Beware Biscay destinations

Some major ports in west France are still closed to visiting yachts because of damaged infrastructure from the killer storm Xynthia, reports YM correspondent Miranda Delmar-Morgan.

Both La Rochelle and Les Sables d’lonne on the Biscay coast are turning visting yachts away after pontoons and lockgates await repair. Miranda, who is cruising her 34ft wooden Holman & Pye sloop Polar Bear down to Northern Spain was caught out by the closures.

With her husband and two daughters she hoped to berth in La Rochelle and return to her home in the UK to sort out some domestic issues. But she had to push on to the Gironde which leads up to Bordeaux, to find a berth.

‘We are in a muddy lock about 20 miles up the Gironde. It’s cheap at £150 a month, but we only had 27 centimetres under the keel on entry which also nearly gave me a heart attack,’ said Miranda, ‘I hadn’t realised how critical these ports are: the off lying islands are too small to cope with demand and surrounding ports are full.’

The family are hoping to reach Galicia before the season ends.

Storm Xynthia killed 50 people and wrecked hundreds of yachts in February. Simon Keeling analysed the storm (see YM May 2010).

Pic: Paris Match