Sunday, July 10, 2016

Arzal at last

When we left L'Herbaudière on Friday morning the sea was almost unrecognisable as the bumpy, wet, blue water from the day before. The sky was grey and there was hardly a breath of wind - with what there was coming from the south - and most importantly the sea was almost flat. For the first time on this entire trip we sailed with Sam in the cockpit instead of below.

I dithered over the time to leave, as I wanted to reach Arzal with time to be allocated our permanent berth - but without actually touching bottom in the very shallow entrance to the Vilaine. The lock in the barrage was due to open at 1800, 1900, 2000 and 2100 but the first opening would have been too early on the tide to cross the entrance safely, while the last carried the risk that if you didn't make it you'd be stuck outside in the mud. The office at Arzal closes at 2000 and I was keen to make contact with them if I could.

In the end we left L'Herb around 1030 and for the first few hours it was rather a dull motor across the entrance of the Loire. The only things to look at were the ships apparently permanently anchored in the bay, the suspension bridge at Saint-Nazaire and the astonishingly ugly tower blocks of La Baule which apparently is very chic and has a wonderful beach, but looks very unappealing from the sea. As we approached Le Croisic the sun came out and the wind started to strengthen just a tad - it was probably a sea breeze as it was helpfully on our port quarter all the time as we turned north towards Piriac and the northwest towards the Vilaine. Anyway we were able to sail on and off and with a bit of tide sailed just slowly enough until about 1700, then with some engine and a lot of tide hurtled up the Vilaine at 7 knots to get into the 1900 lock opening, which was perfect. (And nowhere near full of boats, in spite of all the manipulations by Herr Obergruppenführer who runs the lock).

As we waited in the lock I managed to raise Arzal on the VHF, who allocated us berth L33. This turned out to be on the Camoël side, very sheltered, rather pretty, but away from all facilities except loos (which we didn't have the code for) and perfectly placed for the full blast of a concert from somewhere just downriver. The music was quite nice, fortunately, a sort of Breton rock, and although it continued until just after midnight I was shattered enough to sleep most of the time anyway.

This morning I made the long march to the capitainerie, which is on the Arzal side of the barrage. They were desolé, but we would have to move. I was less desolée, as our new berth is on the Arzal side, berth D127, head to wind, with a pleasant view upriver and good access to all facilities. The only downside is a spectacularly low finger pontoon with a step up to the main jetty.

Tomorrow I have to arrange a taxi to collect the Passat from the garage in Redon (possibly delivering Robin to the station at the same time), and then we have a couple of days of sorting stuff out before we head back to Saint-Malo on the 13th for our ferry home on the 14th.

1 comment:

H ouleux said...

Glad everything worked out well and that you're safely back in Arzal. Good to hear that Sam was able to spend time in the cockpit too. Hope we'll get a chance to meet up later in the year. All the best, Rob and Jo.