Whimbrel Sailing Adventure travel blog

The 'before' state

The 'after' state - all he needs now is a haircut!

Entry to St Jean-de-Luz in big swell after our 31 hour trip...

Unloading the morning catch in St Jean-de-Luz

Whimbrel in the small marina

St Jean-de-Luz beach

Seafront by marinan with Ravel's birthplace (house on right)

12 Sept: Royan to St. Jean-de-Luz. Finally set off for Arcachon at 5.30am. The channel out of the Gironde estuary was unlit and we only narrowly missed one of the buoys, despite the moonlight! The wind was more southerly than forecast, so we had to tack which slowed us down. In the morning, a plane flew very low over us, presumably checking us out as there is quite a lot of military activity in that area. Apart from that it wasn’t a very interesting sail, with miles and miles of sand dunes along the coast and very little in the way of habitation.

It’s only advisable to enter the Arcachon basin at certain states of the tide especially with the big swell we had and we realised that we weren’t going to get there in time. We eventually got to the entrance after dark and had a look but because of the swell (about 3 metres) and the fact that the channel is unlit and the buoys far apart, we decided it was too dangerous to try to go in. Unfortunately, the next safe harbour (Capbreton) is also unsafe to enter in a swell, so we were forced to keep going through the night all the way to St. Jean-de-Luz and because the wind died we had to motor for about 13 hours! To cap it all, when we arrived, we found the marina is very small and we had to moor stern to the pontoon which is quite tricky when you haven’t done it before…. Total journey was 165 nautical miles in just under 31 hours.

We really liked St. Jean-de-Luz – it’s quite touristy, but very lively with lots of shops, a busy fishing port and a lovely beach. We visited the two houses where the Infanta and King Louis XIV stayed before their wedding and had difficulty imagining the king who later built Versailles staying in a house where he had to eat in the kitchen because they didn’t have a dining room.

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