Crew: Linda, Lenie, Terry, Andy B (as per Members Bookings Calendar on PYC website.)
After closely watching the weather for a week we were fairly certain that the summer cruise would have a gentle start. We left Gosport just as the RORC racers were leaving the Cowes starting line and as we chugged away to the south west the speed merchants were making good friends with their tidal atlases and maybe anchors. A F2 from the north east meant that we were adding layers of clothing with every hour that passed. By nightfall we had crossed the westbound shipping lane and were all clothed fit for a winter cruise. About 5am a little favourable breeze sprang up and we actually sailed the last few hours until the entrance to the Seine.
Motoring up the Seine was uneventful save for the odd passing freighter and the welcome glimpse of some sun and with our SOG slowly catching then overtaking our boat speed we let the incoming tide push us almost all the way to Rouen arriving at 1930.
Having taken the precaution of preparing and freezing a dinner we ate, drank and slept.
Our anticipation was that Monday morning we would be able to demast and be on our way, however the tidal range at Rouen limits the time that the boatyard can handle such a tall mast so it was not until 1330 that Lenie volunteered to be mast monkey and attach the vital strop needed to lift mast from deck.
Under Andy’s expert eye everything went smoothly and before long Andy was lovingly wrapping our mast and readying it for its overland journey to the Med. That evening we bade Andy a fond farewell as he was to travel back to Blighty the next day. Andy has worked above and beyond the call of duty to make this project work and we all take this opportunity to thank him for the time and effort he has put into a really comprehensive preparation and for his continuing support as we make our way through France.
Rather than fight the ebb we delayed our departure to Tuesday afternoon and spent the morning exploring Rouen, famous as the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. It’s a busy mixture of the Medieval and the modern and a thriving commercial centre. It was also wet. This was the day that the rain started. We motored away mastless from the Porte de Plaisance in drizzle which turned to heavy rain which stayed with us all day. Curiously it took us a day to work out that our new Bimini would also act as a very effective rain shelter. Doh!
Our aim was to reach the first lock and be free of tidal concerns by nightfall and in the event it was nearly dark when we slipped into a picturesque mooring at Poses with a friendly island to shelter us from the wash of the commercial traffic.
A word here about locks. On this river they are HUGE, built to take cargo carriers that are also HUGE. Each lock seems to be different and the only thing that they have in common is that they have very few places for a little boat like Quartette to hang to. Cleats are set into the lock walls but are always much further apart than the length of the boat so a lot of manoevering is required to make fast bow and stern and of course as the water rises you have to be able to move each attachment up. After a week we think that we have developed a good technique, mooring portside to, to make use of the prop walk, getting the important bow line on a column of good cleats and holding the stern to the inset lock ladder. Even then we get surprises but we are getting better.
Quartette port-side-to in a lock on La Seine
Wednesday saw us reaching the town of Vernon. It’s just a short distance from the home of Monet the painter and popular with the cruising hotels. As we approached we had looked at mooring at the advertised yacht club but considered that the berths were too shallow to be comfortable. Instead we moored on the Municipal key ahead of a large cruising hotel. There was plenty of space and besides they were leaving at 1700 and kindly gave us a bag of ice so that we could have our first proper G&T. The surprise came at 0500 when we were woken to the sound of an ENORMOUS sister ship trying to berth alongside us. With their exhaust parked next to our cockpit we were happy to make an early departure.
Mooring neighbours on La Seine
Lenie, Terry and Linda prove they are in Paris
Quartette leaves Notre Dame de Paris to port
By Friday we were on the run into Paris and for once in glorious sunshine. Cruising past the beautiful Parisian summer residences on the outskirts of the city was a real eye opener. We had the river to ourselves most of the day until we caught up with the mayhem of the tourist boats in the city centre. It is a great way to see this city if a little stressful as we manoeuvre to fit between huge cargo craft, huge Bateaux Mouches and River Police speeding around on the ribs.
By 1830 we were squeezed into a berth in the Paris Arsenal, dinner organised by a relative of Terry and a great tour of the nightlife around the Bastille.
Amazingly our little engine has used just 1.8 litres of fuel per hour on this journey.
Week One done! We’re here in one piece, Jo joins us tomorrow and more adventures to come.