Thursday, 9 September 2010

Frances Fickle Weather ..... Sept 2010

Streets of Antibes

07 September 2010

With the arrival of September and the further west we were travelling the weather was getting more and more changeable. We were checking the weather daily, sometimes more than once if we could, and a low was heading our way. It was due to pass over during the night - they never arrive during the day - and we were forecast heavy rain and winds of around 25 knots from the east. We joined a procession of yachts, superyachts and large motor cruisers back across to Cap d"Antibes. We returned to our previous anchorage at Abri de L'Olivette, found a 7m hole in the undulating seabed surrounded by 4.5m walls, and made sure the anchor was nicely buried. Most of the larger vessels headed just a little further north outside the marina, and out of our way!

Went went ashore and had an easy walk across the peninsular to the old town of Antibes. The huge marina that couldn't accommodate us is right by the town. If you wanted to winter over in France and could find a berth this would be a great place for the winter months. We wandered through the rabbit warren of little lanes, found the market square, checked out the busy waterfront area and then made our way back over the peninsular to the very upmarket suburb of Gallice-Juan-les-Pins. It was time to do as everyone else was, find a suitable streetside cafe and enjoy an aperitif - so we did just that.


It was a short walk back to the dinghy, and we were back onboard for dinner, the skies were clear, maybe the front would miss us. At 4am I awoke and tried to convince myself that the flashes I could see were from the lighthouse and the rumbles I could hear were planes approaching Nice airport. Sadly I knew better, within a couple of minutes we were both up, full wet weather gear on (maybe first time since Auckland-Fiji!!!), GPS and chartplotter fired up and engine on. Within 5 minutes of me waking we went from 10 knots out of the east to being slammed by over 45 knots from the west - we had no immediate protection from the west - and probably the heaviest horizontal rain and hail ever experienced. Yachts all around were dragging, there was zero visibility except for during the flashes of lightening. We held fast in our well chosen 7m hole, but I was watching our position the entire time and Mark was on the helm taking the strain off the anchor. I guess the worst of it was over in maybe 40 minutes, it felt like hours. We had one large power boat drag to within about 5 metres, there was no way we could have got out of his way, we waited to take the hit. Luckily they managed to move forward and clear from us just in time. Eventually the cell above passed, wind switched to where it was supposed to be and calmed to a manageable 25knots, the rain and hail stopped, and we finally remembered to breathe!

Statues in St Tropez

Dawn finally arrived, we could see the end of the heavy band of cloud, blue sky in the far distance. The was a fair amount of carnage around, the Coast Guard were towing stranded boats out of the shallows into deeper water, another large power boat that had ended up anchoring next to us left - showing us a huge gauge out of her bow, a very large beautiful 5 spreader superyacht had dragged across the bay and ended up right in the middle of the mussel farms. It took several hours of diving by the crew to free it, Mussel Farm owners standing by no doubt adding up the damages bill.

We had survived unscathed, but wished Antibes Marina hadn't turned us away, we really don't need experiences like this to enrich our life!!! The winds died, the sun came out and we moved on. It was just 11 miles to our next anchorage at Theoule sur Mer, we motored across, dropped anchor and went to sleep.

Cruising info for here on previous posting - Chocolate Croissants on the French Riviera

No comments: