Yet another windless day, the last of our cruise, down the coast from Les Sables d'Olonne to our final destination in La Rochelle. We cruised between the Ile de Re and the mainland, a very shallow, muddy tidal area which we were only able to access thanks to our shallow draft. There is a very large, marked quadrant which appears to be some sort of aquaculture directly between the island and the mainland. Stay away from it!
The approach to La Rochelle took us by the industrial outskirts of the city and the commercial port, under the modern bridge that links the Ile de Re to the mainland. None of this is very attractive.
There are three places to berth in La Rochelle, the enormous Minimes Marina, the largest in Europe, the medieval inner harbor, and the Bassin des Chalutiers, the old fishing harbor just outside the gates of the medieval town. The fishing harbor and about half of the old harbor are behind locks. The harbormaster assigned us to the fishing harbor because we are too big for the old harbor. In the end I decided to stay in Minimes because we had not negotiated a lock yet, and the guides indicated that the fishing harbor was primarily for fishing boats.
As it turned out, the fishing harbor has almost no fishing boats, and had plenty of spare room for visiting yachts. The lock opens for about 15 minutes at a quarter before every hour for four hours around high tide. You call the harbormaster and then show up at the appointed hour. Don't be late.