2nd July – 9th July – First trip of the year!
2nd July – We are finally leaving Port La Forêt! We intend heading down to La Rochelle first and then on to the North Spanish coast taking in initially Bilbao, Laredo and Santander before heading to the renowned Spanish Rias!
Leaving PLF after laying up there for two winters was sad but joyous too. We had been looked after extremely well by Pierre and his team, François and Jan at Extrado and more than ably assisted by Pierre’s wife Corinne in the office. Everyone has been so helpful, it has been a pleasure keeping Musetta with them! But now it’s time to continue our travels!
Our original thought was that we would sail directly to La Rochelle, approximately 160 nautical miles, as the crow flies. It would have been a great ‘pipe opener’ so to speak and a way for us to catch up some of the lost time we suffered due to the problem with the rudder and other issues. However, the weather had other ideas and we had to abandon that plan, there was no wind?! There was nothing for it but to make the trip in ‘hops’?!
2nd July ~ Île de Groix
Typically, having had some glorious summer weather the day dawned grey and decidedly damp? The only saving grace was that it wasn’t cold!! But there was NO WIND??
We motored virtually all the way to Île de Groix! The wind picked up for a while and so we quickly put up the sails to make the most of it! However, it was short lived and we soon had the engine on again. Every cloud has a silver lining though and as if to cheer us up or just to give some joy a large pod of dolphins came to play around Musetta! They were amazing and they certainly accomplished their mission!
We arrived at Île de Groix and the heavens opened! It absolutely poured with rain and we (our waterproofs) were sopping wet! We needed to pay for the night which meant launching the dinghy to get ashore. This was an extremely wet process but we did it, you might say it was character building?! We were assured by the harbour master that there would be sunshine tomorrow so once once the dinghy was secure we disappeared below for a well earned G & T, praying for the return of the sunshine and WIND!!
3rd July ~ Île de Noirmoutier
Although the sun wasn’t shining initially the wind was definitely picking up and we were soon cracking along and for most of the day it remained so! Lovely sunshine and great sailing it was superb!
4th July ~Île d’Yeu
There definitely was no wind today but we didn’t want to stay in Noirmoutier any longer having spent time here last year and thoroughly enjoyed it but we were on a mission this time!
We set off for Port Joinville, Île d’Yeu. It was only a 22 nautical mile trip and so we motored there in glorious sunshine!
5th – 7th July ~ Bourgenay
The day dawned bright and sunny and with, most importantly, WIND! We had an amazing sail and covered the 34 nautical miles in just a few hours! We averaged 7.3. knots and hit 10.2 knots! With the wind on the starboard quarter it was an exhilarating downwind sail!
Approaching a new harbour is always somewhat daunting especially if all you can see in front of you is a wall of boulders, it’s hard to imagine there is an entrance in it at all? However, the entrance was there and suddenly we were able to pick out the port and starboard, red and green markers, and then the way in came into view!
The small town of Talmont Sainte Hilaire was close by and having borrowed bikes from the marina office we cycled the short distance there to take a look. There just seemed to be one road through the town and a very ancient Château which was in the process of being restored and thus shrouded in scaffolding and not much else. However, just by chance we discovered that the first stage of this year’s Tour de France would be coming through the town the next day and so we decided that this was an opportunity not to be missed!
7th July ~ The 105th Tour de France!
We borrowed bikes from the marina office again and cycled the 8/9 kilometres along dedicated cycle paths through fields and vineyards to Talmont to be ready for the race! The town was a mass of yellow balloons and bunting made up of the different coloured Jerseys worn by the stage winners.
We found a good place to stand and watch in the shade, it was very hot! At about 12 pm it all started with all the sponsors coming through in their amazingly transformed cars and floats, the girls and boys on them throwing hats, water, scarves and a myriad other freebies into the crowd! It was an endless stream of more and more huge images on vehicles! It was incredible and full of the razzmatazz that goes with these huge events!!
There was a gap in proceedings then, so we left our viewing point to go and have lunch in a small bijou restaurant on the main road before the peloton arrived. All of a sudden they were there and then they were gone?! It was all over in a few seconds but it was so exciting to see them all, the speed was breathtaking and the wind draught they created as they whizzed by was surprising?
Suddenly all was quiet, the masses disappeared and we cycled back to the marina to prepare for leaving the following day. It was purely a coincidence that we happened to be in Bourgenay on the first day of the Tour but it was definitely a happy one!
8th July ~ Île de Ré
Having been here last year with Lara and fallen in love with it, I was so pleased this time when the wind failed!! It was an easy choice to go into St Martin de Ré!
I could now show Alan this most beautiful little Port! He was suitably impressed! We spent one night here before making our final hop to La Rochelle.
9th July ~ La Rochelle
We did manage to sail today, if rather slowly but it was fine as we knew we wouldn’t be able to go into the Vieux Port in La Rochelle because of the state of the tide and gate opening times and so we went into the first marina you come to, Les Minimes which is all tide and the largest marina in Europe with approximately 3.500 – 4000 berths! It was massive!!
Finally, after a very different from the originally planned passage from Port La Forêt, we are here and looking forward to exploring La Rochelle!