Back in France: Port Vendres
42:31.028N 3:06.429E Thur 14th Apr 2016
Another shortish sail (21nm) brought us to Port Vendres and a very welcome return to France. We had to round Cap Creus to get here; the books say it is potentially dangerous but we motored around the scenic route following a 60m wide channel inside a little island. No problems. As we got to the other side the wind piped up and we finished the day with a lively downwind sail into harbour. This coast is really very attractive. It is known as the Vermillion Coast, supposedly because of a pinkish hue to the rocks (which we didn’t notice), but it is delightfully crinkly with lots of nice looking coves and the magnificent backdrop of the snow covered Pyrenees.
Finding a berth here was a bit of a challenge; our very out-of-date book guided us to one corner where we were ignored in person and on the radio. So we moved to the other side of the harbour and were promptly told several times that we’d taken the berth of a local boat and had to move on, despite strong winds now pinning us to the harbour wall. We did eventually manage to talk to the harbour master and he just shrugged when asked why he neither saw us nor answered the radio earlier - we’re definitely back in France! He gave us probably the most challenging berth I’ve ever had to get into, down the end of an alleyway of boats, necessitating a right angle turn at the end in a gap only 50% larger than the boat with a brisk wind blowing us off. Needless to say I got it wrong and it was only with the help of 2 other boaters pulling hard on our ropes that we got in.
But what a joy to be back in France! We went out for an evening meal - at a civilised time - and for much the same price as a day time Spanish menu, we had some of the best food we’ve eaten in a long time. Yesterday we walked over the hills to Collioure, the next harbour and extremely attractive. It’s very touristy, as it is cradled in a set of forts, chapels and walls dating back to medieval times. We had another fantastic meal overlooking the anchorage before strolling back along the flat coastal route to walk off a very large lunch.
We were hoping to catch the brisk southerly winds to blow us on the remaining 50 miles ENE to Cap d’Agde, but it looking like we are in for several days of light variable daytime winds before the Tramontane returns. This has a nasty reputation so we will have to get the last leg over with before the end of next week.