Well, 2010 has certainly been a year of change for us. We had planned to continue in Port Moresby until the end of the year but we had an opportunity to get a great boat and follow our dreams, so here we are “retired” and loving it. We have no regrets and are having the time of our lives sailing Takamoana, a French built, 41’ Fountaine Pajot Lipari catamaran around Europe. We have seen some beautiful countryside and coastlines, met some interesting people and had some great sailing and a lot of fun!
Next day we had a late start waiting for the weather to improve. Eventually we decided to head off for La Turballe as the weather was still grey and raining and did not look as though it would improve. There was not a lot of wind so we had to turn the motors on at times. We passed a lot of ships and fishing boats. In fact, all the way up the coast we saw small fishing boats and always had to look out for fishing floats marking the craypots. By 1500 we arrived in La Turballe and the only mooring for us was alongside a French motor cruiser. Once secured to the other boat we had a chat with our new French neighbours in our limited French and their limited English and then off to pay our mooring fees and explore the town. This is also a fishing village, so dinner was decided – lobster and scallops. We found a nice little restaurant tucked away in a side street and decided to order the beer on tap, expecting it to be French and instead we were presented with a Fosters! The meal was fantastic and so was the French wine. We decided to spend another day and do a bit more exploring, shopping and find the laundromat.
An early start was decided on for the next morning, but by the time we were ready it was already 09:00 – oh well, we did not want to wake our neighbours up too early! The day was again overcast but we had a good sail to La Trinite Sur Mer and then it rained again. It was a huge marina and very expensive, but we wanted to explore the surrounding area as we had read it had some great walks and scenery, so booked in for 2 nights. Next day was sunny and we set off on a long walk around the headland. It was lovely and on our return we walked back through some of the streets with magnificent houses, which I presume are mostly holiday homes. Time for lunch and off to a restaurant for mussels – served in every restaurant at this time of the year – and of course the obligatory glass of wine!
An early start was required for the distance we had to cover to our next stop, Lorient. Luckily the wind was with us and we arrived late afternoon at the lovely new marina opposite the old submarine base.
Time to move on so an early start was required because we wanted to make Roscoff our next port of call, this meant we had to do an overnight sail. Unfortunately the weather changed and a gale warning came through on the radio, so we headed into Brest for shelter. It was a rough trip in but we finally arrived at the marina at about 2200 tired and wanting our bed. Next day the weather was still raining and grey. The miserable weather continued and we stayed there for 6 days, going out to see the sights and shopping in our raincoats. We had been in contact with our son, Marcel, who was in London and organised that we would meet in Plymouth so he could join us for some cruising.
After nearly a week in Brest we set sail and as soon as we were away from Brest the weather improved remarkably. It was beautiful sailing out around the rocky coast with groups of surfers riding the waves to the shoreline and seeing remnants of old fortresses and buildings along the coast line. We had a long sail ahead of us with no time to relax as we were crossing one of the world’s busiest shipping channels at night. The wind swung into the north, so there was nothing for it but to flash-up the engines and keep going. Gary had a busy night as we crossed the main shipping lanes where all ships going west or east are confined to relatively narrow lanes, a bit like crossing the freeway as small boats must cross the lanes at right angles and minimise the time spent playing in the traffic. The following afternoon, we arrived in Plymouth. It is a lovely sail into Plymouth and we had a lot of other sailing boats sailing in and out and around us as the weather was so nice. Once alongside in Plymouth Yacht Haven marina, we contacted UK Border control to announce our arrival. Once we had faxed a copy of our passports (and received a faxed stamp allowing entry) we were clear to enter the country. We then rang Marcel to let him know that we had arrived and it was time to clean the boat and then rest and catch up on some sleep. Next day was time to explore the town. The marina we moored in was on the other side of the harbour from the Barbican (town) so it was off in the ferry to town. We visited all of the tourist attractions and even did the ghost walk that evening. Next day Marcel was arriving and we could not wait to see him again. Off in to town again and up to the train station to meet him, a quick tour of the town on the way back to Takamoana. He was duly impressed with his new accommodation, so off to the local pub for dinner and then an early night for the trip to the Isle of Wight.
We had good sailing weather, Marcel and I did our watches together and Gary on his own.
There was a bit to see along the way – Navy ships doing exercises and other sailing boats passing along the way. Finally we came into the Solent. It would have to be some of the best sailing we have had and we had a lot of fun. At about 1400 we decided to pull into a marina at Cowes for a couple of nights. After a washdown of the boat we went off to explore the town and find some dinner. We spent the next day touring the island by bus.
Whilst we were there we met someone who would do the canvas work we wanted, which was to enclose the back of our boat and wheel station to give us some more protection. Unfortunately he could not do it for another 2 weeks, so we decided to sail up to London and then come back and get it done before sailing south to Spain and Morocco.
We set sail for Brighton and had a great sail arriving about 1800. There were quite a few other boats there and we met an interesting Swedish couple on their way to the Canary Islands. Next day we were off to have a look at Brighton, even though it was raining and overcast – typical English summer.
The following day, we topped up the fuel and had an early start for Eastbourne.
Once we were in the marina we met up with them and had drinks and arranged to met up again sometime in London. We again stayed longer in Ramsgate than we wanted to as the weather was against us. We filled in our time biking and sight seeing and occasionally going out for dinner. Then we got a call from Jim, the canvas man, to say he could start work in 3 days time if we could get back to Southampton. We decided to leave going up the Thames and head back and get the canvas work done as it would make it a lot warmer, with winter coming on. So off we set again for Eastbourne, Brighton and then Southampton.
We got the canvas work done, but it took him much longer then we anticipated – almost 2 weeks. As it was now mid September, favourable weather windows for crossing the Bay of Biscay were becoming rarer and shorter, so we decided to stay where we were and use Southampton as our base for the winter.
The staff at Saxon Wharf marina are great, the boat is secure – just a pity about the weather! Everyone assured us that winters in Southampton are mild and that the Isle of Wight provides excellent shelter.
For Xmas we will be in Paris with, so hopefully a white Xmas for us!
We will head home at the end of January to thaw out before returning to the UK in early March ready to sail off in spring.
Next year’s plan is to sail up the Thames to London and then back to France, where we will sail parts of the French coast we have not yet visited. The French coast is really a beautiful part of the world. Then down to Portugal and Spain and winter somewhere in the Mediterranean or North Africa.
So as you can see we are probably busier now than when we were both working. We are enjoying our retirement and we hope next year is as good as this year.
Merry Xmas and all the Best for the New Year.
Gary & Louise