30th April 2011
So we left LRB, and now we're back... It's been a while since our last update, so this one goes on a bit - feel free to skip some, none or all of it!
On the 28th March, we made the epic voyage from LRB to Arzal, ready for liftout the next day. Although it was a trip of only about 45 minutes, it felt good to be
free from a pontoon and moving again. We spent the night on a hammerhead next to Saradan and were lifted out the following morning. Henri & Nico the hoist
drivers are very careful, helpful and friendly, but they don't mess about - they lift many boats each day, and take about 10 minutes to take a boat from the water
and secure it in its cradle, and vice versa. We pressure-washed and scrubbed the hull whilst it was still wet, and then retired to the house we had rented, a 5 minute
walk from the boat. The house was small and basic, but immaculate and clean and absolutely ideal for our needs.
For the next 2 weeks we did all the usual polishing and antifouling, anode replacement and saildrive oil change. We bought a mini access tower, a smaller version
of the type of thing we used to hire in Plymouth, which cost the same to buy as we used to pay for a weekend's hire. It isn't quite as big, but it makes it much
easier for Andy when he buffs the polish and wax off (for those of you who remember Humph from I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, you may enjoy that last sentence...)
We also managed to get 5 coats of varnish on the cockpit table, and sanded and varnished the galley fiddle. For any Bavaria owners reading this, Epifanes Rapidclear
is a perfect match. We also re-sealed the sinks with silicone sealant, and we took the advice from Tim to use masking tape round the whole length to be sealed (removing
it immediately after applying the sealant), which took much longer than actually applying the sealant, but resulted in a very neat finish.
Ahh more meths...
So after all that activity we need a rest! Tim & Karen to the rescue again by inviting us for a trip up river on Saradan. A more pleasant way to spend
a day would be hard to imagine - perfect weather (just enough wind to ghost back down the river) great lunch and convivial company.
It's a hard life, this living aboard lark...
There's never a human to throw a ball when you want one...
In between all this activity, we had a visit from Paul & Liz from Chipping Sodbury, in the area on their first trip abroad with their new caravan. It was good to
see them, and not just because they came with their boot loaded with Gordon's Gin, Pimm's, poppadoms and a wee haggis, amongst other things - that was some meal!
We spent the next week after re-launch on a pontoon at Arzal marina, attending to numerous remaining jobs. We then moved out to anchor just up-river from the
marina - we even managed a brief sail! It's a beautiful and tranquil spot with no tide and gloopy mud on the bottom, so perfect holding ground.
Another day trip beckoned, this time courtesy of Nico's wife, who works at
Branfere, a kind of Westonbirt Aboretum with an exceptional variety of exotic animals
and birds, mostly uncaged and often mingling with the visitors. We wouldn't
necessarily have though of going to a 'zoo', but this place is really something else and
we thoroughly enjoyed it - well worth a visit, and you need a whole day to see everything! There are rather a lot of photos below, but then there was a lot to see!
Hope he doesn't reverse any further, else he'll have a few volts where the sun don't shine, and they don't like it up 'em. They do not like it up 'em...
You'll never get that in there Mrs...
Storks nesting on the chimney stacks of the chateau.
Take one kid goat, stuff with popcorn, prepare the Cobb...
And that won't fit on the Cobb Tim...
Tarka Dahl - like ordinary dahl but 'otter...
Think it's a Terrapin. But it could be a Portakabin...
Tim going for the artistic shot - this and the remaining Branfere photos are courtesy of Tim of Saradan.
A bit difficult to see, but a wallaby with its joey just popping back in.
A Pygmy Hippopotamus.
Exotic bird display which included amongst others this vulture, sulphur crested cockatoo, storks, herons, mackaws, kookaburra - all at the same time and not eating one-another!
So now we are back at LRB, anchored just downstream of the marina - another perfect anchorage, complete with personal wildlife park. So far we've seen and/or heard
cuckoos, kingfishers, herons, buzzards, swallows, coypu and we're fairly certain two otters.
We're continuing the job list, one of which has been to add fendering to Nessie our Nestaway dinghy. This
has been achieved by using pipe lagging from Bricomarche, for the grand total of just over €6, and a baguette bag for another couple of Euros from Carrefour to stow
the lagging (I mean fendering) completes the package. So far so good, we may have to patent it...
There's a section left unfendered to avoid chafe in the rollock region, which could be painful...
And with the rollocks removed (ouch) a small conventional fender can be added.
We are pretty much ready to go now. We've studied the charts and pilot books, and we know where we're going - it's south... But we may linger in the Vilaine for
another week, to wait for a more convenient combination of lock and high water times in order to get over the bar with plenty of water beneath us. There are worse
places to be...