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Cruise 04 June 22-29 2013

After Stewart and crew had done the hard work for us (and suffered some ‘interesting’ weather, I hear!), we again jumped on a plane for the sunny shores and sands of La Rochelle, for a relaxing week tootling around the harbours of South Biscay. BB was snugly moored in the inner basin, right in the heart of the attractive old town. But we were clearly not going anywhere in a hurry, as that weekend turned out to be a festival of triathlon, and if we had moved BB, we would have been in danger of mowing down the swimmers , who thrashed past the pontoons in a continuous stream of wetsuits and goggles in all ages, shapes and sizes, to the accompaniment of very loud pop music and a hysterical commentator, who we were ready to strangle with his own microphone cord after nearly 10 hours of shouting!

 

 

The BB crew of Brian, Diana, Stephen, Fiona and Joan, plus guests Richard and Giz finally escaped from the harbour and headed for the charming port of St Denis on the Ile D’Oleron. Great restaurants, empty beaches, fresh food market and lovely countryside made this a real holiday destination. We hit the bike hire shop en masse, and spent a glorious sunny day on the cycle tracks and quiet lanes of the island.

 

 

Enjoying light to fresh northerly winds all week, we anchored for a night near the huge bridge which joins the mainland to the Ile de Ré, then tacked up to Les Sables D’Olonne, home of the Vendée Globe round the world yacht race. We moored among the huge racing yachts, and spent the day swimming, looking for the perfect washer for the anchor windlass, and buying yet more bread. Motto of the week: ‘You can’t have too many baguettes’! Brian and I were lucky enough to be invited to look round Bernard Moitessier’s steel yacht ‘Joshua’, in which he sailed twice around the world in the 1960’s – a really moving experience.

 

 

We set off tacking upwind towards the Ile D'Yeu, but proving that all ships logs should state that a vogage is ‘towards’ rather than ‘to’ a destination, we ran out of time and daylight, so settled for an anchorage at the entrance to the magnificently named St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Anchor watches were spent fending off local fishing boats, which were definitely not expecting an anchored yacht on their patch! (In joke: anchor watches will always be ‘ankle watches’ to me now, but it’s not a joke you can really explain if you weren’t there…)

BB is a bit deep-draughted for the waters around La Rochelle, so we took up a mooring outside St Martin de Ré only after exhaustive tidal height calculations (thanks, Joan!) allowing for a really bouncy swell in the freshening wind. The precarious dinghy trip into the harbour was well worth the trouble, but the upwind trip back loaded with yet more croissants and baguettes was a choice between very slow and dryish, or fast and very wet! Fiona and Brian’s acrobatics getting the dinghy back on board were nothing short of heroic.

Under the bridge again, back to La Rochelle and the inner basin to leave BB to her next crew. Amusement of the day: Watching a naval vessel moor up without fenders, then ordering the whole crew to push the ship away from the pontoon to put the forgotten fenders in – pure Navy Lark!

 

Diana Moore

 

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