Page 30 - Yachter Autumn 2023
P. 30

                                         According to the Tourist Information Office (very helpful) the very nearby prison is a high security unit with an 18 year sentence requirement to get board and lodgings,
the WiFi has to be turned down to prevent unwanted activities within, such are desirable French resorts.
Tina and I’s time was up and off we went to the bus stop leaving Mike and Virginia to their visits from family holidaying in the area including brother-in-law Robert who would be sailing back with Mike. Ah the journey home, first find the car abandoned at the La Rochelle airport... Next part 2 the return.
Part 2. The Return
Having just returned from the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa a phone call from Mike. The weather in SW France had been pants for the last week and he had abandoned the boat in La Rochelle and returned home to his carpet slippers and a log fire, I paraphrase a little.
He had booked tickets for three flights to La Rochelle including Robert and I to fetch Barti
Blue back. As by Robert’s own admission he is not an experienced sailor, Mike thought the trip may leave him a little stretched hence my inclusion.
The flight out with Difficultjet proved
a doddle, we knew the correct bus from
the Airport to the Water Bus and on to the marina. A quick dive into the local store to
get provisions, then off early the following morning bound for Île d’Yeu. It was a sunny day with little breeze but lots of sunshine
so all was happy as we optimistically motor sailed. As we yarned our way north, Robert asked about whether we would see dolphin, no promises but we had seen lots coming south so there was a good chance. As we chugged our way into Joinville completing the U turn into the marina basin our jaws dropped. Where we had meandered into a convenient finger berth not a month before was now absolutely rammed with boats such that the 40 odd finger berths were locked in by boats rafted from the opposite pontoon, evidently Paris was on holiday. God help anybody
on the inside maybe a 50 boat manoeuvre! Extracting ourselves, we decided to anchor off to wait until 2030 when a commercial basin’s lock would open. Robert serenely steamed around in circles whilst Mike and I unjammed a reluctant capstan with best mangling tools (hammer and screwdriver). Once again the AIS stalkers were at work, my brother rang,
“ See you’re in Joinville, having a good time? Look in your email”. There was a mail with
a cctv snapshot of Barti Blue leaving the harbour not 30 minutes previously. Another friend of ours, after a long career in defence,
is evidently very good at getting information. In the basin we were against a wall and soon had five other boats rafted alongside with
the usual Gaelic sense of humour – no shore lines. Robert was appalled that boats would raft on to us, we gently educated him “no compunction doing the same if the boot was on the other foot”.
Now rather late we eventually found a table in a restaurant’s overflow building’s back yard. Food not bad but soo slooowww....
Off the next morning having dislodged the raft for a long push to Cameret. Wind NW not very much. We spent the day chugging along with several visits from dolphin cheering up Robert no end. A sunfish flopped by waving it’s fin in the air and Shearwaters skimmed the waves having to put in more effort than normal without wind. Mike had passage planned the 125 miles at 5 knots
but we were happily achieving 6 and by
mid afternoon we realised with a little more application we could get to the Raz de Sein
a tide earlier and then carry the tide all the
way to L’ Aber Wrac’h. The day was spent carefully miss timing the hourly plot and
log, finding reasons to go and make another cuppa, sandwich etc. I’d just finished a book about the privations of the sailors from HMS Wager marooned in Patagonia, we were the obverse, has anybody ever fed themselves to the extent they are condemned to the wrong side of the companionway forever? We tried hard! Well the night wasn’t at all boring, from dusk onward we had a large pod of dolphins with us and slight phosphorescence such that you could see their wake underwater. As the night wore on we realised that at times there was a lot of surface noise, it was raining fish. Their eyes were reflecting in the starboard light especially and I finally caught a glimpse of an airborne fish, a sardine or pilchard. The dolphin were herding shoals of fish against the boat so some would break surface to become
a dolphin meal. The dolphin had lost their usual grace and were deliberately skidding across the surface to cause maximum mayhem. This went on and off all night it seemed the shoals of fish were 10 – 15 minutes long so maybe a mile which we found outstanding.
At 0100 I went off watch for a little snoozette. Woken at 0300 I was admonished for sleeping through an electrical storm, the lightning

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