Friday, 11 October 2013

The Best for Last

Our migration north brought us once again to Yeu island, a paradise for biking along wild coastal trails and a great place for snorkelling, provided you don an appropriately thick wet suit.   

Bike trails on the south coast of Yeu island.
We decided to bike down to the center part of the wild south coast this time to visit an old castle erected in the early days of the Hundred Years' War (around 1350), and the famous Yeu perched rock, a massive boulder of granite posed on a cliff side that can be rocked back and forth with only a moderate amount of well-placed effort.  I almost didn’t take my camera since we had visited Yeu several times before and I had already gushed on and on about how lovely it was in previous posts.  The compromise I offer is to post more Yeu photos but refrain from re-gushing verbally…

Patrick rocking the perched rock.
We had only intended to stay for a 2-3 days, waiting for the wind to pick up at some point during this lovely summer-like high pressure system.  When we checked in at the port office, the clerk asked if we were in town for the big Tuna Fest, about which we were completely ignorant.  Other sailors told us we simply MUST stick around for it, and we watched the local excitement build as the little port area slowly became decorated with large cardboard tunas, multiple rows of picnic tables and strings of colored lightbulbs.  We did stay and … well, it was a bit disappointing, really.  There were thousands of people squeezed together on the picnic table benches that stretched out for hundreds of yards in multiple rows, listening to sea shanties sung by local groups.  This would have been appealing if the sound system had actually permitted you to hear any of the words being sung, but we appreciated the atmosphere anyway.  The Tuna Fest is, we later learned, a community barbeque for islanders to celebrate the fact that the tourists have gone home for the season.  Having arrived fashionably late, we only just managed to squeeze into the cheap seats at the end of the street, and spent a lovely evening with a young couple of lawyers from Paris.  So much for local color.  We ate our tuna steaks and potatoes (4 euros), had a glass of wine (“chateau cardboard” from the super market for 1 euro), and a piece of pie (2 euros).  We wandered around looking for some other great tuna fast happenings, but it seemed as though most people were just content to eat and listen to muffled music.  We were told that the party really gets moving after midnight but we felt a bit out of place and decided to leave the islanders to themselves.  (Hey wait a minute...maybe that's part of the trick:  bore the bejeezus out of the remaining tourists so they wander off early and then start the real party?  Hmmm... next year we'll be prepared !)

The next morning we pulled out of port at the crack of dawn (8:30 am here whilst we wait for the time change later this month.)  We decided to head directly to Belle Isle, a  50 mile hop, to skip some of the less exciting port stops we’d made on our way down.  Since there was very little wind, we motor-sailed for an ear-numbing 11 hours.  But the calm weather also allowed us to duck into a beautiful mooring on the east side of Belle Ile for the night (Port An Dro), which we had to ourselves.  The next morning, with summer temps still smiling down on us, we rowed the dingy out to the beach and went snorkelling along the rocks.  The weather forecast announced 24 hours more of extended summer and we timed our arrival in our new home port of Arzal a mere 6 hours before the rain and cold front hit; clearly the final period at the end of our summer sailing story.  

Beach cove near Port An Dro... great for (cold) snorkeling. 

Nothing says summer like light reading in a sunny cockpit.