Day 7, Genève-Evian
I wake up to another day of sunshine as it peeks behind the hills. It’s a long walk to the nearest bistro, and everything may be closed this early in the day– it’s seven o’clock. I want to sail out of the Petit Lac and into the Grand Lac, where the lake is at its widest spanning fourteen kilometers. I buzz by the river current with the motor and into the bay, hoist the sails to capture a light morning breeze. It doesn’t last long, so it’s back to the motor while I admire the coast. Eventually I figure I’m looking at the French coast as the flags in front of idyllic homes indicate. Flagpoles topped with patriotic Bleu Blanc Rouge banners are flapping away in a breeze which means the wind has picked up.
It’s a headwind, and it’s ideal. I’ll be doing a lot of tacking back and forth as the good sized sailboat is doing not far away. His boat is much bigger, but he’s pulling his kids in an inflatable dinghy behind him. We zigzag each other for the next couple of hours, waving hello as we cross channels. The plan is to get to the medieval town of Yvoire for lunch, but by the time I dock in the marina the restaurant kitchens are closed – it’s four in the afternoon they tell me. All that is available are deserts and crêpes. I’m not in the mood for sweets, and stumble on a quaint epicerie, order some sliced local dried sausage and cheese as well as an ice cold brew. I’ll eat on the boat and continue to Evian. Leaving Yvoire, the wind has died. Not a breath of air, and it’s hot. After chewing on some well deserved Savoy specialties and beer I cruise along the French coast by a big public beach, more home and hotels and stop for a swim – or a bath. I’ve been sweating under the blazing sun while sailing around Lake Geneva, and it’s time for a cool pause in French waters to wash off some accumulated sweat and grime.
Next major marina is Thonon-Les-Bains. A old work colleague and good friend lives there with her husband and three children. Maybe I’ll stop and pay them a visit. The harbor is fit for a pretty big town, so I figure there must be room. The visitor spots are at the far end as you exit the port, and while strolling by, I can see there is not a spot to fit even my little boat. I suppose if I insisted it would be possible to moor between a couple of big crafts, but I decide to forge on to Evian which is relatively close.
Going along the bank there is a large public swimming pool, then a beach stocked with water toys such as windsurfs, kayaks and Hobie Cats. The coast here is void of villas and palatial mansions. It’s trees and a thin strip of beach made of small rounded stones. It seems tropical. There is a small cluster of bathers and at a closer look I can see it’s a nudist beach. It must be mostly naked guys, but I do see a couple of happy frolicking families, so the perverse factor appears to be naught. Further along There are less and less people and more wilderness until I spot the almost hidden entrance of Port Ripaille where we’d been a few days earlier.
Around the bend is a stoic factory dredger. It sits idle in front of a industrial facility that appears to produce filler and sand. Some kids are fishing off the high rusted steel banks. Evian is visible in the distance. The shore is once again dotted with stately homes and a few tremendous mansions. There is a hotel and restaurant that offers its private harbor to guests. A friend of mine had told me about this place. It looks really cool to pull up in your boat, dock and sit for lunch on the terrace facing the boats. I make a note to someday come back here.
Just off the coast of Evian is a series of boats with bloated spinnakers, obviously a regatta. The front runner is an impressive D35 catamaran. Just as I round past them, they hit a wind change an perform a rapid maneuver dropping the spinnaker for a genoa, the following follow suit dropping their ballooned spinnakers in a domino effect.
I’m just in front of Evian’s harbor and round into the still waters of port. Visitors are asked to moor on the long jetty lining the front of the harbor like paralleled parked cars. Slowly cruising by, I can see no room and turn around and ask the port attendant sitting in a Zodiac chatting with friends where I can dock. He confirms the marina is full, and proposes I tie up parallel next to another boat. But as I make my way back searching for an accommodating neighbor, I see a spot that will just fit and secure my boat between two lager crafts again. Usually people are friendly and helpful when arriving and docking, but it seems the man in front is somewhat annoyed that I’m just at his heel and offers no help and barely a “Bonjour”.
It’s been the longest time I’ve been aboard – more than twelve hours with a quick stop in Yvoire – and I’m tired and hungry. Too tired to walk into town for dinner, I’ll be content with the left over sausage and cheese from Yvoire. But first I roll a joint to relax, and sit out on the outside of the jetty to smoke and not harass my neighbor and kids with the sweet smell of Ganja.
There’s nothing better to get you hungry than a good smoke, and I slice up the cheese and tomato, mix them together with the sausage for a simple and fulfilling meal. The jetty is equipped with electrical outlets, so I plug in my devices for their daily charge, have one last cigarette and crawl into bed with my Wicked book.