Kurukulla at Englishman's Bay, Tobago

Friday, 4 November 2016

Corsica (Calvi) to Marseilles (Port Saint Louis)

Departing Calvi
The marina at Calvi looks well protected but has one built in problem. When a swell from the north passes across the entrance, on its way to break on the beaches of the bay, it creates a surge in the marina that runs from end to end, the length of the marina. The length of the marina and its construction give it a natural frequency that allows this surge to build up with each passing swell at the entrance. The result is a need to keep boats well hauled off the pontoons, by at least a metre, and ensure that the double holding off ropes are taught and equally tensioned. We had arrived in a near flat calm but 12 hours later all of the boats in the marina were shuffling to and fro, in a mad dance, trying to part their stern lines and holding off lines.
Calvi to Cavaliere
We had rigged additional stern lines, with springs included, to try to prevent any sudden arrest of this motion; an event that would risk tearing out the stern cleats and fairleads; in this we were successful. By 0300 I could hear, from my bunk, the sounds of a boat striking the jetty hard. A quick look out of the hatch confirmed that the motor boat next to us was trying to climb onto the concrete pontoon stern first! I made a leap across the gap between us and tightened his holding off lines, in an attempt to prevent any further damage, and then realised that by doing so I had arrested his lateral motion as well, permanently widened the gap between the boats and making getting back to Kurukulla a more difficult prospect. This would not have mattered if it were not for the fact that I was now marooned on his foredeck wearing nothing more than I sleep in, i.e. nothing! After a few minutes the next bout of violent shuffling fore and aft created a brief opportunity to jump back across the gap, solving my dual problem of getting back to my warm bunk and saving my modesty.
The other problem with the marina was with their electrical supplies. I had twice noticed that on occasions the polarity indicators on Kurukulla's switchboard were indicating that both live and neutral wires were live (they should not be); not only this but on further investigation I discovered that the live wire was carrying 370V and the neutral 135V, something was very wrong!
Algajola beach
Although the voltage seen by the Kurukulla systems was the difference between the live and neutral, (i.e 235V = normal voltage) the systems insulation was not designed for 370V on the live side. We disconnected and informed the marina staff of the problem. They seemed particularly uninterested until I informed them they had a potentially lethal fault! What action they took I have no idea as we did not receive any feedback; I just hope they traced the fault before it caused a tragedy.
With the north swell and the strong winds offshore that were creating it we were loathe to set off across the 100 mile gap and head north to the Cote d'Azur; that is until the conditions were right. For this reason we spent two nights in the marina waiting for the swell to decline before venturing out and a further two nights at anchor off the beach at Algajola; this time waiting for a suitable wind forecast. Having had a rough and challenging crossing between Greece and Italy and again from Sicily to Sardinia we were determined to get the timing this one right! The weather was now back to almost consistent sunshine with only light cloud and thus this final sojourn off the beach was a pleasurable end to our time in Corsica.
The evening descends
Monday morning at 0930 saw us motoring out of the bay at Algajola in an almost flat calm. Our problem now was to be a lack of wind! The sea was so calm you could see the reflection of the sky in it! Ten hours later and we were still motoring however as soon as we opted to cook supper the inevitable happened and the wind filled in, on the beam, giving us a brisk reach towards our destination in cold but not unpleasant conditions. The wind was set to last for most of the rest of the night which made the passage rather more pleasant. Our only problem was a Corsica/Sardinia Lines ferry which was lit up like a fair ground ride with a variety of blue, red and white lights such that its navigation lights were completely indistinguishable from the rest of the illuminations. With him approaching from our port bow, on a steady bearing at 19 knots (from AIS), and apparently making no attempt to avoid us, we stood on until it became unsafe to do so and then took the only action possible, a dramatic alteration to port, (turning to starboard would have simply placed us further in his path).
Anchored at Anse de Cavalaire
Despite our navigation lights, radar reflector and illuminating our sails I am not sure he ever knew we were there; he carried on regardless. So much for standards of watch-keeping in that company! That was the only moment of excitement in the whole crossing. By 0500 we were sailing into the bay at Anse du Cavaliere where, at the western end, there is an anchorage sheltered from the forecast west winds with a delightful small beach behind. We ghosted in by moon light, dropped the sails and motored the last few hundred metres into the bay. There followed a well deserved few hours of rest!
The bay at Anse de Cavaliere was delightful and we spent three nights there. In the small town was a Spar and Boulangerie, hence we had all that we needed available to us.
Cavalaire to Port Sait Louis
By the third morning the winds had returned we set off for the 30 mile trek to the Baie de Saint Elme, just to the west of the entrance to the harbour of Toulon. As the day went on the winds veered and increased so that by the time we crossed the entrance to Toulon harbour it was blowing 25 to 30 kts from the west. On arrival we anchored at the western end of the bay in 3m of water on pure sand, ideal to see out any blow.
Sunset at Jonquet Beach, Baie de St-Elme
Next morning we moved over to a smaller beach on the eastern side of Cap Sicie by the name of Plage du Jonquet where we spent two days waiting for the forecast change in wind direction from west to east. Late in the second day the wind finally changed as forecast and we motored the short distance west to anchor in the shelter between Les Isles Embiez and the Port du Brusc. As we arrived the weather turned wet and windy and so we spent a comfortable night there, thankful for the shelter we had found.
The next day was equally dark and stormy with wind whistling through the rigging.
Jonquet Beach, Baie de St-Elme
By mid afternoon we had had enough and decided to brave the weather and go downwind under “Solent Rig” (Genoa alone) to the bay at Cassis, where the shelter was likely to be equally good, if not better, and we would be 15 miles nearer Port Saint Louis, our final destination. We were wrong! Although the bay at Cassis faces south and we were tucked right into the north eastern corner, well out of the worst of the east wind, the swell was curling into the bay and pushing breakers onto the beach, to an extent that there were surfers riding the waves breaking onto the rocks in the centre of the bay. Given that there was at least shelter from the wind we opted to stay for the night but it was never going to be a comfortable one.
Departing Ile des Emblier
We rolled our way through the night and by 1000 the next morning we were ready to leave and press on to the west. It was again a Solent Rig sail downwind; all fairly dull until we neared Cap Croisette where we surfed downwind across the Plateau de Chevres (interesting surfing downwind in 7m of water) and soon rounded Ile Maire finally finding shelter behind the cape near Les Goudes. The anchorage was well sheltered from the swell but that did not stop the wind howling through the rigging for the next 48 hours! We opted to stay put until it abated!
On the morning of 26 October we only had 48 hour to go until Kurukulla was due to be lifted out at Navy Service, Port Saint Louis, and by this time the wind had eventually transformed itself to a light to moderate northerly.
Christoph looking windswept, on passage
Given that time was now short we decided to make direct for the anchorage at Anse de Verdon, near Carro, at the eastern edge of the Golfe du Fosse and only an hour from Navy Service. Here we could do a lot of the preparations for lifting out, thereafter motoring for the final leg to Navy Service; our plan was to arrive at Navy Service, Port Saint Louis on the evening before the lift (they have very little alongside berthing space hence our desire not to get there too early). The sail across was a pleasant beat with the wind increasing just enough to force us to reef the mainsail and genoa, just our luck! A good sail nonetheless for the last sail of the season.
Anse du Verdon
Having spent the night anchored in Anse de Verdon the morning was spent as planned, initially de-rigging sails, followed by a very cold hour in the water cleaning the waterline, nothing that a hot coffee and tot of whisky couldn't cure. This was followed by a short 4 mile hop, under engine, to the fuelling berth in Port de Bouc followed by a further 5 mile leg westwards across the Golfe de Fosse and into the Canal St Louis before berthing alongside at Navy Service just as the sun set.
Friday dawned bright and clear, just as forecast; an ideal day for the lift out. By 1300 I had completed the engine oil change and we were ready to lift.
Golfe du Fos waterfront. Not quite like Marmaris!
The Navy Service boat lift is remote controlled and slightly unnerving as you watch the boat heading off towards its winter storage space with no one onboard the boat lift and driving it! That said the team were well experienced at their task and all was completed without incident.
The next two days were spent cleaning Kurukulla and organising some minor repairs, to be undertaken during the winter. By Monday morning the cover was on, everything stowed and Christoph (who had stayed behind to assist with the packing away) and I were ready to depart for Marseilles Airport, him en route to Switzerland and me back to UK. The end of another season. Next year France to the Canary Islands........
Alongside Navy Service

Ashore at Navy Service

Ashore at Navy Service (plus mosquito!)

No comments: