Position Report: La Rochelle July 15th

Holidays from hell on offer. Read all about it !!

After the drama of the storm in Concarneau, Siobhan and I were looking forward to some sunny relaxed sailing southeast among the islands off the French west coast. We had a day of resting, tidying up the boat, uploading the website, and getting food stocks sorted. Then we left on a cloudy day which brightened up well giving us great sailing in light airs on a moderate sea. That night we spent on Ile de Groix, in the picturesque harbour of Port Tudy.
The island itself is only 5 miles by one mile but seems to have a reasonable year round population. We ambled across the island to get a feel for the place, but also to get a hunger up. Naturally this made us thirsty which we solved with a pint of Beamish overlooking the harbour.
The following morning we awoke to seas like glass, sun and zero wind. We decided to cover ground since we had lost a few days due to the storm. We motored past the beautiful Belle Ile and its offshore islands before entering La Turballe, a small fishing port with a marina.
This place brought back a lot of memories for the skipper who had spent three weeks nearby as a sixteen year old learning french. The popular beach beside the harbour is a nudist beach at one end. Shall we say I was surprised to discover this fact as a hormonal semi adolescent when I was brought there by the family I was staying with........
In La Turballe we met Nancy and Michael, refugees from Sligo, who happened to be heading in our general direction over the next few days. They were only the third Irish boat we had seen since the Scilly Isles so long ago. The next day we planned to meet up in Ile D'Yeu but the day brought swell of up to 2 metres and 18 knots of wind. While Suckin Diesel was revelling in the conditions, the crew was not so we diverted to Ile de Noirmoutier and the marina of L'Herbaudiere otherwise known as Herbivore to the crew .
There was a definite shift here in architecture here with lots of whitewashed cottages with terracotta tiled roofs. In fact you would almost think you were in the south of Spain. We were rafted outside a German with the cleanest boat you have ever seen. I can only presume that she is new and he is bringing her home. I am not sure what he thought of the messy people on board Suckin' Diesel who had to cross his deck, dirtying it as they went. (At least I checked my shoes, the french have alot of dogs, and they leave presents everywhere...)
Winds eased a little but the seas remained moderate so we stayed a second night, having a lovely day wandering along the coast and byroads inland from the marina. We spoiled ourselved that night as there had been a market in town that day so we got some fresh local produce. The recipie books were brought out and we ended up making spicy fish roisti. We replaced the fish, which we were too late for, with merguez sausages, which worked well with the fresh herbs and lime in the mix. A real success that was, one to be added to the websites recipies.
An overcast but calm morning followed as we motored off to head south to Les Sables D'Olonne, made famous by Ellen McArthur in the Vendee Globe race a few years ago. Entering between the two piered walkways, we could just begin to inagine what it must have been like for her to see the crowds who greeted her that day she arrived back.
On berthing at the Capitainerie (marina office) Michael arrived to take our lines. So the Irish refugees were reuinted again. The marina, though large, is most impressive for its boat building facilities around it. Having a brand new 57 foot boat pass you and spotting more berthed all around you is quite impressive. We all had a good feed that night, complete wwith spuds of course and a bit of wine. Nancy and Michael exited the marina alongside Suckin' Diesel the next morning. They were off to Ile de Re while our destination was La Rochelle.
Sadly Siobhan would have to head off from there as she had to meet up with her friend Fiona in Paris. But her last night on Suckin Diesel was to be a good one as it was Bastille Day and we expected the French to put on a big firework display. (Not just for me of course)
Just a footnote from Siobhan