Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Sailing and Food (oh, and Drink)

A longish post, this one. It covers the seven days that went to make up “The Last Of The Summer Wine Cruise”. Actually it was a GSA club cruise but acquired this name when one of our number, Claire, could not believe the mental incapacity of her three middle aged male crewmates. In fairness to Claire, there were times when Brian, Mike and I did seem to have horrendous difficulty remembering anything other than our own names.

We would however remember the name of the yacht, it was Celtic Flame II and she is shown in her glory in the photo.

We started in St Helier, Jersey on Sunday 12th July and got off to a slow start, because the replacement of the water pump, that Brian (the skipper) and I thought would be a quick job, finally defeated us and we left the whole job to a professional who was not available until Monday afternoon. Brian distinguished himself by handing out visitors cards for access to the marina which gave access to the pontoons, the showers, loos etc. and reminding us all that we should carry these with us at all time. This was a case of "do as I say and not as I do" because Brian then filed his card in his trousers and wore his shorts.... Thus he couldn't go anywhere on his own as the rest of us had to open doors and gates for him.

Sunday dinner was in a busy Italian place which wasn't quite the one we set out for, but was the first we arrived at. Good food though.

Monday was spent shopping, buying bits for the boat and chasing the engineer. It was also notable for a meal in the worst pub in Jersey. Thanks for that, Brian.

On Tuesday it was my skipper vetting trip and so I was in charge for the day. Despite an early start, we were heading into a fairly strong wind for most of the day, and so fell very behind the planned schedule. We made it to St Malo without hitting anything or losing anyone, and slightly to my surprise, I passed. A long day was followed by a superb meal in a restaurant in St Servan. We slept well, although Mike snored mightily.

Wednesday saw us make our way through the Rance barrage and up the river to Plouet sur Rance. This was a fabulous place, peaceful and quiet. An impromptu beer in the village bar turned into several beers and then a walk back to the boat. For reasons that I have not managed to fathom out, I got the blame for this episode of binge drinking by three middle-aged men and one bemused woman. By now Claire had been christened “Talking Ballast” or “Self Loading Cargo”, in an attempt for the males in the crew to fight back. Dinner was taken in the La Cale Restaurant just along from the marina, and was most agreeable.

The two picture below show the road into Plouet

and then the facility at a roadside cafe which was notable for the romantically shaped hole in the door!

On Thursday we made the return trip to St Malo which was lovely, but we got the nicest possible telling off from the lock keeper/bridge operator for not being quick enough at getting the boat in the lock. Apparently half the traffic of Northern France was held up while we sorted ourselves out. The slowest service ever, from a restaurant was the only memorable bit of the evening meal. Their tip was nil.

Friday was a day of high winds, around force 6 or 7. We were moored near the entrance to the marina and the pontoons reared up and down quite violently. It was clear that we weren't going anywhere. It was so bad that many people wore life jackets on the pontoons. I'd not seen that before, but it was quite a smart move. While the others went off for a walk round St Malo, I stayed put and finished my book. We started to wonder if we might have to take the ferry back to Jersey, but the weather forecast made it look as though there would be an opportunity on Saturday to sail home. A well use local pizza house restored our faith in French catering establishments.

On Saturday morning, with the aid of some magic navigation by Mike, we whizzed back to St Helier where we used up the supplies we had been bequeathed by the previous crew in the form of Corned Beef Hash, though it's not quite the same without the baked beans... Claire is very, very averse to baked beans (funny woman).

Sunday, I was up early to complete my cleaning task (The Heads...) and then it was fried breakfast before I was allowed off to meet my beloved wife at Jersey airport.

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