43:30.64N 07:02.52e Iles de Lerins
43:30.64N 07:02.52E Iles de Lerins
Saturday 12th June, 2010.
We left St. Tropez around 11.00 a.m. as Jim wanted to see as many yachts as possible which were all gathering for the Rolex Competition starting on the Sunday. He was not disappointed as we were sailing out of the bay we were treated to beautiful yachts practising around the harbour and bay area. Many passed us as we were cracking along towards Theoule-sur-Mer and Cannes as they were making their way to St. Tropez.
As the sun was very hot and Ariel was sailing along at 6 knots in 9 to 10 knots of breeze we made good time and headed to the Islands of Lerins just off Cannes.
We passed Agay on our way which has been used since ancient times for anchoring as Roman amphorae have been found on the seabed. In the Second World War Agay was the site chosen to land 20,000 troops of the 36th American division in August, 1944 part of the Allied operation to liberate France. Today the area of seagrass beds are protected to help preserve the water quality in the bay.
We passed the Esterel Massif along with the Maires Massif which are two of the oldest groups of rocks in France. The red volcanic porphyry of the Esterel has been steadily eroded by wind and water and has formed weird and wonderful shapes. From seawards the gorges and valleys drop dramatically down into the sea and the coast is peppered with knobbly jagged rocks. The red porphyry gives a wonderful red glow to the whole landscape that contrasts with the blue of the sea.
Up to 1964 pine and cork oak covered much of the area but a fire destroyed much of the forest. It has been replanted but disease blighted the new trees and therefore growth is slow.
We anchored around 4 p.m. between Ile St. Honorat and Ile Ste-Marguerite (known as the Ils de Lerins). We had covered 23.7 miles and the sea temperature has improved to 27.2 degrees.
After dinner we took the dinghy to Ile St. Honorat for a walk to see the 4th century St. Honorat monastery. It was closed but from the outside we could see the beautiful building. St. Honorat built the monastery and became one of the most powerful and influential monk in the world. The monastery produced 20 saints and 600 bishops. One of the saints was St. Patrick who studied on the island for nine years before embarking on converting the Irish and founding numerous monasteries in Ireland. We were pleased to hear prayers being sang from the chapel.
During the day, day trippers arrive every 15 minutes on the little boats from Cannes. In the evening a collection of little motor cruisers gathered for a large BBQ on the harbour wall. It was fun to see them all laughing and having fun while the kids played hide and seek. We could imagine they do this whenever the weather is good.