A paradise for birds of prey

A paradise for birds of prey

Posted on Jul 25, 2015

44° 6′ 15.8256” N
4° 42′ 25.812” E

July 25, 2015

If there is a paradise for birds of prey, it is definitely located in a small tributary to the Rhone river. Vi notice that, when we sail from l’Ardoise going on to the Rhone and Avignon. At one point, we can see 20 birds of prey at one time in the air over Ronja. They fly in circles, they do exercises with the young’s birds, and they have nests inside the dense vegetation along the river.

We arrive at Avignon just below the Papal Palace, where we lay outside a boat from Denmark. It turns out to be a couple, that has sailed for three years in the Mediterranean, mostly around Corsica, but also with a detour around Italy. They sail a few months at a time, and then they are in Denmark for a few months. Now they want to put their boat in a winter port, just in Port 2, the port of l’Ardoise, that we just came from. They know it from the past and they find it perfect as a winter port, it is lovely to visit in the car outside the sailing season, because it lies right in the middle  of France’s most exciting cities and wine regions.

They also have a winter port in Corsica called Solenzara, which is located on the island’s east side. The downside here is that you cannot use the port as a winter harbour from June 1 to September 1. It was a problem for them, while they were still working. But recently they are – except that the man has some consulting work for Maersk – retired, so now they have time. They recommend us to buy “Bloc Cotier mediterraine”, which is a good marine pilot for the french mediterranean ports.

Avignon has a festival. Virtually the whole month of July, the city is set at the other end of the annual theatre festival and then you get the impression, that every building has been converted into a theatre, and all the world’s buskers and street performers have taken up residence in Avignon’s streets.

It is a great atmosphere. Happy, positive, exciting. We find a relatively cheap bib gourmand restaurant in the Michelin-guide, and get a super three course dinner, and even when we go home shortly before midnight, the streets are still filled with party-goers.

Log book: Today’s distance: 30 km. Sailed time from 8.00 to 11.00 = 3 hours. Locks: 1. Weather: Continued hot. Maybe a little milder than the previous days.

Rhone coast nature Avignon

Dramatic and beautiful nature along the coast of Rhone, now approaching the town of Avignon

Viviers- how can you close an entire harbour?

Viviers- how can you close an entire harbour?

Posted on Jul 24, 2015

44° 28′ 58.8648” N
4° 41′ 45.3336” E

24. juli, 2015

Now you should expect, that we learned a lot from yesterday’s troubles? Nah. Not really.

We started the day with a clear plan. Kirsten and Per were up early with the intention of sailing Ronja to the town of Viviers, 24 km downstream, while Jørgen and Hanne kept sleeping in the aft cabin. The plan is a common breakfast in Viviers and then a long walk through the country after yesterday’s laborious efforts to find a port.

Viviers was recommended by a sailor from Lyon and we were therefore somewhat surprised, when we reached Viviers and were greeted with a sign saying, that the marina was closed. Porte de Plaisance fermé. Closed? We call the harbour master and ask why they would close an entire port. He explains that the water level is low, and that they would also have a person here to address some problems, but he had not come yet. And a few other things. In short: The port is closed. Our plan is ruined.

The harbour master suggests graciously, that we continue to Avignon. Well thank you. It is a further 72 km on top of the 24, we have just sailed. But on the other hand: What can we do other than follow his advice and then along the way use your eyes and ears to find a mooring-place that is closer. Jørgen and the bike were left behind in a lock, so he can cycle back to the car, while we keep looking for an available mooring-place. It is clearly a major problem in the relationship between Ronja and Rhone, there are surprisingly few suitable ports and boat docks. As there is  current and wind, is it not just possible to drop anchor.

We find on the map a port, which is four kilometres inside the bottom of a side-river. It is called l’Ardoise . The card claims, that it is three metres deep. Yes, Yes. We can always try. Along the way we hail an elderly Frenchman in a riverboat. He sticks four fingers in the air. Four meter in the harbour. We called the port captain on our phone, and she confirms: “Come on in. Go for the innermost pontoons, there you will find shade,” she says.

Nice little port. Electricity and Wi-Fi. The female port captain has a Belgian father and a German mother and is now a harbour master in France. We believe that she would have married a French chef, and together they would both operate the harbour and a primitive but excellent little restaurant. Possibly our theory was correct, but we hear later from other boaters, the port captain lives in a small castle in Provence, and  that she is the daughter of a famous Belgian painter, and she – when she needs money – just sells one of her father’s paintings. She was the girlfriend of a carpenter for some years, while the port and the restaurant were built. But the other sailors will not rule out, that she may have found a new boyfriend, after the restaurant had been finished.

There are not many boats in the harbour, and we are the only boat coming in for the day. We are also the only customers in the restaurant that night. The food is good, the price ok (170 € for three courses with wine), and when the restaurant does not have the equipment to accept credit cards, we agree that the payment will come tomorrow, when Hanne and Jørgen have found an ATM.

Log book: Today’s distance: 77 km. Sailed time 7:00 to 15:30 = 8 1/2 hours. Locks: 2. Weather: Heat wave. Slow and moderate winds. At night the temperature drops a bit, and we can for the first time in a long time put us to bed in a temperature that feels like only 28-29 degrees.

Viviers harbours Rhone

Have you closed the entire harbour, asks Hanne in fluent french. Yes, the port captain answers, you will just have to sail another 72 kilometers to the next harbour