2019 Summer Cruise – Week 4

After Met. Office reports of 40 degrees heat in France, we (Jonathan Lees, John Buckley, Ted Sankey and Hilary Poley) were surprised to leave the sunny UK and arrive in a cool mist in Pornichet. On Sunday the sun came out and John and Hilary enjoyed a great tourist trip on the train to Le Croisic.

During our week we experienced a variety of rapidly changing weather conditions. On Monday, the sail from Pornichet to Port Joinville on Ile de Yeu was a 36 mile port tack with an enjoyable 16 knots of wind in the sun. Jon did well in the Port de Pleasance to avoid a crazy French sailor trying to overtake Quartette in the marina, then moored up on a finger pontoon which seemed about 3 foot long. Ted enjoyed trying out his French conversation with the helpful staff at the Capitainerie. We enjoyed great sea food for dinner but John was disappointed at the restaurant that they had no tuna fish in a town famous for its tuna fishing industry!

On Tuesday we motored much of the 31miles in 6 knots of wind and a calm sea, finishing with a great sail when the wind increased for the last 5 miles to Les Sables d’Olonne. Hilary reckoned that the pilotage into the harbour was the most interesting part of the visit. The marina and resort is so huge, it took us a long trek to reach the famous beach and sea front restaurants. John found tuna on the menu but only gave it 6/10.

Jon and Hilary Putting in the hard work from Les Sables D’Olonnes to St Martin de Re

On Wednesday NE winds of 12 knots took us south to Isle de Ré where there is a 5.5 hour window to get into the harbour at St Martin de Ré. John practised his French with the Harbour Master in a rib to negotiate a place for Quartette on an outside mooring of 4 yachts. Hilary found a great swimming beach and we all found a great fish restaurant with the best langoustines and oysters ever. A friendly sailor told us about pilotage into Rochefort but we decided against going there as the tide would only give us time to eat moules by the harbour and no time to enjoy the visit adequately. The friendly yachtsman told us at the end he was Frank Singleton, long time publisher. editor and writer of the informative The Weather Window website!

The picturesque harbour at Ile de Re

On Thursday we came out of Isle de Ré in 24 knots of wind and a lumpy sea, put on our wet gear and reefed. Jon navigated us south to the bridge joining the island to the mainland, successfully avoiding the shallows on a falling tide. We wondered why yachts approaching from the south all had full sails, until we crossed under the bridge, amazed it was F2 in the hot sun (like going through a portal into Narnia). We sailed around hoving-to for lunch and going into La Rochelle on the rising tide. In La Rochelle we found excellent tuna which John gave 9/10.  He said the best tuna was at Pornic visited the week before.

On Friday the gents went for a day sail. They successfully hoisted, sailed, gybed and lowered the light cruising shoot, after dodging thunderstorms and lightening. On Saturday we enjoyed free bus rides to the airport after handing over to the next skipper. We had a most enjoyable week.

Hilary Poley

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