Our exit from all things BREXIT couldn’t come soon enough! Little did we know when booking our tickets that we would still be in no-man’s land the day before ‘B Day’. And so, with our country’s future still undecided, on 28th March 2019 we departed Portishead heading for another season on board Ocean Rainbow. This time it’s definitely going to be a sailing season! After an amazingly swift trip we arrived in Port Napoleon to find OR safe and sound but so, so dirty. The disadvantage of being right under the yard workers’ noses (but therefore easily spotted if something’s going wrong) is the heavy volume of traffic churning up dust on a daily basis. However a bit of dirt is easily washed away and, as everyone already knows, cleaning boats is something James loves!!
We can’t recommend the bus service in France highly enough. Not only does it run to time, it is exceedingly good value at a cost of €12 each (door-to-door). We caught the No38 bus from the airport to Martigues, then a quick hop across the bus station to catch a No2 bus to Port St Louis where we phoned for the local bus to pick us up at the ‘Douane’ stop and take us to Port Napoleon.
It took a couple of hours to organise ourselves and then it was off to the Restaurant for Moules and Frites. We’d left the basics like milk, jam, muesli, mayo, tinned tuna etc on board so we didn’t have to rush off to the shops. In fact we didn’t rush to the shops at all as we tried the Intermarché on-line shopping and had an order delivered to the yard. What a result! It’s definitely the way forward as all the heavy and bulky things like tins, bottles, milk, wine & beer can be ordered and delivered, leaving the fun shopping like cheese, ham, fruit and vegetables to be done at a more leisurely pace and with far lighter backpacks for the return bike trip.
The first day had us hard at work cleaning topsides and the brightwork, then came the sides and getting the hull ready for antifouling. We were going to pay for the antifouling to be done but decided that we’d do it ourselves as normal, and that next year we would have a ‘professional’ scrape back, prime and antifoul the hull. We found that we had finished a day earlier than anticipated so, knowing bad weather was coming in, we asked if we could splash early. Not only did the yard fit us in but they also gave us the lunchtime slot which meant we had lots of time to apply antifouling to the bottom of the keel and the spots missed because of the cradle supports. Brilliant.
So we’re now on the water, moored bows to with a lovely view of the Camargue from the cockpit. We managed to bend on the sails in the dry but then the heavens opened and the predicted thunderstorm arrived! Useful though as it meant we could sort out all the lockers and stow everything sensibly and ‘to hand’. Now all we need is for the weather to cheer up a little and we’re ready to set sail for one of the many beautiful anchorages we have read so much about!
Small disaster though – a puncture in James’ front bike tyre revealed a shortfall in our toolbox. No plastic tyre spanners. Two sets back at the house but none on the boat and the new Schwalbe tyres fitted when we had our bikes serviced last year require really strong tyre spanners. James is currently on a tyre spanners hunt!