We have been in La Rochelle for 2 nights now. After our false start, our flights went well, and we arrived in La Rochelle on schedule Wednesday. We are staying at a AirBnB place, and our host picked us and our 6 checked bags up at the train station. We each only got a few hours of sleep on the flight (God damn it Amy, stop watching Planet of the Apes and go to sleep!) Amazingly we stayed awake on the train by watching a movie. Our host here speaks a bit of English, and we took him and a friend out to dinner to say thank you for picking us up from the airport.
Almost all the French people we have meet say that French people don’t speak English. However, almost everyone we have talked to knows at least a bit of English. My french extends to just the basic vocabulary words – mange, chien, merci!
On the trip to the apartment from the train station, we passed a Helia – hull number 80 – which is in a small docking area which is where FP finishes the commissioning (so we are told).
Our full day in La Rochelle was spent doing a lot of walking! First we walked to Les Minimes, which is the largest marina in France for pleasure boats. We meet Pierre at Uchimata, who will be doing work for us after the handover. Pierre has been incredible helpful in working with the factory. We met his wife and two cute puppies and toured his workshop. Pierre showed us his work schedule and he handles a lot of FP built boats for charter companies. We are very glad to have him helping us!
From Uchimata, we looked at 2 of the local chandleries (marine supply stores) where we will create accounts and order parts. We walked through most of Les Minimes, which was a lot of walking. We saw the catamarans that are based there, and then went to the Captainiere (Harbor Master’s Office and Club House) and walked down to the transient dock where there are several FP boats, including Helias 76 and 79 (we are 77).
We took a break back in the apartment and then went out for shopping. La Rochelle has a very busy pedestrian area in the City Centre which is full of shops. We walked for quite a ways and got a bit lost and then found our way back.
We stopped at SFR Mobile to pick up SIM cards and pay-as-you-go plans. The French SIM cards were 10 euros each, which gave us a French phone number and 5 minutes of phone time. In addition, we bought for 15 euros a 1 hour credit for calling Europe and Africa (which is good for 1 month) and four 1GB cards for data (each is good for 7 days). Overall, that’s 70,80 Euros for our cell phone needs while we are here. We have internet in our apartment, and I think we will have internet at Les Minimes, but we want to make sure we don’t get lost while walking around and running errands (especially if we separate to accomplish our tasks).
We have also made our plans for the next 2 weeks. There was a bit of misinformation from our dealer – we thought that when we paid our final payment we would be able to be on our boat 7 days later. Not so – we made our final payment and then started scheduling the transport, which takes almost 3 weeks to organize (unions we are told). Then there is 1 week of final commissioning by FP, after which we can move aboard. Then Uchimata will work for about 2 weeks and then we will look for our weather window to leave. This does push us back later than we expected, and we may be waiting a while for the weather to clear for our 3 day crossing to A Coruna.
It is a shame we didn’t know that sooner, because we could have organized our money faster if we had known. Now we have time to kill before we can move aboard. The transportation is scheduled for October 29th, and then the handover is November 7th.
Today, we are moving our 6 bags to Uchimata to store (thank you Pierre!) Tomorrow (Saturday) we leave La Rochelle to spend 2 nights in Paris, where we will meet up with some cousins of mine and one of David’s friends from high school who lives in Switzerland. After that we will head to Amsterdam, where neither of us have been before. We will stay there for four nights, and then return to France, where we will arrive in La Rochelle and then go to Il du Re, which is a island off of La Rochelle, for two nights. Then we will be back to La Rochelle on the 26th, where David’s parents arrive on the 27th and we will hopefully do a factory tour on the 28th and watch the transportation and launch of Starry Horizons on the 29th. Then the real work begins!