Departing the Azores on the 13th June, as trips went this was the gentlest with very little sailing undertaken at all.

With a high centred over the Azores, there was either no wind, or a gentle Zephyr upon the nose. A one week sail became two of constant motoring.

Excitement???? Some days out, stealthily creeping across the seascape, an eerie – yet mystical – white blanketing cloak of white fog drifted in, surrounding Gratis in a chill that went bone deep. Air weighted with moisture, water droplets draped the decks assisting the creation of a frigid feel within – out came the woollens!! Unlike ships of old where all on board attempted to peer through the blinding blanket, AIS and radar made motoring a ‘breeze’.

In a first, this was a leg in which no equipment break down occurred and the conditions enabled us to undertake quite a few jobs on our ‘to do’ list.

The excitement this trip occurred the night I looked at the clock, saw it was 01:00 and decided to give Bob a little more sleep. Seeing 01:15 on the radar was the last thing I remembered until 04:00 when Bob, having awoken with a start, prodded me into wakefulness. In a first, I had actually fallen asleep on shift. During those hours, the empty ocean waters had filled with ships and we were totally surrounded: thank goodness we had the radar alarm.

The 23rd, life came to the waters as dolphins soared at Gratis’ bow.

The 24th, Bay of Biscay

The 24th, the fishing boats

12 days and almost 1000 litres of fuel later, we at last arrived at our destination of La Rochelle, where mundane activities such as having our passports stamped, restocking food, refuelling, purchasing internet/phone time, washing and so on have took place.

The 26th, entering the marina at La Rochelle.

As towns go, La Rochelle was a holiday destination for the French, it proved quite expensive, so for those people on a budget it was not a long term port of call.