Instead of one week we spent almost two weeks in La Rochelle (see below).
The work in La Rochelle made slow progress, but the people from Neel worked well. In the end we were happy when we could go on.
The first days at sea brought a lot of sunshine and very little wind – no stormy Biscay.
We didn’t want to use the motor too often, so we even let ourselves drift waiting for the wind to pick up again.
Because the coast south of La Rochelle is long and straight, there are no anchor bays and we spent two nights at sea. Off the coast is a wide shooting range (3 nm – 45 nm). So we tried to stay as close to the coast as possible on a southerly course.
Unfortunately, the wind was not constant. You couldn’t stay on a set course for long. During one of my night watches I was lucky at first and the wind changed thus that I could bear away instead of having to tack. It even freshened up and I sailed with 6-7 Kn speed happily along. I just wanted to sit back and relax, but then it started: No wind – wind-direction changing – waiting to see from which direction it blows next – headwind – so adjust the sails – obstacle lights now behind the sail – so run down and look from the inside – too high against the wind – so rather beat about. Mathias woke up around 6 o’clock, he said, he can’t sleep while there are these funny noises: Krrr (winch), creak, creak (loosen the sheet), tipple, tipple (hold the lookout below, or see if the sail is adjusted correctly), krrr, krrr, creak, creak, genoa in – jib out – jib in – genoa out, krrr. At least I didn’t fall asleep during the watch 😉
In the Baie de Saint-Jean-de-Luz we spent a whole day at anchor. We loaded the bike into the dinghy and went shopping to replenish the fresh provisions. In two days and two nights a lot of fruit is consumed on this ship. The bay was the last stop in France at the foot of the Pyrenees!
Now we sail along the Spanish coast.
Because I couldn’t find the Spanish flag in our collection, I finally started to sort this collection by sea areas and label the flags. That took almost a whole day.
In the photo you can see the flags we may need soon. Be honest: Do you know all of them right away?
This happened during our stay in La Rochelle:
The shipyard took care of the repairs we had asked for. It all took longer than planned, but the seawater pump and backboard bilge pump were replaced, the holding tank in the guest’s hull was repaired, cleaned and this time also fastened with an additional belt. Hopefully it shouldn’t cause any more problems. For the problem with the water desalinator the error lay with us, we had overlooked the valve of the water inlet and thus it could not work. At the Lazybag the belts were finally repaired, which had been torn off during the calibration drive through the shipyard. But it had to be taken down, as I had already thought. Several times we were told that it would be repaired at the ship and that it would be done on Monday. Monday afternoon the people from Incidence (sail maker) came and said that the bag had to be taken down after all. It then took until Thursday before everything was back in place. Almost everything, they had not stitched one loop back on, although the bag was inspected in the sails workshop.
The fixing points for the gangway were attached:
Our map of the world is finally hanging on the wall:
I sewed scuff protection for the shrouds. We need them when the Parasailor sheets are being led past.
Mathias installed an additional deflection for Parasailor sheets, which we also use for the genoa and jib furling systems.
Our rig had to be retightened again, which seems to be normal for a Dyneema rig. Also the rigger in Germany had worked alone and the tension on the two sides was not even. You don’t want to watch the work of the riggers. The mast hangs one-sided on a thin thread, fastened at our attachment points for the Parasailor. Luckily the shipyard in Wilhelmshaven installed them properly.
In the first week Mathias flew to Hamburg for a few days because he had to have a tooth extracted. That went well, but he came back with greetings and a message from the dentist, I was supposed to pull out the stitches in a week! Well, we have made the Sea Doc certificate 😉 Equipped with scissors, tweezers, torch and a funny feeling in my stomach I went to action – result positive: patient survived, thread is out!
We added to the payload for the ship in La Rochelle: a second folding bike. Much to my delight, Mathias agreed to take an electric bike. We now have a new white Brompton folding bike. But on the first day I cycled back to the bike shop three times (without electric support). The battery could not be charged. In the bicycle shop they tried it with another charger and a new battery (which had the same problem). Probably they hadn’t charged the new batteries immediately in the shop and they were stored too long. At the end of the day our battery decided to behave and could suddenly be charged normally. With the electric bike it is easy to reach a supermarket that is further away. The only problem when shopping: the payload volume. On the pictures you can see that I only just managed to get by, the lettuce had to be squeezed into the net of the rucksack. 🙂
We recently talked to two American couples who also want to buy a Neel. We are trying to tell them what to look out for and what changes have proven to be good for us. The contacts were made via the Internet. One couple also wants many solar cells and they had received Mathias system data from him. They visited us in La Rochelle on the ship. Next time we talk to somebody, we’ll have to make sure to mention more positive aspects of the ship. With the toilet disaster still on our mind and the slow progress of the repairs our report sounded too much like a horror story. Our visitor looked more and more stressed out. But the same problems don’t have to happen on every ship. Equipped with a list of points to look out for, a lot of the problems can be avoided from the beginning. Anyway, Germans like to concentrate on the problems. Time to mention the positive aspects: we have already sailed safely over 3000 nm with the ship, enjoyed the super space, let the wind blow around our noses on the sun deck. Once on the way to an anchor bay a small motorboat drove around us and photographed us in front of the setting sun – it is a beautiful ship with an impressive silhouette.
As I write this, we happily sail along, everything runs smoothly. The water desalinator worked and filled the tank, the wake gushes, the radio station plays nice music. We are enjoying the ride……