Andrea and Ian Treleaven have a world of experience in sailing, both as racing and cruising sailors.
They have written two books on their adventures, and know the art of cruising like very few other sailors - but even the most experienced get caught in difficult situations, as described below.
In this account they also report on their latest experiences in the Med, including enforcement of the new Schengen rules for non-European cruising sailors.
In choosing their latest anchor, the Treleavens chose one of the brilliant new generation anchors, which come in several brands, Manson, Rocna, Sarca, Oceane and Spade being just a few. Here is their story, as told by Andrea:
Anchors would have to be the most tested, written and talked about piece of equipment on any boat. When the Manson Supreme anchor was rated number one, we had to have one. After purchasing the 60 pounder earlier this year we have been extremely happy with its performance; grabbing very quickly and resetting with a change in wind direction. The 12 mm chain also provides added security.
Now back sailing on the French Riviera in the Mediterranean after three seasons in the Caribbean we have had a rude awakening at how hard the local gale force winds, Mistral and Tramontane, can get and really test your anchoring skills, no matter what anchor and spare you have.
The past four days we have had two back-to-back Mistral winds blow through and the only thing you can do is hide in a sheltered bay and wait it out. In a bay not far from Pampelonne Beach near Saint Tropez, we decide to stay for two nights. Our Manson Supreme anchor is buried in sand, no longer visible and the instruments are reporting 43 knots of hot wind; we are snug as bugs.
Moving to Saint Tropez for some R&R we learn that we’re on the edge of another system but its only a force 4 (11 to 16 knots) according to our forecast. Although on a possible lee shore we have confidence in our New Zealand made anchor.
At 5am we are woken by force 8 winds (34 to 40 knots) and riding waves…we have to get out. Moments later the shore, a rocky breakwater, is looking awfully close. Taking up 20 of our 40 metres of chain, laid out in 6 metres of water, we discover that the chain is entangled with old chain, rope and two water logged buoys. Oh no, we are in trouble now!!!!!!!!
38 knots and pitching, launching the dinghy to try and free the debris is considered too risky. Assistance is requested from the local coast guard but there is no answer. As it’s a fine line as to whether we are in danger or not, we phone Port St Tropez for tender assistance to cut away the tangled mess. It is blowing too hard for them to leave port so in the end it is up to us to resolve.
Now in four metres of water and four boat lengths from rocks, we have no options left but to part with what keeps us there. Ian is not happy but options have run out and we dump the anchor with its 75 metres of chain and its 40 metre rope tail, coiled to stop it fouling the prop.
With Geoff Lavis at the helm making sure to keep our propeller clear of rope and rocks, Ian runs the chain at lightening speed and Pip throws the rope at the appropriate moment which happens so quickly she nearly goes with it. Where am I? Of course I’m overseeing the whole exercise!! Two buoys attached to the end is the only reminder of our demise as we motor away.
Its still blowing and there’s no room in any of the marinas but we have faith in our spare light weight Fortress FX 37 anchor (under half the weight of its rated holding power of 50lbs) and a spare 10 metres of chain that has never seen the light of day. In a bay we should have anchored in the night before, the anchor holds very well in extreme conditions. The lightness makes it very easy to handle while our spare 65lb CQR is too difficult to man handle in extreme conditions.
Cape Finisterre in one of the more peaceful anchorages - Ian & Andrea Treleaven
The next morning we are in calm seas; that’s the Med. We return to see what we can retrieve only to find the local divers had already taken it up. They return it to us, at some cost of course! Ian will no doubt continue to expound the benefits of Manson Supreme and Fortress anchors to anybody who will listen.
Apart from this drama we are feeling very at home back in the Mediterranean. We cruised the Spanish Balearic Islands of Menorca, Mallorca and Ibiza for two and a half months before crossing to Barcelona and sailing up to the French Riviera. Ian had a great few days crewing in the Super Cup Palma on the 100ft sloop 'Havana' with old ‘Starlight
Beautiful Fornells Mallorca - Ian & Andrea Treleaven
Express’ crew mate Jim Bell. She was small compared to fellow competition ‘Maltese Falcon’ at 290ft.
Since last being in the Balearics in 2003 and the French Riviera in 2005 the only things that have changed are port charges and authority monitoring. Whilst the French port fees have only risen slightly (average euro 55 per night) the Balearics have gone up 3 to 4 fold.
Extra maritime police have been employed and are checking at random. Your yacht papers, if you are a non-tax paid boat, must not
Cape Finisterre crew - innocent bystanders - Ian & Andrea Treleaven
exceed the 18 months allowed in the EU and personal visas must not have been over extended. Whilst anchoring in a secluded bay the customs patrol came along side and checked all our paper work in a very courteous manner. Of course, all was in order.
There had always been a very relaxed attitude to personal time spent in the EU but not now. Now they are enforcing the Schengen agreement of which the majority of the EU countries belong (not the UK). We arrived on our Australian passport only to find we are over-stayers after 90 days. We discover that NZers get
Letters from the Caribbean - the Treleavens’ second book - Ian & Andrea Treleaven
more days so we leave and come back, aren't we lucky to have two passports.
It is very pleasant not always being on the move and just enjoying safe anchorages, historic villages and eating and drinking local produce.
Apart from the many friends who have joined us we are also meeting up with fellow cruisers on other boats who now refer to us as ‘Letters’, even marking their charts with this word for places we have written about.
Many friends have come and gone and with the season ending we are heading home soon. We are hauling 'Cape Finisterre' in Toulon for 7 months. To purchase the Treleavens latest book, Letters from the Caribbean, click here.