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So, wow, Tuesday not as forecast. We knew the wind would be ‘on the nose’, but supposedly at no more than about 12 knots (no problem) whereas we actually had 18 gusting 21 knots, which makes it hard work and slow. Had intended making for Les Sables D’Alonne, a distance of about 37 nm, but eventually called it a day 5 nm sooner at Bourgenay, a pleasant purpose-built little harbour with, fortunately, a well-stocked chandlery. We needed some sail repairing cloth because, about 2 hours before reaching the harbour, I noticed a rip near the leach of the main and decided to motor rather than motor-sail. Clearly, a repair was required before further use.
So, second thing Wednesday morning, I lowered the main and carried out a repair which took about an hour, whilst G hosed down the deck to get rid of that horrible salty stuff. First thing? Quickly remember wedding anniversary and retrieve special card bought specially in La Rochelle. (G brought one from home that she bought months ago!! Probably filled it in a popped in the envelope whilst doing the Christmas cards!!) Then, off we went, escaping the harbour before low water spring would have delayed it. Forecast for 8 knots, directly on the nose – a wind speed that enables motoring directly into the wind without waves which will slow progress too much. Unfortunately, after about 3 hours, wind speed increased to 13 knots which slowed progress a good deal, although still quicker that tacking upwind. Eventually, covered the cloudless 30 nm to Ile D’Yeu, a pretty and popular island about 10 miles offshore, showered and celebrated our anniversary. We both wondered, where did the nine years go?
During the night, as forecast, the wind veered 90 degrees to the north-east – Yippee. And so, after first filling up with much-needed diesel, we are now sailing comfortably on a reach making for Belle Ile with a cloudless sky, but a chilly wind. We have to make use of this north-easterly as the wind hasn’t been in the southern sector since we left home and there seems unlikely to be any change in the next week at least.
And so, we’d been cracking along and seeing 8.5 knots over the ground in about 12 kt of breeze when gradually the wind eased off until, at about 14:30, we had to switch the engine on to keep up a decent speed. All the same, a great day so far.
I’m trying to remain positive about this, but for two days, when the wind as been against us, conditions have worsened over those forecast. Today, when the wind, at last, was totally in our favour, it has died and veered from reach to run. But it is now sunny and warm. A bit like Scotland, I understand, which is another irony!!
Despite the irony, the day ended unexpectedly fantastic. With the dying wind (almost certainly a sea breeze overpowering the gradient wind), we decided to anchor to the south of Île Houat in a beautiful bay with a long sandy beach. Then, we dropped off the dinghy, rowed ashore and walked around half of the island. Brilliant. The first such day in over a week.
Yesterday, having spent four days ‘stuck’ in La Rochelle, we decided to cancel the ferry from Santander and return northward, actually, for the next few days, North-westwards. Today, we will be punching a north-westerly, but tomorrow is light and then the wind turns in to the north-east and we should have a decent sail towards Brest and, then, the Roscoff ferry.
Yesterday, we visited the Maritime Museum!
I took the following image in 1991. That’s Ian.
And this from pretty much the same spot
We’ve had two great days watching the Laser Europeans and walking around the dinghy park chatting to the UKLA guys and gals. We haven’t done as well as we would really like although Mike Becket had a fantastic week and took silver in the Standards. Alison was 7th & Henry Wetherell was 9th, but that, unfortunately, was it. But we’ll soon bounce back.
Now for our dilemma. Winds for the next week are generally from the northern sector and not especially brilliant for travelling north. On the other hand, experienced French cruising people here in La Rochelle are not prepared to travel any further south until at least another week because of potentially rough seas. Great, we had thought we were going south, but we are no longer so sure as we still need to get home at some point. For today, it is time to visit La Rochelle itself.
Incidentally, it is remarkably shallow here even in the fairway in the river. In the marina, at low tide, we have 0.3m under the keel and it’s neaps!!
Great sail today covering 63nm from Ile D’Yeu, which we loved, to La Rochelle, where we expect to catch up with some of the Laser guys and gals who have their European championship here this week.
Left the marina at about 08:30 not knowing for certain if we would stop at Les Sables d’Olonne, after 5 hours, or carry on to La Rochelle with a passage time of nearer 12 hours. In the event, we were making such great progress past La Sables, with both wind and waves on our tail, that we didn’t even consider stopping. In any case, the forecast for tomorrow is wind from the opposite direction which was a severe disincentive to stopping.
So, a cracking sail in brilliant sunshine saw us in the La Rochelle marina in just over 10 hours. Saw the Laser Standards arriving back at the sailing club after having spent 6 hours to complete just two races is a steady Force 4. What do some race officers get up to??
Walked around the dinghy park and chatted to four of the guys and will see the rest tomorrow. Then back on board for one of G’s gourmet meals, this time featuring langoustines bought yesterday on Ile D’Yeu.
Left L’Herbaudiere at a reasonable hour for a voyage to Les Sables by way of Ile D’Yeu Lovely sunshine and a 12 kt northerly with us going due south (after avoiding all the shallows hereabouts) with a good deal of slop left over from yesterday’s 20 kt north-westerly. Motored most of it because a 4 kt sailing speed coupled with banging sails from the constant rolling only appeals for about 10 minutes. G expressed a wish to go ashore and hire bikes on Ile D’Yeu and that’s exactly what we did – hired bikes and cycled around the island on a warm(ish) sunny day. Great marina although very busy due to being an attractive destination for local sailors. And the mooring fee was only €22! Dined on Scallops from the local poissonniere.
A great day’s cruise in bright sunshine, but no wind yesterday. Left the mooring outside Sauzon harbour just before 8 o’clock and had a peep in the harbour. Moored bow and stern and rafted. How the middle boat gets his dinghy out/off, heaven only knows. Then onwards and a peep in the harbour at Le Palais where the rafting was even worse. You will have seen my images on the previous blog. Motored over to Hoëdic for a peep in the small harbour at Port L’angol – Ye Gods!!!
Left these very busy islands behind and motored over to the mainland aiming for the marina at Pornichet where we hoped to get fuel and, possibly, stay the night. Pornichet is in the bay which includes La Baule. G had been there some years ago and remembered it as something charming. No longer. More like Magluf with a long waterfront of large multi-storey buildings. Re-fueled without an problem, but decided that the marina is much to full and busy with no sign of a free visitor’s berth. So, pressed on to L’Herbaudiere in a 12 kt westerly which, with the sails up and the engine off provided our fastest passage in a long time.
L’Herbaudiere is also crowded and led us to a good deal of discussion as to whether this is for us. Anyway, in thinking deeply about it, we have had a day off and moved to a berth for the night where we will be under no threat of boats rafting against us.
Talking of a rest day, the forecast rain didn’t occur and, so, with a tap at hand, G is cleaning the decks. (I have just posted her second blog.)
Here’s part of the problem. When we arrive, Martin took our lines. I said “merci” and he said “that’s alright, mate”. Turns out he also has a Moody 376! Anyway, we are on the visitors’ pontoon, planely marked “Visiteurs”, in a berth, when along come a beautiful Dragon-like yacht, the owner of which says “Excuse me, that is my berth”. In french, obviously, which allowed me to look vague. It transpires that the marina is so full with ‘full-time’ members that it has taken over some of the visitors’ berths. Great. We were obliged to move and raft against the other Moody. Not too bad except this is a busy fishing harbour as well and these fishermen, in pretty big boats, don’t concern themselves too much about the comfort of yachties when they leave harbour at ungodly hours. And we were closest to them, by a bit.
Just a few examples of what puts us off cruising in French waters.
We are now in L’Herbaudiere and not well impressed with French mooring conventions which revolves around not having sufficient facilities anywhere once past about Morgat & Douarnanez.