Like Coming Home…
Zangezi was a beautiful boat. We loved her and she held up her end of the bargain, for the most part (you’ll have to check with Doug on that – he was our ‘maintenance man’). But then again, we had nothing to compare her to. Now, we do. Wildling. Wildling is a world apart. A world I can’t wait to explore. We’ve had several weeks on her and they were wonderful but we want more! As she is a sailboat and a catamaran and white and big she has a bit in common with Zangezi, but that’s where the similarities end. The level of comfort and ease of sailing puts Wildling so far ahead- it was truly a completely different experience.
Getting a new boat was a first-time experience for us. Doug had so much fun engineering the heck out of her! He literally had spreadsheets full of option comparisons, ‘must haves’ and ‘is it possible to’ lists. I’m sure the good boat-builders at Outremer had no idea what they were getting into when we came calling! Doug travels to Europe frequently and was able to see the various stages of construction. This made it real for him and was a highlight during the process. It made the wait bearable, well almost! It was excruciating for him.
Waiting for Wildling was necessary, however. Not just because she was being built, but also for us to fully recuperate from our Sail Indonesia 2013 experience. It takes a very long time to recover from Dengue Fever. Doug’s recovery was complete just before Wildling was ready. Though I’m not sure a person ever completely recovers…. it is truly a ‘bitch’.
Following our previous sailing experience, Lindsay and Gavin kept themselves occupied with 5th and 9th grades, respectively. They are now in 6th and 10th. I’ve been busy with the care and feeding of our family. We are now limited to cruising only during Australian School Holidays, at least for the time being.
We love boat shows and go to as many as we can get to. The last one we went to; Sanctuary Cove boat show 2015 on Queensland’s Gold Coast, was a lot of fun. It was particularly fun for me because not only did we look at cool boats, but we did other stuff- stuff Doug never wants to do, cuz he’s too busy checking out boats…. we got to buy stuff for the INSIDE of the boat- Doug and I realized that the boat-buying experience would not be complete until she was furnished! We bought linens and towels. It was so much fun! We never needed to start from scratch before. We met a lovely couple, the Burlizzi’s, that own a shop in Sydney; Analu (http://www.analu.com.au/). We spent about 1 1/2 hours working with them, checking out all their cool samples and combinations. Angela Burlizzi, with whom I worked, was so helpful and unlike me, she has outfitted many a boat! All of their linens are made and shipped from Italy so we were able to save a bit on shipping by having it all sent directly to the Outremer factory in France.
Now, back to meeting Wildling…. When Lindsay, Gavin and I got to La Grande Motte, Doug had already been there for about a week. Part of the sales process is 3 training sails with their experts. Doug had been on one sail by the time we got there. He picked us up at the airport and we drove directly to the marina. Wildling was right there…. we walked right up to her and got on. She was finally ours! Doug showed us all around. Wow, she was so bright and shiny! Just a beautiful boat.
Doug speaks French. Lindsay speaks French. Gavin is learning to speak French. I, however, am hopeless when it comes to the French language. Really, I’ve tried, but anyway. Shopping is a challenge when you don’t speak the language! Shopping with your husband is also a challenge and not the most efficient way to get things done, but being hamstrung by my lack of communication skills, it was a necessary evil. No offense, Honey. Putting my game face on, we set off. There are many wonderful shops in Montpellier that are similar to IKEA and Home Depot or Bunnings, but, alas, none of them had what we needed: unbreakable dishes. La Grande Motte, being home to a very large marina, had just the thing in their small but well-stocked hardware store. After dramatically over-packing on Zangezi we were determined to keep things simple and light on Wildling. I decided that we only needed one pot (for boiling water, making rice and soup, etc) and one pan (for everything else). We got enough dishes for 8 people, hoping to entertain as much as possible. We found these perfectly sized little baskets at one shop. They fit right into all the little cubby holes in the heads (bathrooms) for all our toiletries. Next was coffee-making supplies! We had quite an adventure driving all around the charming old part of Montpellier looking for the Nespresso store! Yes, Honey, the roads don’t say ‘do not enter’ but as they have many people, sitting at tables enjoying coffee or dinner, I really don’t think we should drive down them….. an adventure, for sure! Finally, we were victorious – Nespresso machine and 60 coffee pods in hand, and wine!
After several days for provisioning and enjoying the lovely beaches and restaurants (and the not-so-lovely laundromat) of La Grande Motte we were finally ready to set sail!
Our first port-of-call: Marseille. We love Marseille. Our very good friends, Anne and Jean-Claude live in Marseille and we have visited several times. Also, we were picking up our first guests! Murray and Belinda were taking their first trip to France and spending two weeks with us, sailing along the Cote d’Azur. Murray is Doug’s cousin and his oldest and closest friend. Belinda, his wife, is my Bestie! We were so excited to show them a bit of France from Wildling!
We stayed in Ile du Frioul, a small island with a marina just outside of Marseilles. It was a great place to introduce Murray and B to Wildling and the cruising lifestyle :).
We spent a couple of days exploring the waterfront area of Marseille and enjoying good food and wine. It was great having Belinda and Murray aboard. Murray is strong and B is a great cook- the perfects guests! We shopped, ate and got familiar with Wildling before we continued cruising.
From Marseille we sailed East along the Cote d’Azur, stopping at a calanque just outside of Cassis. The kids and I had a swim and a dinghy ride to shore. We mucked about for a couple of hours than sailed a bit further to La Ciotat. We anchored right outside of La Ciotat. This is where I filmed a little video that really brought home how much we appreciate our catamaran!
It’s very exciting to live on a boat, even if for just a couple of weeks. It’s like having your Holiday Home wherever you desire! But…. you still have the chores and challenges of living. Doing laundry when you’re cruising becomes a real pain in a**! Even with your trusty little city guides. What appears to be a little dinghy ride to shore (actually two trips were needed for all of us and our laundry), and a little hike to the laundromat (the first one we came to was Dry Cleaning Only- NOT mentioned in said trusty little city guide) is anything but simple! After hiking about 1 k to the first spot, we had to continue on to the next one- about another k away. Know this- laundry is heavy. I learned this when I went to University and I swore that I would someday make enough money never to have to schlep laundry all over town ever again! Ah, from the mouths of babes! 🙂 To be fair, Doug consulted me when he decided not to put a washing machine on Wildling. I wholeheartedly agreed. On Zangezi we were so worried about water, and we never wanted to use our fresh water on clothes! In Indonesia, as in any tropical climate, it was very important to have good water and lots of it. We used the washing machine exactly 1 time! Really, I love to do laundry in laundromats- it’s sort of Zen, sitting there, hanging out, with nothing else to do- and still being productive! Also, the place we found was very nice and clean and on the same block as a little market and bakery. The downside is schlepping the stuff all over hell and back! We earned our Sundowners that evening.
I find myself always checking out the laundromats in every town I visit- I don’t seek them out, but if I see one I calculate how far they are to the closest marina….
Our next stop- Saint-Tropez! Ohhh, I was so excited and I couldn’t understand why nobody else was particularly looking forward to our visit. I’m the only one that cares a hoot about what celebrities and fashion people are up to, and I only care cuz it’s fun and a way for me to keep up with American pop culture while we’re living in Australia, and cuz it’s fun… I couldn’t wait!
Any time we sail, I fancy myself the navigator. I do this because I have a pretty good sense of direction, I love maps and charts, etc, and because it’s about the only way I can contribute (besides cooking and stuff). But…. our only charts were in French! I was no help at all! Ha! So we had a terrific sail into the Bay of St-Tropez. It was blowing about 20 knots and Wildling (and Doug) was loving it! We sailed way up into the bay, past a town on the right… and a town on the left….. and hundreds of little boats in a regatta…. and hundreds of BIG boats- bigger then anything you can imagine- Russian Oligarch big. We entered a marina and I went up to Doug and said “I thought we were going to St-Tropez.” just in passing…. and he said “Well, where the heck are we then?!” We had sailed right past it and into Port Grimaud! St-Tropez was the town on the left we had just passed.
Saint-Tropez is magical. It’s famous for a reason, and not just because the glitterati come here. It’s a real town. A maze of charming little cobblestone streets and the marina, with all the Oligarch Big boats is the center of the action. I loved it. We had a wonderful dinner and bopped around the shops the next day. Not even having my wallet stolen from my purse, that I was wearing across my body, with the zipper zipped, could sour me on St-Tropez.
From Saint-Tropez we had an easy sail to Cannes. We decided to stay in the marina in Cannes and use it as our base for a few days. Wow- It’s great having your home with you when you visit these amazing places. The marinas are right in the thick of things- there really isn’t a better place to stay! Cannes is a much bigger city than St-Tropez and a much bigger shopping mecca. All the big names are here. That’s good and bad. Of course it’s fun to see those shops, but you can see them anywhere- in any big city. What makes St-Tropez so neat is all the small shops, all the local stuff. You had to look harder in Cannes for that sort of thing. It is a beautiful place and the beaches are right in the city and are very nice.
After seeing Cannes for a couple of day, we took the train to Monaco. Surprisingly it was a quick trip up to Monte Carlo. We are so used to the distances in Australia, which are MASSIVE, that bopping over to Monaco was no trouble at all! We had a delicious lunch and explored all around the marina and Casino area. It was a fun day trip.
Following Monaco, we had to say goodbye to Belinda Murray. It was so much fun sharing all these adventures with our friends. B and Murray loved Wildling and they loved exploring each town. It was such a treat having them aboard. They took the train back to Marseille and from there to Paris and caught a flight to Brisbane- a lot of travel!
It was just the family again. It was so reminiscent of our 9 month cruise. Except everything is bigger: Wildling is bigger, Lindsay is bigger and Gav- at 6’2″ is definitely bigger! Bigger, yes, but much easier, too. We loved Sail Indonesia. It was our first cruising experience and we learned so much. Sailing in the Med along the beautiful Southern coast of France in a new boat is as different from that as you can get. We enjoyed taking our time going back to La Grande Motte. The sailing was not as ‘sporty’ as Doug would have liked, but he did get to tweak the sail configuration to his heart’s content.
Most visitors to France already know this, but it was new to us as we had never really been here during the Summer before… there are a lot of naked people. Lots of topless Moms with their kids on the beaches (kids- I promise I won’t subject you to that!), lots of beautiful young people driving jet skies and power boats naked. Then there was this guy… Doug’s new Hero… We passed him one day on our return trip. He was under power, as it was too windy for him to sail. Just a man and his dog, in his boat. Loving life and living it on his own terms. My hat’s off to you, Sir!
We anchored outside of Marseille on Bastille Day and got to enjoy the fireworks that evening. Then it was back to La Grande Motte to let the Outremer folks know about the few things that needed their attention. It was a very short list.
One more day of laundry and an intense clean-up and we were ready to leave for home… well, some of us were ready. The kids were looking forward to getting to school for their 3rd Term and we had already kept them a week longer then we should have (oops!) – However, Doug was decidedly NOT ready. He did not want to leave his boat. We had only just started! I was happy to leave, knowing that we had already planned our next trip; we were coming back the next school Holidays in late September. Australia goes to school year-round and therefore has many breaks. Thank Goodness!
See you soon!