Mor Toad / Moy Toad
David and Jocelyn Fawcett
Wed 29 May 2019 09:26
Having spent three nights in the harbour at Sanary sur Mer which is a lovely town ‘faded elegance’ and where my parents bought us camping in the early 60’s so it was a trip down memory lane and I have always fancied being in the harbour so finally made it. David and I have visited a couple of times once about 10 years ago when we stayed in the Hotel de la Tour overlooking the harbour and where my parents used to bring us kids for an end of holiday treat meal. We also visited Sanary winter before last when we were looking at marinas along the coast near Nice for where we could leave the boat and we eventually chose Port St. Jean.

Whilst we were in Sanary we had a good look round and had several nice meals out including one in Hotel de la Tour which is now 3rd generation run. We also walked west to Bandol and east onto a peninsula which is where I believe we camped but now all very built up. However both very windy walks and the sea certainly very lumpy hence our reason for staying there as long as we did. There were extremely good markets there and also a ‘not so easy’ mini golf which we had a go on. This brought back memories of our time sailing in the Baltic when every marina seemed to have a mini golf course attached. There was also a very good dive museum - Jacques Cousteau and Frederic Dumas had lived in Sanary. Unfortunately the Tour was not open as that has been renovated and now houses an Archaeolgical museum of relics found under water. All in all a very good stay. After our three nights we then headed out and just 3NM south to anchor off an island called Ile des Embiez. Pleasant anchorage and a couple of trips ashore one to weigh the place up and visit the chandlery for glue (one of the rollicks has come off the rubber dinghy so repair required) and on the second visit to walk the island and also to visit the museum and aquarium which are part of The Institute of Oceanography de Paul Ricard. He apparently is the entrepreneur whip bought the island many years ago and had had marina built along with hotels and flats . Daily ferries ploughed in and out back to the mainland which wasn’t actually that far away but no road onto the island so felt a million miles. Fortunately in spite of the development there is still plenty of wild and vineyards and small beaches around the island for escapism but I’m sure in the height of the summer one would find it difficult to anchor with all the thousands of yachts in the marinas just in the parts of the Mediterranean we’ve visited. The island even had the inevitable tourist little white train for those not walking!

After two pleasant nights at anchor and a swim though still only 17.5 we then sailed further west past La Ciotat and Cassis to the area know as Les Calanques. These are gorges cut into the limestone some with very steep sides and the one we stopped in Port Miou was extremely long with a marina at the end but we chose to stay nearer the entrance which involved picking up a buoy on the bow and reversing toward the cliff and picking up a buoy at the stern and string in a line between them. We had called the Maraniera who fortunately came to help with this pretty tricky manoeuvre but we did see several people attempt it on their own with different degrees of success and in fact we helped an elderly German couple who were really struggling and not easy when you’ve got tourist tripper boats coming in to see the area and canoeists enjoying the remoteness. Again we spent two nights here the first afternoon taking the dinghy to the head and walking into Cassis - a large port full of tourist as there was a large cruise ship anchored outside and also a Classic Boat festival going on. Pleasant town and we did check to see if we could get a berth but no available spot. The next day we again took the dinghy up to the marina and left it there whilst we walked over to the next Calanques along with quite a number of other people. Good walk not easy as very stony limestone under foot but worth the effort for a different view.

We left there in the afternoon 25/5 and headed back eastwards past Cassis as no room and onto La Ciotat. The scenery on the coast line was quite spectacular changing fron the white limestone hills and cliffs and calanques to brown and rugged boulder cliffs . Cassis is tucked in behind several of these. We were given a berth on the quayside in the Vieux Port . So good as close to everything and one could also watch the world go by. Some interesting shops 9quite a few crafts shops with some very nice pieces all apparently made in La Ciotat and another shop making things just from sail cloth very similar to Quuba in the UK and very narrow streets and a lot of renovation going on of the quayside . The whole marina is surrounded by huge cranes one of which has been turned into a monument as part of the renovations. Quite a spectacular setting in a different way . Apparently the place used to be a big dockyard (its not that far from Toulon but closed down many years ago and someone has come in and turned it into a Superyacht repair place. In fact there was a large superyacht in called Flyingfox which we looked up and apparently is the 14th largest SY in the world and recently built in Germany. So we spent the Saturday afternoon having done a tidy up of the boat and several washes having a wander and found a good place for an evening meal. The next day Sunday we spent the morning revictualling the boat as the family Alex Dan and Merryn and Sam were due to arrive late afternoon having caught an very early train from St PAncras stopping only at Ashford and Avignon to MArseille 6.5 hours. They then found another train to La Ciotat this all worked fine but Sunday afternoon and no biases and no taxis even when they rang a number fora taxi at the station fortunately a kindly local took pity on them and gave them a lift into town. Lovely to see them and we celebrated their arrival with Une Glace each. Great to see them but early night for everyone after a wander round the town supper out as they had been travelling for over 24 hours having left home the day before and stayed in London overnight but an early start to catch the train from St PAncras. 5 trains and 2 taxis (one taxi and a friendly Frenchman) quite an adventure .

Monday morning 27th we did some more shopping for food and people had a general wander around before leaving the marina and heading back her to Port Miou in Les Calanques . The reason being apart from the fact they wanted to see Les Calanques is that both Alex and David have climbed here at different times but also because the forecast was for a strong Mistral for 48hours and we felt it hopefully would be a sheltered spot. Again we had help with sorting the mooring which is not easy.

Yes no we have had some severe gusts but little swell so relatively sheltered but boy can the Mistral blow . A wind coming from the north west. Yesterday Tuesday 28th we took the dinghy up to the office and noticed another British Boat with children on just further up and we went to say hello. They are doing a 5 month trip having left Plymouth early April and come down through the canal and are now travelling east and down to Corsica or wherever the wind will take them. We then all went ashore and repeated the walk David and I did over to the next Calanques Port Pin and the plan was to walk further to the head of Calanques d’en Vau. David and Alex took the children one way and Dan and I took a more direct route. Lots of people out walking in spite of the strong wind. Our route was not too bad stony but not difficult and straight uphill the others was far more circuitous and very scrambly and apparently not to young Sams liking quite a lot of whinging we gather. They took quite a long time getting to the top. Dan and I had already found the path down to the head of the calanques which was quite steep and although a lot of people going down we only went a short distance to wait for them . Eventually we returned to the top to wait for them buy which time definitely lunchtime and so we found a shady tree and all had lunch and a rest. The children having fun climbing and playing in the tree . In the event we decided that we should abandon our plan of climbing down into the next Calanques as it was going to take at least another half and hour one way so we retraced our steps back to Port Pin which was busy with people enjoying the sun that had now come out and swimming and generally lazing around. Amazing the number of people out and about for a weekday? Few British voices as half term but many locals or French. After a while spent playing in the water and on the beach we retraced our steps back to find the dinghy and return to the boat. Still blowing very strong gusts at times. The English family came aboard for a drink and an interesting chat and the children all had fun either playing in the hammocks up front or downstairs swinging from the cabin roof bar!!

The wind Mistral has certainly been very persistent for 48 hours and we reckon at some point gusting Force 9 but we are intending to head out after lunch the wind should be starting to abate and hopefully have a good but not too uncomfortable downwind sail back to Sanary where we have prebooked a berth for the night. Tomorrow is Ascension Day and presumably a public holiday. We have the family on board until next Monday afternoon when they get the train back from Marseill to London and home. Our intention is after Sanary to start heading west again and Sunday night end up in the Vieux Port in Marseille giving us a little time for exploration. After they leave Monday afternoon we will have to revictual and we have two friends David and Peter joining us ( they have been on the boat several times previously in this trip round the Med) . They will then help us take the boat to Barcelona where she will be left over the summer.

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