Oh France, how I’ve missed you, your croissants and your cheese!
Our returning to the promised land is not as glorious as we would have thought: we start with 3 days of heavy mistral, the infamous strong mountain wind they often get there. We shelter in the Corbières harbour, the only one with “reasonable” prices in the area, with the service quality that comes with it… It is indeed located just in front of a stone quarry, and with such winds, we end up with sand all over the boat.
Fortunately, our friends Rémi and Charlotte live closeby, and they invite us in their newly acquired gorgeous home, with pool and everything. We even get to spend an afternoon with them on the boat once the wind settles, with incredible snorkelling.
20 min away from Marseille, not so bad…
The first thing we do is obviously stuffing our faces with croissants, cheese, bread and salted butter. Soon they will all be a fading memory…
September 28th – Marseille
After unsuccessfully trying to anchor inside the Vieux Port – this small bay looked too perfect to be authorized -, we end up in front of the Catalans dam. Family time! My cousins that happen to be in town come for a few drinks aboard Aukena.
A family gathering as unplanned as it is pleasant! Henri and Dona just moved here, and Guillaume is in town for a few months for work.
September 29th – Riou archipelago
Huge diving session! We pick up Marine and Rémi, anchor in the archipelago, and everyone is underwater twice a day. Our compressor allow us to dive, refill, dive, refill, and dive again… Fishes, corals, archways, the diving in Marseille is waaaay better than we thought.
We especially loved the Pharillons spot, on Maire island. Gigantic archways, hundreds of fishes, colourful corals… One of our best dives ever!
October 1st – La Ciotat
Another Mistral episode is coming, we shelter in La Ciotat. And now the biggest event of the year…
Mousse is a 3-month-old kitten from Nantes. I went to get her on a crazy impulse, and since then, everyone on the boat is in love, even the ones that claimed they weren’t cat persons!
She loves fish, she’s not seasick, and not afraid of storms. She demands a lot of hugs and likes to nap on people. Pretty much the perfect boat cat!
October 7th – Rosas
As crazy as we are about the cat, the show must go on. After a short stop in Cassis, we head for Rosas, Spain. Typically a border town, not great but we still find great food and amazing mojitos that we definitely regret the next morning.
October 10th – Columbretes Islands
Stopping in this small volcanic archipelago was one of our main goals in Med. Well we almost didn’t, as we ended up right in the middle of the huge storm episode that destroyed half of the Aude region, flooded numerous towns and even killed a few people. We spend two or three nights on deck, zigzaguing between lightning strikes, with 2-meter waves and 35-knots wind. Of course, the autopilot is down. Let’s just say we are really relieved to find a free buoy when we arrive and spend a quiet night!
The islands are beautiful and inhabited. The national park guard give us a nice tour, although what he promised was a 4-meters missile head stuck in the rock ended up being just a 40-cm rusty metal piece.
October 12 – Valencia, the meat festival
Valencia: another beautiful discovery!
The city is warm, full of sound and light. Culture and colour are everywhere, of course tourists too but you can easily avoid them. I could almost picture myself living here for a while…
After the traditional tour, we have the honour to attend the Meat Festival, conveniently located on the Marina pier, 50 meters away from the boat. Hard to avoid, even though the event seemed a bit “Sunday-barbecue-in-the-suburbs-with-beer-and-tramp-stamps” … WE WERE SO WRONG. The meat is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted, even our French pride takes a hit. We remember to stay hydrated (and by that I mean getting hammered), and when DJ Meatloaf starts playing 80’s Spanish hits we know tonight’s gonna be a good night. Marine and I end up very very late on a beach trying to sneak in a club, the next morning is hard…
October 15th – Denia
Another diving session, a bit disappointing after Marseille, but breathing underwater never gets old. Also, a huge fishing win: 6 fishes in less than 45 minutes, 4 on the boat, including a very nice mahi mahi that goes straight into coconut milk with lime, cucumber and tomatoes.
October 17th – Alicante
A very short stop to let Marine go back to whatever she has to do, and we are off again.
October 19th – Carthagène
As another storm is coming, we shelter in this nice marina with very affordable prices. But it is raining so much that we don’t even feel like visiting the city properly…
October 21st – Gibraltar
Our Mediterranean trip is over! We are kind of fed up with storms, rain and lightning, we long for the steady weather of the Atlantic ocean. But first, we need to do a bit of work on the boat in Algeciras…
Our to-do list:
- build a windvane
- build cockpit benches
- paint the inside of the boat
- install a heat system
- eat at La Chimenea
What do you mean it is too much?