Île d'Yeu 19.6. - 23.6.
When we were sailing to southern England in 2013 and we started our circumnavigation of the British Isles we joined a very active cruising club, The Cruising Association. The club has sections all over the world. At first we joined the North Sea section and got to know many sailors on the East coast of the UK.
Now that we are sailing on the Bay of Biscay we follow the CA Biscay section. The main Biscay events of this summer were two rallies and one of them was just on our route. There were a total of 14 boats participating in the Yeu Rally, all other boats were from the UK and we were from Finland. The rally lasted for three days and every evening we had common activities while daytime was free for exploring the island on its own pace.
When we were arriving to the harbour of Port-Joinville on Monday evening it was already full with several yachts being rafted up. The heatwave had really got the sailors out to the sea. Here it is more a rule than an exception for building rafts from multiple yachts as the marinas fill up. There were two yachts moored in a row on the hammerhead. We were about to come alongside one of them when the skipper had such a facial expression making sure that we're not welcome. We continued and made her fast to the next boat that had super friendly crew. Mr Grumpy really did not want to raft with anybody and also sent out some other boats but the yachts kept coming in never ending line. Later when Mr Grumpy returned back to his boat, there was a nice raft alongside his boat.
We spent a peaceful night as a middle boat on our raft as in the evening still another boat was coming alongside us. In the morning there was a departure time when the rafts were dismantled slowly and the boats were departing to the sea. We also got our own berth. The same dance repeated every evening and morning with the harbour getting full.
When Suwena was in her own berth on Tuesday morning we were eagerly looking forward to the CA rally starting at the evening. It was so nice when Judith the event organizer from S/Y Wizard of Paget came to welcome us to the rally. She also told the final program of the upcoming days.
It all came out as quite a feast. The first evening we had BYO (Bring Your Own) pontoon party. We had a vast variety of snacks that were shared among chatting sailors.
Everybody had already spent some time sailing in these waters and experiences of various locations were enthusiastically shared. The most discussed topic of the evening was Arcachon entrance that can be potentially dangerous when the swell is breaking on the entrance bar. The consensus was that Arcachon entrance should be passed close to the high water slack with the swell of 1m or less. The entrance channel moves during the winter storms and so the lateral buoys have to be moved regularly making charts useless. Before entrance you should either make VHF call on channel 16 or alternatively call +33 5 56 60 60 03) to Sémaphore du Cap Ferret for asking the actual conditions of the bar. Alternatively you can always follow any fishing boat that knows the local area well.
The evening was a success and soon in the air was an idea for arranging a pot luck pontoon dinner next evening, where everybody brings one dish for sharing. The Wednesday was a really hot day for cooking in galley but anyhow what an amazing range of main dishes and puddings have been cooked. Yummy yummy.
The entertaining evening continued when we all went together to the centre of Joinville. There was a summer party where children were dancing, people partying, the band was playing traditional seafaring songs and fire artists performing a show. We had a great time together even if we had absolutely no idea what we are celebrating.
On Thursday evening the rally culminated with a joint dinner at the restaurant 09 where Judith had organized menu selections beforehand. The food was delicious and changing of the experiences and future plans continued. Every evening at rally meetings we got to know new sailors. Time was quickly flying among nice people with good food.
The world is a really small place. Without knowing we had already met one of the rally yachts in Roscoff when S/Y Ceilidh was moored next to Suwena during last winter. We also almost met at Houat when we both were anchoring in the same bay at the same time. Now we met again with Caroline and John from S/Y Ceilidh. It is peculiar when sometimes by meeting new friends you feel like you are already old friends.
The island of Île d'Yeu is located about 10 miles off the western coast of France. It is about 8 by 4 kilometres and so we did like many others, we went for exploring the island by bike. We could really see that we have left Brittany behind and arrived in Vendée and closer to the Mediterranean. The more steep grey roofs of Brittany had changed into flatter terracotta roofs in the island of Yeu. We also stopped for admiring amazing beaches where one can choose either to sunbath in 30-degree sunshine or relax and read in a shadow of the trees. Both the options were in active use.
On Friday morning it was time to say goodbye to the new friends when most of the rally boats were continuing their adventures. We met many lovely couples and we really hope to meet them again one day somewhere.
Judith had made excellent arrangements in organizing the Yeu Rally. Warm thanks to Judith! We departed from the island of Yeu towards Les Sables d'Olonne with many good rally memories.