It was an early morning exit through the lock at Arzal along with 30 other boats of various sizes and means of propulsion. We were ushered in and given our allocated chain number. A smaller French yacht decided at an early stage to attach his lines to us and we had to basically pull him down with us as we made it further into the lock. All settles, the sluices were opened and in no time the lock gate opened to let us on our way. (four days we had waited for the privilege of this exit!). The exit channel to the sea was narrow as our exit coincided with low water, so a carnival procession of vessels made it’s way to the sea, worried about passing the vessel in front for fear of hitting mud. The majority of yachts, on reaching the entrance went straight on as we turned to port and headed for Ile d’Yeu some 50 miles to our South. An uneventful motor sail was endured for the following 10 hours as Mr Windy Poo’s didn’t make an appearance. However, the coastal scenery en-route was stunning.
We had heard from fellow travellers that there would be no difficulty getting a berth in Ile d’Yeu as the season had finished and the ‘French’ had gone home. How very wrong fellow travellers can be on occasion. We arrived in Port Joinville, Ile d’ Yeu to be greeted with a sailing rally of yachts from La Rochelle who had arrived for the weekend. With no berth available we drew alongside an equal sized yacht and secured Money Penny for the night. It was then that one of the crew of the neighbouring yacht informed us that there was a tuna festival in the town that night, hence their reason for sailing up from La Rochelle, and we needed to buy ‘tokens’ if we wanted to partake in food and wine during the evening. A quick walk into the town centre ensued and two bright fluorescent green tokens were secured for 16 euro. Back to Money Penny to wash, and look pretty and it was back into town. Well they certainly know how to celebrate on this Island. The celebration was in fact a protest at further reductions in tuna quotas and the effect this would have on the fisherman's livelihoods. So they celebrated by feeding over 2000 people with a big tuna steak, boiled potatoes and a small salad. This was washed down with a bottle of red wine. Judith and I had virtually finished our bottle of red when it disappeared from the table. We looked around and the group of La Rochelle sailors at the far end of the table realised that they had taken the bottle. They were very kind and replaced our near empty bottle with a full one. We didn’t complain too much. There were music bands, with the old and young dancing in the street together. It was nice to see everyone enjoying.
The following day was spend, nursing a hangover and hiring two cycles for a grand tour of the island. Luckily it was reasonably flat and Jude and I where soon at the Western most point of the island which was littered with the remains of German World War gun emplacement's and a periscope device within a reinforced concrete block.
The island is totally unspoilt and a marked characteristic was the fact that all the houses were painted white with the same shade of blue for the wooden window blinds. I didn’t find the local decorating store but I envisaged that the poor owner had a paint display of two colours, whitewash and china blue, but sold a huge amount of these colours!
The castle in the photo above was closed on the day we went visiting, which was a pity. However you soon realised the task undertaken in its construction. I got the impression that some poor souls had to chisel away at the rock underneath the bridge in order to provided a defence from invasion. A lot of work without a JCB or pneumatic drills!!!!!
We both loved the island with its pine tree lined beaches and golden sand. We cycled the entire coastline of the island that day, which was some 14 miles.
There was a long trip to La Rochelle the next day, coupled with a days exhaustive cycling so it was early to bed. The next day it was up in darkness and away as our neighbour wanted to leave before the sun rise.