This year, after a few days fitting out in Vannes, we had a brief local cruise and then left the boat in the inland city of Redon for 5 weeks, a very economical but pleasant place where we were charged only a couple of hundred euros.
Redon is 25 miles up the freshwater Vilaine, so after our return from home there was a pleasant dawdle back to the sea, with an overnight stop at a lonely pontoon out in the fields with no-one else in sight.
After passing through the lock into tidal waters, we headed round to Le Pouliguen, near La Baule, where we anchored for a rather disturbed night, because a swell got up in the early hours. Next morning early we set off for Sables d’Olonne in the Vendéé.
As we were passing the island of Noirmoutier, the battery alarm went off because the new alternator, which we had just installed ourselves at Redon, had blown. Thankfully there was an excellent engineer near the marina who worked out why two had blown in quick succession, put it right and fitted a new one.
We then spent several days on the Ile D’Oleron, cycling and walking, and a few more days in La Rochelle when the weather closed in, which forced us to abandon plans to go to the mouth of the Gironde to visit Port Medoc, near the vineyards. We were joined at La Rochelle by Jean-Jacques.
We managed a visit by train to Rochefort to see the splendid reproduction of the French frigate L’Hermione, built traditionally from oak. It was in for a refit after a transatlantic passage, and was recruiting for a Mediterranean cruise next year (maximum age 65!).
From La Rochelle we turned north, and the weather progressively improved: we visited Ile d’Houat, Concarneau, Audierne and then through the Raz de Sein and the Chenal du Four.
We called at L’Aberwrac’h and Roscoff before heading to Brighton via the Alderney Race to drop Jean-Jacques off to catch a plane home. The passage was 200 miles, so we anchored overnight for a rest at Gréve de la Ville on the North-East of Sark.
There was an unusual sequence of six days from La Rochelle where we either had light headwinds or no winds so motor sailed most of the way. The cross channel passage was exhilarating, though, with a westerly 5 to 6 pushing us along at top speed.
From Brighton we sailed to near Ipswich to pick up a mooring at Wooolverstone, with a brief stop at Ramsgate.
The passage across the Thames estuary is back to normal now the London Array windfarm is finished: Foulger’s Gat, the short cut that runs through the farm, is open again following the end of construction, and is well buoyed.
Spring Fever will stay at Woolverstone for a couple of months for a taste of the east coast rivers, before heading back to Cowes in the early autumn.