La Rochelle, France – Santander, Spain (212 miles / 54 hours)

After all the commotion of the last few days we didn’t think we would ever get out of France, but again we prepared and spent the day resting from last nights palaver. We were joined by an actual boat gypsy moored next to us which put our boat hobo status to shame. We got an early night with the plan of a 6 am start, or tried to, it was 1 am when my phone pinged from a message from Dez (Simon’s Pal) who was replying to a message I sent 2 weeks ago, now he had no Idea where we were, or that we would still in France, his message read “I’m in France in a place called La Rochelle”!!!!! You can see where this is going, after some to-ing and fro-ing it turns out he was parked 100m away in the marina car park in his van, he’s not a weirdo, he was camping in his van and traveling through France for a few weeks. I popped out to see him for a catch up with a cold beer, before sneaking back to bed about 2, cringing that I had no time for a decent sleep, but it had been an amazing coincidence and I was happy for no sleep to see his horrible grid for an hour. We arose at 6 to take scrumpy out for his last walk before the epic journey. We set off at 7 am with boat gypsy waving us off (he’s clearly too cool for sleep), to a calm sea and winds steadily pushing us along. Things were finally looking up, on rounding the dreaded island from the previous night, the wind died off, so on came the engine for about 4 hours, this was not the best thing that could happen, but we understood this was likely over the next 212 miles, after all we would be covering almost half of what we had done on the trip so far in one passage. The sea was calm, but unfortunately there were big long wide waves and due to having the wind behind us, we had no support from the sail to prevent us from rocking from side to side, to skip ahead slightly this droned on for 30 hours, side to side, back and forth….the only way I can describe it is like Chinese water torture, one drop of water on your forehead is fine, nothing to even mention, 10, 100 drops and still nothing to write home about, but 1000 or 30 hours worth and its like getting hit in the head with a fricken sledge hammer every drip…….This rocking monotonously port to starboard was our water torture… the extremely short amounts of time we could nod off before being awoken by the rocking, we both dreamt of the large comfy king size memory foam MOTIONLESS bed we had left behind.
Back to the trip, the first day went well with the wind picking up from behind, so we slowly plodded on with Spain in our sights (well not in our sights, but in our thoughts). So bets were placed…..When would it happen, would it happen, how much pain would we all have to endure………when/would scrumpy poo at sea. I went for 11 am on the second day (Guilty) and Holly though he would hold out for land!!! Who do you all thing will be right. So the night wind was calm and peaceful and the moon was out in full swing lighting up our path. With it brought an amazing pod of dolphins which were as clear as day, we sat on the front deck together watching them, close enough to touch, jumping in and around the bow for 15 minutes, I hope we never take things like that for granted as its truly amazing. Other than that there was much to report there was not so much as another light to be seen. We did have to sail near a section of firing range and through a bit that was not detailed in the Almanac (details of what this is further down) but was marked on the iPad GPS. Simon wasn’t worried but Holly disagreed and was majorly paranoid about it which was brilliant as she did a big chunk of the night sail through it! A big ship came past us which she was convinced was a military vessel (It was dark) and was sure it had moved as we were near its firing range. Once well past it she was adamant that she could see it firing something but did wonder if maybe her tired eyes were playing tricks on her in the dark. Which was probably the case especially as the area was a French LAND to sea MISSILE RANGE!
As the sun rose on the second day I was feeling good, Holly and Scrumpy were down in the Cabin having some well deserved rest from the night. La chien suddenly woke and popped up to see me, his life jacket went on as it was still rocking like crazy. He was itching to get out on the deck for a wee, but it was too rough for him to go, for ten minutes I chased and held him all round the deck whilst he poked his head over the side hoping to see land, and when he didn’t he thought if he looked at me and then looked again it might of appeared. His poor little face when he realised it was just endless miles of the sea….then with the slightest of twitches I could see what the little ragbag wanted…..looks like I won the bet, with a painstaking bit by bit kind of scenario it wasn’t long before nature took its cause and he had sunk a massive Bismarck (A number 2 for those of you who are not Me, Holly, Matt) on the front deck! That and 2 wees later he stared at me with the demanding look to remove his life jacket and off to bed he went with a skip in his step, I’m sure he was almost smiling! All mine and Hollys worries were now gone regarding La Chien as he happily went for both 1’s and 2’s for the rest of the trip when needed. It was about 3pm when the sea flattened and our torture was over, but it was a hell of a relief, it meant a bit of sleep and well deserved relaxing. We really didn’t mind being out here, the length of time at sea was not bothering us, although on occasions we could get ratty at each other (or Scrumpy) for no reason, but I think that was being tired more than stir crazy. The second night was very uneventful, except for a little stowaway joining us trying to claim asylum in Spain, it was a little bird somehow 50 miles from shore, no idea how he got out this far out to sea, but he hitched a lift until about 5 miles from Spain (See the video on the youtube channel). On the 3rd morning and with 8 miles to go no land could be seen and we were starting to worry we had slipped into the Bermuda Triangle, until finally 2-3 miles from shore out the mist came some large cliffs. I don’t know what were expecting but not this, as we got closer it was gorgeous, not like France but if you asked I couldn’t tell you the differences. As we entered the river it became apparent it was a huge city instead of the small towns and harbour villages we had experienced before. We past some lush long beaches with dogs running up and down which was a great sign for a ball obsessed Terrier! Unfortunately as we followed the river inland to find our Marina for the night we slipped out of the city, through the commercial docks to a nice modern marina in the middle of NOWHERE which would turn out to be a right pain in our asses……
Now For those of you who are unaware, or interested (even if your not deal with it)  we do not just guess or get lucky as to where we are going each time we arrive at an entrance to a port, we have probably the most expansive and important book imaginable, our ‘Reeds Nautical Alminac’ (Reeds feel free to give me some money for mentioning your name). It is a 3000 page book, with every marina and port in the UK, and all those running from Denmark to Gibraltar. Each Port is detailed precisely, with marinas, anchorages, prices, facilities, phone numbers, navigation, local info, what weather it is sheltered and comfortable in, how/when not to try and enter, everything… wonder it is expensive. It is probably our most important bit of kit for navigation. There are always other ways to do every other part, but this item in invaluable and could not be lived without. Unfortunately it doesn’t specify that there is absolutely nothing there and that the bus is a 20 min walk away but thats for the next post.
Anyway I digress….Off to bed for a well deserved day time nap….seems all we do is sail and sleep, we need to start enjoying the places we go 🙂
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1 thought on “La Rochelle, France – Santander, Spain (212 miles / 54 hours)

  1. Looks amazing!!! But looks loooonnngggg lol well worth it though xxxx


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