Page 29 - Yachter Autumn 2023
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                                      anchored waiting to disgorge their cargoes at St Nazaire. Finally Île de Yeu popped up over the horizon with numerous Vedettes charging back and forth loaded with trippers. We crept around the corner into Joinville harbour and found ourselves a convenient finger berth in the evening sunshine. Later a pleasant late evening walk to a restaurant, the one next door had a Hen Party in full flow, they were having a ball, maybe too much so as their live band was still quite audible at 0200 on the boat half a mile away! It was six days since we had left Blighty and we didn’t need to be in La Rochelle until Saturday thus giving us a couple of spare days, one to clean and tidy the boat ready for the ladies (RC House and RC Facilities) the fearsome twosome, RC [Rear Commodore] seems apt, it’s the way you
say it!). For the other, we decided on a half
day sail to Les Sables-d’Olonne, once again sunshine all the way. Entering port at low tide Frances’s topography was slightly rearranged, evidently deep water wasn’t in the east of the entrance as advised and poor Mike was in total disbelief when I advised from the foredeck a course change to port. We were given a berth in the inner harbour near the Open 60s who were busy glad handing sponsors and getting brownie points taking local children for a sail. Wish I’d been a little French oick. It was hot, so much so we retreated below for afternoon tea and cake, boating ritual; Mike doesn’t drink tea and makes do with a cup’o’soup. By this time the chart plotter had started working properly but we had noticed a complicated button
with a rotating outer and 360 degree pressure sensitive inner was loose, in fact it wasn’t loose but it’s mounting diaphragm was torn letting in the damp. Best bodging kit came out and some incredibly sticky flexible window repair tape turned out to be just the ticket.
This just left a leisurely 35 mile sail to La Rochelle, another sunny day and pleasant westerly wind. We took the direct route inside Île de Ré and under the bridge, perhaps we
weren’t leisurely enough and almost ran out of water being too early on the tide. After the remote docks a turn to port and a couple of miles later we were entering the vast Minimes marina (over 2,000 berths) where a berth was found for us. After a days victualling and cleaning we were ready for Virginia and Tina who were arriving late on the Sunday evening by Easyjet. A phone call Sunday evening from two disgruntled would be passengers
in Gatwick who had been informed as they entered immigration that their flight had
been cancelled and the next flight was on Wednesday, now it was Difficultjet. Long story short, many alternatives dismissed in favour
of retrieving Tina’s car from the concierge parking, hoofing it down to Portsmouth for the 2300 ferry to Caen, booked by Mike. Midday Monday two very tired RC RCs turned up very much ready for a holiday...
Next day we set off to St Denis on Île d’Olero, Very pleasant, sunshine, swimming and relaxed. One evening whilst having
a leisurely alfresco meal two French guys turned up who were providing the live music for the evening. They were seriously into all British music 70’s onward, one playing the harmonica the other vocals and guitar. They were unbelievably good and really made our evening out.
Bastille Day, Mike and Virginia had arranged a decent restaurant, Christophe’s, overlooking the firework display so we
returned to Minimes then used the electric water bus to the old city where it was party time, huge pop-up stadia with live music, a fantastic night out followed by a long walk back to the boat punctuated with the odd stop at a bar to take in the ambience!!
Finally on to St Martin on Île de Ré. We batted into a fresh North Westerly for a couple of hours once under the bridge, then entered the outer harbour to raft up and wait for the lock to open into the inner harbour. The lady from the boat next to us in the raft was a rather forthright questioner and grilled Mike mercilessly, thank God there were no dark rooms or shore power. Afterwards we decided that Mike should have replied that he used to produce Adult Films but now used this as a front for money laundering which was far more profitable, and was she interested in appearing in his next production? Well
at least he is now prepared for another over inquisitive. The inner harbour of St Martin is delightful and has a real Mediterranean feel especially the architecture. Here we came across the best excuse for poor WiFi.
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