our Journey

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The next day was a bit of a challenge.  We set out for Toulon early because the forecast was for strong winds later in the day.  By the time we got half way across the bay the winds started lifting.  We furled the genoa and, after another hour, we furled the mainsail to half size.  The wind was coming at 150 or so degrees and so it was a rapid downwind sail.  The swell was coming across the boat on the starboard and so we were getting tossed around a bit.  Some swells touched 2 metres and the wind topped out at 35 knots(yes knots).  Mostly the wind was around 15-20.  Anne was at the helm and did a magnificent job.  On one particularly big wave which caught us broadside, the drinking glasses flew out of their racks and crashed to the floor.  Two broken wine glasses and other s. Damn, it’s back to drinking beer (I still can’t believe that I can buy 2.5 litres of full strength beer for AU$3).

A regatta near the Ile de Porquerolles
During the 4 1/2 hour journey, the boat behaved calmly and without any feeling that it was overloaded.  We now feel a lot more assured that she will look after us in difficult times.   We reduce sail when we are getting over 7 knots of speed over ground and, although it makes for a longer journey, it reduces the forces on sails etc and the twitchiness of helming downwind.

Nevertheless, we still touched 8 knots and across one of the bays which was sheltered from the swell, enjoyed the force of the wind, and sat on 6.5 to 7 knots on the mainsail alone.

After taking the long motor journey across the Baie du Lazaret, we finally moored in Toulon at Darse Vieille.  It took us all of 5 minutes to find the mega shopping centre and do the usual Carrefour/food/Macdo/internet routine,  It seemed that every car in Toulon was travelling down the road one back from the quai, but the pedestrian crossings were good.  Toulon is an unusual place.  Much of it was flattened during WW2 and so the buildings feel fairly 20th C.  It is still the naval base for half of the French fleet and so there are a lot of very large grey ships everywhere.

The port de plaisance is next door to the Corsica/Sardinia ferry terminal and so we were entertained by hundreds of cars streaming on board and then the gigantic ferry boats steaming out.  There were 3 or four arrivals/departures during the day.

We have holed up for Wednesday because the Mistral is blowing even stronger than it did last night.  Here is the forecast for Toulon for Wednesday:
Wed 16 May
CEST WindAvg. Gust
02:00 NW27 kt to 40 kt
05:00 NW 27 kt to 39 kt
08:00 NW 26 kt to 37 kt
11:00 NW 28 kt to 35 kt
14:00 NW 30 kt to 37 kt
17:00 NW 31 kt to 38 kt
20:00 NW 26 kt to 36 kt
23:00 NNW 16 kt to 20 kt

39 knots of wind is  70 kilometres an hour; it’s fairly hard to stand up straight in that sort of wind.  Out on the open sea, you might expect it to blow 10%- 20% more.

Fairly scary to say the least.

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