Snow Leopard
Sat 1 Nov 2008 00:00

The trip south


So far (I am writing this in Portosin in north-east Spain) the trip south has been fairly uneventful. That is no bad thing because ‘eventful’ is usually a euphemism for ‘scary’.


Leaving Southampton on the 26th August, we stopped overnight of Yarmouth before a quick trip across the Channel and along the north coast of Brittany, with overnight stops at Alderney and Trebeuden to L’Aber–Wrach, where we stopped for a couple of nights (we like the pizzas in La Paule too much).


We left L’Aber-Wrach in thick, thick fog (see what I mean by eventful moments?), before the sun came out and we motored in flat calm to Camaret, where we picked up a visitors buoy and sat in hot sunshine for the first time this summer!


It couldn’t last, and didn’t! That night we had one of the most impressive thunder storms I have ever seen with almost constant lightning – you could read a book by it. However the up-side was a very clean boat in the morning.


From Camaret to Loctudy in southern Brittany was a great sail – we even got the spinnaker up for a few hours. Loctudy is a pretty spot with an attractive small marina. You do have to watch the tide as it rips across the entrance of the marina. The marina has a wonderful policy of lending you bikes to pop into town for the morning bread or local shopping which included for Lucy a quick trip to the fishing harbour where she bought ½ kilo of mussels and ½ kilo of langoustines for €2.


Next day, our friends Robin and Sheila together with Nigel and Crystal (all ex-New Forest, but now firmly ensconced in Brittany) came down to the boat. We had a wonderful day, shopping for fishing tackle, eating an excellent lunch, and shopping at the fish market, resulting in a supper for six consisting of oysters and Muscadet. Excellent; and wonderful to catch up with them all again.


We had always promised the builders of the cat, Tournier Marine, that we would return to Soubise with the boat when she was complete. So we set off from Loctudy mid-morning for a sail of about 180 miles towards the River Charente. However with a force 5 westerly wind the boat was bowling along for hour after hour at a steady 10 knots, with bursts to 14 knots. By Ile d’Yeu it was patently obvious that we were going to arrive at the passage between Ile de Re and the mainland and under the bridge to La Rochelle in the middle of the night. We had to furl the jib and put a second reef in just to slow down to 6 knots to ensure arrival in daylight. Actually it was a rather pleasant night just ambling along. When Snow Leopard really picks up her heels and is moving along at 13+ knots it all seems perfectly OK on deck but down below it sounds like the boat is charging down to hell. See – more ‘eventful’ moments!


We arrived in the morning at the mouth of the river Charente and kicked the first of the ebb tide the 10 miles up to the village of Soubise where the boat was originally built before we took her back to England to fit out. The Tournier family, boat-builder Philippe, his wife Claude, and Stephany their adult daughter, have always been wonderfully kind to us and it was lovely to see them and the guys from the boatyard.




Dec 2006                     Back on the same pontoon at Soubise                     Sep 2008