It all started out so nicely, the wind from the NW was slight and gradually increasing so that by 14:00 Eileen of Avoca was making way at between 3 to 5kt.
I took photos of our
traveling companions boat “Hepta” while they took photos of Eileen of Avoca. In the lighter winds I needed to use the engine to keep pace but as the wind picked up number 9 was in her element and took to the lead.
Rounding Cap Taillat, just two hours from our destination we were hit by near gale conditions.
The wind was completely unexpected and I had to reduce sail fast as Eileen ran with the wind at 6.4kts. To make matters worse Hepta had moved to within a few meters of Eileen’s starboard bow and there was the very real risk of collision.
I called for Eva to start the engine while turning hard to port, (into the wind). This put an abrupt end to the lively acceleration, but it certainly wasn’t elegant, and with the bow now crashing into the oncoming swells, I was taking quite a shower. Within minutes everything was back under control and I set the jib to steady the boat as we motored with the wind in an attempt to catch Hepta.
Our friends had not faired too badly given that they’d been swamped by waves as their boat made valiant attempts to pitch-pole in the sudden gusts. When I caught up with them their mainsail was lowered and manually held out over the companionway in an attempt to keep out the water but Hepta was making good progress nonetheless with her small outboard at full revs. The only worry was whether they had enough fuel to reach port.
All the other pleasure yachts in the area were also heading for the nearest port, with the exception of one crew whose yacht seemed completely out of control as it took a course in the opposite direction closely followed by a concerned coastal patrol vessel.
Before long we were entering the port of St. Tropez, site of one of the largest collections of floating “Gin Palaces” I have ever seen. At 20 Euro a night this was the most expensive marina fee paid so far but I would have been willing to dispense considerably more just to witness the extravagance on display.