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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 13 – St Denis to St Martin de Ré – 8 August 2013

Port St Denis d’Oléron marina was a huge parking lot for Merry Fisher boats
click to enlarge

Port St Denis d’Oléron was crowded. The only visitors’ pontoon was tightly packed and Play d’eau was on the inside of a raft of four; the bulk of the marina seems to be a huge parking lot for Merry Fisher boats.

The Capitainerie staff was brilliant. Under their direction boats were shuffled to give us an outside position against an old beautiful (but actually brand new) 60’ twin masted sailing boat for the last night so we could leave early for St Martin on Île de Ré. Perfect.

The nav plan

The two pinch points (it always seems to be two, doesn’t it?) on this journey were the entry/exit times at both Port St Denis and St Martin de Ré, but given the passage time was just over two hours, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The Journey

St Martin de Ré – our mooring overlapped the yachts in front
click to enlarge

Casting off at 0551, we used the FLIR camera to pick our way through the unlit buoyed channel to the sea. Exciting!

The journey itself was lovely with twilight changing to dawn as we neared Île de Ré. So beautiful.

The forecast was for W/NW winds F2 but reality was entirely different with an E’ly F3. It’s been interesting that forecast winds seem to bear nothing to reality in this area of the Vendée.

Arriving

Calling the St Martin Capitainerie on ch 9, we were told there was no space until the evening. In the hope this would change as more boats left in the half hour before the lock closed, we hooked onto one of the visitors’ buoys. Determined to keep Play d’eau in the forefront of the Capitainerie’s mind, I called again to announce we were moored to ‘bouée seize’. ‘D’accord,’ came the reply.

A few minutes later we heard, ‘Vedette Play d’eau, ici St Martin. Il y a une place maintenant. Venez vite puisque l’écluse se ferme en dix minutes’. (Please excuse my dreadful knowledge of French…)

We unhooked, venezed vite, très vite, and moored to the smallest pontoon space I’ve ever seen between two rafts of boats four deep, just as the lock gate closed behind us.

There was not a lot of space behind, either
click to enlarge

As we all know, mooring is not so much a skill but a spectator sport. Finally, as we eased Play d’eau against the pontoon with her bows overhanging six feet into the space in front between the bows of the two rafted yachts, we were give a round of applause!

Whilst taking a bow, a cheery Welsh voice drifted across the marina, ‘Hi Piers!’ It was Mike and Heidi of Yacht El Aranque, whom we’d met in La Rochelle. For Mike, read Dale Nelson.

Within moments we had a Princess 52 and four yachts rafted alongside.

Memories

Looking at how the boats were stacked reminded me of Kim Hollamby leading his MBM cruise in company fleets. You needed to use a feeler gauge to measure how close he’d packed them all in….

The tecky details

Departed Port St Denis d’Oléron – 0551
Hooked St Martin de Ré visitor’s buoy (No 16) – 0802
Unhooked the buoy – 0818
Moored St Martin de Ré – 0830

Total distance – 16.6nm
Longest leg – 12.9nm from Port St Denis WP to Grand Greffe ECM
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.

2 comments to Leg 13 – St Denis to St Martin de Ré – 8 August 2013

  • Dave Birch

    Hiya Folks,
    St Martin de Re is such a gem of port. Think they need a few more visitor berths eh! Has such a mediteranian vibe.
    Seems to be the case for many of the best marinas in the region.
    Regards
    Dave and Jen

    • Hi Dave and Jen. A gem of a place as you say. Gorgeous. For the last evening, we found a superb restaurant tucked away behind the main streets. Quite excellent. See you at the end of Sept. Piers and Lin

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