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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 8 (2015) – Les Sables d’Olonne to La Rochelle

Dawn breaks over Les Sables d’Olonne
click to enlarge

It was Sunday morning. We’d slept well. The endless succession of trawlers that passed by the marina en route to the busy 24hr Maritime Cooperative auction market at the end of the port had taken the weekend off. Well, almost all of them.

In their place, the Saturday night revellers had tried but failed in their attempt to compete, thankfully.

Quai Garnier

During our six days in Quai Garnier we’d cleaned and polished Play d’eau, eaten at our favourite restaurant Le Clipper and attended to many cabin and the engine room housekeeping chores. With John and Beryl coming on 3 July to spend two weeks cruising with us, Play d’eau had to look her very best.

To our delight, boaters we’d met along this coastal region with its beaches of golden sand two years ago seemed to materialise during our stay. So Play d’eau just had to host an early evening party, didn’t she? Lin created some delicious Canapés whilst I created (well, bought) the wines and beers.

Paul from Rowena was in Les Sables and filled my dive tank. I knew Paul and Sue from MBM Cruise in Company days
click to enlarge

Rowena, a Grand Banks that used to come with us on Motor Boat Monthly cruises in company was there as well. Paul and Sue

In addition, great evenings were spent on board Harvester (Glyn and Pat) and Stress Breaker (Nick and Rhona), and a breakfast of pain au chocolat and excellent coffee was consumed with gusto on Deo Jubilate with Trevor and Gill.

We had a wonderful time in Quai Garnier, even though the trawlers motored past us 24 hours a day, refuelled and re-iced opposite our pontoon whilst squadrons of seagulls never seemed to cease their incessant war cry….

Plaideau? Play d’eau?

Would you believe the Harbour Master’s assistant is known to her friends as Plaideau? Can you imagine the fun on the radio? ‘Play d’eau, this is Plaideau, over?’

Leaving Sables d’Olonne

Skipper Lin piloted Play d’eau from the fly bridge
click to enlarge

With checks complete, we were ready to go but the washing machine delayed out departure. A neighbouring boat had allowed their dog to pee on the pontoon cleats and the last thing we wanted was dog pee ropes. So we singled up ready to go, stood guard, and put the infected ropes in the washing machine – with an overdose of powder and fabric softener.

Hence, we left 14 minutes late, but we had beautifully white, soft ‘dog pee free’ ropes that had a fresh wonderful laundry aroma about them.

En route

Sandy beaches and good fishing are the hallmarks of Sables d’Olonne. So for the first ten miles, we threaded our way through endless lobster pots and small fishing boats whilst dodging trawlers with their long nets on even longer wire cables.

Nearing La Rochelle, we navigated between the mainland and the small Ile de Ré before passing under the 2.9km bridge which spans the island and La Rochelle.

As we approached la Rochelle, we saw a sad looking face under a ‘witch’s hat’
click to enlarge

Turning into the strait that leads to La Rochelle, the water became quite choppy and Play d’eau seemed to became a moving target for speedboats, water skis and boats rushing to find an anchorage on the already crowded Ile de Ré beaches. That’s apart from the many flotillas of tiny sail boats racing across the fairway.

Arrival

Access to the Les Chalutiers basin is through a single lock gate above which a short bridge carries a road. The gate is opened 2hrs before high water and closes 45 minutes thereafter.

With the gate open, we only had to wait for ten minutes before the siren sounded, the traffic stopped and the bridge lifted.

Having moored up, we found a yacht we’d met in Sables d’Olonne was opposite us, a Guernsey registered yacht was behind us as well as a huge Explorer Yacht, Med Adventure.

To bless Play d’eau, we found our mooring was on the Quai d’Honneur.

Of course!

Met data

Les Sables d’Olonne: Wind calm, clear skies, good visibility
En route: Wind became WNW F3
Sea state: Glassy flat, to smooth, to ruffled at La Rochelle
La Rochelle: NW3, mainly due to local sea breeze. Clear skies, good vis.

Nav data

The heavily fortified entrance to the ancient town of La Rochelle and its port
click to enlarge

Times are FST.

Departed Les Sables d’Olonne (Quay Garnier): 0914, 28 June 2015
(14 minutes late waiting for the washing machine to complete its cycle!)
Arrived La Rochelle (Les Chalutiers): 1356
(26 mins late due to late lock gate opening)
Pinchpoint: Lock times at Les Chalutiers
Longest individual leg: 13.7nm
Time en route: 4hr 22min
Planned distance: 34.3nm

Tech issues: None

Piers and Lin
from the Chart Table of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

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

1 comment to Leg 8 (2015) – Les Sables d’Olonne to La Rochelle

  • Hil

    It’s gone! Don’t know what I did!

    What a beautiful place and a very busy place to be. I know you are on a wave – so pleased, and again, the photos are wonderful. Greatly relieved the boat is “mended”.

    Lots of love, Hil x x

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