Elwing 2016 Pt 4

There, & back again

Sables d’Olonne -> La Rochelle

More sun, with wind in the pm. On down the coast, inside Île de Ré and under the bridge (easy clearance but the water is a bit lumpy). La Rochelle has the iconic 2 towers entrance but now they have a new monster marina outside so you don’t get to do the grand entrance. The marina claims to be ‘the biggest’: 5000 berths. Only 1 receptionist on duty but a fleet of dories supplies a personal pilot to take you to your berth. The wifi works fine. Now I get to try to get lost ashore–the signage is dreadful.

La Rochelle -> St Denis d’Oléron
A short move to position for the next day. Stay as long as possible in La Rochelle then across to the next island. The entrance dries but not too badly. Friendly dory to find a berth. All facilities ashore including a supermarché 10 minutes up the road.

St Denis d’Oléron -> Royan
I thought about the route inside Île d’Oléron but it looked shallow and a bit complicated so it was round the outside keeping well away from the rocks at the north end, then the rocks on the west side and finally the 4 mile sandbank at the entrance to the Gironde. Swell all the way and breaking well on the sandbank which appears to hook quite a lot further south than shown on any of my charts. 12 Miles up the channel to Royan, just keeping the flood. An actual visitors pontoon with space for staying there. (Not just a reception pontoon.)

Royan -> Royan
I looked at going 55nm up the river to Bordeaux but decided that it was too far and not worth the trip. So I decided to pop across the river to Port Médoc on the south side so as to say I’d reached the Landes. Thought about it for just long enough for the rain to start which it continued all day. Decided to stay in instead.

Royan -> St Denis d’Oléron
Having given away Bordeaux & Port Médoc, the only remaining solution was to start back as the Landes is a horrible coast; 2 monster firing ranges which go off the west side of the small-scale chart and just the 1 harbour break in 110nm. Reversed the southbound route and led a small flotilla back out the Gironde and round the sandbank and breakers on my way back to St Denis. Sunshine but a light nose wind all the way so plenty of practise for the engine.

St Denis d’Oléron -> Bourgenay
No, I’ve never heard of Bourgenay before, either. It’s just East of Les Sables d’Olonne. Not far with sun but no wind at first and then on the nose, as usual, so more motoring practice. The tide is mostly crossways but at first with, then against.

Bourgenay -> St Gilles sur Vie
Weather boring as before. I think I’ve identified the local sport. Some people go sailing, others drive wet-bikes, etc, but the primary ‘game’ seems to be “Panne, panne; moteur”. Contestants vie for attention. Today’s prime candidate was a kayaker who had apparently thrown his paddle out of the canoe. It seems he was trying for double points on a joker run and expected Brucie to pop out and award him a “Good game! Good game!”. As well as I could tell it was 80 nm away so I wasn’t personally concerned but the CROSS response usually involves a DSC alert which makes it difficult to ignore. St Gilles is narrow river channel with a high speed tide. Requires care when entering with the tide. Marina & shore facilities good including a laundromat and a sardine festival.

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