Ile de Dumet to La Roche-Benard/Arzal
26 September 2013 | Vilaine River, France
Stu & Shar
Once again we woke to a heavy fog and wet decks, as has happened on a number of occasions around Brittany the fog rolls in off the ocean easily. This blankets the coast until the sun rises enough to warm the air and burn it off, how far it goes out to sea I am unsure, but it is apparently the norm around Brittany. Three days in a row.....still no wind......calm before the storm ! There is a low depression brewing off the coast of Spain...there could be a bit of a blow coming our way. So again after the fog lifted we motored across the 'baie' from Ile de Dumet, up the Vilaine river to arrive at the Arzal/Camoel barrage. The opening times were on the hour this time of year with couple of hourly time slots bypassed during the afternoon, we arrived just in time for the 14:00 time slot with a few minutes to spare before they shut the gate.
We had followed another yacht upstream since entering the river and slowly motored into the lock behind them, they called across with some advice, as this was our first "lock transit" and let us know of a couple of important things to watch as the water rose. Alan and Bernie and their gorgeous little pup 'fleur' were regulars in Arzal and La Roche Bernard and showed us the ropes around the marina and the old medieval town. Here we spent 6 days, with the time being spent between touring, sourcing equipment and stripping Songbird to get her ready for the winter. La Roche-Bernard was founded in around 1000AD by a Viking named 'Bern-Hart'. He used to 'tax' boats transiting the river Vilane as they made their way up and down river. The story is a bit too long winded to tell you here, but to say, that it all came to quite a gruesome end.
As we had not had to winterise a yacht before (something that's not regularly done in Fremantle), I asked for some advice from Richard who commissioned Songbird for us. He sent through a reasonably comprehensive list of things to be done, which we worked off and added too as we went along. Everything that could easily be removed from Songbird was taken off, checked, cleaned, dried and stored below. We organised for Songbird to be lifted and stored in a private yard for the winter, so after most of the packing up had been done we motored down river to Arzal, for Songbird to be lifted and transported for the short trip to the boatyard. Here we spent a couple of days cleaning up, with the last things to do before locking up were to set the dehumidifier to autorestart and check the battery charger was powered up. I must admit I had a pit in my stomach as we drove off, hoping that everything that needed to be done had been covered.
From here it was a leisurely two day drive to Paris for the flight home. We meandered through the French countryside with the early colours of autumn starting to show, we stumbled on a town called Beaugency, this place was absolutely stunning and decided to spend a night, but that's another story. Early in the morning we drove to Charles de Gualle and boarded the massive Airbus A380 for the flight home. As it groaned its way into the sky, we both realised that it was back to reality for us until spring hits Europe again next year and the adventure begins again.