My experience at the Kruise 2019: 7 days sailing around the French Riviera with ESCP friends

Last November, two months after joining ESCP, I embarked on the crazy journey of sailing around the French coast on the Mediterranean with a group of 8 friends from ESCP. The event was organised by Yachting, a student society that manages sailing events.

When a friend approached me about getting involved in the event, I was very interested, but also apprehensive. Having only sailed once – on a small catamaran when I was 13 years old – I doubted my ability to handle a 42-foot Oceanis houseboat (which we nicknamed “Don Quiflotte”).

The “Don Quiflotte” logo

My friends reassured me by telling me that they had found someone for the crew who had been sailing with his dad since he was 3 years old. Their trips included the French Riviera, Spain, Tunisia, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. This immediately made me feel safer to undertake the journey.

All together, 13 boats of 8 to 9 people left the harbor on the first day, including the gigantic catamaran of the Yachting crew. We left from Bormes-les-Mimosas and spent the nights in different spots: Porquerolles, Port-Cros, Lérins islands (near Cannes), Cavalaire-Sur-Mer, and finally Saint-Rafaël.

A small boat in a body of water

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Setting sail

This trip was a unique experience; read on to discover my 5 best memories as well as my 3 most “challenging” moments of the Kruise 2019.

My 5 best memories

Learning to sail

One of my main takeaways from the trip was learning a new skill: sailing. As I said before, I had little sailing experience going on the trip. However, with the help and patience of our captain, we all had the chance to learn the different maneuvers. The introduction to steering and tacking on the Don Quiflotte was the perfect opportunity to learn. For example, I learnt that, depending on whether the wind is in front of you or behind you, you have to make a different set of simultaneous actions. That’s why sailing is considered to be a team sport requiring high levels of communication and coordination.

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Me, learning to steer

Singing in the middle of the sea

One my best memories was our karaoke sessions surrounded by nothing but water. While sailing, this was the best way to stay positive and keep up our motivation. Classic road trip songs such as “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd or “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond were particularly appropriate. We also entertained ourselves with throwbacks from our childhood: Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” or Lion King’s “Circle of Life”.

A group of people on a boat in the water

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Karaoke time

Arrival at the port of Saint Rafaël with a beautiful sunset

A small boat in a large body of water

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A picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t have much to add to these awesome photos.
A person sitting in a boat on a body of water

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Food fight between boats

This is one of the moments I am not very proud of. One day, another boat on the Kruise approached us, and randomly started throwing things at us. This started the biggest food fight I have ever seen. We grabbed everything we could find to protect ourselves, including cherry tomatoes, wet toilet paper and eggs. In hindsight, I know that this was completely disgraceful (among other things), but it was so spontaneous that we couldn’t resist taking revenge on our assailants.

Chilling in the creek

One of the most enjoyable memories was when we chilled and watched a movie under the stars on a small, quiet creek. At anchor, we pulled our blankets up and, armed with snacks, watched Coco, a quintessentially French comedy. I was particularly pleased with this choice of entertainment after all of the partying on the previous evenings.

My 3 most challenging moments:

Sailing on a stormy day

This was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome during that week. Because the sea was so rough, it was very easy to lose your balance and feel seasick. When you are in the middle of the sea, it is not possible to take a break: you have to face the vagaries of the weather. The most critical moment was when we docked in open sea. It is a very technical maneuver, requiring a high level of precision.

Overall however, we were extremely lucky to have a very sunny week, which is not often the case in the Mediterranean in November!

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Docking in the port

One tense moment was getting the call to return to the port. Because there were 13 boats all together, each one had to wait confirmation before docking in the port. This usually tends to take a while since it has to be done very slowly.

The 12-hour bus ride back to Paris

It was not easy to spend 7 days in a row constantly surrounded by people. On the return trip by bus, everyone felt completely exhausted from 7 days of sailing (and partying). Once we docked, all I wanted was to be at home, comfortably in bed. Instead, I had to face the final test: make it through a difficult night in the bus. As the seats didn’t have enough room to get comfortable, the only way that I could cope was by sleeping in the aisle.

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In the end, the experience was extremely rewarding and while not always easy, it helped me grow as a person.

The week was also very expensive – my diet was restricted to pasta for the next two months – but it was definitely the highlight of my ESCP semester in Paris! I got to meet a lot of interesting people and build lasting relationships in an incredible setting.

I would recommend this experience to anyone who loves new adventures. Thanks for reading my post! 😉

Vianney