Finally it feels like we are off again exploring new waters at last, only to arrive in Granville and stop a lot longer than planned…
Firstly a good passage from Jersey to Granville just a short 30 nautical miles, so there was always land in sight either the Channel Islands, the Isles of Chausey or France itself. We departed an hour before low tide in order to get some assistance from the tides and also having to time our arrival into Granville at high-water +/- 3 hours to be able to enter the harbour which has a tidal sil. We averaged between 5-6 knots speed in fairly light winds, the passage was around 5.5 hours.
We sailed the entire passage, despite being over taken by a couple of other yachts (frustrating) but then nice to hear later when we saw them Granville that they actually were motor-sailing with some assistance from the engine – not us, pure wind/sail power.
Granville is a lovely seaside community with all the typical French delights; a wonderful fresh seafood and produce market, grand old churches, a lively seafront, an old walled town up on the hill and of course delightful baguettes!
It didn’t take long for our French dialect to resurface and we haven’t had any trouble finding what we need or speaking with people.
We met Pierre & Isabelle who live locally, friends that Phil has met previously through other Australian friends. Pierre is a a retired man of the sea having an entire life of boating experience, he was a great assistance in directing us to the various mechanics and shops in order to get our repairs sorted.
Repairs included removing and replacing the gear box seal which had a small leak, this job turned into a bigger job than anticipated however it was a relief to be able to repair it as we were (in the water) without having to lift the boat out or lift the engine out of the boat. The delay and frustration came with getting the ‘nut’ off in very tight quarters with no room for tools. Phil spent 4 days bent like a contortionist working with tools using a mirror to see what he was doing before finally getting the nut off, which in the end he had to drill out, then the delay of waiting on a new nut to be shipped. The starter motor solenoid was repaired much simpler, no more tapping with a spanner, the engine is starting first time every time.
During the repairs I (Maree) took a day to visit Mont St Michel. Phil had been previously and although he would love to have gone again cracking the ‘nut’ was much more important at the time.
Mont Saint Michel located on an island (at high tide) 1km off the coast is thought to date back to 708 when the original sanctuary was built. Initially used as a monastery in the 8th century. By the 10th century the Benedictines were settled in the Abbey while a village began to grow below the walls on the base rock of the island. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the the feudal society that constructed it: on top (92 meters above sea level) God, the Abbey and the Monastery below the great halls, then the stores and housing and at the bottom outside the walls houses for fisherman and farmers.
During the hundred year war the island and fortress made a natural stronghold and despite multiple attempts England were unable to seize it.
Following the the dissolution of the religious community during the Revolution and up until 1863 it was used as a prison.
In 1874 is was classified as a historic monument and major restoration work followed, it is now a top tourist location with over 3 million visitors a year.
Whilst Phil was working away on the repairs I kept myself occupied and productive creating various bags and such using the fabric from our old main sail which we replaced this year. I had been scrounging various spinnaker scraps (light weight coloured material) for some time and added various embellishments to the bag with it. The old main sail had sailed us safely to 14 countries in the last two and a half years, so these creations come with a real history, each mark being a chapter in our story, it is fantastic to be able to up-cylce and keep using it.
We did have a day out exploring together later in the week to Villedieu les Poeles, or as I like to call it – Bell Town. Only one of three bell foundry’s in France and one of eight in Europe, that really isn’t many considering how many bells and churches there are in Europe. The bell foundry produces bronze bells and memorial monuments and send the all over the world. Wonderful to see craftsmen and craftswomen working on real commissions, it is an absolute art!
Finally after almost three weeks we have the repairs finished and Red Roo is in tip top shape ready to continue south along the coast.