After island hopping at the south coast of Bretagne, we came back to the mainland of France again. In Les Sables d’Olonne. We left Bretagne now: les Sables is a seaside resort and part of La Vendee.
And les Sables is familiar terrain for us: on 20. June 2019 we picked up our catamaran in the harbor of Les Sables d’Olonne, to sail the ship back in 2 weeks to the Netherlands. So sweet memories 3 years later, when we sailed in this harbor again! This is also homeport of Lagoon, the manufacturer of our boat. So there are a lot of Lagoon catamarans in the harbor, ready to be picked up by their new owners.
Three years ago, we were in Les Sables only for 2 days. So we didn’t see much of the city and the surroundings. Now we have more time to cycle around and it turned out Les Sables is an elegant city, with a long beach (Grande Plage) in the shape of a semicircle of 4 kilometers which radiates a holiday feeling. The Vendee has a sloping landscape with lots of yellow wheat fields and forests. And swamps. So a different sight compared to rough Bretagne with high cliffs and fishing villages.
Why is this blog called high in the sky, since we are at a boat 😊? There are 3 reasons for that:
It was announced with posters in the city, that there would be an airshow: during 3 hours about 45 different types of planes would fly over the bay area and give a demonstration. That sounded interesting. So 15 minutes before it started we cycled from the harbor to the Grande Plage where you could watch the Airshow. When we arrived, it turned out that more than 120.000 visitors where at the beach, it was a major event! We were lucky to find 2 chairs at one of the beach clubs and had a great time in the sun watching the planes fly over. It was quite a spectacle: planes from World War II (including sounds of shooting and bombs exploding!), 20 paratroopers jumping out of a plane and landing on the beach, pilots making looping’s or pretending to crash (‘falling’ with high speed in the direction of the water). We watched a helicopter rescue action, a Spitfire, a big Boeing flying over the beach. It was all reported by an enthusiastic presenter who used beautiful French words like: ‘un ballet aérien grandiose’ and ‘patrouille acrobatique’. He had live contact with the pilots while they were flying. The grand finale were 8 fighter jets who flew in perfect formation and left the colors of the French flag in the sky. This is an act performed by pilots of the French Army, called La Patrouille de France:
In the harbor, there was a special Village created for the 25 solo-sailors who would compete in the ‘Vendee Arctique’, which is a sailing race from Les Sables d’Olonne to Iceland and back. During 2 weeks sailing more than3.000 miles, day and night solo without assistance. Quite a challenge! So spectators could watch the all boats in the Village, see a movie about the preparation and a map of the journey. We went to the village a couple of times and saw the departure of all ships. The ships are big: 60 feet and lift up in the air by using foils, which have the same effect as airplane wings. So the boat has less resistance pushed up out of the water and will go faster.
Bosun’s chair: going up the mast 21 meters high
When we arrived in the harbor, and we tied up the boat, we noticed that one of our sails (the Code-0) had it’s line twisted at the top of the mast. And the sail wouldn’t come down to the deck, because of the line that got stuck. So we had to solve the problem at the location itself: 21 meters up in the mast! I went up, sitting in the bosun’s chair, which was connected with 2 lines, and Gilles hoisted me up by using the winch on the deck. It was quite high up there, but also cool to see the harbor from above. I managed to untwist the line and the sail started to lower itself back to the deck. So we also tested the bosun’s chair, it worked, check!