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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Leg 10 (2105) – Rochefort to La Rochelle

The early morning sun chases the cloud away
click to enlarge

Hmmm. The best laid plans….

We’d be unable to anchor out. The wind was forecast to rise significantly in the afternoon and stay strong overnight.

Where to?

The plan was to leave peaceful Rochefort at HW when the lock gate opened and anchor overnight at the southern end of Île d’Aix before making passage the next day to the St Denis marina on the island of d’Oléron.

But with a forecast strong F5 veering from NW to NE, it would be really uncomfy wherever we anchored. Instead, we altered the plan to head back to the marina at Les Minimes, La Rochelle, before making way to St Denis the next morning.

La Charente

Cargo ships use the river and go faster than you
click to enlarge

After a breakfast of fresh LIDL croissants (LIDL came fourth in our 2013 croissant competition), we had a lazy morning, casting off at 1150 as the lock began to open.

Exiting, we were first into the muddy river. With a gentle breeze of 5kts behind us, John navigated the 12.9nm along the delightful La Charente accompanied at one time by a buzzard flying lazy circles looking for his lunch.

Nearing the river’s mouth it was as if a switch was thrown. The wind suddenly jumped from 8kts to 19kts, and I mean jumped. No warning such as a ruffling of the water and no apparent reason such as coming out of the protection of buildings. The wind just jumped.

One for the book of experience.

North to La Rochelle

With the wind agitating the sea into a short, steep, side swiping annoyance, salty spray began to fly for the forty minute sector to La Rochelle.

Harvesting oysters from the shell fish farm
click to enlarge

North of Île d’Aix we pass a huge, protected shell fish farm measuring 1.7km by ½km, covered in hundreds if not thousands of markers.

Nearing destination, the racing and leisure yachts seem to appear from nowhere accompanied by a smattering of jet skies, ferries and speedboats, making it a concentration challenge to navigate. Nothing seemed predictable with goings-about, gibings and wanderings, seemingly with no thought for where other boats may be.

But hey-ho, it’s all part of the challenge; all part of the fun! Isn’t it?

Les Minimes

With an excellent berth in Les Minimes (pontoon 7), John and Beryl insisted on bathing Play d’eau to chase away the salt whilst I tended to a potential mechanical problem and Lin planned dinner.

Phew. Life’s so hectic, isn’t it?

Met data

Moored in hot, peaceful Les Minimes
click to enlarge

Rochefort: NE2, clear skies with a few ‘good weather’ cumulus balls of fluff, good visibility
En route: Wind increased NE5. Skies remained clear
Sea state: River smooth, becoming slight to annoying
La Rochelle: A strong ENE5, clear skies

Nav data

Times are FST.

Date: Thursday 9 July 2015
Cast off Rochefort: 1150
Exited the lock: 1158
Arrived Les Minimes: 1510
(2 minutes ahead of plan)
Moored: 1515
Pinchpoint: Lock time leaving Rochefort
Longest individual leg: 12.9nm
(pilotage along La Charente)
Time en route: 3hr 12min
Planned distance: 25.4nm

Tech issues:

  • Sat Compass. No issues this leg.
  • Voltage drop stbd engine. Alternator wiring and battery connections checked. Beginning to blame the 9 year old bank of 4 x 8D batteries

Piers and Lin
from the Pilot House of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

(click on the photos below to enlarge, and use the left/right arrows)

2 comments to Leg 10 (2105) – Rochefort to La Rochelle

  • Hil

    The best laid plans…but you cope with anything that is flung at you-and enjoy it! And the teamwork seems excellent. The Ropery looks fascinating. Were you able to see all around it? How dad would have loved it. Is bathing Play d’eau spraying her with fresh water? Or polishing? Who are Tim and Karen and where did you meet them before? It all sounds such fun.

    Lots of love, Hil x x x

    • Hi Hil, The Ropery had been in operation between 1867 and 1944, and is actually 374 metres long. We had personal guided tours (if that’s the word) using small pre-recorded machines. The art of ropemaking is so clever. I marvel at the minds of those who thought of how to do it. There was also a demostration of rope making, albeit on a very small scale, but it showed the technique and basic elements of creating a multi-strand rope.

      Bathing Play d’eau? Basic = a spray down with fresh water and light sponging to remove salt which takes two hours. Full = a thorough soapy bath and chamois leather dry which takes 7 hours. Polishing is extra but I have to say, very rewarding.

      Saradan was moored behind us at Les Sables d’Olonne where we first invited them and others on board Play d’eau for a drink. Meeting them again in Rochefort and we (including J & B) were the guests on their sail boat, which I must say, was beautiful and fitted out for long distance sailing. A really great time.

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