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Île de Porquerolles, France
Sunday, July 6th

Star Clipper Anchored off Porquerolles Island Star Clipper Anchored off Porquerolles Island
(Click Photo to Zoom)
Dawn. I was the only passenger on deck. This is such a great time to commune with the sea but no one else seemed interested. It would be the same very day for the next two weeks. However, it provided a lot of time for me to talk with Sergiy Strokan, the Chief Mate. Over the next two weeks, our early morning conversations included such subjects as Corsican fugitives, independence movements in Puerto Rico, Corsica and other French islands, the Lewis/Klitchko fight, and satellite TV on sailing ships. On our previous Star Clipper cruise, he was a Second Officer; and last February signed on for a six-month tour as Chief Mate. Sergiy is a native of Sebastopol, Ukraine, and still lives there. He's worked on sailing ships for 20 years and has visited many ports throughout the world.


Jet Skis Welcome the Star Clipper Jet Skis Swarm Around the Star Clipper
Like Paparazzi at the Cannes Festival
(Click Photo to Zoom)
Capacity on the Star Clipper is 180 but this week there were only 77 passengers on board, outnumbered by a crew of 80. (Next week's passenger list would swell to 110.) Because of 9/11, SARS, and the Iraq War, tourism by Americans was down this summer.

But other nationalities seemed to be staying away, too. In the fall of 2001, the Star Clipper swarmed with Brits and Germans; this week saw only 7 Brits and 18 Germans on board, compared with 26 Americans.


Porquerolles Island, off the French coast near Hyères, is one of the Îles d'Or (Golden Isles). It is small, only about eight square miles, and everything is easily reached on foot or bicycle. In fact, cars are prohibited. We rented bikes and rode out to the lighthouse on the southern coast. I hadn't been on a bike for over forty years, a fact my butt and thighs reminded me of later.

Like the island, the little port village is also called Porquerolles, named after the wild boars which once inhabited the island. It consists of a small church, post office, hotel, and a few shops and homes. In the center of town is a large open sandy square, once an exercise field for the military garrison. Since 1985, most of the island has been part of the Port-Cros national park. It's quite beautiful The south coast is rocky and rough; the north coast has sandy beaches. The interior is varied, with pine and oak forests, vineyards, and abundant vegetation typical in the Mediterranean. Since it was Sunday, there were a good many visitors from the mainland, enjoying a family outing on a beautiful day. The island is also used by the French military as an R&R (Rest and Relaxation) destination.

We didn't visit Notre Dame beach but heard that it is a beautiful stretch of very fine sand. Other recommended walking destinations are Langoustier Point, the semaphore on Mont des Salins, St Agatha's fort, and Silver Beach.

Back on ship, we enjoyed watching the many sailboats out for Sunday sails. Later, at dinner, we met John and Katy, a delightful couple from London, with whom we would have many interesting discussions during the cruise.


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