Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cruise of the ‘Ishani’, a 26’ Eventide – Part 12

We were now truly in relaxed holiday mood. Over the next nine days we were to visit three islands in the northern half of the Bay. These spanned a distance of 180 nautical miles, the largest being Belle Isle between Ile de Groix to the northwest, and Ile de Yeu to the southeast.

We left the Marina at 0720 on Sunday, 21st June, but as there was very little wind, our only option was to motor. Our original intention had been to head for Île d'Yeu. This put us on a course parallel to the coast. Under the circumstances we changed our mind and went into Les Sables-d'Olonne, after motoring a distance of 25 nautical miles from La Rochelle.

We had no real desire to visit a town that was nothing more than a seaside resort with a long sandy beach and the usual non-descript hotels overlooking a promenade, but it was better than the monotony of motoring over a calm sea. There was one consolation however, mackerel were biting. Our catch made an almost instant meal not long after we berthed in the marina at 1600.

The next morning of 22nd June we left the marina at 0715. Prior to vacating our berth, Bill did the usual checks. He observed that the engine had been slightly overheating; therefore he changed the water impeller and tightened the ‘V’ belts that drive the pump and alternator.

Calm conditions continued as on Sunday, when we were en route from La Rochelle. Any wind there was came from ahead, from exactly the opposite direction to which we wanted to go! We could just make out the faint outline of Île d'Yeu far away on the horizon. For most of the morning this object seemed to get no closer. Instead of fretting we devised a distraction, fishing for mackerel, and by early afternoon features of the island were emerging from the heat haze.

Our planned destination was Port Joinville where we arrived at 1630, complete with freshly gutted mackerel, but that was not before having a tussle against the tide. We had to overcome a torrent of water streaking over the shallows to the east of Plage de la Grande Conche at the south-eastern end of the island. The smaller Port de La Meule to the south of the island may have been a better choice. We managed to visit that tiny harbour the next day when we hired bicycles for exploring the island. Port Joinville had a pleasant atmosphere of contentment, and when we were there in 1987 it was an important tuna and lobster fishing port. Perhaps that may not be the case today, since the Marina may be a better commercial proposition because of the popularity of yachting, particularly by the French.

We observed that the island was experiencing prosperity; houses were trim and well-cared for. The island’s coastline was magnificent, especially on the exposed western and south-western rocky coasts where there were deep indentations caused by sea erosion. On our bicycle tour we looked at Fort de La Citadelle and the Vieux-château de l'Île d'Yeu, the latter being the grander of the two, situated on a large outcrop of rock to the southern side of the island. This early 14th Century castle built at the order of Olivier lV de Clisson would have been virtually impregnable when the drawbridge to the mainland was raised, but that did not stop the English pirate Oliver Knolles from capturing it and the island in 1355 where he maintained control for the next 37 years.

Text for the Day

Romans 15:13 ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

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