Bandol is only thirty miles away, so we had a relaxed start to the day and a delightful breakfast ashore at the bread shop. John had “…the best croissant I’ve ever eaten” and I probably had my best ever raisin swirl. Soft and moist with succulent fruit, it went with the milky coffee a treat. Afterwards we bought a baton of bread, still warm, to take away for lunch underway. We headed back to Lyra and were passing outside the harbour by nine thirty. The distant horizon looked hazy and there was mist shawled around the far hills, but we figured that would burn off before we were there. Our route today crossed the traffic separation zone for the port of Marseilles. This is the furthest east Lyra has ever been. She reached Marseilles with Alan and Sheila, but was then taken overland back to Lymington, when they had to return. So we had a sense of crossing a Rubicon. This traffic separation zone was a non-event and we soon could see Marseilles astern. We were going boldly where none of us had gone before. On our starboard side rose a tall lighthouse marking some rocks. The visibility ahead still looked vague and the wispy mist ashore had risen up and swallowed one of the mountains. John switched on the radar overlay. Suddenly we were in fog. The lighthouse had disappeared even though we knew it was not far away. It was similar to our experience setting off from Lymington, we seemed to be in a bubble of clear space, which moved along with us, but beyond which we could not see. It did not take long to decide to turn back, but it was a surprisingly long time before we came out of the fog, so it was also moving our way. We were ahead of it though and could see the lighthouse again. A motor yacht erupted out of the fog some way off our port side, no AIS and precious little signal on the radar. This reinforced our decision not to try to go further, even if you proceed carefully, there are idiots abroad who cannot be accounted for.
It seemed prudent to call Sausset Les Pins and ask for our berth back. The lady on reception and I managed to cobble together enough common language to sort this out and then it was just a case of retracing our steps. Back into previously charted territory we went, back across the traffic separation zone, which was still deserted and eventually to the now familiar harbour entrance. The only problem being it was now lunch hour and the fog was beginning to creep in with us. I stood ready on the stern holding a line and brandishing the boat hook and a man ashore took pity on me. He took both our stern lines and I hooked the lazy line and John took it to tie off. This time we had a narrower rope ready to pass through the chain.
So we are back at Sausset Les Pins and plan to stay two nights as there is due to be wind tomorrow. Hopefully it will blow the fog away. French weather forecasting makes no mention of fog. Since we have been here a French boat has arrived from Bandol having spent four hours in fog. We spent about fifteen minutes and that was long enough for us.