Wednesday 5 June… Ile d’Arz to Vannes

We wake up to a different world from the night before. Where there had been the equivalent of a Solent chop and leaden skies, we now have sunshine and a virtual mill pond. Another trip ashore and we are in yet another world.

This is so very different from its next door neighbour. There are some tourists, but the tranquillity is striking immediately and while it has a few motorised vehicles, we can amble down lanes and paths without a care. The gardens and flowers are stunning, almost as if it is an island obsession and the smell of honeysuckle and roses seems to hit us at every corner.

We wander around the little churchyard but are also struck by how many lost their lives in the wars, given that the population has been around 260 or so for decades.

One plaque catches our eye and it is a female sub lieutenant who has won medals for the resistance as well as France’s highest honour, the Croix de Guerre. She was captured and sent to a concentration camp but survived the war finally taking her leave in the 50s. it is all the more poignant as we have been reading the news about the D-Day commemorations both in Portsmouth and in France.

Lunch is typically country French. Just a small café/restaurant, but sitting in the sun with some fish or simple steak in a pepper sauce makes us feel like staying.

As it happens though, we have a tide to catch up to Vannes as we fly home for a couple of weeks on Friday. We meet a Dutch couple who sailed here for the sailing festival, but need to find a new bowsprit from somewhere. Apparently it was broken by a boat to ran into them because its anchor had been lifted by a third boat lifting their own anchor. Good luck in sorting that out with the insurance companies. They seemed in good spirits though and planned to stay in Arz to ride out the storm which is due in Biscay (and over us) on Friday.

Another afternoon genoa dash across the shallows, but this time with the motor running as we complete almost a complete circumnavigation of the little island before heading up the river to Vannes to catch the opening of the swing bridges and locks.

We follow a small local lorry ferry for a while, although ferry is rather a grand name for what is really little more than a glorified floating platform no wider than the lorries themselves.

A moment of lack of concentration (James) finds us heading up the wrong arm of the river down a length of increasingly shallow and narrow channel with boats on either side. We survive…just and back in the main river we are soon moored up next to some other boats waiting for the bridge and the locks. One half of a young couple on the boat next to us is climbing into a wet suit to have a look at his missing propeller. They did well to get this far just on sail in the narrow channels…what it is to be young and impervious to the cold.

With the lights green we motor up to our allotted berth for the next two weeks…to find that it is about 3.3m wide….and we are 3.4m! We can just about moor safely and the capitainerie say they will sort it tomorrow. We have our stern sticking out into the channel, but we fender up and hope for the best!

In the morning we finally get allotted a berth more suited to our girth…and right in the centre near the showers and laundry….this is a glamourous life!

We have a wander round Vannes which is amazingly old and medieval (and yet more toy shops) and then set about snugging down Heydays for the impending storm Miguel (violent storm 11 in Biscay!), before we leave her to fly home for a couple of weeks.

Postscript.

We are sitting on the runway at Nantes in one of FlyMayBe’s tiny planes and are wondering with each gust which shakes us violently whether we will take off. Some passengers seem jumpy, but the attendants seem relaxed ….so it should be OK then.

One break in the cloud allows us a glimpse, just before we land, of the needles and Hurst Spit where we left just 3 weeks ago.

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