13 November 2018
Written by Cate & Dave Williams aboard their Fountaine Pajot Saba 50
After an early 0400 start and a 14 hour journey with some good reaches we arrived in the beautiful Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, just east of Monaco. What a wonderful time to be sailing along the French Riviera – warm and sunny days with just that slight bitter sweetness of autumn.
The summer crowds had gone and there were anchorages aplenty. We were very impressed with Monaco, not only were we able to weave our way through superyachts and tie-up just outside the Yacht Club de Monaco but the place is so green and clean and tidy, hands down winner of the cleanest marina of the year. We wandered up through the gardens to the palace and promised ourselves that we would visit the Musée Océanographique in 2019 – Jacques-Yves Cousteau was director there for 30 years.
Travelling west around Cap Ferrat is the picture-perfect Villefrance-Sur-Mer, large homes and well established leafy gardens and the intriguing Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – a pink Venetian style villa atop 17 acres of Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat filled with paintings, sculptures, furniture, silks, porcelain and objects d’art from Béatrice’s global wanderings. Numerous themed gardens and at one time (sadly not now) a zoo filled with exotic birds and animals. We spent a couple of nights at anchorage there, tendered around to Nice and when weighing anchor found we had wrapped ourselves around several mooring blocks, crafty manoeuvrings and a broken shackle later….we were free.
Next stop Antibes and another museum, I was in my element, this time the Musée Picasso formerly the Château Grimaldi where Pablo had lived and worked for a time. It was wonderful to wander through rooms of sketches and paintings from his time spent in Juan-les-Pins and Antibes during the 1930s and 40s.
And on to Cannes where we shared the best pizza aux fruits de mer ever, after which I jumped on a train to Grasse and attended a perfume workshop. Grasse is the home to many perfume houses supported by a large local floral horticulture industry, walking from the station to the workshop the air was so sweet! I enjoyed a land break and the challenge – it was actually quite difficult developing a formula through a process of elimination.
From there on the weather started getting colder, windier, stormier and quite frankly not that much fun, daylight savings ended and the puffers came out. Saint-Tropez, the Îles d’Hyères, Toulon and Marseille. We started experiencing 40+ knot gusts at anchor and whether it was slight wind direction changes, an inflexible bridle or just poor holding, we dragged anchor many times, in the rain, in the wind, in the dark…sigh…final anchorage was in the Golfe des Fos – arriving in dark into a large industrial port bay, large ships, tarry smoke and smell, gas flares, heavy rain, thunder and lightning (a bit like Satan’s lair actually) but at least anchor the held; air and sea temperature 17 degrees.
Planned haul-out was in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône on Nov 5th so we spent a couple of days in the bay winterising our watermaker and aircon, vacuum bagging bedding, cleaning and attending to numerous other stowage tasks. Haul-out was on a dismal, cold, rainy day but with NOETA safely laid up on the hard, we could finish our winterisation and cleaning, and start planning for the next season a little more easily. Having local rental accommodation and a car was a big help.
We flew out of Aéroport de Marseille Provence on Nov 13th via a relaxing two night stay and explore in Avignon – the autumn colours were stunning and the old walled town had lost none of its historical charm.
We had travelled 3,000 nautical miles in 185 days, visited 7 countries, done 330 hours on each engine, 397 hours on our genset and 250 hours on our watermaker (250 x 180 = 45,000 L).