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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 11 (2015) – La Rochelle to St Denis d’Oléron

Yacht Joshua, which circumnavigated the world between 1966 and 1969
click to enlarge

With a following wind, blue skies and an almost too hot sun, we cast off for the short 1½ hour trip to St Denis.

At a gentlemanly time of morning, we nosed our way between the many pontoons of the 5,000 berth Les Minimes marina and entered the fairway to meet the day’s challenge.

Challenges

Wall to wall yachts. They were everywhere. Yet with such a large yachting fraternity should we really be surprised? Maybe not, but today seemed like an overload.

First, we were targeted by the red, steel ketch, Joshua, which circumnavigated the world between 1966 and 1969 with Bernard Moitessier. She looked great, but not when coming straight for us!

Second, fleets of small racers with their multi-coloured sails lit by the sun, looking so deceptively pretty.

And then…

Fleets of small yachts were racing all around us
click to enlarge

Ah yes. And then. Third, and potentially by far the most dangerous, was an 8m yacht, no more than 100m ahead and to starboard of us, which suddenly tacked but thankfully aimed to go behind us.

A few seconds later the skipper changed his mind to cut right in front of us. It was a question of immediate power off, engage reverse and open the throttles in an attempt not to mow him down and add him as decoration to Play d’eau’s anchor.

He passed not more than 10m in front of us. He lifted his hand in thanks. Did he know what he’d just done? Did he realise what we’d had to do?

Maybe the name of his yacht is more than just a name but a description of the skipper. It was ‘Bozo’.

Annoyingly, it happened too quickly to pick up the camera and take photos.

En route

Entering the approach channel to St Denis d’Oléron
click to enlarge

An hour or so later, we were entering the channel for St Denis.

Met data

Les Minimes: E3/4, clear skies, hot sun, good visibility
Sea state: Choppy, with wind against tide
St Denis d’Oléron: E4

Nav data

Times are FST.

Date: 10 July 2015
Departed La Rochelle (Les Minimes): 1049
Arrived St Denis: 1223
(2 minutes late – I blame ‘Bozo’)
Moored: 1233
Pinchpoint: Access to St Denis
Longest individual leg: 4.9nmTime en route: 1hr 34min
Planned distance: 11.2nm

Tech issues: Nil, but still monitoring the Sat Compass and stbd engine charging voltage

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 11 (2015) – La Rochelle to St Denis d’Oléron

  • Hil

    You must always be on tenterhooks when driving on the sea! Surely Bozo must have realised-maybe he was hung over. What a shock. Thank goodness you were driving. The photos are lovely, particularly the one of the sails on the horizon. It would make a beautiful card. As you “enter the St Denis channel” it looks as though you are heading for the beach. I trust you reached a suitable mooring?

    What now? Where now?

    Lots of love, Hil x x x

    • Hi Hil. It’s extraordinary how some boaters seem to have no idea of seamanship let alone the regulations (COLREGS) and the fact that you can’t stop a boat by applying an emergency brake! Hey ho.

      The entrance to the St Denis marina is along a curved channel which leads towards the beach and then curves to starboard to enter the marina.

      Next? La Rochelle again before moving onto St Martin de Ré. More in the next post….

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