July 19th & July 20th 2019
Friday morning we terminate our works and wave Lady Rover good bye before doing the same with Anna & Michelle. Hope to see you all soon again.
The pain of the vacation coming to an end is eased by the visit of the famous cathedrals of Chartres and Reims. Both impressive in their unique way. While Chartres is more akin to an impressive manmade mountain range of stone Reims is much lighter and lives from the lightness of its Gothic style.
The wonderful glass windows are well worth a visit in both cases and lisening to the very big organ in Chartres is leaving a lasting impression upon us.
July 18th 2019
The next day we are diligently working down our decomissioning checklist.
Cleaning, draining tanks, storing away gear, packing stuff and sending the engines to sleep by fogging the piston chambers, draining carburators and rinsing with freshwater.
A very tasty pizza at the end of the day in St.-Etienne-de-Montluc settles the day.
Saint Marc to Cordemais
July 17th 2019
As we want to use the tide to help us going up the river we have time to spent a relaxed morning for a dinghy trip to the infamous "Plage du M. Hulot" well known as scenery for the french movie "Les vacances de M. Hulot".
Funny to see this life, but even from the dinghy one can see that commerce has taken over to a large extent. Still the Hotel is on its original location and recognizable.
It's hard to believe but all that is left is yet again taking Lady Rover back up the river. With wind from behind we unfurl the genoa and find ourselves 3.5 hours later at anchor half a mile from Cordemais.
While prepping the boat to be taken out of the water we await the turn of the tide. No need to battle tide and wind with only one motor going into reverse gear. A proper service for both engines is really asked for.
Despite the short slipping of the anchor (big current and a short anchorrode are not a good idea, even when anchoring for only 2.5 hours) we enter Cordemais harbour with a bit of excitement as a big yacht is turning right across the channel and the reverse gear of the engine reduces our manouverability. Thankfully they are out of our way just in time and Bernard and Guillaume take our lines on the dock.
About an hour later Lady Rover is high and dry again and the stub of the centerboard is cut off. Feels good to be back without further mishap.
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to St. Marc
July 16 2019
If you get up very early you get to use a windshift along this coast which sweeps you back towards where you started your trip. Very nice. So it's around 3:30hours in the morning when we set sails and quietly slip out of the anchorage under sail. It's actually Eugens first night sail.
With the help of Eugens watchfull eyes and the autopilot I get a chance to grab some more sleep between 4 and 7 a.m. Thats something I could get used to ;-)
Unfortunately the winds are only very gentle and we arrive around 11 a.m at Noirmoutier but decide to press on towards St. Marc at the mouth of the river Loire.
In the late afternoon we catch a buoy at the plage du petit Gavy. Very pitoresque with a shoreline lined by fabulous villas and impressive tretopped cliffs.
We head to the beaches for dinner, but unfortunately the chef of the "La Mouette" has closed the kitchen for the day already. So its Couscous on the boat instead.
Franziska bruises her toe badly when getting back into the dinghy over the rocks, but luckily nothing is broken.
Île de Ré & Les Sables d'Olonnes
July 13/14/15 2019
After breakfast I'll take a swim and the Laser Radial rig gets to have some fun. It's bright sunshine and we have a gentle breeze of 2-3Bft. Perfect for a few hours of dinghy sailing.
Eugen relaxes on board meanwhile and occasionally I get a few tunes of music when sailing past. From soul to Iron Maiden to hard rock :-)
Later on we buy some food nearby before hitch hiking to St. Martin du Ré, the islands capital.
The whole city is still surrounded by star shaped fortifications conceived by famous Citadel architect Vauban.
Although there are a lot of tourists, it's very pretty and pittoresque. Well worth a visit.
We enjoy delicious ice-cream and sample even "Oyster" - ice-cream, which tastes a lot better than it sounds.
Another friendly lady gives us a ride back to the dinghy.
Meanwhile we learn about the transition which the population goes through. Same old story as in many former fishing villages.
The young people leave because there is not much work and sell their houses to rich outsiders.
Wonder why locals can not get a reduced tax Tarif for inherited property. That would make it easier for some to stay.
Dinner is an onboard highlight, grilled sausages, including the famous Merguez.
The next morning we rise before daylight, as the wind is going up the coastline in the first hours, which saves us a beat up to Les Sables for the 14July celebrations.
Works a treat, and we do once more 8.5kn with the dinghy in tow. Horray, but with a bad twist, in Les Sables we notice that the center board is broken sideways. It's a pivoting design and we did not hit anything and very likely the loads were just to high. The next version will get carbon struts inside.
It's a tough job to get the board back into the trunk, cutting of the remains is impossible afloat.
We'll take it out in Cordemais.
The afternoon I recover from the strenuous battle under water before we see some 8m trimarans racing in the bay.
Wicked fast they are!
Thousands of people on shore let us decide to stay onboard during the day. Reading, listening to the music and just chilling in the sun.
More and more boats anchor around us and at nightfall they look like a herd of fireflies with their anchor lights up.
An exorbitant fireworks display terminates the day. Standing on the roof of Lady Rover gives us a prime spot to enjoy it with Aperol Spritz on ice.
Monday morning we sail back to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Its a relaxed sail with wind from the aft quarter. Once more we provision in town and have a stroll through town. Touristy, but not unsympathic.
Les Sables d'Olonnes & Île de Ré
Hey, we are still alive and kick'n :-) I'm sitting on on deck in bright sunshine with a gentle breeze and Sade Adu (anyone else remember her?) as background music.
So what happened since we got our bracket back?
We spent a good day refitting everything. Despite the great job which "Version Inox" had done on the bracket it was tricky to get it back on as the option to dry out was not available any more, the wind shifted and turned the beach we wanted to use into a nice surfspot. The bolts went perfectly into the old holes, but we still needed force to get it back up. Eugen improved the motor sled as well and we managed to get the heavy engine back into location with a number of tackles.
Early evening got us past the most exciting moment when it started up with some starter spray.
Thursday afternoon we had a nice relaxed sail down to the town of Les Sables d'Olonnes which is world famous for beeing the start and finish of the famous single handed non-stop round the world yacht race "Vendée Globe".
In Les Sables we used our need for an oil change and reattaching 2 safety bolts to dry out on the north west end of the beach, next to the harbour wall. All 4 officials which showed up consecutivly were OK with this eventually. Good thing we where on hard ground, nothing else they could really do about it :-)
The usual stream of onlookers passed and many people where surprised to hear that we beached on purpose.
A long stroll along the wide promenade and a delicious fish soup on board later we where afloat and dropped the hook in the bay. At night it looks very pretty with all the streetlights. Yesterday morning it was dull and grey with showers before it cleared up.
The wind from north west made for a great sail towards the Ile de Ré.
8.2kn with trailing the dinghy was really nice and the big waves gave us a bit of ocean sailing experience.
Guess without the dinghy we would have made about 10-11kn. For a 36ft cruisers I'm really happy with that.
Today we'll stay here and conquer the island before using a windshift to take us back to Les Sables for 14th July, the French national day.
More soon, hugs, Eugen & Franzi
July 8/9 2019
Yesterday (Monday) morning we paid a last visit to Port Joinville before sailing across to Port Croix de vie for a less bumpy anchorage in offshore winds.
The sail over was wonderful. Sunshine 15kn of wind and no waves. All calm and relaxed under autopilot. Eugen steered the final approaches by hand before we dropped the hook under sail. It's gusting to 25kn but the sand bottom hold very well.
When we where about to leave for Ile de Ré on Tuesday morning we did find ourselves suddenly in a major mishap. When putting the starboard engine in gear, a big bang occurred and we find that engine and carriage have parted from the boat and was just held on by the spray skirt. Turned out the bolts attaching it where only screwed into the engine carriage and not properly welded as designed. Surprisingly that lasted without issue since 2015....
We can consider ourselves very happy that did not happen at night in 3m waves far off-shore. As a plus the anchor had not broken out of the seabed. Few phonecalls later Fran sourced a welder and as we had dismounted everything she transported the bracket to Port. Fingers crossed all will be back tonight.
The plan is to sail her onto the sand beach and fix everything there while the tide is out. Refloating to follow.
Île de Yeu
July 7 2019
Another sunny day in paradise starts, this time with a morning swim about 20 degrees centigrade really get you awake.
After a brief breakfast we head, as usual around noon, to town to explore the island.
But, boy it's hot. As we find ourselves in a street where I feel like in the movie high noon with John Wayne instead of Eugen, we have a drink instead before giving it another go :-)
The Citadel is not that exciting and no comparison to what we got to see on the Belle Île last year. At least we hear from a French lady that île de Ré is more exciting. Still we like Yeu as well.
Before heading back onboard we have hearty Galettes filled with cheese (Tartiflette and a la Sicilienne).
Today's afternoon is relaxed, reading and enjoying good music.
Île de Yeu
July 6 2019
In the morning we head to "Comptoir de la mer" to get another deck plug, some lures and a new anchor shackle.
Of course we stop also at a grocery store and enjoy some Croissants avec Café au lait.
As we have a gentle onshore brise it's time to check if the dinghies helm balance has improved with the new rudder blade.
Yes, it has and I spend a few happy hours dinghy sailing. Turns out she does not like to be oversheeted or being to much heeled over. Once you learn that it's fun.
Meanwhile Eugen relaxes onboard and tries to get more power out of our stereo speakers.
Back on board the anchor rode gets a new splice before we have a bowl of home made Greek salad before spending two hours on shore, listening to the great brass bands of the sea&air festival.
As a kind of second dinner serving we get some fried sardines which get nicely washed down with a beer. Another great day terminates and even the line in the outboard prop on the way home does not stop us from being grateful for the nice times we can enjoy.
Île de Yeu
July 4/5 2019
Friday morning was good for some excitement, there was a very big thundercell heading our way. It showed up on the Weather Online screen but not in the weather report and took about two hours to blacken the sky.
We were a bit in a conundrum as what to do, as the main anchor and chain had caught very well on the rocky bottom. Leaving the anchor on a fender was one option, but we where not sure if it were not to hit us on the other side of the island equally and if we would make it on time.
So decision was taken to stay. 15m of chain, an anchor firmly in the rocks, a second anchor ready and an engine ready to start (the other one was up and out of the water to reduce risk of damage by lighting) looked reasonable.
Further we hung our lighting wires to mast foot and stays and stored all electronics in an aluminum box.
So far so good, the thundercell has dispersed to a fair amount. Its always more excitement than needed to see one approaching. Later we may head into town, but before we aim to take care of our stuck anchor. Luckily the tide is at a low around 12 which makes the anchor reachable. We strike lucky and running over it another time frees it without the need to go snorkeling.
So we move to the anchorage next to Port Joinville, which puts the island between us and the black clouds.
Following the change of scenery and the still black sky in the south Fran revs up the oven and bakes some bread. As usual we eat half of the loaf while it's hot. Just add salted butter. It's a simple, yet delicious treat.
Meanwhile Eugen fixes the autopilot, turns out its just a broken deck plug. A few hours later we head into town by dinghy. Eugen grows more and more sea legs, seasickness is gone and he's driving & running the dinghy. In town we fill 10 of our 5l water jugs and refuel for main engines, dinghy outboard and genset.
Nice to find a free water tap at the fuel dock :-)
As the dinghy is loaded up we leave her at the town key to enjoy an Aperol Spritzz and a lovely pizza from a take away. We eat it on the dock with our feet dangling over the water. Tastes great and is half the price of a restaurant.
Happy evening and smiles on our faces when returning to our trusty Lady Rover.
Île de Noirmoutier
July 3/4 2019
Wednesday we passed relaxed on anchor, took the dinghy to shore for a small hike, and abandoned an attempt to go dinghy sailing, due to the high winds blowing offshore. Eugen does, not yet, feel comfortable enough to catch a drifting dinghy with the big boat in case of an emergency.
The new netting between the transoms turns out to be an awesome lounging area in combination with the beanbags.
Thursday we hoisted our sails and finally headed over to the "Ile de Yeu" very nice sailing 6-7kn and even some nice (final, don't ask !!!) drone images resulted. I can only recommend a floating drone in the future. No need to be sorry about it, I was aware of the risks. Landing on a moving boat is not trivial.
At "Ile de Yeu" we anchored on the south side of the eastern tip, between the lighthouse and the "Anse des Vieilles". While "Anse de Vieilles" has sandy bottom it was busy with other boats and we preferred a more private surrounding.
In the evening Eugen prepared some lovely pasta and Fran baked a tasty bread as salty desert. Red wine as sundowner.
Pornichet to île de Noirmoutier
July 2 2019
The plan was to sail to the "Ile de Yeu" on Tuesday after Eugen had setteled in and we did our provisioning on Monday.
Well, we aimed for it, but the winds were quite calm during the day so that we did choose the peninsula Ile de Noirmoutier instead.
Good choice as we were well protected from waves despite the strong winds (25-30kn) during the night.
Excitement of the day? Well, we did steer all the way, because the Autopilot was faulty. Ohh, and yes there was another one ;-) we caught our first fish, an about 40cm long Makrel. We trolled a line with a 10cm long plastic fish at the end. All set up on a paravane slightly below the surface. Speed was 3-4kn.
Of course we reeled her in just when preparing to anchor. It helped to still have the adrenaline of having made the first catch in the blood when chopping its head off. Unsurprisingly this bloody business made Franziska ponder a lot about killing an animal. So far the dirty business had been carried out by others when buying meat, fish or poultry in a supermarket.
We called Eugens godson Stephan in Sweden to hear how to properly slice it up and fried the resulting filets with some butter and flour in a saucepan. Hardly any fishbones and surely the freshest fish ever eaten by us two fishing greenhorns.
July 1 2019
Goood moooorning everybody. :-)
Eugen is here since Sunday night when Michelle was so kind to drop him at the beach of Pornichet.
This time the only challenge was to find each other, getting to the boat was simple with the engine.
Yesterday we got all the provisions for the coming days, this time trolley and backpack where on a par. Well see over time what is easier. Eugen favours the trolley, personally I'm more the backpack fan.
After we dropped all our stuff in the dinghy hold, (it's huge!) we treated ourselves to a long ride on the local choochoo train along the waterfront and some wonderful ice-cream amongst all those wonderfully trim and trained looking youngsters on the beach.
On the way back we even managed to find some copper grease, despite the incompetent personnel in the local Uship store. Hope the rigging screws and outboard bracket will treat it as if it's Nutella to them, at least it looks the part :-)
Today well use the good offshore blowing winds to sail to the île de Yeu.
Juni 29/30 2019
First day at anchor, it's been a busy one, but now with Eugen's arrival I hope to settle fully into vacation mode.
Yesterday was nice though too.
I started with a visit to the very well done 'Terre d' estuaire' exhibition in Cordemais harbour.
You learn everything about the nature of the estuary (They have a lot of storks here), get to fly in a simulated hot air balloon (Jules Verne was born in nearby Nantes) and learn about the history from Roman times over the Vikings up to Captain de Bougainvillea first circumnavigation, which started here on the Loire and took him 29months to complete.
A little later Michelle and family showed up and after a last issue with the starboard engine (I had to hand crank it with the prop a few times) we headed down the river.
Michelles niece Mariline did a great job at the helm.
Unfortunately the weather turned dull and grey and the rivers mouth turned out to be rather choppy. No-one got seasick though. Well done mes Bretons !
I learned also, that the new dinghy storage will not be the final solution. Guess I need to come up with something else. The dinghy slams to much, so we ended up releasing and towing it as usual.
On approach to our anchorage we did set full sails just for the fun of it.
At the beach we had already, Danielle, Lisette, Anna & Olivier waiting but an uncooperative dinghy outboard saw us rowing umpteen times to shore to get e eryo e on board for "La grande bouffe".
Still it was a lovely evening and I think everyone got some nice memories.
Tonie's eel was delicious!
Sunday saw me using a lot of perseverence, WD40, heat from the heat gun and elbow grease to loosen up the dinghy corroded brackets bolts.
It worked and I can use the engine again to pick up Eugen tonight short from midnight.
Looking forward to a wonderful breakfast with him tomorrow morning.
June 28 2019
Wow, looks like everything is reasonably ready for the departure tomorrow.
I even put the tiger in the tank 50L for 83€ wow, looks like I need to rob a bank soon. Just kiddn'
Michelle (of le café Croix Morzel) ma envoyé Tony "Le pêcheur" who was kind enough to lend a big helping hand to adjust the engines. Principally I can do it, but he has much more expertise in doing so. Mercy beaucoup Tony!
This year it was a lot more stuff to be done and we only have two and a half weeks for sailing. But, if we look at it in the long term that's absolutely OK.
Now I am really looking forward to a nice relaxed summer cruise. Tomorrow we'll head down the river with Michelle and her family and in the evening it's "la grande bouffe" either on the beach or on shore. We'll see. Weather should be fine and Monday I'll head down South with Eugen at last. Be good, until soon!
Juni 27 2019
Time for an update, isn't it?!
As planned I finished the bathroom bilge on tuesday night,honestly it was the approaching heatwave which pressed me into work.
Inside it gets unbearablly hot too if it's over 40degree outside.
Despite a visit to Nantes for some more Sikaflex I got distracted only once: Fire. FIRE!
A guy few boats away was fully concentrated on welding and fixing up his steel yacht and did not quite realize that the grass behind him had already been set wildly ablaze.
Luckily it only took some well organized yachties and not a professional fire engine to stop it.
Few m2 of charred grass was the only result, not even worth taking a picture off. Wednesday I did a thorough cleanup and installed the pumps again. As predicted the heat arrived and I was glad that most work had been done. Thursday, at last (!) Bernard and tge helpful hands of his crew Marine & Guillaume got us afloat at last. Big horray for that. It's always exciting to travel on land with Lady Rover. Once more we got hit by sweltering heat. 41.1 degrees centigrade outside! Boy that's hot hot hot! Bei gutem Wetter wollte ich es nur nachziehen. Many (alcohol free!!!) beers later it starts to cool down a little and I sit casually in the forward tramp while writing these lines. When I filled up the tanks, I took a shower, at first the water from the dock was far to hot to be used :-) All things well in Cordemais, that leaves me to adjust the engine levers tomorrow (bothare starting!) and find out why the starboard engines fuel supply line stays dry. Oh well, there is always something to do, no?
Juni 25 2019
As Bob Marley sings "... Sun is shin'in, the weather is sweet...", but Sunday it was so hot that I already had to retire to a siesta mid-day and that's rare for myself, I love high temperatures and sunshine.
Thursday will be fun, forecast promises 39 degrees centigrade around midday when we will launch her back into water.
The bilge repair has progressed well, I replaced part of the bulkhead and sistered it with some wooden stringers.
Today it's time to sand everything before laminating with glass. I've learned my lesson, any areas in the bilge which are occasionally waterexposed will get fiberglassed.
Won't paint there though as I want to see if anything is wrong with the wood underneath. Guess tomorrow morning I can reattach the pumps and relax. As a side project I stripped the old oars of paint and rejuvenated them. Looking good!
It's been pretty busy days, but that's the way it is if you start with a "project" boat. Lady Rover has already improved heaps since I bought her. More soon, I'm really looking forward to get back into the water!
Juni 23 2019
So, here we go. Just when you think one of the last tasks to do before cosmetic things like getting around to repaint the forward beam, you find yourself suddenly cutting and grinding away in the middle of the night.
As last task for the day I wanted to reconnect the pumps, which had been drained and disconnected for winter storage to prevent damage from icing conditions. While reconnecing I push card on the plywood in the pump compartment and it gives way for about 10mm. When installing the pumps there initially, I had coated everything with epoxy, unfortunately I did not laminate that small compartment which is. often wet. Pumps usually leak a bit... Still, my old "friend" from Finland did apparently use only interior grade plywood for the bilges, and that 12mm panel had turned into a mushy substance. Good thing is though, the hull sides are OK and so is the keel itself. Last night I scraped out the mess and cut of the rotten part of the bathroom bulkhead before putting a dryer on it. So now I find myself with a lovely sunday project :-)
Still, in good spirits, the launching is Thursday and I think I should have fixed this in 1-2 days.
June 22 2019
It's been some more busy days, as you might guess from having to wait so long for an update.
I'm uploading via WiFi and there is no WiFi at the boat right now.
Anyway progress has been made and I moved from repairs to improvements, which feels really good.
The shrouds received turnbuckles which at last gives and easy means to tighten the rigging. The lashings used before are nice but hard to tighten up. Took two days in sometimes sweltering heat to splice in the new ends, but it's done, and I am sooo happy about it.
Then I struck lucky and got a slightly expired KiwiGrip deck paint tin for 40€ instead of 190€. So cool, now the cockpit has much more safety:
-The new dinghy storage net behind it
That makes accidental falling over board hopefully less likely :-)
Btw. my neighbour (he's a professional painter by trade!) recommended a super product to me "La Saint Marc" it makes it very easy to prepare old deck paint for repainting. Simply wet the deck, sprinkle the glass like crystals on deck and rub the deck hard. Wash and let dry. The deck is thoroughly abraded with this in no time. Awesome stuff. Thank you Didier!
Apart from that are all bilges now epoxy coated, so that leaking tanks should not cause issues.
I also repainted the welding seams on the arch. Something I had always put aside and at last its done. A real eyesore is gone with this. Might even get to repaint the front beam early next week. Then we look really shipshape :-) when hitting the water.
Btw, oars are repainted too and the new Dinghy rudderblade is well on its way too.
Amazing what a bit of focus and work can achieve in a few days. In the evenings I'm exhausted but also happy about the progress.
She's a big boat for one person to renovate and improve, but step by step it will get done.
June 15 2019
First jobs done.
1) Repaired rot and epoxy painted all bilges.
2) Added dinghy net for offshore storage of our dinghy.
3) Reinforced transom corners, which is the area I damaged few times in the past.
Now on to replace the gas regulator, it was leaking and reminded me once more that the gas detector is imparative. Maybe we will eventually get rid of gas for cooking. It's just not nice to have that potential source for explosions on board. Alcohol works well too and evaporates instead of slowly filling the bilges. Then I need to go up the mast & detangle the main halyard. On the social side of life it's so nice to meet Michelle, Anna et Olivier again. Michelle really has a heart of gold.
June 12 2019
1500km later, this time completely in daylight and with a sympathic passenger between Mainz and Paris I'm back in Cordemais.
Feels really really good to be back on board. The boat is dirty as hell, but a quick look indicates that the big repair under the starboard center tank will not be necessary.
With those good news I can sleep well!
Early June 2019
Lots and lots of gear to go in the car.
Still I need to leave space for a passenger, 1500km alone are too boring.
With the help of Eugen we manage to get everything into the Ford Ka, looks like it just expands when needed :-)
I expect a big repair again, the starboard watertank was leaking time and time again and created some rot as it looked like when we left Lady Rover last summer.