Saturday, 14 September 2013

3rd night's free and other navigational traps

We’ve made it to the island of Oleron, the largest island of the French Atlantic coast, and we’re currently pinned down by a combination of weather, tides, currents, early nightfalls, and promotional offers (3rd night free) enticing sailors to stay in port longer than they otherwise would have if not pinned down by weather, tides, currents, etc.  Our neighbors in the marine include Brits, Dutch, and Belgians, all of whom also seem content like us to hang around for a few days more.   

Fall has fallen with high temps in the mid 60s (18 C) and our regular pattern of squalls every other day is beginning to set in. Our strategy in such situations is to take advantage of the weather windows in between squalls to head to a port where we would be happy to be pinned down for several days.  Oleron is, in a word, DEAD in the off-season, but with our bikes on board this time out, we’ve managed to take advantage of the extensive bike trail system.  With a farmer’s market every day in town and good internet, we’ve been happy as clams here.  Next up:  La Rochelle and Rochefort, both short hops from here that can be done by carefully juggling the tide needed to get out of Oleron, the tide needed to get into the other ports, the currents in between, and unstable weather.

Chassiron lighthouse.

The view from the top.

Happier going down than going up the 300 stairs of the lighthouse. 

Tasting the local wines in their earliest form.  This region is known for its sweet Pineau wines and cognac. 

Sampling the local white.
The landscape here is quite different from that of Yeu island 60 miles to the north, where we spent a delightful few days enjoying the last rays of summer snorkeling (wet suits needed) and biking.  We had anticipated that heading south would help us to prolong summer a bit longer, but that was, in retrospect, quite a silly notion since we only migrate at a rate of about 40 miles every 2 or 3 days. 

Yeu island's wild coast in the last days of summer.

Today is the first real rainy day that we’ve had since early July and we’re happily holed up on Spray, cleaning, reading, blogging, cooking, watching movies, and just plain old “layin round the shanty” type activities.  We’ve got 1 month to make it back home, and we’re just about at our furthest point south, so we’re got time to take it easy and enjoy the rain.