Royan and Bordeaux


We made an early start the next morning for Royan at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary. It was a crappy start with 35 knot winds (gusting to 40+). By early afternoon we had rounded the top of Ile D’Oleron and conditions started to ease.

Whilst motoring along, we noticed that the engines did not appear to be supplying any current to the batteries. Either a BMS problem or a smart charger problem or both???

Royan is about 14nm down the Gironde River, and the entrance to the Gironde has a reputation of being nasty in the wrong conditions. Although there was a bit of a large swell running, it was fine for us. Shame the current wasn’t in our favour though – we had 3 knots of current against us as we gave the two 75HP yanmars a good workout. We arrived late in the afternoon but the Capitainerie office was closed so we tied up on the reception jetty for the night and found a nice little restaurant for dinner – something to do with someone turning 52 (evidently). The local mussels were fantastic (and huge).

We checked the next morning and found if you stay two nights you get the third night free. We ended up staying 6 and paid for 4. Ooroo 1 had stayed in La Rochelle waiting for a new sail to arrive but they followed us into Royan the following day.

Royan is a cute little French holiday town with good facilities. Whilst walking around the chandlery shops looking for a better set of electronic charts (Lagoon only supply silver Navionics charts – another trick for young players) for the chart plotter we found another Robin Marine. Bonus we thought; we could get them to fix the smart regulator and BMS. We also needed to fix one of our underwater lights which never worked since La Mischief hit the water. We’d tried to put La Mischief up on the hard in Les Sables but a rather large privilege catamaran had taken the spot where we could dry her out with the tides – and then we ran out of time before Easter. It turned out that Royan had a much better place to put La Mischief on its keels and with Robin Marine there we could also get them to do it.

Double bonus when the guy running Robin Marine could speak reasonably good English. David turned out to be a really nice helpful guy and even offered us his car if we needed it. He arranged to come down the next morning with an electrician to have a look. They spent hours on the phone to their Les Sables D’Olonnes office to try and resolve the problems. Eventually they had to get someone to drive down to Royan to fix it properly (rewiring the shunts and reconfiguring the BMS). According to Allan, the moral of the story is – “don’t believe everything someone tells you – especially if he is a pretty-boy Frenchman named Pierre”.

Royan also marked the end of Cas French adventure. Back home to the kids and family. We hired a rental car and drove down to Bordeaux so that Cas could catch a high-speed train direct to Charles De Galle airport. We left Allan and Joan to themselves for a couple of days on La Mischief, which they used to good effect helping the French economy.

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Cas and I had a great drive along the back roads towards Bordeaux. We stopped off in a picturesque French village called Conac and called into a bar for a coffee. It turned out to be run by a Scottish couple and the clientele were all Scottish or pommie. Interesting to get their take on living in France.

Then we called into Blaye on the recommendation of Allan and Joan – what a pretty place with its extensive fort along the Gironde. The Gironde is massive – navigable by big ships all the way to Bordeaux.

Then onto Bordeaux, where we got a hotel right next to the railway station. It wasn’t the nicest part of town, but we caught a groovy tram into the old town and visited one or three bars. We hooked up with some Uni students and played the worst game of pool ever, before visiting another bar with them. We got back to the hotel somewhere between 1 and 2 (I think).

Next morning we had to drag ourselves out of bed at 6am to get Cas on a train. That was hard. Goodbyes said, I went back and got a bit of sleep and some breakfast before heading back to Royan.

Had Google Maps telling me the way, when the road branched in two with a red traffic light in the middle. I stopped and waited for it to change. I must have been there about 15 seconds when I felt a bump from behind.

The bump was supplied by a Mazda 626 driven by a nice French girl called Fannie (Allan had fun with that one). We went round the corner and she helped me fill in all the forms (they have a standard accident form in France) and off I went rather timidly back to Royan.

After using the car to do some shopping, we returned it the next day and I was releaved to hear the Avis lady say that the accident wasn’t my fault as she ran into me. You never know in different countries what the regulations are. It’s a first for me – being in a road accident in an overseas location.

That afternoon we parked La Mischief on a flat concrete pad next to a high wall and waited for the tide to go out. A few hours later, David could get to the light to replace it, which he did successfully. Four underwater lights now work.

High tide was then at 2pm. We got liftoff at 12.50 and waited to high tide when there was about 40cm of water under the keel to move back to our berth. We’d taken the opportunity to calibrate the depth instruments, so now we know exactly how much ware there is under the keel.

With our jobs all done, we had a good sleep and left Royan on the tide heading for Spain.

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