At 7am this morning, Joe gently nudged me awake saying,
"We're home." We pulled into Marina Badalona half an
hour later, after a 40 hour trip from Nice, France. It
was our last passage for a while, as we will spend the next
five months here at the marina, waiting out the winter
season. Marina Badalona will be Zia's home for that
long, and ours as well for at least the next three or four
Five days docked in the old port of Nice made us wonder
why we didn't decide to winter there. Tied up next to
the road that runs along the Baie des Anges (Bay of
Angels), with a fabulous bike path and stunning views all
along the Promenade des Anglais, we broke out our
newest acquisitions, folding bikes. We bought them
from Georg and Nathalie in Mallorca but hadn't really used
them yet. They got a work out in Nice, as did we.
The hill up and over the Colline du Château (Castle
Hill) that separates the port from the Old City of Nice got
a little easier by day five, and we were happy for the
exercise as well as the convenient mode of transportation.
Although we only have two bikes, we figured out a way for
all four of us to travel on them.
We stayed out of traffic on the bike path and rode over
into Vieux Nice (Old Town) at least once a day.
The old city is all pedestrian so we were able to wind our
way through the streets and find a couple of great
restaurants that were off the well-beaten tourist track.
Our favorite was the Bistrot d'Antoine. We
discovered it on our second night and liked it so much that
we went back again the next day for lunch.
There, we met a young couple who were patiently trying to
eat their dinner while keeping their 18 month old son and
two month old daughter happy. We exchanged empathetic
glances and words (it seems so long ago when we were in
similar shoes!), and struck up a conversation.
Although our French is rather pathetic, we aren't too
embarrassed to try to communicate and in the end most people
speak English much better than we do French (or Spanish for
that matter). Our story never ceases to amaze people
when they learn that we have sailed here from the States, so
we have plenty to talk about. It turns out that
Clement and Aurore are sailors as well, and they own a
Creperie called Le Trimaran. We made a
point of visiting them for lunch a few days later and were
welcomed with a bottle of the cider that typically
accompanies a meal of crepes.
It is quite extraordinary to come to France for two weeks
and feel so warmly welcomed wherever we go. No doubt
the girls help to break the ice, eliciting smiles wherever
they go. Having the luxury of time must also help.
We didn't have much of an agenda while we were in France,
probably because we hadn't really planned on going there in
the first place. Although we missed out on many of the
museums and other tourist attractions, we were able to sit
back and really soak up the culture and ambiance surrounding
us. Our unhurried demeanor was undoubtedly reflected
in our attitudes. We had only one nasty encounter with
a waiter at a crowded restaurant in Juan Les Pins who walked
by us a half a dozen times without acknowledging us, and
seating other patrons who had arrived after us. No
problem, we just went elsewhere. I am also sure that
our timing was key, avoiding the mad rush of tourists who
flock to the Cote D'Azur in July and August. By
the time we showed up in October, the locals had recovered
their serenity after the madness of the summer and were
happy to welcome us and help us enjoy their beautiful
surroundings. We might just have to go back in April
to soak up a little more joie de vivre.
Ignoring superstition (you aren't supposed to start a
voyage on Friday), we left Nice on Friday, after a nasty
gale had blown itself out in the Gulfe du Lion.
Unfortunately, the winds went light, so we had to motor
two-thirds of the time, but we did have a wonderful 12 hour
period of mellow sailing starting at 4am on Saturday, Joe's
birthday. I woke him up at about 6:30am to start his
watch and went back below for a couple more hours of sleep.
I was awakened by the sound of him reeling in a fish.
Actually, the sound alternated between the line running out
as the fish on the other end would make a run for it, and
Joe reeling it back in when the fish took a few minutes to
catch its breath. Clearly, it was something big.
It took about an hour of back and forth before we were able
to even get a glimpse of our catch. Despite the long
fight, the fish still had plenty of energy, or perhaps it
was sheer desperation. It swam circles between the
hulls as we prepared to boat it. We could tell it was
a big tuna by that time, and prepared to gaff it. Look
at this beauty!
Joe was grinning from ear to ear. It was by far the
biggest fish we have caught. According to our best
guess, it is a Bluefin Tuna, 50 pounds, and much better
eating than the Albacore we had caught to date. I was
relishing the thought of tuna steaks and sushi as I prepared
it for the freezer. (Tuna isn't Joe's favorite so we
stuck with the previous plan to have green-chili burgers for
his birthday meal.)
I laughed when Joe put the fishing line back out around
sunset. It wasn't long before we heard it sing out
again and we were reeling in another Bluefin Tuna, although
only half the size of the previous one. Joe was the
one laughing when I couldn't bring myself to release the
doomed fish. The meat is really so much better than
the pale flesh of the Albacore and I had just about enough
room left in the freezer...
The Capitania office is closed on Sunday so we are
tied up at the visitor's dock until they show us to our
proper space probably on Monday. We have already met a
couple of live-a-boards who will be here for the winter.
We made friends with a very nice local family, Rafa, Mari
and their two year old son, Antonio, who asked to see the
boat. Despite the mess, we welcomed them onboard.
It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of strangers
wipe away any inhibitions. They have offered to show
us around and help us with our Spanish. The departed
with a nice chunk of tuna and a promise to see each other
In the mean time, we will catch up on our sleep a little
today before tackling Barcelona. We plan to continue
living on the boat here until we leave for Annapolis on
November 22nd. Since the boat will be safe and sound
at a marina, and since we can, we are making a trip home to
catch up with friends and family over the holidays. We'll
head to New Mexico to see Joe's family mid-December, and fly
back to Spain on New Year's Eve. When we come back in
January, we hope to move into an apartment for the remainder
of the winter. We still want to find a
Spanish-speaking school for the kids, at least from January
through March, so that is a high priority to figure out
before our home leave.
By the way, does anyone have any good tuna recipes they'd
like to share? Better yet, come visit and help us eat
some of it!
Many thanks to our friend Craig Homenko for his assistance in setting up the website.
We also would like
to thank our buddy Scott Brunner who has been kind
enough to host the website on his server.