can buy larger newer version. All the same I was familiar with it and will have to set up another. At least I can use this ebook reDer to update the blog. Also being encouraged to post the better pictures they are safe. I knew the swiss couple were their waiting for their friends to arrive. They were an English couple in a classic teak boat. I went round to say hello and hoping to see this boat. It was very beautiful and I was glad to catch up with the swiss couple. Auxonne is a very pretty place not particularly big but full of unchanged hstory.

  79. blast amd other words to that effect the tablet I have been using went in the drink. I am writing this from the ebook. The biggest loss would be a fine photo of Auxonne from my lunchtime anchorage. I am glad I have been posting the better ones. So no photos until I can secure another camera.

  80. Ive found you need some keel to help turn on or else the hull just slides across the water, just a few turns would help Im sure theres a recommended angle something that Trevor will probably know. Weeding shouldnt be to much of a problem at these small angles as the weed will slide under. Keep up the good work with the blog

  81. It is now Sunday and I am in Pontailler-sur-Saone. The last two days since leaving Piepape have been as close to hard work as I have seen in a while. I have been through 32 locks and one reluctant lifting bridge. I was glad of tthe company of the Swiss couple who now are in Auxonne. I stopped here as I need fuel. I should have got more at Rolampont. I also managed to hit the bank yesterday. The keels were up and I was trying to turn to windward. I wonder the best way to do this. The keels were up because of weed and not wanting to collect any. All in all there i no excuse. However the incident happened at a slow speed and from what I can see there isn’t that much damage. I do however like to cover the exposed wood in epoxy to avoid water ingress. I actually think the best way to turn up to wind may be to use the kedge or grapling hook in the bank. I believe the barges basically stick the nose into the bank and let the win bring the stern around. I have started making good use of the grapling hook if I have to wait a prolonged period because the lock wasn’t working and a side wind would push me into the bank. I will swing off the windward bank. On Friday night I moored onto a grassy bank using the anchor and kedge to hold me off and shore lines to hold me on. I borrowed a gang plank from the Swiss. The scenery has changed again with the suns heat and an amazing sky last night. The river isn’t flowing fast at all. Anyway I nee to get fuel before it gets too hot to leave the doin the boat.

  82. Next morning I woke to what looked like it was going to be stunning day. I was hoping to get a few jobs done before we left. I got most things done but still wanted to wash some clothes. We left and were shortly waiting near the entrance. This tunnel marks the difference between the Marne valley and the Rhone valley. Once through I would be decending into the south. The goude says I am some 320 metres above sea level. The barometer suggests 985 millibars but it isn’t accounting for height. Wehad to wait for 3 boats coming from the other side. The last a barge which woul only just fit in the tunnel. They eventually passed and we went in. I let the Swiss boat get some way ahead in case their wash was a problem. I wouldn’t want to be claustrophobic it was 4820metres long smelt of earth and dripped water. It was also cold I am glad I put a jumper on before entering. It does require significant concerntration. Glad to be out the scenery is quite different. As the locks are close together and 5 metre each we decen quite quickly. We also overlook some spectacular countryside. The weather is bright with a nice breeze fluffy clouds an the canal is lined with reeds making the water invitingly clear. Decending locks is also easier as the bollards are a foot above water level. A quick look at the guide suggests that the best place to stay and stand a chance of a fresh crossant in the morning is Piepape. I stop there the Swiss couple also stopped there. Another quick swim and some lunch and I was able to finish the washing off. No sooner had I settled down with a book and a black cloud arrived. Then the wind came and shook the loose stuff out of the tree. I had been airing all I could so I quickly brought that in and hoped it would blow over. That was at 4:30pm it is now 9pm and rainin heavily. I have the washing under the boom tent. At least it has given me a chance to catch up with the blog.

  83. I stayed near Choignes on what I believe are called dolphins. The guide said there was grassy bank mooring but none made walking to town easy. I manage this a there was a level platform wide enough to walk on. This enabled me to place 3 fenders between the boat and the platform then secure the boat with ropes fore, aft and as springs. I was not expecting any traffic as the locks were closed. Next day and the next section of canal involved travelling lock persons who drive ahead and prepare the lock then do all the opening of sluces etc for you. The man who was helping me that morning was friendly and was happy to join me for a tea break. Introduced by me waving the kettle at him. His English was good and I always like to understand a bit more about how the canals work. Including in thi case what it is like over winter when they have to break the ice for the commercial traffic. I got as far as Rolampont that day shortly after lunch. The quick passage due to the travelling lock keeper. I took the afternoon to continue with the repairs to the deck paintwork, where it had cracked and lifted. Later a Swiss couple joined the mooring. I had met them earlier in Froncles. I originally thought of taking the bus from Rolampont to Langres but on looking at the town it didn’t seem too likely there would be a good bus service. I decided to travel with the Swiss couple to Langres as they ha organised a time to.meet the travelling lock keeper. I had said I would stay the extra day. We left early the next morning and covere the 7 locks by lunch time. As they ha seen Langres they were going to spend the rest of the day cleaning the boat etc. They were also looking to what time they could go through the tunnel. A bit of research I shamelessly hoped to take advantage of. I took the dog by taxi up to Langres. It is a pretty an well preserved town said to be one of Frances top 50. I stoppe for some lunch, salad as I don’t have much fresh on board. We then went for a bit of a wander and ende up on the tourist train. It was one of these toy looking ones but considering the size of the city I thought it wise. Becides the dog is old and I would miss out if I didn’t get to see more o it. The Swiss couple invited me to join them at a restaurant they new. This was very nice of them and nice to eat out in company. So after a swim as there is no shower we went an ate. It was a very nice meal and the end to a particularly good day.

  84. It is more about the countryside here. I am not sure if it was the misty rainy start or the countryside but I get the feeling I am in the mountains. Facilities are getting scarse. No crossant for breakfast a the lady with the bagette van hadn’t arrived before I left. There was very little movement before 9am. I left aiming to get to Chaumont. I guess that most towns predate the canal and are developed around the river. There is alot of forest and mostly farming. I am starting to see the typical french beef cow from memory it is a semintal (big white one). I didn’t stop at the marina at Chaumont although there was space and somebody I had met before. I fancied a a night gratis by myself in the country. At one of the locks today the lights were showing prelonged delay so I shuffled about an eventually hung onto the bank with the help of a grapling hook. Apparantly a large barge, which I could see in the lock, had jammed the exit doors of the lock closed because his anchor opened up whilst he was in the lock. As he was travelling down stream these open into the lock. I was told he had managed to damage two doors yesterday. These commercial barges are designed to fit into the locks by inches. There is no room for fenders.

  85. I left Joinville after stopping nearer the town centre so I could look around the town without forcing the dog to walk too far. It is a lovely town with a fine park and a good bread shop. I travelled through 9 locks and after a cool start we arrived in Froncles in a hot evening. Good old Mojo immediately found an english couple with a beer fridge. The mooring shared facilities with camper vans and for €2 a night you got access to a tap with potable water and toilets. For a bit more you could hook up to water and electric and for more again you could have a shower but only at certain times. I opted for a swim. Either I was hungry or the bread from Joinville was good as I managed to eat 90% of a fat baggette. About twice the diameter, they called it a rustic. This was as well as some more of the stew from the night before. An early night after reading a couple of pages.

  86. When mooring that night a VNF (waterways) man appeared whilst I was mooring. Quite a surprise considering how remote it was. He wanted to know what time I planned on starting off in the morning. I said 8am so there it was anan early breakfast and off. I really wanted to get to Joinville though I knew it was a bit of a push. I guess you get into the swinof things and knowing I still have a long way to go I stuck to it. The best place for lunch turned out to have no moorings. It turned out a good thing as I managed to pass the last lock at about 5:45. It didn’t help that the previous lock let me in but refused to recognise I had moored so didn’t fill the lock. I rang the VNF and they sent somebody to.let me through. That made a total of 16 locks and 8 lifting bridges, 3 of which required a VNF man to wind the thing up. I guess this is why they wanted to know when I was going to leave. Somehow I don’t think 16 will be my best I have just seen the other side of Langres. Joinville was full of weed slowing things down and bogging the engine down. However at the first mooring were the couple I had met on the Nord probably almost a month ago. They were well and the obstruction on their prop. turned out to be a bicycle tyre. It was late and I needed to feed the dog an they were off early in the morning but chances are is that we will catch up soon. As it is now hot and the mooring was shaded I thought I would let the dog spend the day under a tree whilst I replenished the supplies. I caught a tick climbing on the dogs head and as it had been a month since she was treated I thought it better to give her another dose of frontline as well as a bath to remove some of the winter fur hanging around from winter ( last week ). I bought a bucket so I could hand wash some clothes including the mattess cover that had coke spilt on it. Whilst doing this I went to to say hello to the dog and she was sitting there with a baby bird looking at it with some curiosity. It was very funny but by the time I had got my camera the bird had hopped off. I believe he was learnin to fly. Some time later I saw him trying to hop onto a boat, I hoped he wouldn’t try as he would never make it. He did and he didn’t. I heard the mother squaking so went to look and sure enough he was in the canal. So I stuck my hand under it and lifted it out. I stuck him in the middle of a hose real. He looked terminally cold and I hoped my interference didn’t make things worse. Anyway later in the day he was bobbing about so hopefully he will be alright. I managed a swim again allowing me to cool off and wash the mud off the side of the boat. I managed to wash clothes rinsing them using a deck brush off the back of the boat. Stopping for the day also allows me to cook a proper stew that will last tomorrow at least. There are alot of frogs here and they are noisy. I am told Langres has fortifications to rival the best.

  87. I left reasonably early after filling the water tanks. There are alot of locks I went through 10 that day (thursday 6th june). These aren’t my favourite locks as there are only top bollards difficult to reach and they fill to within an inch of the top. I have found it easier to hop off the boat and hold it away from the sides when it approaches the top. I admit I am greatful of how light the boat is such that I can pull it about by hand. I have always only uswd the centre cleat but try not to put too much strain on it. It was lovely and hot so I had my first swim, though a wasn’t brave enough to stick my head under it was glorious and gave me a chance to check the waterline. I still have three blades to the prop. which almost surprised me considering. The only problem with the mooring was the mosquitoes. I need a net as we do need the air through the boat in the evening.

  88. I left Chalons-en-Champagne after visiting the market at about 10 am accompanied by another English boat. If I remember correctly there were four english boats including mine. The rest were barges and one a hotel barge. Somebody said he charged €800 a week. There was also an italian boat larger than an atalanta but he was much of a similar mind. It was a sailing boat and he had damaged the teak toe rail in a lock and wanted to know what glue to use as it isn’t coated. The English boats were friendly and we exchanged notes on navigation problems. It turned out to be a lovely day with me in shorts and having to hang the sun shade. After a couple of locks the other english boat pulled over but I decided to keep going. I find the greatest joy in just ticking along enjoying the breeze. The locks were again automatic with a perch outside and the “I have entered the lock” actuator a boats length away from any bollard. For the first couple of locks I would hook on the bollard then let the rope pay until I reached the actuator, trigger it, then pull the rope back in. The problem was that going backwards the stern would pull out running the risk of the nose hitting forwards of the fenders. In the end I triggered then drifted forwards to the next bollard. There was one lock that I used the ladder as a bollard as it was very deep and the bollards quite high up. One lock stands out as the wash from the wier swept across the water in front of the lock. I somebody hadn’t already have taken a huge chunk out of the wall I may have hit it. My next stretch of water contains significant numbers of locks so I hope my luck will continue. I stopped off for a cup of tea at Soulanges as there was a lovely green patch and a house of historical interest, it was a shop that served the barges. Perhaps I should have stayed there overnight. I carried on to Vitry-le-Francois as they had facilities. On the last lock there were a bunch of kids diving into the lock from the gantry. With my exprimental french I was not likely to win an argument on health and saftey with a bunch of young lads. Becides I was half tempted to have a go myself had it not been for the number of dead animals I had passed on the way. A little way further up and another bunch of kids on an overhead bridge but these were less pleasant and thought it funny to pour a cup of cola over the boat. Having the sun cover on took.most of the stuff and tipped it over the side but it was enough to upset the dog and wind me up. I got to the marina which after Chalons-en-Champagne is best described as a ditch. The showers and toilets are only open when the office is and they charged twice the price. It is however off the main route. I had however brought with me a bit off cheeryness in the form of a piece of braising steak so cooked myself a stew with red wine herbs-de-provence and black olives. I then finised off the bottle with the help of a couple from Ireland who were about to take their boat back to Chichester. They intended inviting me but as I had the bottle open thought it best to bring it along. However when the mosquitoes came out in force we called it a night. I wish them luck on their trip.

  89. I stayed an extra day at Chalons-en-Champagne as the weather was good and I really wanted to fit the other cleat. I was able to do this and give the deck repairs another coat of epoxy. The dog spent the whole day under the awning asleep. I started thinking of what essentials would you need for a long trip I would include epoxy and basic wood working tools. I have coated all of the cleats in danish oil now they look neater and hopefully won’t break down like the rear ones. They were dried up and broke easily.

  90. After getting my washing in I left the mooring and headed back to the enterance of the lateral marne canal. The locks use a “perch”. Which is a bit of thick hose hanging down over the canal that you twist to start the lock process. In these days of wireless you can’t beat a physical switch. It was nice to be back on canals where the flow is a minimum. This means the engine is less stressed using less fuel and producing less noise. It also means that the log threat is minimised. I can also pop down at intervals and make tea. On exiting the second lock, at “Ay”, I met the narrow boat we met a couple of days back. They had moored just after the lock as there is a supermarket very near by. It is great to meet up with people you met earlier and regale stories particularly when the people are such good company. I took the dog for the usual bread fetching walk to the town centre. There are alot of Champagne houses here and the town is a lovely place with the hills in the background covere with vines. After a final cup of tea I set out through a number of pretty little towns with the sun shining it was a lovely chugg down to Chalons-en-Champagne. I haven’t managed to see the town yet as I won’t leave the dog in a hot boat an she refused to do the walk. We will see it as part of the bread run tomorrow. It is a lovely evening after a windy day with a nice breeze going through the boat. I managed to fluff the mooring by getting the win direction wrong. Basing it on apparent wind. No harm done other than my ego but I want to get backing into a pontoon space right. I still have some work to do.

  91. We left Dormans to go to Epernay the countryside is now covered in grape vines and looking very much like the Champagne district should. We got to the second lock of the day but it didn’t recognise the remote control. However the waiting pontoon was under water so after some messing about we moored against the large poles used by the larger commercial boats. Although this is tricky because you need horizontal fenders in the right place we managed without touching the hull. We rang the VNF who sent out a lock-keeper. He pronounced the remote as not working and said he would meet us at the next lock. When we got to the next lock he was already there and opened the gate. However there was a log across 50% of the entry and on the side we were going to moor. You see these locks have sloping sides and a pontoon on one side that rises with the water. I managed to get around the log and pass a large gas bottle that was also in the lock. Mum went back and pulled the gas bottle out, the log had moved over to the exit gate. It did manage to move to the side before we exited the lock. As we should hand the remote in at the next lock we needed to call them before entry but when we got there they had already recognised us and were opening the gate. We left them with the non functioning remote. At least this was the last lock before Epernay. We carried on to a recommended mooring but when we got there 50% of the available mooring space was taken by one barge. We couldn’t moor along side because it wa used as a restaurant or something and the customers wanted to look out over the river. We went back up the river to a mooring again on a campsite. This turned out to be a nice place except I forgot that black bouys can be used as starboard markers so went the wrong side and had to lift keels to back out. I have now stayed here two nights and am waitin for my washing to dry while having a spot of lunch. Yesterday we went to Reims where I had to pay for a train ticket for the dog. Not only that by the time I got back she wa too tired to walk back so I had to take a taxi. Today I have been cleaning the boat and catching up on washing. Reims is full of tourists and has a lovely street lined with restaurants but it has to be said it was the first sunny day in quite a while. Sadly Mum left that day to return to Oz.

  92. The next morning turned out grubby so after a walk around the castle we had a coffee while it poured outside. We heade off with the weather still bad but we left the tent up which wa quite comfortable and as there wa little traffic the reduced visibility wasn’t that much of a problem. We went as far as Dormans where a there is a quay attached to a camp site where we could get warm showers. Wih the lack of traffic being on the side of the river wasn’t a problem but the train line sounded like it ran through the boat. We didn’t actually go to the town other than the crossant run in the morning.

  93. La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is probably the best mooring we have had. Although there was little commercial traffic the one we did notice didn’t disturb us with wake because of the island. There is electricity and water is available and all for free. The mooring is also in amongst trees so if it was hot it would be shaded. It has a 48 hour limit on mooring so we planned on leaving on the Wednesday morning. We decided to eat out and a quick wander about didn’t show anywhere outstanding but as we walked past the tourist office we noticed the lady still there so we thought we would seek a recommendation. She recommended a few but in the end rang one to ensure they would take the dog and then walked us down there as it was only a few doors away. The tourist offices I have encountered have all been nothing but helpful. Even going back to the first who minded the do whilst I went to the loo. We left the mooring followed by the narrow boat. It has been the last we have seen of them I wish them well on their travels. The river is still runnin fast but over the day te scenery changed as we entered the champagne district. The weather was cloudy but we managed a reasonable amount of sun. I managed a bit of a scrape entering a lock when the wash from the wier pushed me into a barrier prior to the lock. It happened slowly and only damaged the paint but embarrassing none the less. Once we passed the lock at Charly the water starte running slower. But on entering this lock a pin came out of the gate and the automatic lock mechanism shut down and called the lock keeper, we only ha to wait long enough to have a cup of tea and a sandwich (brie of course). We moored up in Chateau-Thierry where the electricity seems to have been taken by a resident barge ironically called voyager. Otherwise the town is well landscaped with good moorings. These are on the river so I tied some fenders together and floated them across the bow in case of logs. We are still seeing some significant logs and in fact today we saw a whole tree. But as the river is alot slower I am less worried.

  94. It would seem that most of the rivers in France are running fast. We have heard of a dutch barge on the Yonne which when running down stream managed to sufficiently clip the lead up to a lock to have created a tear below the waterline subsequently leading to it sinking. That and the large lumps of wood and some rumour of whole trees. It would appear that at least some of the locks on the Marne had their wiers open and were directing traffic over the weir instead of the lock. The day was as promised lovely and sunny so we headed out. The river is wide and tree lined in the sun we watched the birds skim flies off the surface. How welcome a sunny day is as the reports were suggesting that the rest of the week would rain. At the first lock we were as expected indicated to go over the wier which we did. Not without a bit of a struggle against the current. We stopped at Mary-sur-Marne. Not only was it appropriate but also the pontoon was in front of two restaurants. One looked closed and the other said they were full. This could possibly be as it was getting late for lunch. We got back on board and enjoyed a sandwich. Shortly after a peniche went passed and upset the stuff on the table so we thought it time to head on. At the next wier the signage all indicated not going over the wier but as nobody replied to the radio calls and there waan’t anybody in the control tower I assumed they just hadn’t changed it over. Becides we were going upstream so if we were going to hit the wier we would at least be doing it slowly. All of this was not a good idea as the reason for using the lock was to pick up an electronic remote control that would open subsequent locks. Having passed over the wier with no problem we carried onto La Ferte-sous-Jouarre where there is mooring protected from the main channel by an island. We got there to find a narrow boat moored and a couple of other pleasure craft. We moored up at the back behind the narrow boat with a view over the centre of town. As the sun was still out it lit up the stone work of the town and that mixed with the trees that surrounded us was a real treat. The narrow boat owners are a lovely couple who invited us for drinks. It is always good to exchange news and it is them that pointed out the requirement for the remote control. We could have been stuck at the next lock. So this morning I took a bus back to the lock and explained my story as best I could. It was suficient and after a shocked telling off for my disreguard for the obvious signage I was given the remote and some instructions. Needless to say his warnings have not fallen on deaf ears.

  95. Lagny to Meaux is mostly canal with Chalifert being lock-tunnel-lock in quick sucession. The weather wasn’t all that good but being canalised it was calm and periodically sunny. We moored up for lunch behind an Australian couple I had met in Paris. We had some fun in one lock as the bollard in the wall was not directly below the one on the top. It was about 6′ back. So I looped the tail of the rope around that from the back of the boat whilst Mum hung on to the disappearing bollard with the head of the rope. On the next lock the lock keeper came over an using a boat hook took our line such that we started at the top. We got to Meaux which has pleasure boat moorings out of the path of the commercial boats. Unfortunatly they are finger pontoons at 70 degrees to the current. The pontoons are about 10 metres apart so I pointed nose to current and slowly drifted across by pointing upstream. We did this until we could get the bow line onto a cleat then we pulled the stern around. This left me on the upstream side of the gap being able to reverse the process to exit. We stayed here two nights as Meaux is a large town with a reasonable amount to see. On the interrim day a steel cruiser turned up and moored by coming upstream then allowing the current to pull the nose around and slam into the pontoon. I am not sure how they will extract the 20 tonnes of vessel as it is pinned to the pontoon. I guess the ropes would have had a hard time if they were being pulled off the pontoon as we were. I am not sure what the term is for drifting slowly across the current is but I know it as “ferry gliding”. But other people don`t seem to recognise the term. I was pleased with myself for making a slow and controlled mooring. The river was still full of logs but the leading pontoons were solid on that edge. None the less on the second night I woke to find a long branch caught under the skegs. see the picture “fetch”.

  96. My mum had joined me in Paris so now we were all ready to head out and see what the water was like. I don’t have thw fluvial for this part if river but I figured out how to read the imray inland waterway guide and find that it golds most of the important info. It doesn’t show which parts of the river you need to keep left where you normally keep right. The Seine was running fast and had a remarkable chop. So we were happy to turn up into the Marne where it was more flat again. It is one thing running with a wave at sea but when that wave threatens to push you into a bridge it is a little different. The Marne has a number of canalised sections which cut out big loop of river so we found ourselves alternating betwen large river and small canal. The weather is bad today and after drying the boat out it is quickly returning to it damp state. But as the weather is bad and I am in full oilies we think it better to use the day and get some distance. We get up a far as Lagny that day where mooring is interesting as the current loops around and goe upstream by the pontoon. The trip out of Paris is quite nice and far less industrial than the way in via the Seine. As I am writin this it is chilly but the sun is out and the oilies are drying. The facilities in Lagny are less than some of the marinas we have passed but they have a good restaurant. I slept well but woke with a collection of smal branches at the back of the boat.

  97. Four days in Paris or five nights cost a total of €128. The cost jumps in June. I spent most of the time prepairing and repairing the boat. I had to make at least one new cleat for the back. I also had to clean and dry the boat interior after getting soaked on Sunday. I also had to reseat the boom yoke as the screws were loose. That and the usual dog walking, victualing and eating crossants and the days went all too quickly. I didn’t get to see much of Paris other than walking around the isle of St Louis. There was a great deal of discussion amoungst boat owners about the rain and how now most of the rivers are very high and running quite fast. This means logs and some tricky lock handling.

  98. Sunday morning and the weather is set to come in. I couldn’t do much here and even less if it rains so I headed out. Generally not a ba run still a bit industrial. At the lock at Suresnes I finally did my first radio call in. “No problem but please let the commercial boat in first”. From there the next stop was the Eiffel tower. From this point it gets very interesting. The tour boats basically loop this far down stream and a constant stream it is there were gaps but I think the time restrictions on when you can traverse the city upstream or downstream means they are bunched up. These are mostly big boats with enormous engines as can be seen from the pictures. I was correcting for waves alot. I had lifted the keels thinking it may help going upstream against the strong current. What it did mean wasthat the boat was rocking all over the place and shaking loose the mast struts. What also added to the atmosphere was the number of tourists. Not only was I battling waves but I was doing ib frobt of boat loads of people in search of something to look at. I must admit I got carried away at one point and did a bit of surfing. It is not a good idea to surf on the wake of a boat overtaking another. Things got a bit calmer when we were forced single file to go south of the islands. Very pretty and I basically pointed and photo’ed everything. The current is still significant and at one point going under a bridge I had that distinct worry of not making headway even at full revs. Out from the islands and with the exit to the marina in sight an the engine dies. Tour boats behind me and I am now being dragged backwards. I have alot of faith in the engine so the only thing it could be was that I had run out odiesel. I had filled up the container but not checke the main tank tgis morning. So whilst trying to control the drift I wipped out the container and started refilling. Then with enough in I tryedto start her. I was hoping not to have to prime her knowin the batterie were good I cranked and hoped. Soon she started kicking and dying. It wa still in gear. So out of gear and revs up and a few more tries. Now getting too close to Notre Dame and drifting I reved it har hoping to flush any airlocks. Lovely it starts and keeps going. Panic over if not a little shaken. Perhaps at this stage I should have slowes down stuck to the side and had a breath of air. The marina was in sight so I went on, cutting the corner a bit I rounded up towards the lock following another boat as I rounded the corner I saw the lock was full I had not seen so many pleasure boats before. Looking for somewhere to hang on whikst the lock could be emptied seemed difficult. However one boat managed to move forwards enough for me to fit in. Now at this stage I had been going since before lunch making my sandwich whilst in the previous lock. I was busting for a pee and have to admit I took the rope with me and whilst the lock filled I empied. Inside the marina I found a space and made a hash of mooring. I grabbed the dog and went to the office to register. Whilst there the heavens opened but I was given a different spot to moor. I had one of the beds out for the dog which was now soaked so I did a quick tidy up so it didn’t get any worse. I moved to the new location which was taken. But no fuss I managed a good half an hours close waters manoeuvrability in pouring rain whilst allowing other people in and reversing into mine. By now the rain was still hard so I just wanted to get the tent up an the heater on. It is a nice marina with a garden. I am here until thursday when my Mum is going to join me and we will hea up thw marne (I think).

  99. I left the lock and found the mooring in pleasant location and went into town in search of crossants. I took the diesel container as I knew we had been pushing against the current and that it wa now empty. the theory is that the main tank holds 20 litres and the container 10. When the main tank gets below half fill it from the container then take the next opportunity to fill the container. Nice enough town good boulangerie and market. When I got back to the boat I discovered the wake had all but ripped a cleat off. Better that than damage the boat. I need to use longer lines with more give. The weather was changing so I wanted to get some distance and to somewhere I can do something if it rains. I carried on through an industrial area and a small shanty town. I got a far as Asnieres by 5pm and although the CA guide suggests it suffers from wash I thought it a reasonable bet as although the pontoons come out into the river there are alot of barges which should help sheild the boat. I saw a man on the pontoon who waved me into a space. It looked reasonably well protected shore side of a barge and on the downstream side othe pontoon. On the other side of the mooring was a lovely old wooden cruiser. Made in Lowestoft it was owned my the man who showed me in and is in lovely condition too. He had just finished applying varnish that day. The owner was now sorting me out an electricity connection so I could run the heater. He said the marina (captainary) was shut and there was nobody to pay. We spent a warm night without too much wash but being periodically woken by branches hitting the hull. It will be interesting to see the hull by the time we get to the Med.

  100. Sorry to have misled you ,we were both looking must’ve not had glasses on Glad you’ve seen the sun Regards Jackie

  101. I finished my coffee and had a look at the control tower, here was movement. So I walk up to ask. In a non offensive way he waved the portable VHF at me. This provoked the question I have been wanting to ask, though I am sure somebody has answered it before. “What do I say?” The key is the direction you are going. Upstream (amount) or downstream (avalen). So the whole call would be, I wouldn’t wait for the reply to the initial call a it were. Ecluise Bougival, ecluise Bougival, ecluise Bougival Je sui Atalanta Mary, Atalanta Mary, Atalanta Mary Je sui en bateau de plaisance je sui [amounten | avalen] le seine I went through the whole script with the lock keeper. I have listened to the radio on approaching locks but generally dont understand a word.

  102. Yesterday (17th May) turned out sunny so I decided to make the most of drying. I pulled the tent down and distributed the wet items along the boom. I also took the opportunity to repair some of the lifting paint. Vanity is getting the better if me as I am going into Paris. The repairs on route seem to me to an essential part of the trip. It gives me great comfort to know things are in order. By mid afternoon we set out the weather was on form and although I don’t have the fluvial map for this part of the trip I have google maps and the cruising associations unland waterways guide. Stops are few and far between. The Oise from Cergy down is quite pretty particularly in the sun. Conflans-Ste-Honorine where the Oise meets the Seine is a barge parking zone. There is a marina there but It wasn’t particularly inviting and a the weather was reported to turn nasty I thought I would carry on. Once out of Conflans-Ste-Honorine and out of the barge parking zone the river look pretty again but now it is almost continously lined with houses ranging from block of flats to very expensive houses. I have or will post some pictures. The waterway traffic is consistent and consistently large. By this stage it is getting past 6 and I haven’t fed the dog. There are some moorings but with the wash I wasn’t going to stop. I would carry on to Bougval. The seine splits around here giving a fork in the road and no signage. I guessed, based on the number of live aboard barges that the southern had a wier so took the other. The mooring was near the lock. I couldn’t find it so turned around and and searched up barge route. I found the wier but no mooring. We had been going since 3 and neither of had eaten diner. Things were looking bad I had to find amooring and somewhere I could land the dog for a pee. Near the lock was a barge carrying sand luckily the skipper was on deck checking things over. So in my best experimental french “emarrage possible?”. The barges moor up to a series of poles too far apart for me to use. I was able to moor up on the inside of him somewhat protected from the wash. Nice man. The problem was that I couldn’t land the dog. I thought that if she was really desperateshe would wee on the outer deck of the barge and I could wash it overboard. She didn’t so early this morning I got up and motored to the lock hoping to change mooring to somewhere we could land from. Two and a half hours later and three sinceI was told they would open I am waiting. But we climbed the lock wall (dog on sholder) and averted the panic. To be honest sitting here typing this in the morning sun watching the swallows, I don’t mind the wait.

  103. Photos are a good addition as is the date your blogging so that followers can see your progress in real time also in the future people will be able to see your blogg as an archive which could be years in the future.



  104. Yesterday (17th May) turned out sunny so I decided to make the most of drying. I pulled the tent down and distributed the wet items along the boom. I also took the opportunity to repair some of the lifting paint. Vanity is getting the better if me as I am going into Paris. The repairs on route seem to me to an essential part of the trip. It gives me great comfort to know things are in order. By mid afternoon we set out the weather was on form and although I don’t have the fluvial map for this part of the trip I have google maps and the cruising associations unland waterways guide. Stops are few and far between. The Oise from Cergy down is quite pretty particularly in the sun. Conflans-Ste-Honorine where the Oise meets the Seine is a barge parking zone. There is a marina there but It wasn’t particularly inviting and a the weather was reported to turn nasty I thought I would carry on. Once out of Conflans-Ste-Honorine and out of the barge parking zone the river look pretty again but now it is almost continously lined with houses ranging from block of flats to very expensive houses. I have or will post some pictures. The waterway traffic is consistent and consistently large. By this stage it is getting past 6 and I haven’t fed the dog. There are some moorings but with the wash I wasn’t going to stop. I would carry on to Bougval. The seine splits around here giving a fork in the road and no signage. I guessed, based on the number of live aboard barges that the southern had a wier so took the other. The mooring was near the lock. I couldn’t find it so turned around and and searched up barge route. I found the wier but no mooring. We had been going since 3 and neither of had eaten diner. Things were looking bad I had to find amooring and somewhere I could land the dog for a pee. Near the lock was a barge carrying sand luckily the skipper was on deck checking things over. So in my best experimental french “emarrage possible?”. The barges moor up to a series of poles too far apart for me to use. I was able to moor up on the inside of him somewhat protected from the wash. Nice man. The problem was that I couldn’t land the dog. I thought that if she was really desperateshe would wee on the outer deck of the barge and I could wash it overboard. She didn’t so early this morning I got up and motored to the lock hoping to change mooring to somewhere we could land from. Two and a half hours later and three sinceI was told they would open I am waiting. But we climbed the lock wall (dog on sholder) and averted the panic. To be honest sitting here typing this in the morning sun watching the swallows, I don’t mind the wait.

  105. Ok then it is how it should be. What do people want to hear more of? More photos? More about the fitting of the boat and how I use it? Certainly things will change going from region to region. One thing that may be worth looking at is this website as a crossreference. Please bring to my attention something I may want to see but is just off route as it were http://www.french-waterways.com/

  106. Its possible for non members to follow your blog they just cannot comment I read the entries without logging on. You seem to be making good progress

  107. Going back to Terence’s comments, it is my intension that this blog is readable by everybody member or not. As for photos my camera fish eyes everything. Great for that facebook party shot but does nothing to capture the terror of being overtaken by a prison ship (see photo) or a landscape. So I don’t feel many photos reflect what I am seeing. When I get some free WiFi I will write up a small discussion with reference to photos.

  108. I left Pontoise and went round the corner to Cergy. It costs €13 a night but you get WiFi and electricity. There is also showers and a washing machine. It is off the main river so you don’t get woken at 6am with the first barge. So I have stayed two nights whilst I sorted the washing out and cleaned the deck down. Unfortunatly I left some carpets out overnight and it rained so they and my washing are all trying to dry under the boom tent. It didnt rain last night. There is a big shopping centre so I went in search of a small heater. The young are far more receptive to putting up with my experimental french. It is quite fun and reciprical as most want to practice their English. After three shops I found one. Apparently it is spring. I wanted some french reading material so got a guide for Paris called “Metronome” by Lorant Deutsch. It is illustrated. It follows a TV series some of which are online in places like youtube. Again with free WiFi it would be rude not to. Anyway once I can pack up the washing I am off to the Seine today. I hope to stay at the Arsenal for a week near the Bastille as my Mum is coming to join me and I will meet her there.

  109. Anymore photos ? we only knew you had a blog by looking at photo and to read we needed to be friends Hope weather warms up soon for you, we are fitting a little log stove as plan is to head north, take care

  110. On Monday I went on to “L’Isle Adam”. There is a “bassin de viole” offshoot of the main river for sailing. This is said to be 1m deep but I managed to run aground is silt. No problem as long as you lift the keels and get back to the tiller before you are aground again or in the side. I am getting good at lifting the keels. All of the moorings looked private so I carried on. I am pretty sure it was “Beaumont-sur-Oise” that had pontoon mooring. I stopped to let the dog out and a spot of lunch. The bread shop was remarkable but after lunch and a couple of peniche the dog looked annoyed at the bouncing about so we carried on. L’Isle Adam is really nice though subject to a lesser extent to peniche bounce. There is free pontoon moorings. If you don’t require water or electric. These are provided but you can get water from the locks and I dont use electric. Well not yet but a small electric heater may happen if the forcast is right. Just behind me as the north most on the pontoon, and most protected, there was a the usual park like collection of swans and ducks but this place had beavers too. The tails looked more tubular but I remember that face from cartoons. There are nice walks around there too. So I spent the best part of tuesday there too with a bit of food shopping and a long dog walk. Later in the day 3ish i donned oilies and we carried onto Pontiose. There is a pontoon there too but it is just under the tourist office where they have some nice sofas and they didn’t mind the dog so I sat there going over brochures.

  111. Glad to get feedback. To be honest the weather hasn’t been great so I have been catching up on Tilman. I bought a compendium eddition of his sailing/mountaineering books. On the sunday I carried on round the corner to Saint-Leu-d’Esserent. It is a private restaurant mooring so I ha to pay. However they have hit on a good idea of combining beer and fishing. I mean it is a pub with a trout farm in the beer garden. The emphasis was on the trout I have to say. It wasn’t a fishpond, google maps will give you an idea. The sun did come out so did the mattresses and sleeping bags for a bit of an airing. They didn’t have a shower there so I say outside too. There were two other boat both british but kept overwinter in Holland. I don’t have any 110/240volt electrics other than a rechargable drill. Which I forgot to charge. Luckily one of the boats let me charge both batteries. Now I need the drill bits I left behind too. All in all it was a nice evening with some nice people. I am sure the dog appreciated lying in the grass for a while too.

  112. Reading this on Tuesday so hope all has been going well since Saturday Have enjoyed trip so far, we should be in the water too but are delayed

  113. Next morning we went for a walk to inspect a promised mooring in town. I could see two boats moored up so thought this would be good and we could have a walk what looked like a nice little town. So seeing the lock gates were marked with green I headed in. Thinking this is too big for me I expected a peniche to follow. Soon enough a double turned up. The locks are big enough for two doubles. Where a double is one pushing another where they are tied inflexibly together. Some days ago I entered a lock after a single and a double. I tied on behin the single an opposite the double. Thinking I was faster and more manuverable I aimed to exit after the single but before the double. As I came to the front of the double he started to move his bows over. So a not to get in his way I powered up to clear the space I was pushed into the wake of the single. After some hairy moments and tiller action I managed to get out unscathed but a lesson was learned. “Respect the order of entry”. I don’t think he was just trying to put the wind up me. There was no problem with this lock however the mooring was as high as the average gutter. The two boats I saw were steel and probably had more depth. I carried on. There was another mooring at Verneuil-en-Hallate which I could get onto with the keels up. It is for ski boats. The problem is that it is opposite a sewage works so we stopped for lunch only. We (the dog and I) carried onto Creil. As the guide says there is plenty of mooring but it is mostly taken by perminent barges. There is enough left but the wind is strong and it is raining off and on still. I will see the town in the morning when the forcast appears promising.

  114. That night felt like a front came through and it was certainly cold an windy. The barge owners invited me in for a coffee. Maybe I shouldn’t have left the heater at home. The barge was warm inside. As I didn’t want to stay in the same place for two nights but see more I headed down stream hoping to find suitable mooring in the next town and break the journey up into small hops. Jaux has mooring but with all the facilities and a mooring cost. I stayed for lunch and must say the people there are very nice. Perhaps I should have stayed the night but it was only 3pm. The next bit was not a enjoyable on account of the weather and the evaporating promises of moorings. I eventually stayed just prior to the lock at Verberie. After sorting out dinner I sat and watched as a container of some 85 metres with a further 10 metres of pushing boat manovered towards the lock. By this time the lock keeper had gone home so they moored up ob the opposite bank for the night.

  115. It wasn’t the best of mornings but after posting the previous, a quick walk around town and not wanting to outstay my welcome with the barge owners I thought I would head off. The guide suggested le Francport where the treaty ending the first wirld war was signed. The idea of a bit of forest sounded good and good for the dog. I said “A bien tot” to the barge. I got up as far as Rethondes all of the marked moorings were private at the bottom of peoples gardens. This looked like a no show but to be on such a large river in the middle of the forest was lovely. So much so I had to turn the engine off an drift a while. I had passed a good looking mooring back at “Choisy-au-Bac” so I returned to that. It waa so shallow that I had tolift the keels. But it is in a small town with shops and a bit of a walk. So I was able to give the dog a bit of greenery. The weather after being a fine afternoon looked to rain that evening so with the mast level I got the boom tent out and fitted it. So after a bucket wash I settled in for the evening. The next day I returne to the barge. There wa spaces on the mooring but the mooring was for barges. There is a foot square step running along the bottom then a 5ft wall then the bank with the bollards. With images of wash from some of the bigger barges lifting me onto the lower ledge I moored again to the barge. I spent the rest of the day on minor repairs.

  116. The next morning was lovely and sunny. The evening before I saw a pile of air drying sawn timber. So hope arouse that I might be able to get somebody to manufacture a strut to hold the front of the mast up holding it level, clearing the fore-deck and allowed me to lift the hatch. As it is geting warmer the ventilation is needed. So in my best french and hand signals I went to ask. In broken French/English they came to see the boat and discuss design. What felt like a rollcoaster ride of “I might get a nice lump of hard wood I can use to make it myself” to include “… with holes for lashing”. Soon enough I found myself using their tools to smooth off a strut with a yolk at one end and a curve and rebate to fit on the anchor roller between the forestay braces. All this for beer money. So if you have any significant business to put their way they are the menuiserie marine near the museum. Proper carpenters. Back on the boat I set up to give it a coat of varnish or two. It turned out to be a hot day so a trial of the cockpit cover was in order. This is going to come in handy. Now with the mast level and a place to put bunting. It was a comfortable place there but why stay in the same place so I headed for Compiegne. I managed to run over a couple of logs on the way but hopefully no damage has been done though it sounds horrible as they go through. The book said there was alot of mooring but on arrival it was empty. I thought there must be a reason for this. There were a couple of barges one of which was kind enough to let me moor up alongside. Being a lovely evening after a hot day I cooked and set the table up outside and enjoyed the evening. The barges finish at 6:30pm.

  117. Next morning we both left, the other boat in search of a diver as they had something caught around their prop. The challenge of the tunnel was “exciting”. I was too close to the Peniche in front and could neither slow down for fear of losing steerage nor get any closer. The width of the tunnel is less than a foot either side of that boat. It made me wonder if the water level in front of the boat was any higher than the back. These things push alot of water. I left the other boat at Noyon, Pont-l Eveque where I stopped for a spot of lunch. There is a nice pub on riverside. I couldn’t figure out how to flush the loo though. There was a sign which, in the best interests of my education, I tried to understand. Thinking it was some form of “Please leave the facilities as you found them”. Well the only word I thought I understood was “canard”. I thought what would a duck have to do with it. So giving up I asked “Excuse me I don’t understand the mechanism?”. “Ah, pull the duck”. There was a rubber duck on the top othe loo attached to a rope underneath it. I carried on after lunch as it looked more promising further down stream. Attepting to find a moorage on a side stream lead me through a collection of barges in varous stages of (dis)repair so I turned back. It wa a lovely evening and back on the Oise I moored up next to the museum of bateliers (bargemen). By then the dog wa demanding its dinner.

  118. Quite happy to be leaving Peronne and not feeling too good about being on the Nord I went on my way to do battle with the first lock. In an attempt to be organised I tried to ring the lock keeper. Meeting an language type brick wall I thought my goal would be best served by going for it so I headed out. I shouldn’t have been worried I followed a peniche (big barge) into the lock. The captain was Dutch and spoke good english. The locks are bigger an have a series of mooring points on the way up. The trick is to put the tail of the rope around the next point whilst holding onto the prevous. Then to hand over. I followed this Barge through the next few locks getting use to how they worked. One of the first things you notice is that there is no where to moor. The barge turned around to return to its pick up point. Whilst I marvelled at the skill I kept back out of the way. My next challenge was a 1km tunnel but it was getting late and there was a mooring point an there was a boat there. I decided that if it was British then at least there wouldn’t be any uncomfortable silences. They turned out to be a lovely couple who invited me to dine with them. So feeling grateful that I had bought that nice wine from the restaurant accepted. Again luck would have it they had bought a new fluvicarte for paris and gave me the old one. Well that is it ,looks like I am going to go through Paris. See the picture in the open countryside.

  119. With fuel I headed off for Peronne. It was a big day for me as the Canal du Nord has a reputation for a kind of M25 of boating and would now be dodging barges. The last lock of the somme was automatic so Frise was the last assisted lock on the somme and (with hind sight) waved goodbye to the lock keeper almost as a friend. I got to Peronne, it has all of the facilities but for me too many caravans and signs saying dogs should be on leads. The marina has lots of rabbits. Mojo was met with a couple of them not 5 metres away, it was funny to see long unused brain cells motivate her into a confused sense of “I should be doing something but I have forgotten what”. So with a skip in her step she went to sniff where they had been.

  120. From Corbie to Cappy where my lack of French left me short of Cappy to the tune of one lifting bridge. I had always fitted under bridges so it was a bit of a surprise when I rounded a corner to find one with a foots clearance. So I hovered for a while hoping it had some radar thing. I gave up but as the bridge was basically in Cappy it wasn’t so bad. The restaurant I wanted to visit was right by the bridge and there was some moorings a bit further back. This turned out well as it wa very peaceful. The restaurant “L’Escale” serves Picardy food (the main I had was rabbit). The dog was allowed to sleep under the table. Otherwise I was eating alone. The house wine was that good I had to buy a bottle. Next morning I wanted to top up fuel so asked where I might get some, the boat hire place would only sell a minimum of 100litres. They said there was a supermarket. So I put the container on the bike and headed off. I couldn’t find the supemarket so I asked. “Oh you have to go to Bray”. Some 5km away. I was committed to the deed now so went got fuel and returned it wa a fine day for a cycle. I got back and the man I had asked said their was one in Cappy, there probably is but I have fuel and had a cycle to boot .

  121. From Amiens I travelled to Corbie where I stayed by a camp site. Showers are €2.20. I also found a laundrette. While waiting for the washing I went to a near by butcher with embarrising french I managed to buy some pate and other things. These I tried to heat with an insufficient stove fuel supply. So next morning leaving the dog in its bed I went shopping. I have to say the bike (a mezzo) with a deep saddle bag is a must as I have used it as the only means of getting diesel. However with dog food and a 5litre bottle of ethanol (stove fuel) I was heavily loaded

  122. I left Long and carried on to Amiens. I have to say that the lock keepers are most helpful. I am sure I had read somewhere that you could, if you can fit, moor up in front of thr restaurants. I thought “how cool”. I also thought the boat would be well watched. So I moored up at Port d’Amont and went and asked a restaurant (Bellagio) owner. He said it was fine so I went and fetched the boat. The owner turned out to have been in the navy for two years and made me most welcome. I also stayed here two nights whilst I looked around Amiens. See the second photo.

  123. I set off the next day and shortly after noticed two men on an orange van which I suspected were related to the lock keeping. Not understanding their communications I rang the help line and ibformed them of my boats name and my direction of travel. I have no problem getting the bridges so my first obsticle was the lock in Abbeville. I made this during the tail end of lunch so had a bit of a wait. I then kept going until the end of play which happily was Long (my first photo). This was so nice I stayed two nights and spent the intervening day fitting the solar panel.

  124. …through the boom yoke. No need to lash the mast down. Next morning 12 came around but I knew it wasn’t time to go because the surge hadn’t appeared. Soon enough it came and whilst making my preparations I saw another English boat I knew was pitching for the canals head out. That was it I knew they had gone to speak to the lock keeper just before. I followed them through the lock under a lowering bridge and made for a waiting bouy for the next lock. This one opened after the first closed. There is free and comfortable moorings just after this lock so I thought I would see some more of the steam engine show and stay there the night.

  125. On the friday my friend left and not needing to rush I had a bit more of a look around and do some restocking. I went to talk to the lock keeper but with my limited french I understood 12 o’clock. So I took the mast down and was shocked to find that I could use the mast base pin to secure the mast to the two foresail stansion

  126. My friend left next for work commitments. Another friend kindly offered to combine a dog delivery with a booze cruise. So my canine companion for the rest of the canals had arrived. So now I was stuck in Boulogne in a cold fog with the only crew a dog yhat had never sailed before. The fog hung around for three days but I met some other english boats in the same situation. One somebody I had met briefly through the criusing association. Luckily she offered to help me down to St Val. she wanted to enter that harbour but her boat had a fixed draught and couldn’t easily beach so this was a good opportunity. So after a quick test sail and alot of staring at the weather predictions we agreed to sail on the Thursday.

  127. We left Newheaven equally as early looking at out options. We were going to pass Rye at low tide so that wasn’t one. The weather was supposed to get worse over the day but as we passed Dungeness we had the decision of 15miles to Folkestone or 25 to Boulogne. We into port at 8:30pm after what was a trouble free if not chilly crossing. Enough time for our first steak and chips.

  128. I left Chichester early on the 20th to head up the coast. It was a sunny day and we managed to motor-sail as far as beachy-head before the wind combined with the state of tide to make it tough going so we headed into Newheaven. The pub there was good and we had a pleasant night

  129. Thank, great photo!  My mind is wandering towards an “african queen” type cover.  I saw a good one on a boat in St Katherines Dock London.  I would use GRP poles (sorry Dominic) as I have some from a large tent.  I would create a kind of extended shield that I can either tie to the boom when at anchor or attach to poles that I can also use on the go.  I will keep the grey cells mulling this one over, after all the fun is in the solving.

  130. In “my photos” Trevors that is – you will find a photo of the bimini in use and another one from our easter weekend showing it stowed.


    As Dominic says we also have side panels which zip on all round to make a cockpit tent.


    That also makes it mosquito proof. W e also use one of those 12volt electric zappers which heats the usual mosqueto pellets, and fly screens for all hatches and ventilators.


    Mosquetos can be a problem throughout the Med – but if you are lucky you can moor away from the land – and you wont have problems until the wind drops.

  131. Trevor on the subject of flexible tent poles I would suggest you source aluminium ones as the GRP ones that most cheap tents use split easily along their length.

  132. I knew we had failed to discuss something important!


    The big problen with adding a Bimini to an Atalanta is that the boom is EXTREMELY low.

    You are correct to comment that you would be crawling around on all 4’s.

    A removable “tent” might seem like a solution – but that will only work when you are not sailing. It would also be a problem motoring – in that it will make it more difficult to get sail up if needed in a hurry as well as significantly reduce visibility.


    Having a cover over you in the day when you are at sea is really important. You will end up burnt, and with sore lips without it. If the bimini can stay up all the time you will get the most benefit from it. I will try and find some phitis of Calista’s to post for you.


    We have also had canvas covers which extend the bimini forward so that we can also cover the main cabin to the mast, and even further to the pulpit. Before I next go to the Med I intend to remake these covers so that an extension zips onto the front of the Bimini to reach the mast. I would use flexible tent poles to stretch it sideways, and tie it under the boom. Then the ends of the poles can be tied to the guardrails. Might do something similar for the aft deck, but that might make it more difficult to get on and off.

  133. As usual Trevor is probably the person to answer this one he has a fantastic bimini that converts into a tent on Calister

  134. Any suggestions on a bimini design.  I take this as essential kit for the heat of the sun in the med.  I am considering something I can keep below the boom but have images of me crawling around on all fours.  Possibly a full cockpit cover with a mosquito net for the evenings, one that can be raised when the sails are stowed?  Any designs available or functional bodges? 

  135. A solar panel is a good idea if you are in the Mediteranean. Whether 50 watts will be enough is difficult to say without working out your daily requirements.

    Think of every electrical item that you have on board that will be used in harbour. See how much current they each use. ( to get the current devide the wattage by 12) Estimate how many hours each will be used each day. multiply each current by each hours and add them all together. This will give the ampere hours you will use per day.

    Now the solar panel will generate for perhaps 12 hours. it will give 50 watts(4 amperes) for some of those hours but you are more likely to get 40 watts(3 amperes) on average over those 12 hours. So you might get 36 ampere hours out of it. 


    That is likely to be more than adiquate for cabin lighting in the evening.


    However if you start to add extra loads, such as a laptop, or particularly an electric coolbox (or refridgerator) it wont have much effect. A marine fridge uses an average of 2.5 amperes and is on all the time in the med (24 hours) so it will use 60 ampere hours per day.  That is twice what the solar panel produces. So without a solar panel the 60 AH battery would be flat in one day, and with the 50 watt panel flat in two days.

    So going back to the initial question you really need to calculate the electrical load you think you will need and how many days you want to be in one place and calculate the panel size accordingly. Bear in mind that if the panel cant supply the full load per day then you will have to motor for some time when you do move on.


    Siting the panel. I am not convinced you will get a 50 watt panel on the aft hatch. I have thought about putting a panel there but have noted that it is often shaded by the boom or something else – so it would not produce much power. Also I couldn work out how to run the wires without them trailing loose.


    I use a flexible 50 watt panel which is about 400mm x 1.5m and can be draped over the boom or tied wherever it will catch the sun. In the UK it gives a maximum of 2.5 amperes and in the Med a maximum of 3.5 amperes. I have found that we can stay still relying on the panel for 4 days and then we need to move on, run the engine or find a shore supply That is with a fridge turned on for 15 hours a day).


  136. I am thinking of putting a solar panel on to keep the batteries topped up if I stay still for a while.  Any suggestions, the obvious mount point is the aft hatch.  Is 50Watts sufficient, assuming I don’t have many of the modern distractions and LED bulbs?

  137. I think that you would be well advised to get a new mainsail, particularly as you are planning a long trip for next year. The mediteranean is normally benign in the summer (but it can be very windy at times) and you have to get to the Somme Estuary. I dont think the price you have been quoted is unreasonable, although I would get two other quotes as a check.

    I would definately recommend  reusing the slides if yours are metal ones. Plastic ones are never quite the correct size, and even when modified they never quite fit properly. Also plastic components which replace metal ones ALWAYS have a reduced life expectancy – irrespective of what we are talking about.



  138. I took my main sail in to get the batten pockets repaired.  I was told that they couldn’t guarantee the repair as the sail was chronologically disadvantaged, soggy beer mats were discussed.  This was Suffolk Sails, they are talking in the order of £500+vat to make a new one.  So considering the cost of trying to repair the old this seems fair.  But this raises some questions.  Does anybody know of a good main sail that I could buy to save me some pennies?  If I do get a new one should I insist on using the brass mast attachments?  Are “the modern equivalent” any good?  A friend has recently got a main sail made for a dingy by them and is happy with the result.

  139. What a wonderful trip to be planning – very exciting! Presumably you intend to be away for a long time?

    Dinah and I spent 2.5 years away on a similar trip – but it was a long time ago.

    As a point of entry into the French canals St Valery may not be the easiest. The estuary is potentially dangerous, and has strong tides. The channel to St Valery is well marked but you need to start the entry very early on the tide to get all the way to St Valery.

    The canals themselves are wonderful, but you do need to allow about 4 weeks to get to St Louis (one western exit to the Med). The Rhone can be difficult if there is a lot of rain, but of course that is more of a problem for a return trip. The Rhone seems a long part of the trip – but you cover many miles each day – (partly because there are few places to stop).

    Be aware that the western Med is pretty busy, and highly developed, so expect to have to spend most nights in marinas.


    Anyway dont be put off and have a great time!



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