Firstly, our apologies for deserting you for 2 weeks, but there have been technical problems about web postings, plus the need to convalesce our injured ship’s purser and secretary and we have also moved out of the canals into the Med and rearranged Abemama to be a sea boat again.

Navigationally, there were no problems about coming down the small canal into the River Herault from the round lock at Agde. We had a metre under the keel at the shallowest point. We also finally managed to find somebody to sell us the canal vignette, giving the right for thirty, non consecutive days of navigation, for 485 Francs, for a boat under 25 square metres.

Technically, there were no formalities about arriving at Cap d’Agde. We tied alongside the Capitainerie and were ready for remasting in an hour. There was no need to book the crane. We simply crossed to La Zone Technique, showed that we had paid our 92 francs and they had both masts up in 15 minutes. We were lucky to have the help of Moody Owners’ Assoc members Bill and John, who greeted us as we came in. News of other transit boats gets passed along the line, so we watch out for each other. It’s great!

Economically, we have booked into Cap d’Agde for a calendar month – so we get 31 days residence – for 2600 francs, which equates to about ‘8.50 a day, including all possible facilities, including a double fingered pontoon, so we can step off the boat on either side and have head and stern warps and fore and aft springs on both sides of the boat. When the inevitable Tramontane arrives, we shall feel very safe.

Diesel fuel is 5.59fr on the road and 5.69fr at the fuel dock.

Internationally, I have never admired the European love of exams and driving licences for boats and now find it laughable. Yesterday morning, on the finger opposite, the owner of a 10.5m yacht was sitting on the pontoon with a rope and a book of knots. “I learned to tie a bowline when I did my ‘permis de conduire’ four years ago, but have forgotten it and now need it to leave my ropes here when I go to sea.”

“Pas de prob, monsieur. Le petit lapin sort de son trou, passe autour de l’arbre et redescend chez lui.” The old bunny rabbit story does it again.”

The same guy’s comings and goings cause the whole row of berth holders to stand by for a spectacle, whilst those in his killing zone on the row opposite, actually get out fenders and boathooks. (Even though he has a certificate of utter competence) On Friday, he got his throttle stuck at 75% power astern. The blue air was not created by diesel fumes. It is calm at the moment, but if the wind blows???? Bureaucracy! Bits of paper! All b——s really!

Yesterday (14th July. Fete Nationale) we started a revolution. At 1000, seeing nobody else dressing overall, we decided to pay respect to France, so hoisted our string of signal flags, put a big ensign at the mizzen peak, raised a pilot jack at the stem and set proper courtesies and designations (inc the PBO pennant) at the crosstrees.

For 30 minutes, we were a talking point, had all the passenger launches saying “Bravo” and welcomed a string of gawking visitors.. Then, one by one the resident yachts started to hoist ‘le grand pavois’ and a couple stopped by to confess, “You made us ashamed of our laziness.”

That is one of the present problems. It is now very easy to get out here, so boating reflects the whole of society, including some very bad mannered crews both in marinas and on anchorages. In spite of this, there are usually good reasons for the seaman’s traditions. If we do not respect them, we risk losing them. That would be a retrograde step.

Colin & Rita Jones on Abemama at Le Cap d’Agde.