July 25, 2011
Since my last blog we have been sheltering in Bormes from storms, rain, cold weather and mistrals. In all the time we have been coming here neither of us can remember such a sustained period of bad weather and low temperatures. The sea temperature is now down to 15 degrees and the beaches are deserted. We have had a continuous 9 days of winds above force 5 (peaking at 9 on many an occasion) and have had to cancel and defer bookings and dissuade people from making further bookings at this time. Consequently we have 3 bookings on hold and an empty diary going forward. The seas look awful from the coastal roads and in contrast to the normal attractive looking boat sailing by there is just white horses and gloomy skies. Anyway onto the next stage of this years adventures!
Monday 25th July and off to sea at last
Monsieur Babeau and his family had been one of our clients waiting a week for the weather to improve sufficiently for a trip out. The forecast was good, the skies clear and we all set off with smiles on our faces at 10 o’clock in the direction of Port Cros. Even the sea temperature had risen to 17 degrees so a swim was also looking possible. We motor sailed over there with an increasing but manageable wind as forecast and were pleased to have a selection of mooring buoys to choose from. Once moored up we fed the fish and chatted; Michel and his family said that they would like to go ashore after lunch to explore. We got the tender and outboard motor ready whilst Alexandra accelerated lunch. After a fabulous lunch (prawns, salad etc) I took the family ashore in two boatloads and returned to await their return at a planned 15:45 on the quay. Looking out to sea a different scenario was starting to unfold with both wind and wave heights increasing rapidly. We listened to the weather forecast on channel 63 (Meteo France) and found that (unannounced) they had revised the weather to an imminent Force 7 in our area and that the rest of the afternoon was without improvement. Typical! Our clients were off the boat, uncontactable and not due back for nearly 2 hours and we had yet another storm on its way. We had a hot drink and set about preparing Kinsale for the return journey to minimise time when the clients returned.
On time they were on the dock and I explained to Michel that the passage may prove a little uncomfortable on the way back but we would make all speed and to make the most of the experience. A short while later we were off, with a tiny main to act as a stay sail and engine running well. With an mixture of autopilot and hand steering we managed to minimise the number of waves coming into the cockpit but the planned Force 7 and a 2 metre swell was enough to worry and excite the parents and children respectively. Leopold took a small trip across the cockpit on one wave, Mum looked terrified and Alexandra and I smiled broadly and kept everybody as jolly as possible. Frequent announcements of “hold tight” were heard and we managed to cross the worst part of the open sea in good time whilst avoiding the usual plague of fishing floats. In the lee of Cap Benat we all relaxed a little and readied Kinsale for berthing. As luck would have it we had a pleasant onshore wind (for the first time!) and berthed smoothly and without incident. The clients were off like a shot to get their feet on Terra firma but we managed to get a few photos and cheer them a little as they departed. What a shame that, once again, the weather had turned a fabulous day out into a less favourable experience for some of the family. Both of the children had a great time and insisted that they would love to come again but both Mum and Dad felt otherwise. It’s a pity that the weather hadn’t been a little kinder to them.
The weather carried on into the night and we were once again trying to sleep with banging halyards (not ours) sloshing waves and the general turmoil that comes with a storm. We have woken to a lovely day but are not at present booked to go out. More clients on Wednesday and Thursday but the weather is again predicting thunder storms and a further unsettled period. Not long now and we will be back into the other bookings and our day trip period will be over – unless we get some in the last remaining days of September! At least with clients on board for a week or more it’s possible to move away from bad weather areas, so lets hope that’s the case for those excursions. Fingers crossed.