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August 2012 - Spain and Atlantic France

August 31, 2012

Dear family and friends, Happy Labor Day Weekend! (The end of summer for many and back to school). Our friend Roger came by to pick us up at Port Louis Wednesday afternoon. Al and I thought we were just going for a ride in the country to see inland South Brittany. But to our surprise Roger asked where our overnight bag was as we were leaving Artemis. I quickly threw some things into a bag and then we were off on our very first European overnight in a fellow cruiser's home. Roger drove us over hilly, winding roads reminding us of upstate NY with the small farms and villages. Roger and Angela's village consisted of perhaps 5 houses, a dairy-chicken farm, and several other buildings dating back to the 1600's. Most were made of stone with thatch or in some cases slate roofs. Their home has the Chapeau de Jandarm (hat of policeman) style roof

France | South Brittany | Roger's House s/y Kandy

It's called that because it resembles Napoleon's hat. Their home, the main house on their property once served many purposes. The top floor stored grain/hay, the main level at one end housed the animals and the other is where the family lived. Another structure on their property is an old 8-10 ft diameter community baking oven. The neighbors would bring their dough once a week to rise overnight and then be baked the next day.

Roger seems to be a "Jack of all trades", sailor, rugby player Club level for 30 years, retired English solicitor and now the re modeler of their beautiful home. I can't begin to describe the quaint, comfortable, country home they've created for themselves. I can only say it felt perfect. Just what one might expect to see in South Brittany but we never dreamed the doors would be thrown open and we would be invited in to share it with them. Angela prepared a beautiful and delicious meal of kebop's that Roger grilled on the BQ and several vegetables, cheeses and dessert. It was interesting to have a real conversation in English with someone other than Al. Their friend Tim (81yr. old author/sailor) came for dinner too. So we had a variety of topics to discuss but most came back to sailing and cruising areas.

France | Lorient | Submarine Museum and pens

Yesterday Roger drove us a different way back to Port Louis so we could see more of the countryside and then made a short stop at Lidl's for groceries. In the afternoon Al and I took a ferry across the bay to Lorient and visited the excellent Submarine museum and pens.

Today we left Port Louis and had a fantastic 37nm sail to Port de Sainte Marine on the west side of Odet River and Benodet on the east. Cute little town with some nice restaurants along the waterfront. Probably moving on tomorrow to Ste Evett hopefully another 34nm sail. Have a great weekend. No skype today but maybe tomorrow...Love and God Bless Sally and Al

August 29, 2012

Dear family and friends, Well we haven't progressed very far north but we've had lots of fun cruising. We met an English sailor Roger Harper "Kandy" who has retired in South Brittany with his wife Angela and he has convinced us we cannot move on with out experiencing some of his cruising ground.

France | Bell Ile | Port de Palais | Artemis mooring at high tide

France | Belle Ile | Port de Palais |Looking to city/ Vauban Citadel from Artemis mooring

So Sunday we left Vannes and motor sailed out to Port de Palais on Belle-Ile. It's the site of the massive Vauban Citadel. It's a star shaped fortress built by Vauban in 1761. We moored to a buoy tied to the breakwall looking up at the citadel. Very cool:-) Roger and his guests, came by and invited us to dinner with them. So we climbed the low tide ladder to a path that followed the wall of the citadel around to a bridge crossing to the town. Roger had chosen a restaurant on the port entry facing the citadel. We had fun speaking English, sharing travels, and enjoying a great meal of monkfish kebobs. Roger speaks fluent French and even utilizes the perfect French expressions so we had a humorous evening as he teased our waitress or the occasional customer who was foolish enough to strike up a conversation.

Monday we said good-bye to Roger and friends as they headed home with promises of calling when we arrived in Lorient. Al and I toured the town of Le Palais and then took a bus to visit nearby Sauzon. Cute fiord type harbor but best suited for boats that can take the ground at low tide. We had lunch then went back to Le Palais to visit the citadel. The citadel today is a museum and with spectacular views from the ramparts.

Tuesday we had the best sailing passage in a while. We sailed 22nm to Lorient and then motored 3nm up the River Blavet. Roger had told us of a lovely free anchorage off a tuna boat graveyard. It was idyllic so peaceful and we seemed to be the only people aboard our boat outside the moorings that were there. We even got to use our grill:-) We were a little nervous about the up coming Low tide so we move into the channel further to hold over 3m at low tide.

France | Lorient | Port Louis | Artemis moored alongside

Wednesday we left our quiet little anchorage early and headed down the river before we lost too much depth with the approaching low tide. Unfortunately a small squall came through dropping a bit of rain and gusting winds that made it difficult to moor in Roger's marina so we went a mile further toward the sea to Port Louis. The wind died down and we took the last visitors spot. We called Roger and made plans to be picked up about 4:00 and then we went sight seeing. Port Louis is a small tuna port and resort with a 16th century citadel. The citadel contains several excellent museums including a lifeboat museum and one about the French India Company. Roger did arrive to pick us up at 4:00 but I'll leave that adventure for another log. Love and God bless Sally and Al

France | Ile d'Yeu | Le Vieux Chateau

August 24, 2012

Dear family and friends, Another week has flown by since I last wrote.Saturday morning we moved into the harbor at Port Joinville on Ile d'Yeu. We were happily put into a berth with a finger pontoon. As the day went on they began to raft boats 5 and 6 boats deep.

France | Ile de Yeu | great bike trails around the island

We gave Artemis a much needed bath then took out our bikes to go riding. We went over 20km around the island on coastal roads/paths. Some were paved, most were dirt/sand, and some were rutty ugly messes. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and hot but the NW winds off the sea and the fog helped keep it comfortable. We enjoyed the rugged coastline and were glad we were in port and not at sea or anchorage today. The medieval chateau fortress on the south side of the island was a highlight.

We were glad to take nice hot showers when we got back. Forgot to mention the cold showers that we had in La Rochelle until we found out that before you went down to the showers you put a euro into a machine and your shower number to get hot water:-( Sunday we rode our bikes to church and then went on an inland ride this time. We had a late lunch portside of mussels and fries and a shared lemon tart.

We left early Monday to sail 55nm to the Golfe du Morbihan and motored the entire way. So much for SW winds:-( Entering the golf was a treat. We had 7kts of current pushing us into this inland lake/gulf area. Lots of eddies and races to contend with but only for about 2nm then things settled down. We then spent the next 2 hours trying to find a place to anchor. Every mooring buoy was full and either they were so close there was no room to anchor or the bottom was rocky and hard to set the anchor. Fortunately it was high tide and we could take some shortcuts. Again flukey eddies all about so wouldn't want to lose power. We finally found a quiet spot on the east side of Ile Aux Moines and settled down for a beautiful quiet evening at anchor.

France | Golfe du Morbihan | Vannes

Tuesday morning we decided to motor up to Vannes. We went through a swing bridge and a set of locks and found ourselves in a beautiful medieval walled town. It's an amazing little city with a beautiful cathedral, walled city with spectacular gardens in the moat and lovely architecture. The marina claims they receive one American boat a year. Hmmm our friends Alchemy must have been last years boat:-)

France | Golfe du Morbihan | Vannes | Spectacular gardens around Castle

Wednesday we took out our bikes and did a 4 hour round trip to Arradon another little town on Golfe du Morbihan. Great bike and walking trails along the water, through the estuary and then the woods. We saw a swan an many ibis. We followed a different track back so interesting both ways. After lunch we took another short ride about an hour to Carrefour Supermarche. After dinner the music started to play so we wandered up to the gazebo and discovered a 6 man folk band. It was great fun watching them play and watching the audience do traditional folk dances.

Thursday was our anniversary. Al brought me beautiful flowers and special Breton raisin rolls for breakfast. We packed a picnic and headed off on our bikes again this time through the town of Sene to La Passage where we had planned to take a small boat ride across to Presqu'ile de Rhuys. Unfortunately we arrived 10 min. late for the last morning boat. So we had our picnic and followed around on the water out to Port Anna and then back to Sene and Vannes. Again beautiful bike trails but a few of the hiking trails we got on were not for us so we had to push the bikes for a while. Usually another great trail was not too far away. Unlike yesterday's ride we didn't have a bike trail map as they were all out:-( We had a lovely evening walking about town and then going to a nice restaurant bordering the port for dinner.

Today was a windy, rainy, foggy cooler day. The first we've experienced in a while. The sky is clearing now and the wind has died down. We may go out to anchorage tomorrow or spend another day here. We'll decide in the morning the swells on the sea are 3 meter so we need to let them die down a bit before we head out. Fortunately Vannes is a wonderful place to be. Hope everyone has a nice weekend Love and God Bless Sally and Al

France | La Rochelle | Town Hall in Medieval town

August 17, 2012

Dear family and friends, We had a great time in La Rochelle. It's a neat city. It was fun entering the old Harbor between the Chain Tower and the Tower of St. Nicholas. We then went into Bassin Chalutiers through a lift bridge. We wandered the medieval town on Tuesday and visited the covered market for provisions. We discovered France is 25% more expensive for food than Spain. Same food, same brands, same food chains but more expensive. We walked down to the bigger harbor Minimes. What a zoo over 3500 boats a forest of masts. Glad we chose to go up the canal to the old port. At night we walked along the Old Harbor quay where we enjoyed great street entertainment. Dancers, acrobats, comedians, musicians... Our favorite was two acrobats whose routine involved a large teeter-tauter. They bounced 20 ft or more into the air doing flips, somersaults and landing on thick mats. Fun to watch their routine as they played their audience.

Wednesday we decided to go bike riding only to discover Al's had a flat tire. It was Feast day of Assumption, nothing was open so Al put on a patch and away we went. Great bike paths through town up to some neat parks and then out along the beaches to the Commercial port. Lots of fancy houses.

Thursday we decided to ride our bikes to Lidl's. Yes our favorite supermarket chain from Germany. Great bike trails about 4 km to get there only 2 on the way back because we knew where we were:-) Unfortunately Al's tire blew about a mile from the boat so we had to walk the bikes. He was able to buy a new tube at the American discount of 6.20E:-( We decided to leave La Rochelle with the evening tide rather than having to get up in the dark and leave a 6AM on Friday. We went about 3nm to the same anchorage off Ile de Re we stopped at after our Bay of Biscay crossing.

France | Atlantic coast | nice sail to Golfe du Morbihan

This morning we left at 7Am and had a great downwind 54nm sail to Ile d'Yeu. We even flew our mizzen stay sail:-) Surprisinly hot today sailing. We expected cooler air on the seas. We are anchored outside of Port Joinville and hoping to move inside the harbor in the morning. A bit rolly two nights in a row so looking forward to a harbor. Happy weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Atlantic France | La Rochelle | Vieux Port entrance

August 13, 2012

Dear family and friends, We arrived safely in La Rochelle last night. We had 20 hours great sailing 6.5 - 8.5kts with a port tack and a reach. Sunshine wow we thought this is going to be a great trip. Unfortunately the winds predicted didn't continue. The wind switched to a sloppy broad reach right about bed time. Not the best sleeping conditions but no where near as bad as our 2006 crossing. We sailed through a "POD" of Fishing vessels about 7PM, Really... crossing this big body of water we saw one other sailboat, a few tankers/cargo ships and then all of a sudden we have about ten big fishing boats in one spot! They must have located the tuna:-) They stayed in that same area all night. At the end of my watch 4AM big pod of dolphins arrived to play around the boat. Al said they stayed over 2 hours. We arrived about 10:15 and dropped anchor just after dark off the end of Ile de Re. Good holding and quiet waters...just what we needed after 40 hours under way.

This morning we motored the 3nm from Ile de Re up the channel to La Rochelle. There are several marinas here but we are all the way up to the town of La Rochelle in the Vieux Port, Chalutiers basin. We had to wait until 1:00 for them to open the lift bridge so we could go in. We are right downtown. We like the price too. If you stay 2 nights the 3rd night is free. So that comes to about 28 Euro a night including electricity/water. Strong 30-35kt winds in forecast (usually means much more than that) for Wed. with seas to match so we'll be glad to be in a harbor sight seeing:-) Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Spain | Cudillero | Artemis in the fishing harbor

August 10, 2012

Hi everyone, We enjoyed our stay in Cudillero Fishing harbor staying two days. We had lunch up the hill in the cute little town. Sunday we sailed to Gijon beating our way until we rounded the cape and sailed the last 5nm down to the harbor. Another nice city. We were moored way back in the basin right off the pedestrian walk so we felt a little like fish in a goldfish bowl at times. The marina had nice bicycles for rent (3E a day)We rode to the old harbor and looked for propane. No luck but we did find a Lidl's supermarket.

Spain | Gijon | Arts/Labor University |

After lunch we rode another 15km out to the "biggest building in Spain" arts/labor university. Nice ride along the beach part of the way. The university reminded us of the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria not the coloring but the formation. A huge square building with a large courtyard containing a church and surrounded by 4 levels all opening to covered balcony walkway's. Beautiful fountains and gardens across the back of the building. We met a nurse riding her bike home from work and she took us to a big Carrefour supermarket for groceries. We did some laundry and met some French cruisers who told us about another free fishing harbor in Lastres about 22nm away.

Spain | Lastres | tied alongside fishing trawler in fishing harbor

So on Tuesday after filling up the fuel tank we sailed to Lastres. Beautiful day but sailing on the nose again. Finally after 3 hours and only making 9nm to the good we turned the engine to help us along. We arrived to a full harbor and one boat anchored just outside rolling like crazy. We asked to tie up to a fishing boat. They were very helpful but we had to get up at 3AM so they could leave to go fishing. Al ran a bow line to the breakwall as when the tide drops it's over 35' to the top and we didn't want to be dealing with that at 3AM. A Spanish boat tied off to us after dark so we had two more crew to help when the fishing boat left. Fortunately there was a wall ladder that we could tie to so when the tide changed we could still get back on the boat.

Spain | Lastre | look out over the town

Wednesday we hiked around town and up to a church and lookout point. We had dinner out at a restaurant in the harbor. We met two Spanish couples who spoke English and they introduced us to "Cider" There was quite a production on how they poured it with the bottle held high and the cup tilted. You were then suppose to drink it down quickly to enjoy the flavors to their fullest??? We had pulpo (not as good as in Galatia) and excellent sea bream.

Yesterday we changed oil and transmission fluid on the main engine. Then Al watered the batteries. We helped an English couple who were at anchor with engine problems. Long time sailors but first time large engine driven boaters so everything was new to them. But Christian read his manuals, looked at our engine, got some advice from Al and fixed it himself. He was quite proud when he motored into the dock later that day. We had a short visit and they headed out with the tide as they had family waiting down the coast for them.

Today we prepared the boat for our 225nm Bay of Biscay crossing to La Rochelle, France. We have loved beautiful Spain and the Spanish people have been so kind and helpful but we need to keep heading north... "as the crow flies" we have 520nm to reach London. We deflated the dingy and put the engine away. We also put the windvane paddle back on for the first time in 6 years. We didn't need it in the Mediterranean but hope to be able to use it tomorrow. We've had a lot of east/NE winds but tomorrow we're expecting westerlies for a couple of days so we will head out at daybreak. We hope to arrive before dark at La Rochelle. The channel is less than a meter chart datum but with neap low tides we have another 2.5-2.7m so we're expecting we can enter the harbor right away. Otherwise we know of an anchorage near by for the night. Back to France and we expect lousy, expensive internet again but we'll try to get set up right away on Monday. Hope everyone has a great weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Spain | Ribadeo | |Cathedral Beach tide out arches

August 3, 2012

Hi everyone, We anchored Sunday and Monday off the old fishing quay of Cedeira, Spain. Gorgeous setting. We kept thinking it was like being anchored in Canada on Lake Superior. The anchorage was like a little lake with beautiful beaches and trees on two sides. We wandered around the town that was divided by a small river, Rio Condominas and connected by several bridges. We had a nice hiking trail out of town through the woods to the lighthouse and castle.

Spain | Ribadeo | Pazo de Ibanez- old residence Marquis of Sargadelos - Town Hall

Tuesday we sailed about 20 of our 40 mile trip to Ribadeo. We anchored before the bridge on Rio Eo that separates the provinces of Galacia and Asturias, Spain. Great spot until about 2AM we began to roll making for a sleepless couple of hours until the SW winds picked up and we could turn to the wind. We woke to light chop and 20-25 kts of wind in our anchorage so we went into the harbor before coffee. Great little town. Quite a climb up a hill to reach it but worth the effort. We had pulpo and calimari for lunch.

Spain | Ribadeo | Cathedral Beach - Praia dos Catedral | Caves/arches low tide

Yesterday Aug. 2 we took out our bikes for the first time since Barcelona and rode 32 km to Praia dos Catedral. There was a lovely tarred road that followed the coast to the lighthouse, several beaches the town of Rinlo and finally Praia dos Catedral (Cathedral Beach). The cool seabreeze made it a comfortable ride each way despite the afternoon sun. At low tide Cathedral Beach is stunning. We expected to see some caves and a couple of arches but never expected this spectacular sight. People wandered among the tide pools, caves, huge rocks, arches that covered over a mile of beach. The rollers crashed on the now huge beach reminding us that in a few hours this would all be covered by the sea again. We saw an octopus and an eel in a tidal pool. We ate our picnic lunch before biking back to Ribadeo.

Spain | Cudillero | Artemis on fore and aft moorings

Spain | Cudillero | entrance at low tide Artemis is to the left

Today Aug 3 we motor sailed for a while and then just rockn' rolled 40nm to Cudillero, Spain. This was the scariest harbor entrance we've ever encountered. The approach has several rocky reefs that the 2-3 meter rising tide swell was crashing over. Then the breakwater had spray flying 20 ft into the air and Al had to make two right angle turns in very shallow water. It was 2 hrs after low tide giving us an additional half meter of depth so the depth sounder set for 3 meters only went off twice:-) Once inside we had to pick up fore and aft mooring buoys. Fortunately it was dead calm once inside the harbor. Enough excitement for the day. Time for a little nap:-) Happy weekend to all. Love and God Bless Sally and Al


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