In this new web series, we talk about the journeys of our top contributors! While some spent their life on a boat, others discovered this passion later in life. With their contributions, they play a key role in making Navily what it is today : a trustworthy cruising guide, made for and by boaters, with a growing influence in Europe and in the world.
Today, we meet with Philippe, 67 years of age and almost as much spent cruising the sea. Philippe fell in love with boating at a young age during numerous family cruises in Brittany. For many years he sailed for sport and cruising on different sailboats. He later moved on to motor boating during his many cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. Expert navigator with an adventurous soul, Philippe rarely goes back to the same place. Cruising where he feels like, he enjoys the freedom and the sea of possibilities that a boating journey has to offer. Here is his story…
Hello Philippe! So, tell us a bit about your sailing experience, from your first step on a boat to your journey on the seven seas.
It all started in Noirmoutier, aboard the small classic sailboat that my dad owned. Around 10, I started attending sailing classes and grew my sailing skills on numerous sailing dinghies and cruisers. Between, 1971 and 1981 I owned quite a lot of sailing dinghies including a 445 and a Laser. Later, in 1982, I got my first cruiser a Jeanneau Microsail, followed by a First 235 from 1985 to 1990, and then finally a First 285 in 1995. At this time I was sailing in Morbihan (Brittany), a place where I cut my teeth and sailed for many years. A good preparation for the long journeys that were to come…
In 1995, I sold my sailboat and it marked the start of a different type of sailing : longer journeys, farther from home. I worked as an engineer and had little time for holidays. Consequently, my sailing journeys at the time, were condensed in a few weeks per year on rental boats with my friends. Not owning a boat was actually a blessing at the time and allowed me to broaden the horizon of potential journeys. In fact, during this time I sailed where I never thought I would. West Indies, Seychelles, Norway, I did some of my greatest boat trips during this time.
You then moved on to motor boating. Tell us more about that transition.
In 2007, I moved to Brittany again and there began my passion for motorboating. In Morbihan, I acquired my first Day Cruiser, a 6m50 boat. Based in Crouesty, I wandered for whole days in the Brittany Islands. It was nice but not enough, and soon I needed to go for something bigger and acquired a Highland 35 Fountaine Pajot motor catamaran. With it, I traveled along the French West coast during 5 to 6 sailing seasons. It was nice but frustrating as I could only enjoy it 2 to 3 weeks a year. With that in mind, I decided to move my boat in the Mediterranean Sea and did a first magical season in the Balearic Islands.
I started to dream of the Aegean Sea, Greece and Turkey…. But with a motor catamaran, the journey would have been quite uncomfortable. It didn’t take me long to follow the next logical step and I bought a 40 ft Trawler to entertain the idea of longer and further journeys. I quickly changed to something more comfortable, a Selene Ocean Trawler 55, as my wife now joined me for every trips and we started boating for 3 months every year. Since then, we have been roaming the Mediterranean Sea discovering new destinations every year.
I’ve owned many boats and rented as many, and what’s best is a very personal decision. For me, it was important to be free and independent so I quickly bought my own. Nevertheless, owning a boat is like having a horse in a stable, if you’re gonna have one, it’s better if you can use it often to make the investment worthwhile.
What were your best boat trips ?
My most remarkable journey took place 20 years ago, on a memorable cruise in Seychelles Islands. A journey with friends aboard a rented catamaran. It’s a place of magic and wonders. Seychelles was a much wilder destination at the time. I believe such a journey would not be doable nowadays, with more and more tourists flocking the region every year. Is it a shame? Absolutely not, it makes my journey even more unique and time bound.
My favourite destination is definitely the Greek Islands. I really fell in love with Greece but try to avoid it in high season for reasons that are well known (people everywhere). That being said, I always manage to find less crowded destinations, mostly in the Eagan Sea. If you go out of the beaten paths, you will find paradise-like anchorages in preserved area. But you need to dig a little deeper…
While traveling the Aegean Sea, I heavily rely upon maps and Navily to find the best anchorages. Navily is of great help for such purpose, as you can read between the lines and evaluate if it’s going to be crowded or calm.
How do you prepare for a boat journey ?
I use mostly three tools to prepare my cruises : Navily, weather forecast and pre-programmed maps on my tablet. I also use paper cruising guides in the Mediterranean Sea but they are limited : the content is based on one person’s perspective while Navily regroups reviews from many users. Furthermore, the information is updated every time someone new visits an anchorage or a marina. if you synthesize the information with your own experience you will have a solid ground to find the best spots in the area you are cruising. Finally to prepare my itinerary, I rely on Navily’ new automatic itinerary feature and iSailor when more precision is needed.
While we are talking about Navily, what do you appreciate about our app ?
The community sharing experience ! What one person experienced translated into a cruising guide is something, but the experience of tens or hundreds of people who visited one place at one time is much more reliable. Solidarity in the boating community is crucial and sharing information about anchorages and marinas is an important part of it. The more you have access to others boating experience, the more you can ensure your own security and that’s the most essential thing for any sailor.
On another hand, I could imagine some enhancement that would make the app even more interesting. For instance, wind and swell protection in marinas. Contrary to popular beliefs, they are not always well protected. We could also add a few useful phone numbers on marina’s pages such as car rental, medics or diesel delivery services.
A crazy story that you remember from one of your boat trips ?
I remember once when I was cruising in Greece an incident that met quite an unexpected ending. My waste water draining pump broke while anchored in a creek… a situation that would put any boater in an embarrassing position. Next thing you know, I’m urgently looking for the nearest marina without much hope of getting out of this in timely manners.
I finally docked in a small marina in the greek islands (so small I can’t even remember precisely where it was). In this marina, I asked for assistance and soon someone met me at my berth, took a quick look and told me he could fix this for tomorrow… I agreed in disbelief but with no other options to rely on, I put my trust in this person. It was really a small island but the next evening, they had fixed my pump and I was ready to go again. The kind of service that you don’t see everywhere.
What will be your next destination ?
Presently, I’m docked in Leros Island, in the Dodecanese (Greece). From there I would like to set course for Finike and Antalya and roam for a season or two on the Turkish South and South-East coast. It’s a place I have never been before and heard lots of good things about. In addition, wintering is much cheaper in the region and it’s a strategic location to visit more destination in the Mediterranean Sea. After this, I’m contemplating Montenegro and Croatia… but nothing is for sure at the moment. We will see where the Sea takes us next…