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by Rene Vidmer - Nazareth, Pennsylvania - USA

Part One - Part Two

Agde, France to Pisa, Italy 2014

DAY46, Jul 7

Med turned cooperative this morning transforming the miniature maelstrom at the harbor entrance into a bathtub missing only the rubber duckies. There was very little swell out at sea and the chop even though it was right in my face as usual was no more than a foot or so. So, I had a good run down to the Arno with a stop for supplies at Viarregio which has a canal/River running right through the center of its small city, lined gunnel to gunnel on both sides with boats of every description mostly small runabouts.

It took me a year in France to finally settle on a diet of mostly packaged foods as I can't keep anything frozen for longer than half a day. And not even cool for much longer, which means I have to shop pretty much every day or risk having food spoil.

The Supermercados in Italy carry none of the things I've come to rely on in France, so I'm kind of back at square one. France has some excellent, though expensive, canned foods - Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon - but Italy has no canned foods of any kind.

Today, I bought a small slab of bacon at the meat counter at a small Supermercato and a frozen package of stir fry vegetables. I'll chop up the bacon, fry it, and add it to the stir fries. This will be my supper. Right now, I'm tied off to the grasses lining the Arno and can see the spires of Pisa in the distance. I've got my glass of Chianti (Italy, remember) and some decent semi-hard cheese. I never no what cheese I'm buying - they all look the same.

Day48, July 9 - Here's the mandatory American tourist pict of the tower at Pisa.

DAY 50, Jul 11

Still in the Arno. Have tried for the last couple days to breach the confluence of the Med with the Arno but no luck so far. Huge Breakers stand between me and the Med.

DAY 51, Jul 12

After a harrowing trial run yesterday that saw the boat broach twice sending her bows on the first occasion on a downward charge, burying them, but not quite deep enough to flood the cabin. On the second. I was scurrying back to the safety of the iinner harbor, when I glanced back to meet with a huge comber about to overtake and bury me. I swung around and gunned the motor in an attempt to climb up and over its face before it broke and me with it. That worked, but left me, Roadrunner-like, hanging in midair with nowhere to go but straight down. I thought surely the impact will break the boat but no, she remained in one piece and we made it back to try again this morning. Although nobody else attempted to run the inlet yesterday, I watched as a couple of fishermen showed me how they take advantage of a small passage through a break in the breakwater and hooking an immediate right to avoid the breaker line. Still my heart was in my mouth climbing over the water walls still present.

The rest of the day was uneventful, thank God, and nine hours later I am at 4:30 back at anchor in the same spot on the River Magra. As I was a little more than a week ago.

Thus, Pisa, a thriving, bustling, heavily touristed city albeit with a flawed building code, becomes the Easternmost terminus of our little trip into the Med.

I will head back the way I came facing the same hazards as on the outbound leg but perhaps better prepared to deal with them. The weather which has been on my nose (SE) since the start has now swung to the NW and so is still right on the nose.

DAY 52, Jul 13

Ran up from Magra River to Lepanto, a tiny port with only local boats, and picked up a mooring. The run up was in force 2 winds and 0.7 (27.5") meter swells. Quite doable but you have to work at it every minute or the boat gets away from you.

DAY 62, July 23

Ok, I'm a few miles west of St Tropez heading west so I should be nearing the Camargue in a week or so. The weather has been lovely the last few days. The past two months have been coastwise sailing exclusively which is very hard on poor old KOTW and on me. I'll be happier to get back on Frances inland rivers where I can relax and lick my wounds and patch up Kiss.

DAY 63, July 24

Am at anchor in an open roadstead just east of Bormes. The last three days have been almost idyllic with open seas that ranged from lake to millpond to plate glass, and skys of cobalt blue.

Back In Lepanto, the second launching revealed a small amount of water, about a teacup full a day, still finding its way aboard. I declared this acceptable, much to everyone's relief. After all I had tied up men and equipment for a good deal of time and effort over a period of three days. For this, I was billed nothing. Antonio explained: You are a world traveller. We are helping you on your way.

DAY 66, July 27

I'm anchor down in about 3 feet of water in a little cove of one of the islands of the Porquerolles that lie just offshore from Toulon. It's a bright sunny Sunday and I'm taking the day off.

DAY 69, July 30

I'm so looking forward to "each day drifting into the next" on the du Midi. Am at anchor in Hyeres, and will probably be here for the next several days as weather is not cooperating. What's with this summer, I had on a sweater til noon.

I've been in Hyeres a couple of days. Am going to try and run up to Toulon or near bye this morning as I seem to have a small window. One good thing is I've had no bug encounters whatsoever.

DAY 72, Aug 2

I'm anchor down in a tiny cove on a small island off Marseilles at the moment, buttoned up against a mild Spring shower that won't last long. I say Spring because here on the first of August it's still June weather. Sweaters til noon. Then 75 degrees tops. However, the Med has been cooperative the past few days and I am making good progress along the coast back to the untroubled waters of interior France.

DAY 73, Aug 3

Tomorrow, with any luck, I should enter the mouth of the Rhone. Of course, except for a terrific thunderstorm last night, I've had 2 consecutive days of near perfect weather; the Med saying 'You sure you want to trade this for those dirty old canals?'

Yes. Coastwise sailing the Med is too much heart in the mouth too much of the time.

DAY 76, Aug 6

I'm on the Rhone at the moment. It's 8:00 in the morning of a promising day and at the moment I have it all to myself. I'm planning to stop in Lattes and in Sete to say hello to friends and then head up to the Herault River and see how much of that, if any, I can run. I'll stop off at Allamands (boat yard) and then head up towards Capestang.

DAY 83, Aug 13

I'm in Beziers, a few miles from where several friends are parked. I'll spend some time with them and do some needed repairs on the boat. Lost my second iPod overboard yesterday, and had to replace it. Bloody expensive. I go through about 3 a year. But they are my primary source of information and entertainment and of course email communication.

Brown leaves are starting to fall from the trees here. Is it Fall already. It sure has been a cool summer on the Med, hardly ever reaching 80 degrees.

DAY 91, Aug 21

Capestang. I will stay around here for a while as I have friends here and easy access to food and fuel. Plus I like the people, and the local Patisserie makes really good bread at €.85 a loaf and it's hot right out of the oven.

Weather has been sunny but cool like late September. The Med adventure was traumatic enough to have me doing nothing but hanging out for awhile doing nothing which is what I'm doing.

DAY 96, August 26

The kids here are getting ready for school and I'm still waiting for Summer.

I've nothing to report. After a strenuous battle with the Med for the last two and a half months, I'm taking it easy. I sleep late, read the NY Times online, have breakfast, putter around fixing things that don't need fixing, mosey down to the episserie and patisserie for bread and groceries, make lunch, have a nap, join some friends for cocktails on a boat or in the town square, cook supper, go to bed and read.

This Dutch barge is one of several on the du Midi. It is 115 years old, made of iron and steel, and is completely rust free. A friend owns it and lives aboard. More room below than the average house. It has a full size bathtub.
Sunday in Capestang's town square. All brass and woodwinds. Mostly Bassa Novas, Sambas, and Tangos. Not a one of them looks anything like a musician, but they were really good.

DAY 106, September 6

Weather is suddenly summer here. Staying in one place for awhile has the advantage of being assessable and subsequently I have cocktails or dinner invitations several nights a week. So I'm eating well these days. Of course I'm still a novelty, so that entertains the locals.

Sunday brunch in Capestang's town square. There are probably more expat Brits here than French.

DAY 130, Sept 20

We had a big thunderstorm come through here two days ago. The Herault river overflowed taking down bridges and aqueducts, and wrecking cars and houses in its path. It happened about 20 miles south of here. I spent several days on the Herault only two weeks ago. Lucky.

DAY 139, Sept 29

Being indolent is so addictive! I have been so used to being in a new place every day or so, and having to usually walk miles to find the stores and gas stations and so on that I need. Here in Capestang I know where everything is. Oh bliss.

Last night I boiled up some tagliatelle and added some shredded ham I had bought at the charcuterie, and some creme fraise, and a soupçon of parmesan. So you see I'm starting to get a little more variety into my diet. Long way from canned Chunky Soups.

The weather has been lovely, except for last night when a very heavy front came thru with all night long torrential rain. Turned my cockpit into a bathtub. I have yet to find a decent pizza anywhere in France or Italy, so tonight I'm going to try Capestangs pizza in the town square.

This is my friend Roger. He comes over to my boat every morning and waits patiently for his cookie. Notice his pretense of disinterest.

DAY 142, Octobr 2

Capestang pizza no better than any other Euro pizza I've tried. I only pick up a pizza about once a month, on days when it is inconvenient to cook or eat out. I'm convinced Euros don't know how to bake a good pizza. Also, I'll take our hormone stuffed chicken over French chicken anytime. Actually, France won't allow American chicken to be imported. I think they know that the people would switch in a minute. (I think it's a sign I've been here too long when I start getting critical.) I went deaf in my left ear a few days ago. Stone deaf. Went to the local doc. She squirted it with warm water and charged me €24 and no papework. (Local Doctor is also receptionist, nurse, front desk and cashier.)

DAY 182, November 12

KOTW is on the hard at Allemands in Agde. She has a fresh coat of paint, and many patched gashes in the hull. I'm passing through Arles right now on my way to Marseilles by fast train and a plane flight to S. Carolina.

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