From Belle Ile to Ile d’Yeu
Into the Marina at Port Joinville, behind the considerable concrete
embankment that must be a great reassurance at times of storm. Home of the local
Tuna fleet. Rafted again on the end of a pontoon alongside a very welcoming
A very pretty island explored by bike, by intrepid Mum, Maddie, and on a
slightly different course, lost girls. The ferry service disgorges boat loads of
tourists from the mainland to mix with the locals. A very entertaining hour to
be had (if nothing else to do!) down at the local mini roundabout watching local
and visiting French demonstrate their antipathy to rules and regulations, and
each other. The majority on bicycles!
Sally and I sneak away for an early drink to be accosted by a ‘retired’
solicitor who is apparently doing volunteer work on the island helping
neighbours settle disputes. He seemed rather keen to find someone to talk to,
which did make me wonder….
Girls arrive and we order food; success of the night undoubtedly the ‘Tuna
fondu’ enjoyed by Lauren and Tara. Great chunks of super-fresh fish. In fact the
local fish shop had one of the most varied displays imaginable, so not only Tuna
and tourists arriving by boat every morning. Impressively long queues of locals
discussing fish and cooking all morning.
Girls disappear to explore the night life, and we watch a display of (local?)
country dancing, which started with an exciting Cajun rhythm, but ran out of
spice some time later as the caller forgot his words. The event sort of fizzled
out into something more akin to an English country shuffle.
To La Rochelle
Another fairly long day at sea to cover the 60 miles to La Rochelle. Just not
enough wind to be able to sail. An opportunity to test my new ‘man overboard’
set up (new snatch block arrangement on end of boom to take recovery hoist to
powered winch)….but no enthusiasm from crew to volunteer.
Approach La Rochelle via (under!) the spectacular bridge that spans the
Pertuis Breton to the Ile de Re. Les Girls break off from fixing a dinner of
pasta and “creative” sauce to provide Simon and Garfunkel, plus full vocal
accompaniment, in ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’. Local Gendarmerie make a dash
to close the port, but too late and we slip ’silently’ into the huge Marina to
the west of the old port. La Rochelle has its revenge, as we find ourselves
moored for the night next to a “live” local radio young talent (??!) contest. As
I drifted in and out of delirium at around midnight I might have heard a
rendition of “Bridge …..” across the local PA. Girls return late.
In the morning we make an assault upon the old port. Dramatic and imposing
twin towers greet our approach. A wonderful location with great atmosphere; we
feel compelled to try and find a berth. In the event we attack (almost
literally) a space between two rafted motor cruisers and a huge British
Catamaran, to get into a rafted position inside. I think we would not have
attempted it if the owner of the Cat had been on board! As we finally struggled
to secure our ropes in position the two French motor cruisers cast off and
departed…..leaving, needless to say, a huge vacant space! Unkind thoughts
crossed our minds, although we put this ‘inconsiderate’ behaviour down to a
difference in sailing / motoring , rather than ‘national’ cultures.
A fantastic few days. Plenty of evening and night entertainment that is
inevitably reminiscent of The Ramblas in Barcelona; jugglers and artists and
musicians. French cuisine at its finest, mainly fish again, excellent at street
and restaurant levels….also some rather fine duck! A couple of cruising British
yachts joined us, with lots more useful info and advice on the route head……….and
one man rumoured to be the father of a Very Famous ’pop star’ (unconfirmed).
Somewhat reluctantly we left the chalky white surrounds of the old port (bit
of a cliché, but in leaving you really could imagine setting sail for the new
world, such was the splendid atmosphere of the old port’s frontage) to return to
the main marina and prepare for the Biscay crossing.