Sailing France | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Sailing France

Hi Everyone!

It was so good to be home for the month of August after a very enjoyable 10-week voyage through the canals of France in the spring.

Where We Are
It's hard to believe that it's just been over a week since we got back to the boat where we left it hauled out in the Navy Service boat yard in Port St. Louis on the south coast of France. We're just west of Marseilles at the mouth of the Rhone River. The area, called the Camargue, is a large dry but marshy river delta where there are salt flats and lots of exotic birds such as flamingos, and wild horses, and a type of bull fighting in pens where guys get chased by bulls and try to jump out of the way, and unfortunately at dusk there is an abundance of mosquitos.


What We're Doing to the Boat
But Port St. Louis is a great place to prepare a sailboat for sea since it's a large port commercial as well as recreational port with 3 good chandleries and 3 boat yards with all related services - sailmakers, canvas workers, machine shops, carpenters, etc. so the week has flown by as we complete projects, repairs and new equipment installations. 


This week we have installed a new Mastervolt isolation transformer so we can handle 110V power when we reach the Caribbean and North America (our British-built boat is set up for 220V power), another Lewmar electric winch for the main and jib sheets so now we have 2 in the cockpit and we’ve started installing a new ICOM marine SSB radio. Repairs have been minor - replace a plumbing fitting in the shower that snapped when we turned the water pressure on, replace snaps on the spray hood, have new plastic installed, and the patch the mainsail cover where it had developed holes from lines chafing.


The weather has been hot, dry and calm which is great for the work we're doing on the boat. If there's any wind it can be pretty dusty in the boat yard. We've been using our folding bicycles a lot making runs to town and to the chandleries, so haven't had to rent a car which is usually necessary when we're working in a boat yard. The town is really set up for this as there is a very nice 2-way bike path out to all the boat yards and marinas and right through town. It's a great way to burn calories! There's an excellent restaurant on site which we have been enjoying since when we're out of the water it's too hot and awkward to cook on the boat - well that's our excuse :-)


Fans of Distant Shores
The atmosphere in the boat yard is super nice since there are lots of other international cruising sailors here preparing for a season in the Med or getting ready for a transatlantic passage like us. The other day a young Russian couple stopped by the boat to say hello. They had been watching Distant Shores in Russia where it airs on Travel Channel as inspiration for their dream cruise. They have just bought a new boat and are on their way to the Greek Islands so were really surprised to see us here at the start of their adventures! Our programmes are dubbed in Russian versus subtitled so Konstantine and Anna had never heard our real voices until now. We have also met Distant Shores fans here from Belgium and South Africa. It is so nice for us to learn that so many people around the world enjoy our TV programmes!

Launched on Saturday
By the end of the week we'd completed all the jobs we needed to do out of the water - grease the AutoProp feathering propellor and add a new thruhull for the watermaker we're planning to add later for remote cruising in the tropics - so launched on Saturday morning. Wow! It feels good to be back in the water and floating again! It's much cooler too so we've enjoyed cooking on board again and eating out in the cockpit in the shade of the bimini.


Where We're Going
The mast was down for most of the summer while we travelled south the canals of France which have very low bridges. The mast is now back up and we are checking and re-tuning the rigging, putting the sails back on, and generally getting the boat back in shape for all the passage-making we'll be doing over the next few months as we leave the Med to cruise the Canary Islands and then do a transatlantic passage to the Caribbean.

This Coming Week
All going well, we'll stay at the quay here at the Navy Service boat yard until Tuesday morning when we'll head west down the French coast for a 50 mile shake-down sail to Port Camargue, one of Europe's largest marinas with berths for 4,800 boats and all services. Should be interesting! Our friends from Warrior, the Dunkirk Little Ship featured in our first 2 shows about France, are there so we'll be having a rendezvous with them. There's a Mistral (gale from the north) forecast for Wednesday night until Saturday so Port Camargue will probably as far as we'll get this week but at least we'll have moved on and we will be in a good place to fix any problems that arise from our shake-down sail.

We'll try and write when we can. We're also posting stuff on the Distant Shores website, Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great week everyone!

Sheryl and Paul
Aboard SY Distant Shores II
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