Very few long cruises go according to plan, but it is probable that we learn something from every ‘mishap.’ This year, our luck has been to rediscover the pleasure of day sailing in warm, calm weather.

For the past 10 years, Abemama has never had a summer mooring or marina berth (Think of the financial saving) As soon as she is in the water, we load on the office and stores, do a short shake down run, then set off on a 5 month voyage. Every time we cast off the warps, we are going from one place to another, always anxious to arrive before the weather deteriorates. In Balearics anchorages, if you go for a day sail, somebody has always nicked your good anchoring spot before you return. So you stay put.

This year, we have had an enforced, enjoyable month as residents F21 here at Le Cap d’Agde. From there, we have made numerous dinghy expeditions around the harbour’s islands and canals and out to sea in pursuit of seemingly non existent fish. Even better have been the day sailing expeditions.

We have always picked days when even the Golfe de Lion wind was not expected to exceed force 4. We have no wish to be fighting the ship. We’ve done that. But we have enjoyed ghosting along, perfectly upright, no rolling at 3.5 knots in warm winds and with a sea inviting enough for frequent over the side stops. At the end of the day, we ambled back to a good berth with a finger pontoon on either side and amongst the sort of friends which you always make on your resident pontoon. We shall do it again.

I enjoyed a long chat with a French professional, who has recently retired from running a super twin-screw passenger boat and has bought himself a nice 40′ yacht. Jean Luc was bemoaning the fact that the yachting explosion has nurtured a seagoing population content to survive on minimum knowledge and with no respect for the traditions of the sea, many of which are based on practical, good seamanship. Jean Luc was particularly scathing about the yachts who leave up the Spanish and Catalan courtesy flags when they return to France, just to announce “We have been there.” Like me, he had always been taught that if you want to insult a country, you hoist the courtesy flag of another nation. He was also appalled that a UK registered yacht was flying a French flag above his red duster on the backstay.

He and I were the only two ‘amateur’ yachts to dress over-all to take part in a procession of 100 boats motoring out to circle round the lead ship to receive the cure’s blessing of the boats. We got lots of cheers and seem to be in a thousand photos. It was a splendid disorganised, but sea disciplined parade, with skippers obviously very proud of the way in which they were handling their boats in the crowd.

There were about a dozen UK boats in Cap d’Agde but – sadly – we were the only one to parade. The locals would have appreciated more. We made a lot of friends that day and are certain to be welcomed when we return.

This will be next year. We are due to leave Cap quite soon and head back into the canals en route for home.