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Merci La Rochelle

OoH Jul 14, 2014, by Tessa van den Berg in Yacht

We’re getting ready to cross the rocky Bay of Biscay again. Lisbon is waiting. Our saffron beauty is getting more and more prepared as the days in the lovely old harbour of La Rochelle go by. Laundry is done, groceries are packed and the sailing is again about saying goodbye...

Thursday we entered the beautiful harbour escorted by boats from Le Cercle Handi Rochelais. People are waving, filming and tooting their horns. Even the Danish national anthem was sung from a bridge. On the dock stands a group of French people with MS. We feel so welcome, if we only could speak more French to tell them that. Hopefully we can let them know via this route: "Thank you all, for being there!"

In the following days there are taster sails and meetings. It is a lovely experience even though we can't really cross the language barrier. We are lucky to be at La Rochelle during the 30th anniversary of the music festival the Francofolies. What a great party that is! Music everywhere mixed with colourful festival street life.

On Oceans of Hope French people are sitting with us after their taster sail. They feel it’s a life-changing experience. Next to me is a young woman with MS. She sailed and she loved it. Got seasick but still loved it! She sits on the boat, tired but extremely satisfied. She used to be a dancer before the disease crawled into her body. She is not able to walk without help anymore but how magnificent – she can still dance! And she shows us. With the live music in the background she suddenly gets off the boat, steps onto the pontoon and starts dancing. And we join in. We end the day dancing on the dock. What a beautiful, unforgettable experience!

Sailing is not only about fresh wind and being outside, it is again also about saying goodbye.

Entering La Rochelle we had to say goodbye to our English gentleman and dentist, Phil the Drill (and his family). Bosun Bertram is back so we say goodbye to George Clooney (Morten). Bertram, by the way, looks like Leonardo di Caprio. So, going from Clooney to di Caprio, life is still good on the boat. We said goodbye to our caring sailing doctor Christa. Pernille will take her place. Also new on the boat is the blonde Tine. The Danish influence gets bigger and bigger. At the railway station we wave goodbye to our loved, uplifting, humorous motherly barista, Inia.

When saying goodbye is hard, it can only mean that the time shared was wonderful and they are missed.

A new adventure is waiting to be explored. Sunday morning we have a meeting with croissants, just because we still can. Outside it rains while we learn more about winds and the different currents the Bay of Biscay. There will be little wind, strong currents and rough waves, however, are to be expected. So we will motor our way up to the north western corner of the Iberian penninsula before we can finally hoist the sails and practice our sailing skills again.

Schedules are made, nightshifts are back, 50 hours of rocky motoring will lie ahead. Let’s hope we can keep the ‘mal de mer’ (seasickness) out of Oceans of Hope this time...

Thanks to everyone who made our La Rochelle adventure this big success. It was wonderful. We have fresh croissants in our stomachs, lovely memories fill our hearts.

The yacht has to sail on. To Lisbon it is!

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