Friday, 12 July 2013

Ile D'Yeu, Le Sables D'Olonne, Ile De Rey And La Rochelle

    This post takes Kisti Two from Ile D'Yeu, the island of bicycles and old cars, mainly Renault 4's and 2CVs to La Rochelle, a stunning city on the west coast of France from where she will depart across the Bay of Biscay to Gijon on the northern Spanish coast which will take more than 48 hrs, a good test for crew and boat. The screen shot below shows our route from Ile D'Yeu to Le Sables D'Olonne made famous by the Vendee Globe Race, then to our anchorage off Ile De Rey and short but fast sail into La Rochelle where we are now.

The Route Ile D'Yeu To La Rochelle
     Kisti Two left Isle D'Yeu on 4 July with a big swell on the sea, no wind and limited visibility so once again it was a long motor with the 55HP Yanmar doing us proud. The 37 nm trip took 6 hours and on Ginny's request, we tried to go along the shore to view the scenery, but the fog was too thick until we entered Le Sables D'Olonne. We did manage to see a few Dolphins that ventured close to us, about the only excitement all day.

Grey Departure From Ile D'Yeu
     Le Sables D'Olonne is mainly a large fishing boat harbour which also hosts the Vendee Globe Round The World Yacht Race. We decided to stay 3 nights and were placed in a good position within the large marina. Ginny was soon at the tourist office and armed with maps, we set about exploring the area. This involved another long cycle ride north along the famous 'Velocean' Cycle Route that Kate is now doing with Rob from Roscoff to Biarritz then they go across the Pyrenees to Perpignan; good luck. It was a hot ride along salt marshes and through pine forests but we eventually found a typical west coast Atlantic beach to relax and enjoy the scenery from.

The Typical Atlantic Coast Beach
     The second day was spent exploring Le Sables D'Olonne and stocking up with a big supermarket  purchase and a yacht wash. It is a relatively attractive place with some old buildings and a large beach but not really much to encourage us to visit again. The weather improved and became very hot.

The Le Sables D'Olonne Beach
Guy On The Long Le Sables D'Olonne Harbour Dockwalk
Excellent Spectator Gallery For Yacht Races.
Kisti Two In Le Sables D'Olonne Marina
    It was another early morning start as Kisti Two motored out into a calmer sea and no wind. We tried to sail but then started motoring slowly while fishing, again with no luck. We were suddenly invaded by a mass of flies and wasps of all varieties due to the warmth and still air. This galvanised Guy into a fly swatting attack and despite his best efforts, sometimes 8 at a time, they appeared to multiply and did not diminish until the usual early afternoon strong wind appeared, whereupon they vanished much to Guys pleasure who then had to go around the yacht cleaning up blood patches and removing dead flies. After 34 nm, we anchored off the SW coast of the Ile D'Yeu, in the Anse (bay) de Martray, where we were to remain for 3 glorious days virtually in splendid isolation with F4/5 winds.  

Early Departure From Le Sables D'Olonne
Guy Fly Swatting The Invasion Of Wasps And Flies
Anchoring Off Ile D'Yeu, The Island Of Beaches
     The 3 days spent anchoring were designed to help our budget as we had been informed that La Rochelle was £40 a night! It was a solid anchorage despite the strong winds and proved that our purchase of 100 metres of anchor chain was well worth a peaceful nights sleep. The time was spent relaxing, swimming, reading, BBQ'ing and trying out the new Bimini and solar showers for the first time. It was too windy to go ashore in the dingy until the last day when we made a quick exploration of the island full of beaches, camp sites and chalets for holidays.

Ginny At The End Of Her First Swim. The Second Was Aborted Due
To An Enormous Jelly Fish, No Not Guy!!
Guy Testing The Solar Shower.
Verdict - Excellent
The New Bimini Up And Providing Much Needed Shade
The Beach At Ile D'Yeu
Kisti Two At Anchor With New Bimini
Ginny Learning Spanish At Sunset
With Assistance From Merlot!
    The Art Of French Yacht Parking    Now for a warning about French sailing skills! They are excellent sailors when off the marina and buoy and it is quite clear that French sailing schools put a lot of emphasis on teaching the art of sailing. However, parking a boat in a marina or on a buoy is clearly not part of the curriculum as witnessed on several occasions by us and other companions! They approach at great speed with the wife invariably hunched up at the bow with boat hook in hand. Fenders are rarely ready and any sign of mooring ropes is an exception. Suddenly panic ensues with much shouting and running around deck for fenders and rope that magically appear out of some locker in a tangled bundled mass. As they approach, a rope is thrown ashore to someone offering to help only to discover it is not attached and the poor receiver has to perform miracles fending off said yacht, untangling the rope, tying a bowline and then coiling it to return to sender. The wind pushes the unattached end of the yacht away while all other yacht owners scramble around for spare fenders to fend off the boat which has often been left in gear while skipper runs around tying on fenders and ropes which he flings in the general direction of those offering assistance. After much scrambling, pulling, tying up and adjusting of fenders, the yacht is safely moored. Everyone nods their approval, sit down, pour another beer or wine and await the next comedy act. We now put all outside obstacles on our boat inside and as many fenders are put in strategic positions as possible. We have had 3 pieces of unattached rope thrown at us and for others the story is the same. Great entertainment if your boat is not the intended target! Providing assistance can be quite rewarding! In the UK, yachts arrive with their crew fitted out in foul weather oilies, lifejackets and much clothing. Guy has just jumped to the assistance of a yacht with stunning girls who all rushed around in the skimpiest of bikinis and were most grateful for his assistance. Such fun.

Moored Up In La Rochelle With Fenders Out In Anticipation,
Outboard Engine Inside And Roving Fender To The Ready!
    We left our anchorage after 3 glorious days to head into La Rochelle in the afternoon of 10 July and had a romping sail into the harbour. We had a through water speed of 8.5 knots and clocked a SOG (speed over the ground) of 9.5 knots. It was a really exhilarating sail but the wind suddenly died down and we motored into La Rochelle outside marina. After been told £40 per night, it is only £30 per night and the third night is free! So 3 days it is then.
The Grand Entrance To La Rochelle Harbour.
The Gate To La Rochelle Old Town 
     We ventured into la Rochelle the next day and it has proved to be an absolute gem of a location to visit.  It is a lovely old town full of character, a stunning entrance, beautiful streets and shops, lovely outside areas to drink, eat and watch the most stunning girls go bye. We walked the tourist route first so Ginny could relax, enjoyed a few beers at a strategically placed bar and the consumed the most delicious meal with the most charming waitresses. Guy was in seventh heaven and is now threatening to delay Kisti Two's departure to Spain. It is a most charming town and can not be recommended strongly enough for a visit to enjoy is charm and stunning ......scenery!
The Glorious Shopping Arcades In La Rochelle
The Sailors Church
The Sailors Church In La Rochelle
We Love The New Renault 'Zoe"
The Shopping Streets Of La Rochelle
Lovely Old Streets Of La Rochelle
The Town Gate From The Harbour
The Last Medieval  Lighthouse On The Atlantic Coast.
Guy Looking For A Restaurant By The Harbour
Skipper & Mate (Admiral) Enjoying A Delicious Meal At
The Restaurant' Le Petit Amiral' (means Little Admiral)
Quite appropriate Then!!
French Mumford & Sons Performing In The Street. They Were Excellent.
Sunset In The Harbour
Ginny Marching Along The Harbour Promenade
Sunset Along The Harbour Wall
The View Across To Our Restaurant
Harbour Entrance As We walk back To Kisti Two At Midnight!
    After a most memorable and enjoyable day in La Rochelle, we have been hard work at admin, stocking up, writing the blog, maintenance and generally getting ready for a weather window to cross the Bay of Biscay. Massive fireworks are expected on Bastille Day, 14 July so we may delay our crossing until Monday 15 July as the wind appears to be holding out longer. All for now and do look up La Rochelle on Google, a quite fascinating place with a wonderful history and charm.