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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 – La Rochelle to Rochefort – 31 July 2013

The fortified and walled city of La Rochelle
click to enlarge

We’ve had a great time in the Bassin des Chalutiers in the Vieux Port of La Rochelle.

One of our sons, his wife and two children came to meet us for a day; we explored the Maritime Museé and the town; we walked; we were hot; we used the air con many times, and we met Pat and Michelle who spend their life racing their Class 40 yacht, Croix du Sud, all over the world – literally (see photo below).

The nav plan

There were two pinch points on this journey.

Rochefort is some 12nm up the River Charente and we’d been advised the lock gate to the marina would only be open between 1300 and 1400. If we missed it, we’d have to wait until the next day to gain access.

The 3500 berth Les Minimes marina at La Rochelle
click to enlarge

Back at the Bassin des Chalutiers, the exit lock gate wouldn’t open until 1130 leaving us with a maximum of two and a half hours for the journey, in turn demanding an average speed of 12 knots. Too fast as far as I’m concerned, and even if we travelled at this speed there’d be no margin to play with.

Instead, we took the 2215 lock gate yesterday evening from the Bassin des Chalutiers and motored all of 1nm to Les Minimes marina. Given Les Minimes has 24hr access we could leave at our leisure for Rochefort, today.

The Journey

Having had strong W’ly winds for the last few days with the occasional rain and thunder shower, today was different. Hot, clear skies, with only a light E’ly wind. Perfect.

Passing Fort Boyard, we entered the Charente river an hour or so before high tide expecting the flood tide to give us an extra knot. Interestingly, the tide was against us yet in the last mile it changed and the river was still on the flood.

Fort Boyard between Ile d’Aix and Ile d’Oléron
click to enlarge

Crazy – or am I missing something? Yes, I checked high tide with the Capitainerie and there was no mistake.

Arriving

The Charente river is lovely although an avocado green of mud in suspension. We followed the many leading marks passing strange fishing huts on stilts with large nets. Anyone know what these are for?

An astonishing piece of engineering is Le Pont Transbordeur, which suspends a cabin just above water height taking people and cars from one side of the river to the other, linking the road.

We were met by the Harbour Master in his dory and shown to a good berth. By gum, the marina’s a sun trap measuring well into the mid-30 degrees C.

There are many of these huts on stilts with huge nets along the river Charente
click to enlarge

Can’t wait to explore the town and tour the Hermione which we saw close to the marina – it’s on tomorrow’s agenda.

The tecky details

Departed Les Minimes, La Rochelle – 0720
Arrived Rochefort – 1322
Planned distance – 25nm
Longest leg – 12.9nm up the River Charente
Tech issues – nil

Piers and Lin
From the Nav table of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

You can get in touch with us any time by using our Contact Form.

The 113 year old Le Pont Transbordeur
links the road on either side of the Charante
with a suspended ‘flying cabin’.
You can see the cabin close to the water
at the base of the left leg
click to enlarge

The Transbordeur cabin started its crossing after we’d passed.
click to enlarge

Pat and Michelle on Croix du Sud.
Having raced nearly every yacht race there is (including the Sydney-Hobart ‘many times’)
their next race is the non-stop Le Havre-Brazil.
click to enlarge

2 comments to Leg 11 – La Rochelle to Rochefort – 31 July 2013

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