Another week and we are still in La Rochelle. For a few reasons, we still haven’t been able to make that leap to our first destination. Our initial plan was probably to be here about 2 weeks, but we did know that with sailing, it doesn’t always quite go to plan, so it was always going to be best to stay flexible. It has however been quite pleasant and productive despite the stagnation. We have used this time to keep stocking the boat and continue to build our sailing skills and systems
We have had 2 full day lessons with Alain Girard and those have proved to be invaluable. Alain has shared his systems and sailing procedures with us and we have learnt a lot about Scout and how to sail and manoevere her, both at sea and while docking. Alain has helped and advised with our rigging and given suggestions to make her safer and easier to manage. Advice on fender management and position, marks on halyards and sheets for the raising of the main sail and reefs, were all things that we had not considered and appreciate now how it will benefit us. To finish up with Alain this week, we will also be covering man over board drills and advice on passage planning. Thanks Alain and thank you also for the terrific photos and video you took of Scout during our course.
This training though hasn’t been without a few hiccups. We have had our first ding into the dock and a finger jam by myself into a winch. Double ouch! The bump into the dock was while Mike was having his first attempt to line Scout, all 8.5 metres width of her, up on the starboard side of a dock from where she is helmed on the port side. Lack of communication and direction from crew and instructor and a tricky manoever led to our inevitable first ding directly in the bow of the starboard hull. As James said- it was like parallel parking an apartment with three steering wheels. Heartbreaking at the time, we soon accepted it and the repair was ordered. The finger jam- well that hurt a lot too and left a gash of about 2cm on my little finger and is still causing me grief but I know which one we would rather have not had happen.
I won’t share the photo of my little finger, far too grisly!
We had a few purchases also this week that we may not have got if we had left earlier. A Brompton collapsible bike was the most exciting. We were really dependent on our car last week for getting to the shops and this week we realized how difficult and time consuming it can be just doing day to day shopping. We have chosen not to get a water maker or a washing machine installed on Scout so even just getting bottled water back and forth to the boat from a store almost 2 kms away was proving difficult. And who would figure that a marina this large does not have laundry facilities( again an almost 2 km trek). This bike, which we have called Atticus, is perfect. It folds up to fit into one of our lockers and will be easy to get on and off our tender. Mike and I love walking and running when touring the sites in places we visit, so at this stage we have only bought one just for ease of shopping. But as mentioned before… the best laid plans…… can always change.
Wednesday lunchtime ( my 52nd birthday) is our planned day this week for departure to Spain. I hope we can celebrate it crossing the Bay of Biscay. Every morning and evening Mike is looking at the forecasted weather patterns and models but we find every day they keep changing. It is going to be definitely a matter of picking it the night before because of the variables in the changing weather and swells. We certainly don’t want to be setting out on our first voyage and be crippled with seasickness and terrifying conditions. I may not return!
Personally I have loved La Rochelle and have enjoyed using my french and getting used to living on board and having a bit of a routine, but it is definitely time to get going… I hope to write next time from Spain!
A person who has never made a mistake never tried anything new – Albert Einstein
March 21, 2017 at 7:51 am
Good luck you two. Hope it will be fair sailing soon. Take care.
March 21, 2017 at 4:14 pm
Thanks Annie. Thanks for following and the thoughts. X
March 21, 2017 at 9:42 am
Awesome boat, awesome crew and awesome adventure. I’m a little envious!
Happy Birthday and bon voyage.
March 21, 2017 at 4:12 pm
Thanks Muff for following us. Track us down if you head over this way.
March 21, 2017 at 11:13 am
Hey Nat and Mike. The learning curve is always steep with a new boat. At least you have a bow thruster to help.
Cuppla quick thought bubbles: Like the Brompton, good bike, but no suspension means it can be hard on the tush. I found a sprung seat-stem to be super advantageous. Just enough springing to take the initial ouch out of potholes.
Also, as you’ll probably be helming solo and tag-teaming longer passages, an MOB alarm fitted to both your harnesses/PFDs might be a worthwhile addition. If for any reason you fell off the boat, once 10m away from the base station, an alarm sounds waking the other crew member. If you haven’t already seen these they are worth investigating. Like ‘mini EPIRBS’.
Hope the Bay is kind to you on the crossing!
March 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Hi Mark. Thanks for thought bubbles. I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time but it felt good although not sure if long distance it would be the same. We bought the bike second hand and it came with a handcrafted ladies brooks saddle which feels really comfy. MIke and I come from an aviation background and have had safety at the front of our thoughts for decades. The MOB alarms were a priority for us and thanks for the thought- because I have to get them out today and put them in our jackets. I haven’t done that yet!