Category: Ports and Places

Hola 2016

Qué ? What’s going on?

Last time we spoke Filibuster was in France, and now Martin, está hablando español….

And, quel horreurs, on a boat without sails! Not even any visible means of supporting such sails.


Has Martin taken leave of his senses and gone to the dark side?


To suffer warm, private sandy beaches, full sunshine, clear waters in the Med?

In April, where back home was a)chuffin cold b)wet

Well, actually folks, you can rest assured. The boat belongs to our good friends Ian & Judy and they have introduced us to the temptations of Menorca. And what a tempting place it is:

  • 300 days per year sunshine
  • excellent food and drink at very reasonable rates
  • beaches, coves, walks to die for
  • crystal clear, warm,  sea (well it was a tad cool on the day highlighted, but Ian & I swam ashore)
  • Largely unspoilt and civilised with strong connections to the UK
  • Unbelievably friendly locals who cannot say a word without a smile

If you have never been to Menorca I can thoroughly recommend it.


Ian’s nav system comprises of:

a) a Garmin GPS chart plotter with a faulty screen

b) an Apple Iphone that has the tendency to fall on the floor (clonk) at inappropriate moments

To avoid getting lost at inappropriate (clonk) moments I decided to purchase an upgrade to the system.

No batteries or screen required, doesn’t clonk when it falls on the floor. Superbly accurate with AIF (that’s a new piece of tech called Automatic Identification by Finger).

A prototype of the system was tested back in France here.

It is of course the highly reliable, patented, TTNS:

TTNS (Tea Towel Navigation System)

TTNS (Tea Towel Navigation System). This is an upgraded version with AIF indicating current position, compass, wind directions and instructions on what to eat (Old Menorcan cheese) and drink (Gin) in an emergency. Can also be used to cover modesty of naked sailors and sailoresses.Reversible screen. Can be used to communicate over long distances. Beat that, Apple…(clonk)


Welcome to Sailing (or should I say Boating) 2016

St Martin, Ile de Re

Well I’ve already written plenty about St Martin and this year it looks like the turning point of the journey again so I’ll write a bit more.

Already we are in Port Joinville, heading North. Dodging bad weather (again) so the 4 fine days Zoe was with us become a memory.

But First: And the crowd applauded

So we arrive in St Martin. A slightly longer journey via half way to St Dennis, Ile D’Oleron, re routed due to slightly tender nature of daughter’s stomach when subjected to windier than expected windy sailing.

The harbour is a bit full, but not full. The harbour master asks how long we want to stay: 1 semaine. Hmmm he goes. He wants us nicely parked and not having to move every day to let other boats out. He wants us alongside the pontoon and we want to be there as well.

He looks at the options: V1 has 3 boats rafted. V2 has 1 boat. V3 has 3 boats rafted. No other solutions. He parks us temporarily on raft V1, 4th out.

But V2 boat is leaving later and he tells them to shove off to another part of the marina, thereby creating the desired pontoon space.

Great, you might think. Except that the now ex V2 boat wasn’t that big and the space left doesn’t look Filibuster sized.

Harbour Master asks our size: 12.5m. He paces out the gap: 14 paces.  “Ici – c’est bon pour vous”. Glug thinks me on the basis that his measurement device isn’t very accurate and even if it was, that leaves me with placing Filibuster sideways into a canyon, 3 boats rafted either side.

Leaving 3/4 of a pace fore and aft. Did I mention it’s windy? Have I ever mentioned we don’t have a bow thruster? And I probably don’t need to remind anyone that sailing yachts can be particularly truculent beasts when made to go sideways slowly.

We get one chance at this. It’s High Noon at the OK Chapparal. The crews on the boats lining the canyon are armed and ready. We make ready. The wind blows. Tumbleweed rolls down the fairway. The wind whistles. etc.

All eyes on us because this could go so badly wrong. We commit.

Now before I come to the outcome let me tell you about a fantastic French word called “doucement”.  I learnt it in L’Aberwrach. It’s a lovely word and pertains to the art of doing things “lightly”. In L’Aberwrach it was used by a French lady against a gung ho incompetent trying to park his boat in a tight spot. He failed. Using everything his engine had he went backward and forward, crunching French lady’s boat and eventually running aground. He was not Mr Doucement.

We are committed. Filibuster is in the canyon. No way back now. With less than 2ft space either end to play with a lot of doucement is used. Forward a bit, backward a bit, let the wind take her in a bit. Repeat.

Then a line goes ashore and is made fast. We are in. Touchdown. A perfect landing: 10/10.

I really can’t remember much about it, except that at the end the crowd applauded. “Un belle manoeuvre” a new neighbour says.

Palps stop palpitating, Palms stop sweating. I take a bow. Brit Honour upheld.

The rest of the canyon filled so quickly I didn’t even get time to get a photo.

And the rest of the stay?

Was delightful.

We cycled up to the unfortunately named Ars. If someone were to ask where we were going I could have replied “the ars end of the island” and be perfectly correct.

We had a party with our new neighbours, one of whom owns his own vineyard and contributed wine from his special selection


Special Selection. See bottom right, reads limited release, bottle number is 5. mmm.

And on the final day we made Zoe eat Oysters in the afternoon, drink some fine wine and finish with Lobster Thermidor for dinner.

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Zoe’s facebook compilation. A perfect day.

The lobster came from the market 200m away. He was hiding in the tank trying not to make eye contact….

Gullible Guillame and the No Parking Sign


Writing from Port Joinville on Ile D’Yeu, its the 30th August. To mark bank holiday Sunday the weather has put on a typical show: a F5 thundery rainstorm just rattled through.

If there were one of those holiday type signposts here it would say 70 miles South East to La Rochelle, 280 North to Salisbury and 350 North West to Lawrenny.

Avid and not so avid readers will have already seen the sad episode regarding Forgetful Francois and the fate of Pierre the Peugeot.

Port Joinville, Ile D’Yeu is the next stop South from L’Herbaudiere,  One of our favourite places with its very sheltered (=quiet) marina, the fun attitude of the holidaymakers, the great bars for people watching around the the harbourside and so on.

What we didn’t know at the time of Francois is that he has a cousin on Ile D’Yeu. We’ll call him Gullible Guillame for the sake of alliterative allusion.

The harbourside in Port Joinville is a busy place, frequent ferries do what ferries do: namely disgorge then load up with holiday makers. The majority on foot for Ile D’Yeu is a place where cycling is very popular and bikes of all types can be hired around the port.

Around the ferry terminal it can get very busy, with people collecting and delivering holidaymakers. Parking is in short supply.

Guillame arrives in Jerry the Jeep

To drop off holidaymakers. No parking spaces immediately by the ferry terminal, but he sees his mate Antoine who waves him over.

Antoine tells Guilliame – don’t worry – I’ll park my car over there on the no parking zone and you can have my place here. I’m not staying long and there aren’t any no parking signs on your spot so you will be OK

Cars move. Antoine parks on the no parking zone. but then they decide to go off for a beer…or two…..



The No Parking Zone. Signs clearly visible. Under the surface. Can you guess what’s happened to Jerry the Jeep?


Yep, you guessed it.


For Sale.

And some time later. Guillame had not come back, or was too embarrassed to show himself in front of the large crowd of holidaymakers taking photos.


And Jerry the Jeep had disappeared by the following morning.



Holed up in Pornic

We’re in Pornic. (more about Pornic)

It’s late. Sunday the 23rd August 2015

1950 UTC (the time zone the boat’s nav works on). 2050 BST. 2150 FST.

It’s dark.

A storm is brewing.

We’ve known it was coming for a few days.

The forecast had it peaking at F9 or F8.

Right now the wind is mid teens in knots. Roughly on the bow. That’s OK. The bow points to a huge wall about 70m away. To our left is the entrance to the marina, a substantial pontoon is between us the outside.


A nice view in nicer times almost a year ago is here:

View from rear of boat

View from rear of boat

Same spot

But tonight it’s not so nice.

Filibuster, contra to normal pontoon positioning now has 7 lines ashore. We’re expecting trouble.

This sort of trouble:



Orange is bad. Any wind speed beginning with 3 is not good. Things beginning with 4 are really bad.The forecast last night had something I’d never seen on this coast : beginning with a 5…..a different symbol appears because they’ve run out of toothbrushes.

Wind speed at 50kn+ is a Force 10. Officially not a Gale, nor a Strong Gale, but true sail ripping Storm.

So we’re holed up in Pornic. As I write the wind shrieks and howls around, the mooring lines creak and groan. it’s not nice out there. It’s not that nice in here either.

And it’s raining. Big time. Actually the sort of time where we feel smug that our full cockpit cover designed for Ireland and now working 100% in France, makes a lot of sense.

The storm.

It peaked a bit later than expected – stretching through a unpleasant Sunday night into a downright nasty Monday morning.50kn+

A recording of windspeed shows the accuracy of the forecast.Over this 10 minute period the wind speed was mainly in the 30kn range, often above 40kn and on 5 occasions 50kn or more.

The wind had come around to the beam – side on.  the boat was heeled over against the pontoon and fenders with a nominal diameter of 30cm were squashed to 5cm thick.


The previously pleasant view became not so pleasant;


No one came in.

No one went out.

The storm blew all day.



A good day at the office?

If you have one, I’m sure it’s a nice dry place. But wouldn’t you be rather out and about in the fresh air on a Monday? Yes of course you would, who wouldn’t.

Now consider these pics of the waves breaking at the other end of the marina. There’s a test coming:


Did you spot the guys not having a good Monday? Click on the first pic: they are by the silver van and about to get what’s coming.

The weather didn’t improve much on Tuesday so we got on with all those exciting jobs that you do when stuck in port, like cleaning the cooker, cleaning the heads, writing blogs and so on 🙁

And finally – it looks like tomorrow there is a “window of opportunity” to push on to Ile D’Yeu. It’s not going to be that nice, but if we don’t take it then the next one isn’t until Friday, 2 more days hence.

PS (29 Aug)

We tried the window of opportunity. The wind blew It shut: a nice sail rapidly became a rough sail with 20+kn on the beam and rising. Boat speed 7-8kn with 2 reefs.

Exciting, but….

Prudence was heard saying “one accident and this could be dangerous” so we headed straight into L’Herbaudiere for 2 days (it rained most of the time) and we then motored all the way to Ile D’Yeu in zero wind ….you can’t win sometimes….

And so to Sauzon


Sauzon 005

Amazonas Sauzonas. Capitanerie Girl showing how meet and greet and park is done. The following evening doing the same job in a dress!.


Oyez! Oyez!. All you creek crawlers, bilge keelers, flat bottomers and lifting keelers. Welcome to Sauzon, Belle-Ile, for this is your heaven.

This is the place that perfectly exonerates your decision to acquire a boat that “can take the ground”.

Along the astonishingly pretty quayside of Sauzon is a huge, sheltered, drying harbour, complete with moorings to assist your arrival, which of course you do when there is water in the harbour.

Fin keelers (like Filibuster) whose decision to visit Sauzon is always a gamble on how much swell you can tolerate. Swell whilst mooring to a buoy in the anchorage outside the harbour (lumpy) or swell whilst mooring fore-and-aft in the outer, non drying harbour (also lumpy).

Happily, nay smugly , the “take the grounders” chug past all the fin keelers. Smiling inwardly, smiling visibly, smirking, going onward to a nirvana where no fin keeler can stay.

Sauzon 006

Filibuster, bobbing about in splendid isolation. We remained so despite the fact that the other moorings had no less than 3 boats each by the end of the day (something to do with size: the capitanerie people like to keep similar sized boats together, and with Filibuster bang on the maximum allowed length, no one else of our size came in to join) . That night the wind turned to the North making the outer harbour uncomfortable and it emptied quickly the following morning

Sauzon 013View looking into the harbour at low tide, showing smug bilge keelers happily parked.


The ground in the drying harbour is mainly hard sand, so if you can get off your boat it’s easy to walk ashore.




The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

Have you read the book? It’s very funny. Essentially a long shaggy dog story. But there’s a bit missing, entitled “and so to Sauzon” I include it here.

And so to Sauzon.

Henri, the hundred year old man, found himself on the West Coast of France. He’d heard that Sauzon was a nice place and that sailing a yacht was a nice thing to do.

So he decided to borrow a yacht. He’d never been sailing before but reckoned it can’t be that difficult as you can  just switch the engine on and go. So he did, and off to Sauzon he went on a pleasant summer’s day.

On arrival he was pleased to see that Sauzon was indeed a beautiful place and happy he’d made the decision to visit. He had only one problem to settle and that was how to stop and stay.

Observing a nice big British yacht already moored in the harbour, Henri asked the skipper “puis je fair a couple avec vous” (which is not a request to get over familiar with someone, but just to come alongside).

Martin, the skipper of the nice big British yacht says “mais bien sur, fair un turn (because he was facing the wrong way round ) en retour ici”.

Hundred year old man goes round and starts to come alongside. Martin notices he has no fenders prepared. Or lines to attach with. Typical French. Martin “advises” him, “ou et votre lignes et defensoirs”. Henri points to a locker as if to say “obviously in here, you stupid Brit, where else?”.

He’s passing. He realises that lines are the key to stopping and staying. He gets a line out of the locker and passes one end to martin. And the other end. And the middle. All of it, not attached to anything.


“What do you expect me to do with this?” dit Martin en Francais. Henri looks at me genially as if to say “you’re the expert – you tell me”. I throw it back, all of it.

So I tell him, in French, kindly “attach your lines and fenders first, then come alongside”. Blank look returned.

Is it my French that’s the problem? (could be: my inner French man quite often says things that my inner English man doesn’t understand). Perhaps Henri got the last missive as “put out your washing line and install your fence before coming to my place”

I recruit the next nearest boat to translate from English to French for Henri. Blank Henri look again. A discussion in French ensues. The centime drops. A little wave of a Henri hand acknowledges in a “righty ho” sort of way.

Henri, being a hundred years old, doesn’t do anything really quickly. He slips, nay slides or possibly slopes into the task now in his mind.

He chugs off for another turn. Connects an end of the ligne to his boat. Forgets about the fenders. Comes alongside. One line attached and he’s stopped.

At this point the Capitanerie boat gets involved and takes control: gives Henri a parking place alongside a similar sized boat . Henri now remembers fenders and starts to attach whilst we hang on to Henri’s boat.

Capitanerie man moves Henri. Zut go the new neighbours. Phew go we.

He doesn’t have a dinghy so sits on deck reading and then goes to bed. He left early that morning and for all we know is still out and about.


And as I write this in Port Haliguen a smart Beneteau 45’ comes alongside the other side of our pontoon. Fully crewed by Henri-relatives and driven by an incompetent Henri-alike who commands with an air of authority-without-experience. No lignes, no defensoirs on a boat probably worth £100k. Much snarling and gashing of engine. Backwards, forwards, over the Irish sea sort of thing, nearly over the boat in front, Michele goes to help. They throw a line, in the water. Eyes look to heaven. Etc….

PPS above mentioned boat has 13 people aboard. Several generations of family, not all happy about being on granddad’s boat together. Noisy, at least whilst awake and then an absolute calm descends on this quiet, flat corner of the marina.

PPPS Rather shyly they aplogisied for the enthusiasm of their gang on holiday. Apology graciously accepted, but it was still nice when they went to bed….

And so back to Sauzon

I’ve digressed and dithered a bit, and I’m sure you want to know a bit about Sauzon.

Some observations:

  • It’s on Belle-Ile. A popular holiday island for French rich and/or famous and it shows, especially in Sauzon.
  • It’s very pretty
  • The quayside is closed to traffic Friday and Saturday evenings, making promenading, people watching and checking out the many restaurants a pleasure
  • It has resident quayside bands – we pitched up at a bar and listen to “The Golden Jakes” Jazz Band. Niiice.

It’s a must visit place. We did a couple of years ago by scooter and a few days later by car…

If you feel daring and just want to stay long enough for an meal, springs tides will float your boat in the inner drying harbour for long enough to enjoy a peaceful evening meal or lunch if the tides are neapish.


belle isle 111

Waterside Sauzon
Taken a couple of years ago.



Ile d’Groix

Ile d’Groix

Ile d’Groix. Let’s put it context for you: About 4 miles long by 1.5 miles wide…

Or try this pair of photos of the same kind of facility (the Capitainerie or Harbourmaster’s Office)

Port Louis 004

Impressive new Capitainerie at Port Louis

Ile d'Groix 012

This one does a similar job on Ile d’Groix








Ile d’Groix. Pop: around 2500 permanent, 1 small marina. Across the water is Lorient: Pop 225000. 5 marinas.

It’s not surprising that Ile d’Groix is a top spot for visiting boats from nearby. And not so nearby.

We pitched up from Port Louis (*****favourite) a long leg of 10 nm with a nice sail.

It’s full. Fuller than full. Not enough capacity, of water, of marina, of electrics.

Ile d'Groix 013

Cap’n – the di-lithium crystals can’t take much more of it

The Rhythm of the port

…goes like this:

  • It’s in 3 bits: the inner locked bit for local boats.
  • The marina. Standard stuff. Always full.
  • The outer harbour– fore and aft buoys.

Did I mention the ferry bit? That takes up a lot of space.

Did I mention it’s always full? Even late June. It’s full and the workings go thus:

  • Turn up anytime: there’s no space in the marina. As I said and all the pilots say, it’s full.
  • If you are very lucky you can raft on one of the hammerheads to a max of 3 deep.
    • Fishing boats will disturb in the early morn
    • But the benefit is you get first dibs on seeing marina berths become empty

Turn up in the afternoon and you might get somewhere to stay in the outer port on the fore and aft buoys. Not so bad as long as you have a dinghy. Nice views. Not so manic.

Except when the ferry does a 180 turn, and uses your boat as a guide.

he gets this close:

Ile d'Groix 022

wait for it, wait for it….


Ile d'Groix 033

Ok Scotty, let ’em have it….

The close up photo taken whilst we were on the outer pair of buoys above. eek.

Next morn you watch for boats coming out of the marina so you can get a top spot space in the marina-hammerhead-outerbouy pecking order. And we did.

So that’s the rhythm.

We arrived. Newbies. No space for a 40ft-er inside so troll out to pick up a fore-and-aft.


An electrifying moment:

It’s sunny. Warm, about one o’clock. We get out the “clacker”, a special device that allows us to quickly hook onto ring topped buoys. Before clack-and-attach happens a voice rings out



Ssszzzsss!!. We’re 200 miles south of home. No-one knows us here…but someone calls my name, in my direction, not a French Martin call, but an English Martin call. Someone knows us and wants to say hello.

A look around. It’s Stephen Lenister and the Topsail gang (see here). Joy fills our hearts: friends . Friends culturally, linguistically and all those things that herald a good meeting with like minded, enjoyable people.

We go alongside. Hail friends well met. And the scene is set for another nice meal – 8 all told at the Blue Thon up the hill. Warm. Outside. Seafood . Heaven.


And So to Ile de Groix.

The Capitainerie, the electrics, the rhythm of the port: it all settles you into life-a-Groix.

An enveloping calm. Life is relaxed here at this slightly out of season time. Not frenetic like the larger islands can be in season.

Port Tudy tries, with the obligatory port side bars, restaurants and marine style shops. But the next layer beyond the port is just calmness.


Qui madam, j’ai les vetements marine de cette annee. Quel colour voulez vous votre stripes?

Imagine this:

Many years ago: Pierre and Florence, at home on Le Bourg, the largest of the villages on Groix and close to Port Tidy (the port we are in).

Pierre says to Florence. “Florence dear, I’m just off to the shops”. He goes. He doesn’t come back. And all over the island appears to be this evidence of many Pierres doing the same.

Substantial and old, pretty, abandoned building just left.

Ile d'Groix 061 Ile d'Groix 060







Fields seem to have been abandoned to nature.

What happened? Could it have been linked to WWII when this part of the world suffered dreadfully?

I’m pleased to report that many Pierres, or their offspring , are returning and there is clear evidence of renovation.

Groix a bike

The tourist office have a lovely map. It includes the walking routes (up and down narrow tracks), the roads (up and down narrow tracks) and cycle tracks (up and down narrow tracks). So around the island we cycled according to the map. it didn’t make much difference from being on a road to a cycling track…

And you can’t get lost due to the many Groix-esque road signs.

Ile d'Groix 037

typical roadside, trackside, pathside signage found all over

And as befits this friendly quiet island you get taken around a place devoid of traffic, devoid of modern signage, devoid of hectic activity that the ride is an absolute pleasure.

And full of interesting old buildings, narrow streets, hollyhocks.

And the smells. Of wild flowers, honeysuckle, broom, blackcurrant, of nature. Everywhere. In fields that are no longer productive.

And even the wildlife are friendly;


And to conclude

Apologies if Groix is a ramble. So much to say for such a tiny place. I just hope I’ve encapsulated some of the ambience of the place.

We’ve been to most of the Islands lying off the West Coast of France, but Ile d’Groix ranks high in the list. Different again from all the others. Not over exuberant…not over developed (yet), friendly, laid back.

And yes, we will return.


Ile Groix 004

Ferry coming in. Tops’l going out


So Houat


A play on words, as we will see later.

It’s 730am. 21st June. A Sunday. We’ve been chilling out at LRB for 3 nights and it’s time to go.

Ping! Martin awakes with a bright idea. Get away quick and we might make the 0800 lock and out to the sea…..

….some time later we approach the lock for 0900 opening. Happy in our little time lapse universe that no one gets up so early on a Sunday in France because it’s closed. And fully expecting the lock keeper to be happy to see us, having nothing else to do so early.

Now, you can get some things a bit wrong. And some things a lot wrong. And we got this call so unbelievably wrong you wouldn’t believe it.

Sometime in the 3 days since we left Arzal a bunch of boats about 140 strong crept into Arzal. Had a party and now wanted to go home. All of them. To catch the tide, which was falling.

Now Arzal lock is a big lock, it takes 20 or so boats, less if some of them are real big. Hmmm 140 boats divide by 20 = 7 locks. That’s all of Sunday just for the rally.

We tried to get in to the 0900 and failed. Waiting for the 10 o’clock lock it’s apparent that a few more boats have woken up. It’s mayhem. Boats go left, go right, go forward, go backward. Occasionally they crunch. See photo.

LRB-Houat 005

Left a bit, right a bit, crunch. Boat 2nd from right desperately trying to avoid being run over by large boat reversing into him. He failed: crunch. Boat to his left desperately trying to fend off. He failed as well: crunch. Small boat to the 2nd from left is the rossers. They don’t know about the feeding the ducks episode.

Filibuster stakes her claim – we’re not going to be missing another. Near the front of the queue and defending our position we get into a very, very crowded lock.

I’ve written about the fun of the Arzal lock before, so no need to repeat that.

And BTW the rally wasn’t a booze up – it’s held in aid of disabled people to give them some experience of boating. It calleds the Pen Bron Rally. More here (in French).


We chug off down river and out to sea. We’re heading for Houat (pron more like Hwat and not like goat). The wind pipes up and the sun comes out and we’re sailing proper. Heading to Hoedic because that’s where the wind takes us on our route.

And in fact so close in to Hoedic our point of tack was virtually in the harbour, our could have been had it not been for discretion beating valour.

LRB-Hoat chart

Hoedic (duckling) is a one horse island that we have a soft spot for. It’s bigger brother, Houat, was our destination.

LRB-Houat 007

Hoedic. One horse island: the horse left.


We sailed on. We entered the harbour, we mused about the tri-bollock floating mooring system. We moored. Went ashore, had a drink and left the next morning for Port Louis where I write from.

LRB - Houat 011

St Gildas Harbour, Houat. Off season. High season will be an absolute bun fight.

It appears that everyone who raves about Houat are not talking about the harbour, but the huge sheltered beach to the SW of the island that we shall return to one day.

Jasper Carrott

What? How do we get from Houat to Carrott. Jaspers’ Joke delivered whilst in Salisbury on the 14th June runs thus:

Three girls in their twenties decided to go out and decided to go to the Hotel Ocean because the waiters were good looking and had nice bums.

Twenty years later they meet up and decide decided to go to the Hotel Ocean because the wine was good.

A further twenty years, now in their 60’s, later they meet up and decide decided to go to the Hotel Ocean because the food was good.

Twenty more years pass and now in their 80’s they meet again and pondered where to go. They decided to go to the Hotel Ocean because they hadn’t been there before.

And what has that got to do with sailing I hear you ask?

Well, in our delight to be out sailing proper with good speed and a nice angle of heel, we had forgotten about the laws of gravity and it’s effects on improperly stowed boats contents:

LRB-Houat 008

after effects of a well heeled party

Nothing broken. Lesson learnt. The sail up to Port Louis the following days  was even more exciting: 8.3kn at the entrance to Lorient Harbour. Fun.

And if you get the chance see Jasper on his current tour, jump at it. 3 hours of top notch entertainment from people who know how to entertain.


Piriac sur Mer and the Frogboats

So we find ourselves in Piriac sur Mer, our final saltwater stop before going up into the Villaine River.

And forthcoming fin du saison.

Victoire vs Les Frogboats

Piriac has what I call “a hard stop”. A flapgate that rises automatically to preserve a comfortable level of water inside the marina, whilst outside there can be an uncomfortable level of sand.

No one's going anywhere

No one’s going anywhere. Note and observe 3 red lights.

And so it’s imperative to get your arrival timing right: in our case no later than about 1 hour before the gate goes up.

And in the case of a few others the same, causing a bit of a rush.

Scanning the horizon for competition for the last berth (not that there is likely to be a last berth problem) reveals 2 French boats coming in: let’s call them Frogboat1 and Frogboat2.

Frogboat2 coming from the North looks like it’s ahead of the fleet. Frogboat1 coming from the West looks evenly matched. Filibuster from the South West raises the engine speed a bit to get in front.

Not enough: Frogboat1 does the same and cuts across our bows 50m ahead. Zut, Merde. but he has to change course by 90 degrees to avoid rocky rocks, comes up parallel then, crossing ahead of us, heads back north to go round a mark.

An opportunity arises: Filibuster’s nav system shows clear water to the south of the mark. We make the call, take the short cut and round up ahead of Frogboat1. He’s toast.

Meanwhile Frogboat2, close to the entrance, ahead, inexplicably dithers. He looks all ready to go in but has virtually stopped.

We pass on the home straight and takes line honours. Hooray to the Britboat: Frogboats 0 Filibuster 2

All played out at the cracking speed of about 6kn (7mph) and there were loads of places left, although I’m sure I detected a hiss from Mrs Frogboat1 as they passed us in the port.

And of course we are not racing at all are we?

And so on to Piriac sur Mer

But first a little fun with “Spot the Difference”


Two photos taken in the same berth in Piriac sur Mer

The obvious first:

  • The hood is down
  • Martin’s clothes are different
  • He’s changed from red to white wine
  • The very observant will note a new pair of Ray Bans
  • And the very, very observant will note Martin on the left is sporting a sun tan (oh – you didn’t spot it did you?)

The photos are taken on 3rd September and 25th April this year: it’s not our first visit to Piriac: at Easter we stole a super sail out of the Villaine in super sunny, warm weather.

And again in May when we stayed in a hotel here whilst the boat was out of the water being prepped for the season.

And so on to Piriac sur Mer

IMG_7747It’s an old, small fishing village with buildings of granite and slate bedecked with flowers and ivy. Almost back to Brittany.It’s pretty in the way the solid granite buildings are.

Superbly preserved, it’s a real magnet – in high season can be overrun with visitors, but as I write on 4th September 2014 all is quiet, though not yet as deserted as we found it out of season in May.

Excellent fresh pasta in the 3 days a week market.

The fishing fleet, as with so many smaller ports has been reduced to just those serving the local shops, market and restaurants and the harbour now given over to pleasure boats large and small.

Piriac marked our furthest South stopover in 2012. These days its our first/last port of call.

See more pics below. We like it.


Piriac, May 14. Not in season.
Piriac, May 14. Not in season.
Piriac, May 14. Not in season.
Piriac, May 14. Not in season.
Piriac, May 14. Not a toruist in sight
Piriac, May 14. Not a toruist in sight
Piriac, beach, May 14, deserted
Piriac, beach, May 14, deserted
typical Piriac back alley
typical Piriac back alley
Harbourside and Church
Harbourside and Church
Nice little beach
Nice little beach
More splendind old buildings
More splendind old buildings

Pornic, stylish

Here we are in Pornic. A stylish place if ever there was one.

The houses and grounds along of the estuary to the old port reek of having had a lot of money applied to them over a long period of time. If you remember the film “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Michael Caine and Steve Martin then it’s that sort of ambience.

panoramic view of the west bank of Pornic

Panorama looking away from the marina along the west bank. The coast path wends it way right into town in a delightful 15minute stroll



panorama looking out from the drying harbour. The marina wall can just be made out in the distance

And its the 1st September and pleasantly warm and sunny as our new instrument confirms.WP_20140901_007


And it’s the first day of Michele’s retirement. More on that later but first a word or two about the bottom and how close it gets to the surface.

2m or more required

In Filibuster it’s never less than 2m. Or so you would have thought. Negative draught is not recommended in the manual.

We tested it on the way out of La Rochelle – that was a bit scary. The following week we left a furrow in the mud on the way out of Rochefort – and that was at high tide!.

Bourgenay track 27 aug 14And of course when you are on a boat as long as we have been this time round (5 weeks now) you are bound to come across days when the place you want to go to, the time you arrive and the tide are at odds with the 2m or more rule.

Like Bourgenay on the 27th August : the chart shows 0.7m minimum but the channel is supposedly 1m- added to lowest tide of 1.2m should be OK. but with swell running and an unfortunate arrival time discretion delayed arrival in favour of some pootling. (See chart)arrival chart

Like Pornic.  Arriving much earlier than expected due to very favourable sailing conditions. We approached….very slowly…we stirred some sand, we retreated and did some more pootling. In fact quite a bit as this chart shows….

Don’t get the idea we make a habit of testing the bottom, but there is always something delicious about getting into port or up river on a rising tide 🙂

View from rear of boat

Shot taken by Michele from the rear of boat whilst in Pornic

Retirement Party

So here we are on the 1st September in Pornic.

chink, clink, slurp

chink, clink, slurp



The season has finished and Michele has retired.

To celebrate we broke a golden rule and had a drink before the sun was over the yard arm. At least in this time zone, but as long as you believe its over the yard arm in some time zone somewhere then that’s Ok
Life is tough.





Some time later.Pornic 020


And a bit later zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


and even later we found out that every restaurant around the port had closed down except the one where the local fishermen were making a really professional job of getting obliterated celebrating the end of season. I say professional since they had been at it for over 24 hours.


NEW member of Crew

– this is Michele anthropomorphising again

CHINKY-BOO – yes that is its real name – made by the eponymous Chinky Boo Corporation of China is an ice maker and it produces 9 hollow ice cubes every 8 to 9 minutes.

It has been marvelous and also allowed us to have G & Ts with ice for the first time ever on board.

This leads onto the other piece of equipment purchased this year – a proper device to keep white wine cool into which we put Chinkyboo’s ice cubes (ed: as well as the bottle of wine ). Result happiness !!!!!!!!!!!

Bourgenay (Dullsville)

Step forward anyone who remembers the cult drama “The Prisoner”. The one from the late 60s, so step back anyone younger than about 50.Bourgenay (1)

For those younger than 50 let me set the scene:  The series follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious but pretty coastal village resort where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job (Wikipedia)

I think he just wanted to go sailing (Martin).

The Prisoner doesn’t have a name but instead is called No 6. Why they should name him after a particularly small and rough cigarette available at the time is still a mystery.

Also a mystery is why hold him in a nice coastal village when a smelly prison would do?

And how, even with the aid of large 6ft diameter self aware and self propelled white balloons, they could stop him escaping?

As noted above, this was the late 60s, an era well known for fanciful imagery and one can only assume the producers were “on something”.

So, Martin, I hear you ask: what has this got to do with Bourgenay? A mysterious but pretty coastal village resort.

Probably nothing.But indulge me and read on as you’ve got this far.

Bourgenay is an odd place.

IMG_1134As far as I can tell, in days yonder, there was nothing here except the HQ of SSST. A secret order of silent French Nuns.

Bourgenay 002


Holed up in their castle and not interfering much, Bourgenay was a very quiet place.

Well it would be wouldn’t it, with the only residents living a quite solitary quiet life.



And then some developer had the great idea to create a modern version of the very same holiday resort that was the unintended home to the Prisoner.

The Planning application was a doddle: no objections – not even from the resident nuns (well they couldn’t really object much, being quiet and solitary, could they?)

And so, all around them a whole new resort, golf complex, port and marina sprang up where before there was nothing. Except the silent nuns who as far as can be be found out are still there, doing their thing.

A Perfect place for prisoners


perfect apartments

It’s perfect: residents arrive, are processed, spend their money in one of several anonymous bars/restaurants and are subsequently allowed to leave all the poorer and none the wiser having enjoyed an “ooh that’s nice” sort of holiday..


more perfect apartments



an absolutely perfect lighthouse

But Bourgenay is dull

It’s all there, it all works. But it lacks any of the charm that the two nearest ports on our route have (Les Sables D’Olonne and St Martin de Re).

I can’t think why we stopped on the way back except that, just possibly, it was free to stay.


And I leave you with this observation about the almost perfect marina:


We escaped and Les Sables D’Olonne is where this post comes from. A full 6.6nm from Bourgenay but a world away (and also free to stay 🙂 )

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