May 13, 2011
Left Villefranche after a chance visit and small drink with Kate and Phil from ‘First Essential’ who had managed to slide their Beneteau 50 onto the fuel berth for the night. They are in their first year of skipper charter and I feel sure they will appear from time to time in this blog. A great couple and we look forward to further news of their venture as the year progresses.
Anyway we slipped about 0900 before the neighbouring large (98 foot) Leonardo super yacht had a chance to drown us in his wake. They too were in a first year of newly formed charter for the rich and famous and were off to Nice to start their season after an extensive refit in Villefranche. There was initially little wind but this soon progressed to a stiff F3-4 and a nice 6-7 knots in the right direction. Today we had a little surprise for our American charterers (Kate and Lundy), the village of Eze along the coast a little beyond Monaco. There is no official marina at Eze but the private port of Silva Maris seemed to fit the bill. After extensive negotiations and confirmation from the “capitaine” that we would fit it we agreed to give it a go to please the clients and to add another notch to Kinsales’ growing list of conquests. We were assured 2.5 metres throughout and comfortable moorings once we got in. The chart plotter had the only details of the depths etc and it showed 5 metres outside with a rapidly dropping depth of 0.6 metres just past the entrance. Depths inside looked to be at or around 2 metres. We proceeded with all caution and snuck in with readings of 1.8-1.9 at and inside the harbour with (fortunately) a swell of less than the 10-15 cm that would have left us grounded (Kinsale draws 1.7 metres). The harbourmaster met us and assisted with berthing (we had to swing in our own length to ensure we didn’t ground) and we paid up and registered at his office. He was actually on holiday but had opened up especially for our visit – excellent service. He gave us an outline of the area and services and pointed to the medieval town of Eze on the mountain and explained how to get there. We had a 20 minute walk and a 25 minute bus ride and we were surrounded by the town and church dating from the 15th century and still resembling a place that you had to look out for guillotines and the like.
After a day in the village (clients very happy) and a nice meal we slipped next day and motor sailed to San Remo, after changing courtesy flag at the border to our Italian one. San Remo operates on the normal Italian methodology that you do the following:-
- Telephone for berth availability ( Ci no problem) and give approx eta
- Call on VHF at the entrance, receive a response and then total silence
- Proceed into the harbour and look for a “pilot” boat, a cross between a fishing boat and a rowing boat.
- Wait until the “pilot” beckons you to follow and then do just that.
- At the berth he will park his boat nearby, gesticulates and shout (in Italian) the berth he would like you to slot into and thereby moor up
- He presents you with a piece of paper, informs you that the Capitainerie will be open at 3pm and shoots off.
- Connect electric and water and wait till 3pm to check in. – mission accomplished.
We have noted this to be the routine along most of the Italian Rivera’s’ larger ports and have now got used to the radio silence that “confirms” that you have a place and that you should proceed! It works for them anyway and so far we have been happy with the general methodology now that we know what to expect. Both the weather report and actuality decided upon a 2 night stay in San Remo giving the clients plenty of time to look around and to visit the local Casino – something they have requested at several points long the coast. Indeed we have a reservation at Monaco (Monte Carlo) later in the week expressly for the casino visit.
The weather did what it said on the tin and we have had winds, rain, thunderstorms and sun. The outlook for the next few days looks a little unsettled so we are heading back towards Menton (France) tomorrow for a couple of days before moving onwards to Monaco. All is well so far with the exception of a faulty steaming light (will get up there and change that once the winds lessen) and both the crew and clients are happy and content so far. Next blog likely to be from France again and then we will be heading round the coast on the return leg to Nice. We are still trying to get into a few places by e-mail booking but with limited success – Cannes is the biggest challenge so far due to the film festival.
Footnote: the engine hours log failed again today so we are manually logging. It did this last year and recovered so fingers crossed!