I have been doing some light editing with Photoshop. The later photos were blurred by seawater on the lens and salt deposits. This is something to be constantly watched!
This was my first point of interest just after I passed under the bridge between the mainland and the Isle of Oléran. The Fort Louvois dates from the seventeenth century and had something to do with resisting colonisation by the not-so-invisible Empire (sorry, Romantic Ladies!). Today, it is a tourist attraction and is accessible at low tide by a causeway.
As I approached the Ile d’Aix, a tad too far to the east for my liking and having to tack to correct my course, I passed Fort Enet off the Fouras peninsular. This would have been yet another defence against the same old enemy!
Here is Sarum dried out on the beach, giving me three hours to visit the island. More than that, she would have needed bow and stern anchors and my rubber dinghy to get to her. The black object on my foredeck is a solar battery charger to boost up my mobile phone a little – and my little mp3 player to give me some music on board. Both devices have to be kept dry, so not whilst under way. The mp3 player churns out my favourite pieces, but in a plastic box.
We English could have taken Napoleon out and shot him or hanged him from the nearest tree. The defeated French Emperor was treated with respect and lodged in this beautiful house before being taken to Elba. He was a formidable foe, but I can only admire the energy and vision of Bonaparte in his reconstruction of France and an idea of Europe so far ahead of his time.
This is the old abbey church of the island. The old wall of the nave is visible to the left, and all that remains are the transepts and the crypt.
The crypt (professional photo).
This church bares a tale of man’s inhumanity to man, that of Robespierre and his guillotine orgy in the 1790’s. He got his own neck shortened in 1794. The translation of the above: “On this Ile of Aix between 3rd May and 20th August 1794 were interred 226 of 829 priests who were deported to the Hulks of Rochefort during the Terror. 64 of these priests were beatified in Rome on 1st October 1995 by HH Pope John Paul II. Among them, 37 rest in this Ile. Some of their ashes were laid under the floor slabs of this church.
At this point, my camera lens was covered with seawater salt, and the ensuing crappy photos are all I have. The scene is the port of Château d’Oléran taken from my boat. The port reminds me of so many little fishing ports along the south and east of England with the wooden buildings, most of which are workshops.
The Seudre is an immensely wide river with fascinating ports like along the coast of Louisiana (according to photos I have seen). The street is a channel with individual houses and moorings for the traditional fishing boats.
As the wind freshened, I had a harder job to do to sail the boat and took no further photos. What good does it do to take a photo and lose the camera and a lot of other stuff in a capsize? Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos were still playing on my little mp3 player, but I had to close the plastic box to keep everything dry from the spray. I close-hauled Sarum out of the worst of the chop and had the mooring ordeal ahead of me.
This is the boat used by the friendly young harbour master to take me ashore with my cruising stuff, having only just enough depth to dock the boat. It felt amazing to step aboard this ultra-stable work boat after being in my dinghy. This photo, taken about 5 minutes ago, shows the harbour master’s dock dried out.
Here is Sarum taken from the harbour master’s dock, dried out. Anything moored here is only afloat for about three hours a day, perhaps a little more for Sarum since she draws so little depth. The harbour master’s boat operates strictly within those times. The alternative is using my rubber dinghy or wading in mud and cockles! I’ll certainly take my wife for a little turn round the bay on Thursday or Friday when the wind turns to the north-east and starts off nice and gently.
We’ll be back in Normandy next Sunday.