Back to Volvo & Adventures in Corbières

On May 23rd, Outremer had arranged a crane to lift a new 5X into the water, so we were able to take advantage of that to lift Wildling out so we could check to see if the saildrives were damaged when we changed over to the EWOL propellers.

The smaller diameter, replacement EWOL propellers weren’t ready in time for the crane lift, but we decided to lift out anyway because I needed to know if the engines were damaged, and the only alternative was to take the boat over to Canet-en-Roussillon which is a 3 day round trip journey, and a major hassle.

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The lift out was very easy, the guys have done this many times, and you can tell. They have it down to a well organized process. The Volvo engineers came and removed the EWOL propellers, then inspected the drives and used some instruments to measure the  shafts to make sure there were no problems with the bearings or the shaft geometry. Everything checked out fine, so they put the original 4 blade folding Volvo propellers back on.

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Our Volvo props back on and ready for action

As soon as we lifted out we noticed that there was a large misalignment between the two rudders. Since the boat was hauled out the previous month in Canet en Roussillon, the misalignment must have been present at that time, but nobody noticed? In any case, it’s another reminder that you should always be there in person when your boat is being worked on!
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After correcting the alignment of the rudders, we put Wildling back into the water, and the following morning we took her out for a quick test drive to make sure the engines were OK. All the vibration and noise that we had with the EWOL propellers was gone, and our engines were back to their previous smooth and quiet operation. A huge relief, but also a disappointment that our EWOL propeller test didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I discussed next steps with Xavier at Outremer, and we decided to wait until the next scheduled haul out to try the new model EWOL propellers, so we will be using our Volvo props for the rest of this sailing season.

The following Sunday morning, Robin, Gavin, Lindsay and I left La Grande Motte, to sail over to Marseille. I had called the Port Cobières marina the Friday before to make sure they had our place ready, and they told me everything was fine. Turns out, not quite!

We left at sunrise (or at least at the the time of sunrise, because the weather was nasty) in a cold drizzle, with very little wind. The forecast called for 15 to 20 knots from the South West by mid morning, so we hoisted the main and jib, and motor sailed for about an hour until the wind picked up.

After an hour, the wind lifted to around 10 knots, and later built to the foretasted 18 to 22 knots, so we had a beautiful sail over to Marseille, sitting between 10 and 13 knots boat speed. The wind was coming from dead astern of our intended course, so we gybed back and forth the entire way, keeping the boat between 150 degrees and 160 degrees to the true wind. This is a nice point of sail for Wildling, with comfortable motion and decent speeds.

I really like coastal cruising like this when we’re tacking or gybing back and forth along the coast. The only tricky part is to not wait too long to come about when we’re on a course that will intersect the land. It’s deceptive how much ground you cover at over 10 knots and a couple of times, I cut it a bit close!

Robin and Lindsay were not feeling too great on the trip over, so they took some seasickness meds and had a sleep, so I was single handing the whole way. This is when I love the self tacking jib! Gybing the mainsail is easy also, so single handing is pretty simple on Wildling, and for me, it’s a great way to spend a day on the water.

We arrived in Port Corbières just after lunchtime, and went to our designated dock, but there was another boat already there, and no places free! Damn! We ended up tying up to a concrete pier near the public boat ramp just next door. Not very safe, but there were no other choices.

I called the emergency numbers for the port, and a guy came over and found a temporary place for us. Robin and I started over, but just as we were arriving at the new place, another catamaran came in ahead of us and took it! Damn! And then another catamaran came in behind us and took the place on the pier we had just left! So we were stuck, and had to hold position in the channel while we negotiated with the port after hours staff and the other boat to let us take their spot.

After about half and hour, the interloper agreed to move to another spot. He was smaller than us, so he had more options of where to park, so we could finally go in and tie up at the dock. We were positioned at the dock in between two rows of boats, which meant we were blocking 4 other boats from leaving their slips, so not an ideal situation, but OK for the night, and we were told the guy who manages the port would sort it out in the morning.

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Finally tied up in our “temporary” spot in Port Corbières

The next day we met the port manager and he assured us he would find us a place that afternoon. He said the same thing the next day, and the next, and the day after that, but finally he moved the boat out of the place he had assigned us, and we were able to move Wildling into her new home on Saturday morning!

It seems the sense of urgency we are used to doesn’t really exist here. People are pretty laid back, which mostly is a really good thing, but Robin and I were getting pretty anxious by the end of the week, so we’re happy to finally have Wildling tied up in a safe place.

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