Friday, September 02, 2016

Dithering and bouncing

Looking at tides this morning I couldn't work out where to go. We'd planned a night in La Roche-Bernard but somehow it had escaped my attention that it was already Friday and we needed to Get On. The trouble is that you can only get out of Arzal through the lock in the barrage from mid-tide upwards, otherwise there's not enough water in the tidal Vilaine so the lock doesn't open. And we can only get into Piriac, the next available marina, for three hours either side of HW. The next attractive port of call is L'Herbaudiere which is a long trek but might have been possible if we'd left on the first lock of the day on Saturday.

Anyway Ben wanted some proper sea and sailing so after lots of dithering, we decided to leave for Piriac on the 4pm lock. It gave me time to sign and pay for our mooring contract (a good day to do this as the pound is up against the Euro) and buy chandlery essentials such as electrical tape, more WD40, and string.

Two major problems transpired: the 4pm lock was so slow with loads of boats coming in that we didn't get out until 5.15. And then the westerly wind, more or less on the nose in the wiggly Vilaine, was much stronger than we expected, gusting up to about 16 knots. It was an unexpected pleasure to meet Judith and Mark Grimwade from the CA in the lock - they were going to spend the night on the waiting pontoon just outside the lock and leave first thing, which is a good wheeze I hadn't thought of. And by cunning positioning we were first out of the lock, which helped a bit.

In summary we wound up the revs on our dear Volvo engine to get us down the wiggly bit of the Vilaine, crashed slowly and painfully across the shallowest bit, and then turned on to a fast close reach for the last 6 miles to Piriac. Once we deployed both sails and started heeling as well as crashing through waves I really didn't feel happy having Sam on deck, so with a lot of strength from Ben we got him below, and covered the last six miles at mostly over 7 knots.

The shallow entrance was, as anticipated, horrible and once in there were very few visitors' spaces left. (This despite the fact that I had phoned ahead to check, in French, whether there would be space for us). Having gone down one pontoon and reversed out we hurtled into a berth with the wind behind us and with the kind help of two Frenchmen didn't hit anything... which is more than can be said for the Dehler which came in next to us five minutes later and caught us quite a whack.

No sailing tomorrow. It's market day and we want to take Ben for a meal at the creperie where they played us Breton bagpipes last time we were here. Also despite not leaving our berth until 3.45pm, we're all shattered.

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