Toulon

Our last post to the blog predicted that we would leave St Raphael last weekend – unfortunately that didn’t happen.  The engine part we were waiting for didn’t turn up (the delivery driver couldn’t be bothered to walk up some stairs to the port office), so we missed the weather window for the 40hr crossing to Spain.  Then, for reasons we never fathomed, it didn’t get delivered until Tuesday and Wednesday brought more strong winds.  The forecast looked just about do-able for a Thursday/Friday passage so we set off at 5 a.m., but after 7 hrs of battling against waves up to 3m high and F7 winds that were forcing us miles off course (we were headed towards Tunisia again for much of the time!) we gave up and turned back to France.  Not wanting to waste too much of the day we kept going to Toulon.  After 12½ hrs and 70nm we’ve only managed to reduce the crossing to Spain by 40nm.  Ho hum.

 

Anyhow, we can’t complain too much about our “port in a storm” (the Mistral has been blowing at F7-F8 since we arrived).  Toulon is a real delight, and to make it perfect we’ve been able to meet up with my old choir friend Peter who has a flat here.  In fact the original reason for doing the westward route across the med via S. France was to see Peter, but it looked like our timing was all wrong until this happened.  So we’ve had some quality time together and explored the town and environs a bit. 

 

Lindsay & Peter at St Mandrier, a very pretty spot across the bay from Toulon.  We took a water bus there!!

 

Jousting, an ancient sport re-interpreted both here and at St Raphael:

 

This is definitely one of those places we would love to stay longer in – if only we had time.  The delays in St Raphael and here have used up 3 weeks, nearly all of the leeway built-in to the plan to get back to the UK.  If the mistral stops on Tuesday as forecast (and we know how reliable this has been!), then we can still make it in time.  If not, well I just got a quote for a lorry to take the boat to La Rochelle (on the central west coast of France).  This saves getting on for 2,000nm, but at huge cost (well over 1 month’s living costs) and without getting the long passage experience we wanted.