Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Biking and easterlies

Dying creek at Nourmoutier-en-Ile

Having visited the boulangerie and the laundrette on Tuesday morning it was a bit later than I planned when we got our trusty Compass folding bicycle off the boat and up on to the harbour wall for some practice pedalling. This is the basic model with no gears and backpedalling brakes, which take a bit of getting used to. All seemed well so off I went in the general direction of Noirmoutier-en-Île, the island's main town. I didn't have a proper map so ended up on the main road, which was OK but not much fun. The town is lovely, with pretty little streets and squares, and a drying creek full of dilapidated boats rather like Maldon, but with a blue sky you'd never see in Essex.

Sadly the tourist office where I'd hoped to get a cycle map was firmly closed, so I headed out of town on the track on top of the sea wall which follows the creek - a bit like Wells-next-the-sea.

One of many gorgeous beaches
With some help from Google maps I managed to follow the coast most of the way back to L'Herbaudière. And very delightful it was too. I may have been guilty of thinking that the Ile Noirmoutier was a poor cousin to the Ile d'Yeu, but although it lacks cliffs and rocks it's just as attractive in a different way. And the beaches are gorgeous.

Later Ben and I had a swim before we took Sam off the boat for a shower and a pre-prandial drink in one of the harbour cafes. That was all terrific but the plan was slightly blown by the fact that the Remoska, which should have been gently baking a chicken, had tripped the power switch so the chicken wasn't quite done.

All the time we've been here this time around, the wind has been somewhere between southwest and northwest. Today we wanted to go east, so guess what? The wind blew from the east. And when we wanted to leave it was blowing us ferociously off the pontoon, and we were facing the wrong way. A Westerly behind us did some juggling with ropes, turned their boat successfully and then for some reason we didn't understand blew sideways across the fairway and hit a boat on the other side quite hard. We hoped for a lull and when none was forthcoming we also juggled ropes, turned halfway around so our stern was to the wind and then stuck. Fortunately a combination of a slight drop in wind speed and keeping the engine revs up really high (which takes a bit of courage for me) got us safely round, then out of the marina and of course, heading almost into the wind.

Still, it's only 10.5 miles from L'Herbaudière to Pornic, we could make 4.5kt with engine and double-reefed main (it was meant to be a single reef but the lines are labelled incorrectly) and the advantage of heading east was that the closer we got to the coast the calmer the sea was, and entering the marina was quite easy. I still don't really know where the visitors' berths are, but we ended up on a hammerhead which seemed to be no problem and is good for Sam. The temperature when we arrived was in the mid 20s and as the wind eased and the temperature rose to the low 30s I thought I was going to melt.

Pornic is pretty good so far. It looks like a little port and Edwardian resort which has successfully reached the 21st century, with a pleasant and astonishingly busy beach next to the marina and a 15-minute walk into the old centre which I recced this evening. Tomorrow we'll take Sam into town which will be an interesting challenge.

Post now updated with photos - I hope.

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