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La Rochelle to Arcachon

We're in Arcachon now, I'm sitting on deck with the sun going down, at anchor just west of town. Fred is lying on the settee below & Chris left this morning to head back to Guernsey. Not that I think he really wanted to though.

Fred arrived in La Rochelle early on Tuesday morning & woke me up by screaming, "Get up you lazy mother f***ker!!", through my open hatch as I lay sleeping.

I had spoken to Isotherm about my faulty (well flooded) fridge & they proceeded to send parts down to their dealers in La Rochelle until Chris (onboard mechanic & refrigeration engineer) got it working again. It's such a luxury to have cold drinks! Things seemed to be getting somewhere, & we were just about to leave for Arcachon when Chris noticed a crack on the heat exchanger in the engine. It looked like a fairly simple welding job, so we unbolted it & took it to be repaired. It wasn't long before we'd found somewhere & they asked us to come back about 6pm. We spent the afternoon getting some shopping, then I headed back on my bike to collect the heat exchanger. As I was cycling over, I tried to signal that I was turning left, got cut off by a car, lost my balance slightly & pulled back on my brakes. Unfortunately, only my right hand was on the handlebars so my front brake slammed on, causing me & the bike to somersault over. Luckily I managed to land on the grass & didn't get hurt. So off I went again, & went in to collect the heat exchanger. As he was giving it back to me, showing the weld he had did, he pointedto the end of it... I couldn't beleive it! He must have clamped it in a vice & had smashed in both ends! It was useless! I screamed at the guy in English & walked out. I returned to the yacht to find Fred & we went to the Volvo dealers to price another part. I was shocked when they told us it would cost 9000FF - almost �1000 pounds!! Anyway, after a not very happy evening, we spent the next day trying to get it repaired, failed, told the guy we would sue him, he said we had to get it analysed by a marine specialist & eventually Volvo dropped their price to 7000FF. In the end the marine specialist told us over the phone that it was corroded & would have needed replaced soon anyway, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that they knew each other. Chris, however, fitted the new heat exchanger, which Volvo remarkably had in stock (!!), & we left La Rochelle.

The trip down to Arcachon was pretty good, apart from the fact that the autopilot broke down as we left La Rochelle. This of course meant that Chris & I had to helm right through the 17 hours or so that it took us to get down here, although when Fred got up after his full night's sleep it turned out that he can helm pretty well too! We sailed quite a bit of the way down & Zamindar was storming along, breaking 8 knots at times. This, however, meant that we were too early to get into D'Arcachon Basin so we anchored off a very busy beach full of semi-naked women to wait. When we got to the marina we spent about an hour looking for a berth (which included some very nifty reverse chez moi), then we decided just to pick up someone else's bouy & spend the night on that.

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