43 ° 42 ‘31.1184’ ‘N
7 ° 20 ‘14.6688’ ‘E
September 17 – 2016
“Do you have wifi“? (Remember in France it is pronounced not waifai but weefee).
“Yes, we have wifi. And occasionally it even works,” answers the port captain in Beaulieu-sur-mer, France, when we ask to his wifi, and that answer, we have heard also from other truthful port captains.
The less truthful port captains – and they are in the majority – just print with usual self-importance a code for the internet. “Here You are, sir. This is your special password to the Internet“.
This is the biggest joke in the Mediterranean. French harbours have no wifi. And the same goes with a lot of italian harbours.
It is “The emperor’s new clothes” – the fairytale of the Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen, in which two crooks sell the emperor a set of new clothes, that are so unique, that only those who do well in their jobs, can see the clothes, while those who are not good at their job, will not see it.
No one dares to admit, that they can not see the clothes, because then they would indeed be stupid, so everyone claps his hands and says, that the emperor’s new clothes are fantastic. It is all revealed, when the Emperor shows up his new clothes during a procession through the town, and a little boy says “Hey, he has nothing on at all!”
French and Italian wifi i harbours are made of the same substance.
You rush around the harbour with your computer or your mobile phone. You sit at the port office doorstep. Either there is nothing at all. Or it is so weak, that it is good for nothing.
Right now we can only think of two harbours, where there has been a well-functioning wifi. In Nice, France, and Loano, Italy. Respect to Nice and Loano.
What is it with the French? And the Italians? Come into the current century. Establish a wifi that works! You can get wifi in an airplane ten kilometers above the earth’s surface. You can get wifi in a train. You can get wifi at a cafe. Should you not be able to establish wifi in a harbour?
Come on. We pay 30, 40 € – or in Italy even twice – for one night including wifi. Make it work! Thanks.
Advice wanted: Is there anyone who, while waiting for the French and Italian harbours to realize, that they are involved in a huge scam, can give me some advice on how I get a steady connection to the Internet? Is there a gadget, that I can buy for my ship, which makes me independent of the harbour? I have asked the company Orange, and they sold me a subscription with access to all the company’s own hotspots. It was’nt worth much.
Response awaited with gratitude.
43° 35′ 12.462” N 7° 7′ 42.8952” E
September 12, 2016
Hold on, that is big! Absolutely incomprehensibly big.
Last time we were in Antibes – a month ago – we were fascinated by the port’s then largest yacht, “Katara”, owned by the Emir of Qatar. Hey: It was 126 meters, had a permanent crew of 60 people, helicopter on the aft deck and was lit at night as a dance temple.
Today Katara is gone, and the first berth in the so-called billionaires quay in Port Vauban has been taken over by an even larger yacht. An incomprehensible large yacht.
She is called “Dilbar”, was launched four months ago and is owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
Dilbar is cream colored with details highlighted in bronze. She is matchless.
Listen: She is 156 meters long (for comparison our sailing yacht, “Ronja”, is 10 meters and 65 centimeters). Dilbar has space for 80 crew members and 40 overnight guests. She has reportedly cost four billion danish kroner.
Measured by gross registered tons Dilbar is the world’s largest private yacht. In terms of length, she is the fourth largest. At the same time, she has the most powerful engine and the largest swimming pool ever seen on a private yacht. Where this pool is only known by a selected few. It is not on the top sundeck, that deck is reserved for two helicopter platforms.
Alisher Usmanov has since 2008 had another yacht named Dilbar. It is a paltry of 110 meters, is now renamed Ona and still has Usmanov as owner. His wealth comes from russian mining industry and from shares in russian internet and telecom plus Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba and a large stake in Arsenal football club.
What is it about older men and their boats? 63-year-old Usmanov built a boat that is 46 meters longer, than the one he already had. In Denmark late shipping magnate in AP Møller Mærsk, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, in 2009 bought – when he was 95 years – a Swan yacht, that was three meters longer, than the yacht he already had. It must be called vitality. Imagine if you – at the age of 95 years – were concerned with getting a boat three meters longer, than the one you already have …
What drives these billionaires to wish for still bigger boats? Prestige? A signal of their own, their company or their nation’s role? Or simply a desire to flash a piece of equipment, that is larger than others? The ways of the super-rich are difficult to understand. I give up.
P.S: Did I mention, that I myself occasionally dream of Ronja being one meter … no, by the way let us say one and a half meter or actually rather two, longer than she is?
43° 30′ 39.3696” N 7° 2′ 50.8308” E
July 23, 2016
“Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling …”
This sounds very much, like the van that once a week runs up and down the suburban streets back home selling ice cream from a blue van.
These same vans are hardly driving on the Mediterranean?
We have anchored in the archipelago of Iles de Lérins; two-three miles southeast of Cannes. The archipelago has two main islands, and we have cast anchor in a strait between the two islands.
On the one hand we have Île Ste-Marguerite, whose fort in the 17th century held “The Man in the Iron Mask” as a prisoner (filmed with Leonardo DeCaprio in the lead role). On the other hand, we have Île St-Honorat, the monks island, which for centuries have been the home of monks. In the seventh century there were 4000 monks, today there are only a small number of Cistercian monks back.
And the sound … ding-a-ling?
It turns out it originates from an electronic horn on a dinghy that sails around selling ice cream to the hundreds of sailing- and motor-boats at anchor between the two islands. An ice boat – complete with freezer, billboards and price list for ice cream, sandwiches, coffee, beer and soft drinks.
A little later also a pizzaboat with a pizza-banner fluttering behind it comes our way. We hail the boat and ask, if we can get one with pepperoni.
“Naturellement.” We have everything assures the girl running the boat. “Look in this brochure and call us, when you have made up your minds about the pizza.”
When we call, we are told to tell the boat’s name, colour and nationality, and tell that we are “right in front of the wall“.
The pizza is baked in a large catamaran nearby, and the sales brochure entices with more than most domestic pizzerias: Snacks, drinks, desserts, oysters, champagne, wines.
As we gain perspective on life between the islands, it turns out that the commercial fleet includes two pizza boats, three ice boats and a single boat selling seafood. We expect more or less, that the next thing that pops up, will be an African immigrant selling straw hats, sunglasses and sarong’s for protection against the sun.
Laughter, happy crying, bathing rings, snorkels, everywhere children and older people are playing in the water around their boats. Beach-trip without a beach. Playing-ground without a ground.
It’s a different lifestyle, than the one we are used to. Not that we do not anchor in a beautiful bays, enjoying the seaside life and spend the night onboard. Of course we do. But usually we have, on our sailing trips in Denmark and abroad, always been en route from A to B to C to D. A large part of our enjoyment is to wake up in the morning and think, that today we are going to a new place, where we’ve never been before.
Many french boat-owners seems to be sailing rather from A to B, then back to A. And the next day again to B.
They live in Cannes or another city, have a boat in the harbour, which they use to sail out to a beautiful anchorage, where they spend the day splashing around in the turquoise water. When evening falls, they sail back home to their regular bed. The next day they return to the anchorage again.
We guess that 400 boats or more in the daytime was anchored in the narrow strait between the two islands. As the light broke up the next morning we counted, that exactly 53 boats were back having spent the night at the anchorage. The rest went back home.
Interesting lifestyle. Just different than ours.
After a brisk morning swim in four meters of water, we expect a dinghy to show up selling fresh bread. However that developed the commercial infrastructure in the strait is not yet.
We pull up the anchor, hoist the sails and set course for the baker in Antibes.
43° 25′ 8.8328” N 6° 51′ 29.1552” E
15th of July
Barely have we anchored Ronja at a vacant anchor buoy in a beautiful, beautiful bay, Rade d’Agay, midway between St. Tropez and Cannes, before a dinghy comes rushing.
“It will be 19 Euro, please,” says the young guy in the boat.
“19 Euro? For what,” asks skippers wife. “What facilities do we get for the money?”
Well, answers the young guy; there’s shops ashore, toilets, and also showers ashore.
But we do not have any inflatable boat. We are not going ashore. We can not, since we are out here in the middle of the bay by a buoy.
“No problem. I’ll come and get you for 3 € per time” the port captain’s enterprising apprentice answers.
It is a wonderful bay. It was used as anchorage already when the Romans ruled the Mediterranean. And in August 1944, the Americans landed 20,000 soldiers in Agay Bay as part of the offensive to liberate France from the Germans. Today the bay is characterized by the beach and sailor life.
Later we read that it is the authorities who have established 123 mooring buoys around the bay to protect a particular species seagrass in the bay (in English called the Posidonia Grass). The grass is vital to maintain balance and animal life in the sea, and by establishing firmly anchored buoys, the authorities prevents that the sailing boats destroys with the sea floor with their anchors.
Oh well. So 19 € maybe is not that wrong.
As we get ready to depart the next morning, we hail a port guard who passes in his dinghy, waving a black garbage bag and asks if waste disposal is part of the port charges of 19 €.
He points further into the bay, where we did indeed wonder about a shapeless thing, moored, almost an oversized teacup from a Disneyland-carousel. We sail there and discover: It is a floating garbage container.
Having deposited the last days of waste and with a clear conscience in relation to the important sea grass, we find that this is what you get for 19 € in the Agay Bay.
Facts: the 123 buoys are built in three different zones in the bay. Those who are more economical than us can anchors outside the zones with their own anchor. It costs nothing. But then there’s of cause the conscience thing.
43° 0′ 3.6612” N, 6° 13′ 18.0048” E
July 8, 2016
Imagine it before you: A soft reclining chair under a huge, shady pine. A bottle of cold water within reach, a crime novel in hand. The distance between the chair and the azure waters is just ten meters of perfect sandy beach, and ten steps to the side is a small restaurant with a daily menu for lunch.
The place is Porquerolles. The largest of the four islands in the archipelago of Iles d’Hyeres, a short distance east of Toulon. Porquerolles is a mixture of a Caribbean island paradise, the Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and a military barracks. The island offers simple vacation at sky-high prices.
Porquerolles city was built 100 years ago by the French military. Complete with fort, church, officer housing, barracks and exercise tracks. Today, all the buildings taken over by civilians – bicycle rental shops, ice cream vendors, vegetable grocers, ship wrights and restaurants for every budget. Taken together it has created a relaxed, alternative charm, which by mid-July has the additional of a week-long jazz festival.
The island’s focal point is the many beaches. Some have stone beach, others have the finest sand beaches. Everywhere has a sandy surface under the water, which by the way is nicely separate from the many sailors who are anchoring off the beaches. Tourists at foot and by bicycle walking the many kilometers on the way to and from the beaches. It can be a hot journey, but the ride is greatly mitigated by the enchanting aroma of dry pine needles and fresh saltwater.
Plage de Notre Dame is reputed to be the most beautiful of the beaches. Plage de la Courtade is closer to the city. We, however, prefer Plage d’Argent the most – for it is the only one that has its own restaurant, decent toilets and hire of sunbeds.
Facts: Porquerolles is ridiculously expensive. Supply and demand are out of balance. An overnight stay in the harbor, which has few and poor facilities cost 50 € for Ronjas 11 meters, where we are used to paying € 35 per night. A lunch menu at the restaurant cost € 24 for a single right where we are used to get both two and three lunches for € 19 in other ports. The baker is expensive. The supermarket is expensive. Everything is expensive.
A word of advice: Save the port dues and use the island’s many bays for overnight. Bring your own supplies.
25th-30th July, 2012
We find a berth right in the heart of Amsterdam. In Sixhaven – three minute free ferry ride from central railway station.
We explore the city immediately. Watching Van Gogh Museum and walk the city along the canals and through canabis-scented alleyways. It is agreed that Lasse, Tianling and Nellie, will arrive in Amsterdam, where they live with us on the boat through July 29.
Lovely family days in versatile Amsterdam. When Lasse, Tianling and Nellie returns to Denmark, we find a good winterharbour for Ronja in a suburb to Amsterdam. This will be Ronjas home the next 11 months.
July 24, 2012
A Raymarine expert comes in the morning and repairs our chartplotter. “Software,” he explains. The plotter is from 2006 and it short, we have tried to install is from 2012. It requires an update. Ten minutes to 70 €. Clearly worth the money.
Then we will sail to Edam. Once a picturesque canal. We are now in the Markermeer, which is separate from Ijselmeer with a dike and a lock.
We decide to sit Edam city another visit Wednesday afternoon to attend the city’s major attraction: The cheese market. Very funny, really. Very colorful. But somewhat inflated compared to actual market content. Amatørteater around a cheese.
Logbook: Departure 11:30. Destination: Edam. Arrival 14:00.
52 ° 42 ‘15.0948’ ‘N 5 ° 18’ 1.0188 ” E
22 and July 23, 2012
They are crazy, the Dutchmen! The bakers are closed on Sundays and on weekdays they open frequently as other stores.
While Kirsten turns dough up to own morning buns, we head towards Enkhuizen. It will be a perfect day for sailing. The wind is in front of the cross. Ijselmeer is smooth, almost uniformly deep (read: low). All the time a meter or two below the keel.
The sun shines. Soon we thing, that we can see Enkhuizen. “Look, they have cliffs,” says Kirsten. It turns out to be a huge forest of masts. Enkhuizen has six to seven ports, the port we call, has room for 700 boats. Never have we seen so many sails on the water as in front of Enkhuizen. The city has a reputation as being a sailors mecca. After weeks of rain all sailors are going to the see to have som air in their sails – like cows when they are let out of the barn on the first day of spring.
We take an extra day in Enkhuizen, which starts with a jogging tour around the city walls. It is a charming city. Perhaps the most beautiful of the canal towns we have seen so far.
We also visit an open air museum “Zuiderzee Museum”, which is a really good museum, very active, interesting.
Log book: Departure 8.30. Destination: Enkhuizen, Arrival 11:00.
52° 39′ 34.3728” N 5° 35′ 48.8904” E
July 21, 2013
We take a morning run of 6 km. along the water and underway we check the two lock options to get out in Ijselmeer.
The weather is fine. We are considering a day of rest, but we decide anyway to sail. We have spotted a store, where they may have Raymarine charts. The store is on the way out to Ijselmeer.
Since Delfzijl we have not had life in the chartplotter. And now a brand new chart bought at a store in Lemmer does not work either. What is happening? Back to the store again. We want our money back: 249 Euro.
We really wanted to go to Enkhuizen on the opposite side of Ijselmeer, but the wind would rather lead us to Urk on the same side as Lemmer. We are in need of a good sailing under full sail, so we let the wind determine. And the wind point us to Urk.
52° 50′ 33.3672” N
5° 42′ 16.956” E
July 20, 2012
Fantastic day. Everything works. The bridges are opening. The rain obviously hold a bit back. And the waters are nothing short of exciting. Packed traffic. Cities that are architect-designed to let each home have its boat in the front yard. Channels crisscross. Lakes. Large and small. A tangle of intersecting ships. If we thought Denmark was a sailing nation, think again. Holland controls for game. Everything here is about sailing.
We find a port. Calm. Just outside Lemmer. We are checking out the town, and eat in the port restaurant. And we enjoy the most luxurious bathing facilities. Hot shower in six hours if desired.
Just before Lemmer we pass a Danish sailing yacht, sailing the opposite direction to us. Virtually everyone we meet are Dutch or Germans. But this guy yells: “Is it Ronja? Ronja from Thurø?” It turns out that they are themselves from the small harbour, Thurø Bund back home. “Hello there!” And then they are gone.
Everybody talks about the weather. In our port are many Germans. They are talking clearly about maybe going to Mallorca in stead of Lemmer.
Log book: Departure 9.00. Destination: Lemmer. Arrival: 13.00.