Île de Ré
Shortly after midnight on the morning of 16th June we sensed an easing of the wind to about Force7. As we wanted to make landfall that day, and there were signs the weather was improving, we set the storm jib and a heavily reefed main. I obtained a good sun sight at 0942. It confirmed that if we maintained our speed we could be in port or at anchor by midnight. Hopefully by then the wind would have eased for making entry to La Rochelle.
The closer we came to land the more evidence there was of it, things like fishing floats, weeds and birds. Very gradually soundings decreased until they were in the order of 24 fathoms. At 16 fathoms we would have another 30 miles to sail before reaching La Rochelle. The Île de Ré light would be clearly visible, for then it would be midnight.
By late evening the barograph gave a reading of 1025 millibars, and the wind speed had decreased to a Force 5. This was ideal for ‘Ishani’; therefore our spirits were lifted and more so when land was seen ahead. Eventually we were able to identify the lighthouse of St Clément des Baleines on the westernmost tip of Île de Ré.
Not long after midnight on Wednesday, 17th June we anchored in the snug Anse de Oubye at the southeastern tip of the Île de Ré. This was opposite the large commercial port of La Pallice. The peace was such a contrast to the hurly burly of previous days. It was no wonder that after downing a belated evening meal, we slept like logs until 0600. After breakfast we were soon underway to the Port des Minimes, which was a large marina at La Rochelle. There an official of the Capitanerie conducted us to a berth, and as the first day of stay was free, we were left to do as we pleased.
Our first priority was to repair the broken gooseneck. An assistant at the chandlers recommended we took the gooseneck to a boatyard that was four or five kilometers from La Rochelle. On the way, we fortuitously chanced upon a marine engineer who advised us to visit a nearby chandlery. There we bought a part that matched the broken one. In turn, that chandler gave us the address of an engineer who could weld the parts together. We were impressed with the help and hospitality given to us, especially by an owner of car bearing a disabled person’s badge who conveyed us to various locations free of charge.
Back at the boat in time for lunch, we prepared it and ‘dined’ in the local square. Afterwards we bought French charts to help us with the next stage of our cruise northwards.
We stayed at La Rochelle until the 21st June. We didn’t do a great deal, but every afternoon we made tea and ate the most scrumptious fresh cakes bought from a shop just up the road from the marina.
One outstanding highlight for me was being offered the chance to sail an Edel 22’ trimaran, with which I was most impressed. For her length she was extremely fast, light on the helm and exhilarating. The only difficulty I had was getting her back to the pontoon on my own without damaging her or other craft. I took in sail, started the outboard and made my approach. At the last moment, there was to be a sharp turn to port for the trimaran to come alongside the pontoon. I had to keep way on her to make the turn, which left me precious little time for engaging reverse before her bows would come into contact with the main pontoon. The engine was put into neutral and I had to be jolly nifty to be at her bow before it struck the pontoon so as to fend her off.
Text for the Day
Romans 12:18 ‘If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.’