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Since our last post, things were not terribly exciting for a few days. I came down with a cold, so we spent a few days eating microwave dinners and watching Netflix. We stopped by Starry Horizons almost every day while she was in the Port of La Rochelle.
On November 4th, Starry Horizons was moved to Minimes, where she was docked with all the other FP boats. In fact, we were tied up 2-deep, so we had to climb over another Helia to get onboard. Fortunately no one was home on that one. Our broker, Frank, arrived on November 6th and that’s where things got busy! We picked him up at the train station and went straight to Starry Horizons. We met with Gregory of FP to do our handover and walk through. Gregory walked us through all the parts of the boat, answered our questions, and showed us how everything worked. Afterwards, we walked to Uchimata and picked up our 6 bags that Pierre let us store.
Appropriately enough, we had dinner at Le P’tit Amiral.
First thing on Friday morning, Bridgette at FP processed our paperwork for exportation, which meant that Starry Horizons was officially US-flagged, and we could get our shipment delivered. It arrived shortly after at Uchimata. In the meantime, David and I checked out of our AirBNB and our host very nicely drove us to Minimes (an otherwise 40 minute walk) with all of our bags and groceries. David and I unpacked the bags that we had on the boat, and we decided that in order to get everything to the boat from our liftbox, we needed a car. David and Frank went to rent a car while I continued unpacking.
That night, we decided to go ahead and crack open the liftbox and unpack everything into our rental, which was a van. It felt a bit like we were robbing Uchimata, as it was dark out. We were very glad to do so because even though we bought sheets and a blanket in La Rochelle, we had 5 blankets packed in the lift box, and we used 4 of them that night! We did greatly enjoy our first night on Starry Horizons, even if it was windy and rainy.
On Saturday November 8th, we started Starry Horizons up and headed over to the fuel dock. The fuel dock is open 24/7, as it is a credit card machine, so no assistance is required. There is a maximum of 300 euros, so we put as much gas in as we could, knowing that we will just come back to the dock and fill up again before we leave La Rochelle.
From there, we moved Starry Horizons over to dock #1. This dock was closer to the parking lot, and would allow us to tie up to the dock instead of to another boat, so it would be easier to load stuff onto the boat. The Capitainerie (marina office) allows us to temporarily dock there. Between rainstorms, David and Frank unloaded the van while I stayed on the boat and unpacked things as they were brought onboard. This included our Mantus anchor, and dingy engine. Once we got most things settled in and the empty boxes out, we headed in the van to the Carrefour Angoulins. I can’t find a translation for Angoulins, but it’s a big supermarket, whereas the Carrefour City is a small market in an urban area. We had quite an extensive list, such as trash cans, storage containers, and food items. We had to cut our trip short, because we had to get the van back, but we got plenty of items to get us settled in (and an almost 600 euro bill!). Included was sushi we picked up, and honored my dad with dinner on the boat.
We went to bed very early after all that hard work, but unfortunately we were woken up at 1:45 am by the boat next to us, a Sanya 57′, hitting us as they departed La Rochelle. When we say next to us – there was about 12′ between us and them, and at 1:45 the winds and current were calm, so we have no idea why they got even remotely close to us. Of course, we got up to see what was going on and fended them off our bow. We checked for damage – she was ok!
Sunday morning was a slow morning. We woke late after our exciting night, and spent some time unpacking and organizing. When Frank arrived, we packed up and headed out to sea. The weather Sunday was beautiful, but calm. It was a perfect day to let Starry Horizons stretch out. I drove, while David and frank worked the sails, stretching each one out and testing the lines.
Keep in mind, at this time we don’t have any electronics onboard, so no wind indicator, rudder indicator, chartplotter, VHF, etc. So we were using a hand held VHF and our iPad with Navionics as a GPS. We did get up to 5.5 knots, in very little wind with the screecher. During our sail, someone had their VHF talk button pressed the entire time – you could hear people laughing and talking in french from far away. Coupled with the fact that we don’t speak very good French, our VHF was pretty useless. We were surprised though, when a small official boat from Minimes came by and asked us to turn off our VHF to make sure it wasn’t us with a stuck talk button. It wasn’t – but we watched him zoom from boat to boat. Eventually he must have found the boat, because channel 16 became usable again. I’m glad we weren’t those silly Americans! Then we did finally get to hear activity on the VHF – including a pan pan in English, for a boat called Yellow Submarine that was overdue to Saint-Martin.
Back to the dock, we left Starry Horizons and took the ferry to La Rochelle. We have found that being in La Rochelle during the off season has its advantages and disadvantages – an advantage is that La Rochelle is not very busy, but a disadvantage is that public transportation isn’t at full throttle. The passenger ferry from Minimes to La Rochelle only runs on the weekends, as opposed to ever day during the busy season. In addition, the same company that runs the ferry, Yelo, also has bikes for rent all over the city. Unfortunately, in the off season, they use a different processing machine than in the peak season, and in the off season, foreign credit cards don’t work. Crazy right? So we are unable to rent bikes from Yelo at an hourly rate.
We had pizza for dinner and said goodbye to Frank as he heads back to the states. He was incredibly helpful while he was here, doing the walk through and test sail with us, and then going above and beyond by driving our (manual) van and helping us unload into Starry Horizons. We will see him again in Florida!
Today and Tuesday are holidays, so not too much is going on in terms of getting the boat ready. We expect that Uchimata will start Wednesday with their projects, and with a 2 week estimate, that will put us at November 26th as a finish date. We will start watching the weather closely, so that as soon as Uchimata is done and a window opens up we will be out of here.
In the meantime, there is a Salon de la Gastronomie today and tomorrow which we will try to go to. We also need to grocery shop and test out our butane system in the galley. David is going to try to determine where we want to install our watermaker, and I am going to find a bike shop to buy locks and saddlebags for our bikes.
Think warm thoughts for us!