susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vendredi le 23 Juin. Merde! Me voici en France - qu'est-que ce que ca?

Grand’ erreur de navigation, alors? Nous sommes arrives en France a 3 heures de l’apres midi. Pretty quick crossing, eh?
We’re on St Pierre, a tiny rock just off Newfoundland. Together with its neighbouring island of Michelon, this is French territory, jealously guarded. During the Second World War, de Gaulle came here, just to be on French soil.
We had approached via a waypoint on the southernmost tip, Pointe de Savoyard, and it was now I could believe the old sailors’ tales of islands that moved, for everything was invisible, save the green highlighter pen scribbled on the radar screen. Jacques gave me courses to steer, turning starboard round the top of Grand Colombier, the island off the northern end of St Pierre. And then out of the fog, it appeared, a mountain of an island, brown and gray, and beyond, the mainland stretching away. Oh, magic! And then again it vanished like a mirage. We approached the town of St Pierre, weaving among the scattered islets and through the breakwater, and at the public wharf, were directed – en francais, bien sur – to the marina, la bas! Where? A leap of faith, and going real slow, we motored round and up to a wharf with two other sailboats. An immigration man was there to help with the warps – bureaucracy with a friendly face. He had also asked the Customs to come along – three people and a dog. How civilized – no trudging to offices and waiting around. All official business finished in minutes and I was free to explore.
We are right next to the Sailing Club, where they have a washing machine and dryer, showers and elegant scalloped-edge loo seats – this is a superior bloc sanitaire. The entry code is 1789 - vive la revolution encore! Enough plumbing details, this time, I think.
Pretty tired, so after a walk round town (I can tell I’m in France – the streets are covered in dog shit) – children grimly riding on a pink magic roundabout in the fog; a bit dismal and closed; all the streets named after famous French people and dates; the architecture an attempt at painted wooden shingle and clapboard plus unpainted cement – not very French – I pulled the spring to bring the boat to the jetty, scrabbled aboard, did Sudoku for a bit, J asleep, ate cheese and biscuits, and went to bed.


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