Captains Blog 8 Vendée Globe – Arrive in Style

We’d arrived in Port Louis for just one night, which was a shame as there were some WW2 U boat bunkers to explore just across the bay in L’Orient.

Anyway, the batteries. We’d just moored up when it all went haywire. First mate was investigating the depth gauge, which kept going into alarm every 30 seconds. I’d offered my solution by way of a 5 pound hammer striking the gauge dead centre, thus silencing the alarm. She wasn’t having any of it, even though I’d said we can start with gentle tapping. After an hour or so of dogged persistence she managed to sort the problem and I concurred that, just this once, she was right.

This didn’t resolve the problem with the batteries though and I did promise to go into some detail to explain the actions taken to resolve the issue. I looked at the digital gauge with the black lead and the red lead, thought better of using it and swapped out the new batteries for the old. Job done!

The following morning we set off for La Trinité-sur-Mer. We’d received insider information via Loo Review (First mate, Gill and Deb reporting the state of the bathroom facilities at each port) that facilities weren’t up to much, adding to the sense of trepidation about the voyage.

We arrived in port just as it started to rain, but were chuffed to see Andrew and Gill waiting to greet us, taking our ropes as we came in. Despite the rain we had a cracking evening onboard Allegress eating a delicious Spaghetti Bolognaise and drinking fine wine with our lovely hosts. Everything was primed in order to test ablutions to the optimum the following day.

Now then, to our delight the seemingly brand-new toilet block was open and ready for action that morning, so all had come good in Loo review world and there were no issues to report.

On Sunday it was raining hard so all 4 of us opted to head for Vannes, on the bus/train. Despite the wet we had a cracking day exploring, drawing upon Gill’s expertise in both French and Latin, to fill in some of the cultural gaps. Have a browse at the most recent video to see how effortlessly Gill translates ancient Latin texts.

We spent one more day in Trinity before heading to Belle Ile. Andrew and Gill were also keen on the idea of anchoring off the island so we all head for Port de Pouldon on the south coast. After hitting the beach I sat and watched Gianti pitching from side to side, seemingly more than any other boat around her. I knew that it would be a very rolly night, coupled with the constant clang caused by a loose cable from within the mast.

Another great evening spent with our friends was tinged with sadness as we would both be heading in separate directions the next day. We had built a good friendship and having spent a few weeks travelling between ports it would be hard to adjust to not seeing them. We said our goodbyes the following morning as they set off for Port Halliguen and ultimately home. Bon voyage both and I hope you enjoy the sail back as much as we’ve enjoyed the sail down with you.

Pornic was our next stop. A cracking holiday destination with stacks going on in a really picturesque little town. We needed a decent night’s sleep after the previous one, so made sure the port authorities knew in order that they might let the fishermen know so they’d sneak out quietly not disturbing us. It didn’t work. I have to say though, they really did know how to handle their fishing boats and I saw a number of what can only be described as perfect handbrake turns just behind us.

After three nights it was time to set off for Les Sables d’Olonne. We had an almost perfect sail some 58 nautical miles with the headsail poled out, goose winging to make the most of the tail wind. It was only when we turned the corner to head into port that we realised how strong the wind was. We flounced around sorting sails, like the amateurs we are before heading into port. It wasn’t pretty.

This place is the home of the Vendée round the globe yacht race. I was glad we’d been away from the glare of the public as we took down the sails but pleased to have an audience as we comfortably moored up alongside the visitors mooring. No Gaelic shrugs or ‘phaa’s on the occasion.

We were given our mooring number and casually slipped the visitors mooring, sauntering into the main marina. What a total cockup I made it this time. I’m surprised I wasn’t immediately instructed to leave this place and never show my sorry face again. After applying some polish and a lot of elbow grease I managed to minimise the impact of the impact on the bow of Gianti. And yes, I have subsequently purchased a bow fender which is now proudly strapped to the front of the boat.

Les Sables d’Olonne was a thriving place with more people than you could shake a stick at, but we were now on a mission to get to La Rochelle, which would effectively be crunch time in relation to whether we continue to head south, or head back to the UK.

I’ll leave you to ponder this one!!

Captain Mac

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