La Rochelle

Yesterday was a long day.  Although we were alongside at 8.30  in the evening there was still the reporting in to the Harbour Master, tidying up the sails and ropes, trying to find, unsuccessfully,  a power point that worked on the pontoon, getting a shower and cooking dinner before we could sit down and relax!

And so this morning Valeria was less than amused with my plans for some more sailing today, apparently I was like an excited puppy dog. Instead, after moving the boat closer to a power point that worked we set off for a day in La Rochelle. The water taxi left from the far end of the Marina and dropped us off right in the Old Town.Vi eux Port entranceWe wandered around the ‘Chain District’, named after the Chain Tower on the left in the photo. The Chain Tower was where the Harbour Master would raise the chain to prevent the damned English getting in, or the damned Catholics. They managed that after a seize in 1627/28 which was the cause of the Protestant Hugenots seeking religious freedom in the New World.

La Rochelle also has one of the oldest, and most ornate lighthouses anywhere and was the centre of French trade with the New World, Canada in this case.



Our wander round took us to the cathedral of St-Louis and then back to the Cours de Dames on the quayside for Moules Rockfort and a couple of beers for late lunch before returning in the Water Taxi, passing Windependent on the Visitor mooring. The bus driver could have dropped us off!  I was taking her photo but Valeria overheard a couple of complimentary comments about the choice of name – all Valeria’s idea of course!

Windependent in PT de Minimes

And so a relaxing end to a relaxing day, but tomorrow we’re sailing, please ?

Finally on our way …… south.

20150626_134524_resizedGood bye to Sables d’Olonne.

After some more ‘parking practice’ we set off from Lês Sables at just before 2 pm. The weather was beautifully sunny but with little wind so we motored for the first 3 hours. Unfortunately we had to keep a speed of at least 5 knots to get to La Rochelle before dark. Finally the wind picked up and I got the sails up as we made our way south passed the Ile de Re with the wind right behind us, which we can’t do so had to gybe 2 or 3 times to make the right span of the bridge which joins Ile de Re to the rest of France.   We arrived in La Rochelle at 8.30 and I even managed enough French to get ourselves booked in with the Capitanerie.

All in all an uneventful first day out.  Uneventful but busy keeping an eye on everything and sailing a cat is unlike any monohull I’ve sailed. The main sheet is more of a Vang and the Traveller does most of the work of the main sheet.  I was so busy I completely forgot to take any photos or even turn on the GoPro I had set up before leaving Sables.  We really need an official photograher ……. 

Getting used to having Otto around and am still impressed with how easy Windependent is to handle. The electronics make the sailing ‘tactics’, navigation and passage planning a doddle. Having said that I still felt the need to check the echo sounder using a good old fashioned hand lead line!

We now have 2 day in Port de Minims Marina before moving into Basin de Chautiers for the rest of the fitting out.

Practice, practice, practice.

Spent the the 24th waiting for a toilet roll holder, yes, a toilet roll holder, and practicing ‘parking’. This a real team effort with Valeria running around the deck with ropes and fenders while I try not to crash into the pontoons before she’s secured a line.

Manoeuvering a catamaran, with the rudder ahead of the propellor is like nothing I’ve ever driven before, and I have knocked about in a variety of power boats.

So today, Thursday I think, we had one of the Lagoon Staff give me some one to one tuition on Close Quarters Boat Handling.  The only daft question is the one you don’t ask!

That was a lunch time. After lunch we went out for a sail, well the wind was so light it was more like ‘drifting with style’.  She is very easy to handle with everything in reach of the helm. The auto pilot is a novelty but with the sails up, Otto on the helm and Valeria supervising him I had time to check the Water Maker …… And, yes, turning on the taps worked. Ran for an hour and made 1/4 tank of water. Even tastes like water!!!!

Tomorrow will be our shake down cruise, Lês Sable to La Rochelle.

Sables d'OlonneSables d’OlonnePort OlonaThe Marina in Port Olona



The Case of the Missing Water Maker

Spent this morning waiting around for snagging to be done, went shopping for supplies, and then took the boat out for a test drive. Basically need to get to know the systems and teach Valeria how to steer, so as we motored up and down the coast just outside Sables with Valeria at the helm I ran up the generator and tried to get the Water Maker to work but it was having none of it; a job for later.

Back alongside for dinner and  some passage planning. Can’t get into St Giles Croix de Vie at a reasonoble time due to the tide so will try Port Joinville on Ile de Yeu.  Don’t answer their phone though.


“The Captain” says thanks for the wine and the hat guys and girls at TDJ.



I didn’t get to keep the hat though, only one Captain here !!!!

Spent the last couple of hours of the day searching for the Water Maker; it is not where the User Manual put it, or any of the valves and filters. Finally found it in one of the engine spaces, and sure enough the sea water inlet was shut.  The little tap in the bottom left ……

photo 1

Will give it a go tomorrow, bet you can’t wait.

Took delivery in Sables d’Olonne

Friday 16th June 2015 we took delivery of our new home, the Sailing Vessel WINDEPENDENT in Sables d’Olonne, France.

DSC_0411Windependent alongside the delivery berth.


Having seen a Youtube clip of someone beating a champagne bottle on their anchor, I opted for the ‘wetting the baby’s head’ method!


Valeria and Ermida toasting Windependent, ‘God bless all who sail in her’.



Sailing south ….

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