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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 12 (2015) – St Denis d’Oléron to La Rochelle

Staging for the threatened ‘Pop Concert Énorm’ was assembled in St Denis
click to enlarge

As the staging for a ‘Grand Groupe Pop Orchestre’ was being assembled, a large multi-coloured van was prowling around with its public address system booming to one and all that a ‘Pop Concert Énorme’ would be held in the marina ‘Ce Soir’.

It was our cue to depart. Leaving the concert énorme behind we made our escape, motored out of the marina and along the narrow fairway between the channel markers.

Anaesthetised

With Play d’eau having been the collision target for so many boats (is it something we’ve done?), we’ve become anaesthetised to being surprised.

Only once on this short passage were we attacked. A small 18′ motor boat from the St Denis Bateau École was hovering outside the fairway ahead and to port of us. Engaging its outboard engine, it turned, sped up, and made to cross the fairway aiming just ahead of us.

‘Here we go, again,’ I said to John. ‘How many COLREGS is this one about to disobey?’

This Newfoundland dog, keeping an eye on the skipper, was bigger and heavier than any of its crew
click to enlarge

All five on board the small boat were seemed to be talking at the same time to the poor chap under training, probably drowning the student with ‘wise guidance’ oblivious of what was happening or where they were going.

With my finger hovering to fire five shots from the Kahlenbergs, I held off. Were any of the five people on board the training boat looking out? Ah, one of them, leaning against the stern, looked up and saw us. Would he alert the others? No. Was he hypnotised? Was he so excited at the thought of the concert énorme that he couldn’t speak?

We watched in amazement. With power off, we slowed down and the Bateau École gently slipped in front of us. Only as the boat passed under our bow did they look up. None looked surprised. Some even waved, and I think the word they uses was ‘Bonjour’.

Énorme becomes Gigantic

We thought we’d escaped until we neared La Rochelle and saw the most gigantic staging, and above the sound of our engines we felt, more than heard, bass with a power that defied explanation. We vibrated.

Although half a mile away from where we were berthed, the noise was horrendous. Thankfully, it stopped sometime around 3.30am.

Next morning

Dusk fell on the marina front in St Denis
click to enlarge

Somewhat blurry eyed, we surfaced, yawned, stretched, scratched, made teas and coffees and opened the saloon doors only to see staging being erected immediately behind us on the waterfront.

We learned that at 10am sharp a military parade would be made in front of local dignitaries. So not another concert, just a parade.

Being next to the waterfront, we decided to dress Play d’eau overall. We had twenty minutes before ‘kick-off’. We made it. She looked lovely.

People began assembling, military began lining up, PA systems were checked, and at 10am sharp – nothing happened. It seemed no one knew what to do. With many discussions, scratching of kepis and examinations of clipboards, someone began introducing the assembly forty minutes later.

We never quite understood what the parade was for. Yes, there was a lot to say over the PA, and yes, some decorations were handed out, and yes, someone inspected the parade, and yes, colours were paraded with much marching music played over the PA.

With a final march pass it was over. Whilst dignitaries left in their cars and some on their motorcycles, we undressed Play d’eau and had lunch.

Met data

Sea sports are taught from year dot
click to enlarge

St Denis d’Oléron: WSW3, cloudy, hot sun, good visibility
Sea state: Smooth, with a swell from the west
La Rochelle: W3, clear skies, hot sun, and loud music

Nav data

Times are FST.

Date: 13 July 2015
Departed St Denis: 1128
Arrived La Rochelle (lock): 1500
Pinchpoint: Access to Les Chalutiers
Longest individual leg: 4.2nm
Time en route: 1hr 32min
Planned distance: 11.2nm

Tech issues: Nil

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)

1 comment to Leg 12 (2015) – St Denis d’Oléron to La Rochelle

  • Hil

    It would have been my cue to depart very quickly too, but then to be chased by it overnight…

    I am extremely pleased that you did everything in proper (English) style for the parade. At least someone had a sense of style and detail….

    Again, I love the photos.

    Lol, Hil x x x

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