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October so far in the Forces-of-Nature Diaries
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Owner: squiz
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Member#: 6644
Location:
Registered: 27-05-2007
Diary Entries: 2273

8th October 2016
Windsurfing: La Franqui
Wind Direction: NW
Wind Stength: 10/25
Surf / Sea State: flatish
Air Temperature:
Sea Temperature: 22
Weather: sunny and warm
Max Speed: 32.96 (knots - unless stated otherwise)
Distance Covered: 45.4 km (Nautical Miles - unless stated otherwise)

Thursday 6th October – My 63rd Birthday!!!! Sightsee travel, Mc Donalds and relax – cloudy with heavy rain, a little sun late.

A dull day to wake up to on my birthday but not the forecast rain (yet!!) didn’t sleep too well because of the bloomin bad back :( Got up when it got light to take photos of the windmill and vineyard in a strange light – sort of sunny with a very black sky. Mag sat outside and read for a while – neither of us is up to doing our exercises at the moment :( Then it started to rain but to make it better it was also thunder and lightning – we love that when we are in the van!! Last year we also had a massive storm on my birthday but were in a gorge so the sound was magnified and it was even more exciting!! Anyway we had our breakfast, packed up and drove off to look for the Dolmen that were supposedly on the outskirts of the village. We stopped at the Pharmacy on the way for more Ibuprofen – we have used up our supply!! We found the Dolmen although we were tempted to turn back because they were a lot further out than we thought. Luckily the rain had stopped at this point and we were able to do the walk around two circuits. The first had a dolman and a huge stone cut out of the ground and the second a tomb. Drove on to Caunes-Minervois and made our usual mistake of driving into the medieval village and finding the road getting narrower and narrower with no way to turn back. This always gives Mag the heebie jeebies and as she had just had a toffee made her feel sick!! I laughed and asked her afterwards what she would do if she was driving and she replied she would burst into tears and hope some Frenchman would take over the driving and get her out of it!!! Anyway we managed it by turning the one wing mirror which still moves inwards:) We stopped in the market place car park just as it started to thrash it down again with lightning strikes coming down all around. We were entertained by watching one of the market stall holders pack up his stall and put the metal grid he was using for a counter on his car roof and drive off with it loose!! He had to pass the municipal policeman crossing kids over the road too – only in France :) We decided to give walking round the town a miss as it was now torrential and headed down to the Canal du Midi at La Redorte. Nice little port and we saw a boat go through in the rain. Had a rest, cuppa and read for a while then headed for Narbonne and one of their two McDonalds for their free wifi and ice cream :) We had a good couple of hours catching up and eating Mcflurries. Drove the short hop to Gruissan and had a look at our usual favourite spots and the weather had improved a lot by this point so we were able to have a walk on the beach. Our first glimpse of the sea for a month!! We saw Flamingos and the storks and herons were in the rice fields as usual when we passed on our way through to Port Nautique which is always a good overnight spot around here. The etang is huge and you can park right next to it overlooking Bages on the opposite side. Our usual place was taken and the rain had made it a bit muddy but we found a good spot and enjoyed the view, the kingfishers flying backwards and forwards, nearly coming in the door at one point, and a few fish jumping out but not as many as the last time we were here!

Friday 7th October – relax and check out windsurfing spots plus walk – sunny and warm

At Port Nautique we were parked about 2 feet from the edge of the etang and when we opened the curtains this morning we honestly couldn’t see the water it was that foggy! Nothing but pure white all around. It didn’t last long though and it was weird to watch it lifting to leave a glorious sunny day after yesterday’s rain! It is strange that in the 5 weeks we have been away the only two days with rain have been our birthdays! Both keen to take it easy as our backs are still fragile we had a really lazy morning and early afternoon. We just sat outside enjoying the sun and the beautiful etang and surrounding scenery. The kingfishers that nearly flew in the door last night were busy again this morning and one landed on a rock about 2 feet away, wonderful to see. There were also fish jumping out and a shoal of small ones swimming on the top with their fins out. Dragonflies were flying very close to the mirror calm water and dipping their bums in so we assume they were laying eggs. All fascinating stuff as was the arrival of a big British camper whose occupants had walked past earlier in the morning with the man singing to his dog in a very loud voice! They were hilarious and they parked with the lady giving very precise hand signals as to where he should park (in the mud!!). They then immediately got a whirly washing line full of washing out and tried to put it up with the washing in place. It just wasn’t happening and we were gobsmacked at the antics. In the end the whole thing complete with wet washing got shoved back in the camper and the man decided to wade into the etang and wash his flip flops, smashing them on a rock to get them dry! Well we decided it was time for us to leave and have a leisurely drive the back way to La Franqui and see what changes have been made there and at Port Nouvelle because facebook has been full of changes effecting the windsurfing. The drive round there is always beautiful with the road mostly sticking to the etang after a quick dip in and out of the outskirts of Narbonne. Bages, Peyriec sur Mer and Sigean all looked much the same but Port Nouvelle has changed in that the North beach has been completely shut off from its original entry and the Port has been extended. Lots of building work going on there. The Plage is now reached via the potholed road to the Isle St. Lucy along the Canal du Robine. A new road and two new car parks have been made just before the Nature reserve starts and this does lead you to the same beach as we have windsurfed from before, just a little further along. BUT there is a height restriction so unless you have a vehicle under 2m you just can’t get up there and it is a long long way to walk as we discovered when we parked in the car park for the Canal Port (where we used to park overnight but they have stopped that!) and walked up there ourselves! It looks as though it would be ok to windsurf from there if you had a small car and trailer which you could probably put on the decking at the end or on the beach but with other easier access points to beaches around the area it is easier for us to give it a miss. We had a look at La Franqui which is absolutely unchanged and the access is the same. Gruissan looked fine yesterday – still has the awful chicane but it is accessible. We were going to park at the canal port but as that was closed to us we went to another of our spots at La Cabanes but there was a film crew packing up where we usually go so we parked a little further round in a different spot. It is getting increasingly difficult to find a place to park down here! Every time we come another place is crossed off our list.

Saturday 8th October – Windsurf *** La Franqui – sunny and warm
32.96 kts max, 31 kt ave., 29.56 n/mile, 19.18 alpha, 45.4 km.
F2 282 (115 lt), Fanatic Falcon 80, Tushingham X-15 7 and 6.4m

I haven’t been windsurfing for 41 days and I am really looking forward to sailing again with 4 days of wind forecast and La Franqui lets me down again :(
With a large film crew blocking the track to our usual spot overlooking Port la Nouvelle we found a nice spot nearer les Cabanes. We had a disturbed night with the sound of the wind but when we got up it was really light, just making a lot of noise!!! Cool sunrise, early breakfast, then off to Sigean to stop outside the dechettrie (rubbish dump) to take the boards off the roof as It’s next to impossible on the windy beach. Arrive at the wooden jetty with half dozen cars of mainly freestylers and one foil board, but the wind was very light, gusting 12 kts :( So rigged the 7m and went out on the F2 Ride (115lt) and that seemed OK although the wind was very up and down. With the wind too inconsistent for anything, no good speeds today I decided to try for a mile run as my fastest this year is only 23 kts and the beach was clear - the fisherman that was there when we arrived had packed up – lucky as I nearly came to blows with a fisherman the last time I was here with Patrick Deporter calming things down :) The mile run is marked by the white board on the beach but also by a wooden post and large block of polystyrene from a fishing boat so you couldn’t miss it! Got down there fine - not fast but good fun. Then things went wrong on the return, I was actually planing upwind when I thought the water ahead looked shallow for my 38 cm. fin - Then I came to an abrupt stop flying through the air, cricking my neck and shearing the arm right off my North boom ( I think it has a 2 year warranty – fingers crossed). I then had to walk back nearly a mile – great start to the day :( I then rigged my 6.4 as the wind had filled in a little with the 80 lt Fanatic Falcon but that board was way too small and with the wind broad it was impossible to get back upwind without going miles out to sea. I just don’t trust my gear to do that anymore! I then stopped for lunch with Mag who was having a nice time knitting and reading in the sun while watching many windersurfer’s dogs have fun. I then put a smaller fin in the F2 and headed out again spending a lot of time on the Port la Nouvelle side of the jetty but the wind was still really bad, flying one-minute wallowing the next:( Another problem occurred when my adjustable out haul broke way out to sea so I had to lay in the warm water to fix that!
Then it was back to the La Franqui side for a few mile runs with Mag having a walk and now on the water’s edge with the camera - she got some nice pics:) There were several out today perhaps people are coming here as there is now a 2m height barrier at the new entrance to the north beach at Port la Nouvelle and limited parking :( mainly hop, skip, jumpers practising their tricks with the odd kiter.
So yet another average day at La Franqui, I think you have to sail 6 days to get one good one and it’s such a long way to come and not have a good sail. We have been having great fun for a month out on our mountain bikes and windsurfing always seems to spoil a good holiday – this might be our last trip down here and my love of speedsailing is definitely on the wane!
Try to tie my big board on the roof to leave – it’s a nightmare sailing out of our lovely little campervan – when a gust takes it right over the van!!! With a little help from Mag I get it secured, chuck everything else inside and head off the beach a little deflated:( A restock at Sigean Lidl and back to our spot on the Etang overlooking the cement works(!) de-sand the van and wash and am feeling better already. More wind forecast tomorrow let’s hope the wind is a better angle and more consistent and my bad back doesn’t play up too much!


Photo Gallery here










Toys Used:
Fanatic Falcon 80
F2 Ride - Limited Edition 282
Tushingham x-15 6.4
Tushingham x-15 7m
Mystic Yourizoon Shortie xl

 

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