From Villaine to the Loire

21st August Redon

Our fourteenth wedding anniversary, and almost to the day, ten years ownership of Fuga!

The original plan was to get up early, and go for a walk before the heat built up. I had put up the sun covers, but made a meal of it. In the event, we were later getting going, the mate complaining about the milk in her tea having gone foul and lumpy. By the time we had walked to the supermarket and returned laden with fresh vegetables and fruit, that was it. There did seem to be some scope for walking along the canal bank, but we gave it a miss.

The previous evening we had picked out a restaurant on the east side of the basin with tables outside, but by the time we arrived the outside tables had all been taken. We headed instead for the town centre, and found Ile aux Grillades, again with some tables on some decking outside. The small square could hardly be called attractive, but it was nice to be en plein air. The waiter was cheerful, and the food was excellent - almost fussy. After our self imposed diet, the peche melba that I had at the end was probably a mistake. Hoping to catch Mo at a disadvantage, I lost two rounds of chess, mostly by carelessness?

22nd August Villaine near Beganne

We made another trip to the supermarket for some wine. We had not been able to carry more the day before, and this seemed as good a place as any to stock up. We returned with all that we could carry. Having topped up our water tanks, and removed the suncovers, we were ready to set off.

Leaving the basin, we must have been dragging through the mud at the mouth of the channel where it joins the river: the depth sounder was reading nil under the keel, but we did not stop. We motored down river, and it so happened that we arrived at the bridge at Cran just before 1400 FST, just as we had on the way up, and there was a yacht circling below the bridge. No sooner had we done so than the bridge was opened, and we were given two green lights to pass through. After that, the easterly breeze was fresh enough for us to stop the engine and unroll the jib, giving us 4-5 knots. Now not worried about the cables, we continued to the pontoon near Beganne, but found it occupied, so anchored on the south bank opposite. Mo was still struggling with a bad neck sprain, possibly from jiggling our lines while transiting the lock at Arzal, and went to bed for the afternoon. As the water claimed to be 31C, I tried lowering myself into it: it still seemed very cold, but later I managed a circuit of the boat.

I ponderously managed to at last get Mo check mate having decimated her pieces: she had been very inventive in upsetting my plans, then complained that it made supper late.

23rd August Anchored below Foleux 2 nm

Mo was not best pleased when I still wanted to walk up to the village. We had made a very slow start, and it was now in the heat of the day. We put the outboard on, and landed at the pontoon, stopping to chat to some English people. They keep their boat at Foleux. There were some interesting standing stones, and an interpretation board that we did not understand describing how the marais, or flood plain (now controlled by the dam at Arzal) was marked at some annual festival. The village had some very attractive properties that I lusted after: what could be better than handy to boat? Mo sadly was not impressed, particularly it seems because there are lots of English living here.

The village centre at BegannePontoon at Beganne

24th August

We took a B'll day. I had been intending to varnish the woodwork below the front windows, but woke up feeling less than brilliant, so we relaxed instead. Mo is in cooking mode, preparing for David's visit next week, and for the trip back. We debated some options, but Falmouth adds miles, and so it seems that Guernsey is the favourite routing. We will probably sail directly from Pornic to Audierne.

25th August Roches Bernard and Arzal

We've moved to have lunch anchored just below Roche Bernard. After lunch we took the dinghy into the 'old port' where we landed amongst some of the classic boats that are moored there. We enjoyed a walk around the town, starting along the shore and past the 'new' port, and up the hill into the centre. We rewarded ourselves with a drink at a bar in the old port before returning to Fuga.

We went down river and were able to refuel at the self service facility at Arzal, before anchoring close up river ready for the morning lock.

26th August Paimboeuf

We had not expected the morning lock to be busy, and set the alarm so that we could be away from the anchorage just before 0800 FST. We were concerned to see that there was a rush of boats going for the same lock, including a vast Dutch yacht that we had seen moored at Roches Bernard. As it turned out the Dutch yacht only seemed to be picking up passengers or crew, and we managed to all get into the lock under the direction of the lock-keeper.

We motored down river, and set the sails once we had reached the entrance. We enjoyed a pleasant sail down wind to the Pointe du Castelli at Piriac, then hardened up around Pointe du Croisic to fetch across the bay. We anchored off in the Anse de Trebezy, in the approaches to Saint Nazaire, but decided that the position was too exposed to stay overnight, with the easterly wind having a long fetch down the river. Later we motored up the river and anchored off Paimboeuf, where we were reasonably well sheltered and well away from the channel up river. Our only concern was when a motorboat skipper came up saying something we didn't understand, and pointing ominously downwards. Perhaps we had his spot, or his concerns were genuine, as he anchored behind us.

27th August

Our research into Nantes had led us to believe that there was no comfortable berthing for us at Nantes. The marina at Trentemout has silted, and does not accept visitors, and on Google earth the pontoon suggested looked distinctly unfriendly. We decided to remain at Paimboeuf and to get David to taxi to us there. We did however decide to move up river a short way where there was an 'anchorage' marked on the chart, and where there appeared to be a landing pontoon.

28th August

We went ashore, and found our way to the Super-U supermarket very conveniently close to the pontoon. Having seen the geography from shore side we were able to send David an email with photos and precise directions. We also brought back some further supplies, both for the short term, and more importantly, for the winter. Mo later invited me to inspect the toilet, which she was convinced was smelling, and I was forced to admit to a problem with the pump. Having no spares, I tried a temporary fix with silicone sealant that will hopefully get us home.

29th August

David turned up at our 0840 (BST), having directed his taxi and found the pontoon without difficulty. As he was fairly tired, Mo and I went for a walk around the town, finishing up at Super U once more and bringing back more supplies.

We set off down river with the remains of the tide, but had a hitch at first when the windlass refused to work. Luckily with David at hand we were able to recover the anchor with brute strength, but having done so we spotted a broken connection in the supply to the windlass contactor. This was easily repaired so that it was available for our lunch time anchorage. In the end we decided that we would not move, and settled for the night in perfect shelter given the north west wind.

30th August Pornichet

After a late start, we sailed around from our anchorage to Pornichet, where we entered the marina. In the evening we went out into the town, and found a restaurant which proved to be most enjoyable.

31st August

We had decided not to try to visit La Pouligen with the boat as we were nominally oversize, and access in and out is tidal. However, Mo thought perhaps we could take a bus or the 'Little Train'. The weather was overcast, and so we started off walking as it was not too hot. We found a 'Little Train' stop but balked at its pricing - two fare stages to the Casino at the end of the beach, at 2.50 each per person. We thought we might walk half way. In the end we made it all the way to the Casino, and then on along the promenade some way to Le Pouligen, around 7 kilometres. We collapsed into more or less the first bar that we could find, then suitably revived went in search of Crepes. By this time it was quite late, and instead of Crepes, Mo now fancied a meal as she did not want to have to cook when we got back. We expected that ordering a taxi would be a formality, but it wasn't, and our waiter failed to conjure one up with several telephone calls. We thought of returning to the bar, but set out instead to walk back. When we reached a posh hotel that we had admired on the way past, the 5 star Hermitage, David suggested we went in and asked them to order a taxi. We told the three guys on reception our story, and they took pity on us, offering to run us back in the hotel transport. We were very relieved, and got back to the boat in time to enjoy some port and limoncello.