June 22, 2012
Our scheduled lift-in took place on a windy but sunny day with a moderate North westerly wind. As the travel lift lowered Fandango into the dock I pondered the usual lift-in worries, would the engine starting, would the troublesome ‘Autostream’ propeller operate correctly, (was the service engineer’s advice correct?) and would the newly installed holding tank, so painstakingly fitted during the winter operate as intended.
Fandango lowered into the water and I jumped aboard, pressing the start button she started on the first crank, the reassuring sound of water exiting from the exhaust confirmed all was well in that department. The first objective was achieved.
After checking for leaks the hoist slings were removed and I selected forward gear and Fandango moved smoothly forward, then reverse gear was selected and also responded correctly. Ahhhh! Relief, the second of my concerns were addressed with a positive outcome.
Free of securing warps we motored out of the dock towards the Marina.
We had decided not to take’ Nautiland’ up on their offer of the use of their quay in the Zone Technique, as we felt that their generosity last year should not be abused this year, instead we made for the marina and our pre booked quay side mooring alongside Quay du Ponant. There was a fairly stiff breeze from the North as we passed through the edge of ‘Little Tahiti’ and turned towards the marina and the quay and tied up. It felt good to be back in the water and our anticipation for the coming season afloat was high.
Deciding to stay in Gruissan for stable weather seemed to have been the right decision, the Gulf Stream does not appear to have settled down and is currently over the South of England and the Channel, the result being the spread of unseasonal, unsettled windy and stormy weather across the UK and a large area of the Mediterranean from the Golf du Lion to the Gulf of Genoa.
Many troughs of weather passed through over our months stay, causing water levels in the marina to rise and fall, much rain to fall and high winds seeking us out from a range of directions.
We were invited to join Jasmine and Bernard, the new owners of the ‘Le Mouton de Penurge’ Restaurant on the quay, for their opening and birthday celebration, Jasmine claimed it was her 30th birthday (she admits to having a 21 year old daughter)so nobody disagreed.
Bob and Julie-Anne Gard, visiting friends Valarie and David, and John and Eileen Cooper who own a lovely traditionally built wooden yacht called ‘Windrush’ were also present. The food was excellent and we enjoyed a convivial evening.
During our stay we enjoyed visits and meals with friends John and Eileen Cooper, Gary and Markuss, Peter and Joyce Webb and Brenda and Norman Newman. We also celebrated Julie-Anne’s birthday with Bob and Toby Gard friends Valarie and David at Maxime’s restaurant on the Quay.
We celebrated the diamond Jubilee with Bob and Julie-Anne at their home, we contributed a potato salad and coronation chicken to the buffet meal and spent the night chatting eating and dancing with friends we met at Christmas.
During the weekend of 24, 25 and 26th May a Jazz weekend was arranged in Gruissan, with live Samba bands and very scantily dressed ladies and a very strange male fire eater wearing Basque and fishnet stockings and other music, lots of temporary bars and stalls selling L’escargo, whitebait, Oysters, pommes frits and a host of continental food. The festivities went on late into the night and resulted in lots of visitors to the village and noise from late night revellers.
Several evenings were spent in neighbouring Arno’s restaurant, his ‘pommes frits’ are the best in town, eaten with squid, mussels or chicken they are fabulous.
On Monday 4th.June came sad news, first it was discrete rumour, not talked about freely but within the network of friends and then confirmed, Bernard had been found dead, their new restaurant was suffering from the same shortage of customers as the other restaurants in Gruissan .
On Thursday 7th June the unsettled weather culminated in a huge lightening and hail storm producing golf ball sized hail stones, which bounced noisily onto the boat roof startling us. At first I thought it was someone throwing stones at the boat, looking outside I saw people running only to discover the real cause of the noise.
The storm continued for near to half an hour, but strip lightening continued for most of the night.
In the morning we discovered that the roof on the car had been damaged resulting in several dints, around Gruissan was the same story of damage was repeated.
Later Mickey joined Bob and Julie-Anne for the start of their sailing trip to Italy via the Pocquerolles. Mickey is a long term friend of the Gard’s.
On Friday 8th.June we attended Bernard’s funeral, a non religious funeral, afterwards we joined the family in a final farewell when Bernard’s ashes were buried at sea.
Finally the weather forecast we had been waiting for arrived, only the second day of sunshine for some days, with a light NW wind and a slight sea, our summer adventure had arrived and we decided to leave Gruissan for Port Leucate at lunchtime.