St Denis d'Oleron to Ars-en-Ré - Friday, 15 August 2003, 25 miles

Visited the town again, wondering if anything would be open on the 15 August feast day. However, things have changed radically since we first went cruising in France, and not only was everything apart from the Post Office open, but there was a lively market in the square and streets around.

Set sail at 10:00 into a North Westerly F3, almost dead on the nose for the North of Ile de Ré. Our first tack took us close to Chauchardon light, which had changed from RWR to BW since the chart was printed.

As we approached the North end of the Ile de Ré, the wind fell lighter and lighter. As we were now at about LW, we reckoned we needed to give Haut Banc du Nord a good clearance, and it was 14:40 before we could come off the wind and fly Mr Andrews to take us into the Plage de la Conche, where we planned to anchor for an hour or so to await the flood.

At the beach, we anchored, and I swam ashore to join the fabled nudists. Actually, most of the beach was populated by holiday makers in conventional beach attire, with just a tiny stretch left for around a dozen nature lovers.

After an hour, we upped anchor, raised Mr Andrews, and enjoyed a rising wind to shoot us down to the entry channel into Ars, where we dropped all sail and motored the mile or so dead to windward into the lagoon.

The attraction for us of Ars-en-Ré is that it lies at the head of a large lake, le Fier d'Ars. Most of the lake is a nature reserve, but, near the entrance there is pool where keel boats can anchor (although moorings take the best space), and just outside the channel, a soft sand bank where multis and centreboarders can dry out in great comfort. So, we anchored in 1.4m, sharing the bank with a tri.