Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bordeaux

When in France, do as the French - which obviously means drink more wine.  First step, learn as much as possible about wine, and what better place to do that than Bordeaux.

Bordeaux was an hour drive from Lacanau, so we spent a morning learning a great deal about the different regions of France, the different grapes that are used to make Bordeaux wine, all about the vines and how they are grown and alas the tasting.  We learned that you're supposed to hold wine glasses by the stem, not the base, as your hand would warm the wine.  Who knew?  We also learned how to read french wine labels, which, as it turns out, are very different than the labels we are used to reading.  For example, the wine is not labeled "Cabernet" or "Merlot", it is simply marked by the estate that produced the wine and perhaps the region.  It is up to the buyer to know what varietal he is buying.  Also, only first production wine from a particular year is allowed to be called "Chateau" - all others from that year must use another name.

We passed our class and headed out for a quick dejeuner before returning to Lacanau, feeling ripe and a little more educated about the french culture.
Learned quite a bit about wines and vines
The wine regions in France - they all use a different combination of grape varieties
Colas, our sommelier

Walking the streets of Bordeaux
Most locals travel by bike not car

Plaza de Quinconces

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Lacanau-Océan

Lacanau-Océan (pronounced "lack-a-now, oh-see-en") is a small community in the south east corner of the Bay of Biscay.  It is really a summer oriented vacation spot so for us to be there in mid-January was what we would call in the US, "Off season".  The four days we were in Lacanau, there was also a pretty big weather system in the Bay of Biscay so the winds and waves were trés forts.  Another reason to keep the crowds at "bay". 

We arrived after a three hour drive from La Rochelle and I could barely open the car door as the wind was blowing at least 35 knots.  Baxter and I looked at each other and had the same reaction - so nice not to be on the boat in those waves.  We found a great place for lunch and had a quick pizza and beer and then found our AirBnB apartment. 

Each morning we would go for a run on the beach, usually in the rain and with wind blowing sideways.  On our run back we would pay our respect to the ocean and spend an hour picking up trash.  It was pretty rewarding as we found everything from laundry baskets to oil filters to potato chip containers - and of course, water bottles.  The waves were huge and it was easy to see how Lacanau is one of the biggest surf spots in France.  If only we had our boards and wetsuits, but unfortunately, they were back on Terrapin in the UK.  We watched while Kala enjoyed the surf and loved every single second of the beach. 

Public Service Announcement:  Please, please, please, never buy another water bottle again.  There are reusable containers in every shape and size to fit whatever your preference is - please never buy water bottles. They just end up in the ocean and on the beach.  #turnthetideonplastic #takeyourown #dontbuymoreplastic 

The wave forecast while we were in Lacanau







Monday, February 5, 2018

Sweet Chessie

It was a cold day in Georgetown, SC in November 2012 when Baxter and I met a dog named Chessie with her Mom and Dad, Ted and Maggie.  We had arrived at the Georgetown Landing Marina on "Stella Blue", our Tartan 37, heading south towards the Bahamas.  Ted, Maggie and Chessie were sailing "Sunday's Child", their Tartan 30, also heading to the Bahamas.

Kala and Chessie immediately hit it off and became instant friends.  They swam together, shredded coconuts together, Kala even let Chessie take a nap in her bunk on Stella Blue.  Two years later, when Ted and Maggie visited Baxter and I in Utah - Kala took her friend Chessie up to Dog Lake in Mill Creek Canyon.  Chessie was Kala's first true friend and every time they saw each other, you could tell they were friends forever.

We heard last night that Chessie is no longer with us.  It really is heart-breaking and hard to believe.  We know Chessie had an awesome life with Ted and Maggie and gave as much love as she possibly could.  

Thank you Chessie for the sweet memories and good times!  We'll see you over the Rainbow Bridge!
Chessie in Staniel Cay Exumas, 2012 - before the wild pigs came out of the bushes and Maggie shouted "Pigs"
Shredding coconuts together (Chessie on left, Kala on right)
Chessie napping on Kala's bunk
Kala keeping a close eye on her friends

Preacher Bill, Naked Dan ("Arcturus") with Chessie, Ted & Maggie at Norman's Cay in the Exumas
Pretty Chessie girl
Utah, 2014

Chessie Selfie

Saturday, February 3, 2018

La Rochelle, France Is Awesome... and then some


From Paris, we drove five hours to the west coast of France and the town of La Rochelle.  After having been landlocked for a couple weeks, we were excited to see the ocean and play on the beach.

La Rochelle did not disappoint.  This small town was settled in the 900s first by the gauls and then the Romans.  It became a major port in the 1100s and remained the largest harbour in France/England (as it was one country back then) until the 1500s mostly trading wine, salt and cheese.

Our first night in La Rochelle, we were able to have dinner with a friend who we (via Kala) met in Antigua last year, on a beach with his dog, Fanny.  Emmanuel and his family spoke very little English and Baxter and I speak only broken french but we talked and had dinner and communicated despite our cultural and linguistic differences.  We have been able to stay in touch and were excited to see him in La Rochelle and catch up on the happenings since we left each other in The Saintes in January 2017.  Sometimes you meet friends while sailing and you're not sure if it will be the last time you will ever see them again or if it is a friendship that will continue to work its way into your life throughout the years.

With the maritime history in La Rochelle, it's no surprise that there are some pretty cool boats in town.  One of the most famous is "Joshua", belonging to Bernard Moitessier and he sailed her in the Golden Globe Race of 1968/69.  If you don't know the story, we recommend the book "Voyage For Mad Men" and there is also a movie coming out with Colin Firth called "The Mercy" (Feb 2018) which highlights the story.  Joshua was tucked in for the winter at the maritime museum which was also closed but it was cool to see the long bow sprit and the steel masts and the spirit the boat exudes.

So - that was the first day in La Rochelle.  We needed more time.  We soon called and extended our apartment for an extra four days.  We used the extended time wisely, taking day trips to Les Sables D'Olonne (home of the Vendée Globe yacht race) and Île de Ré.   We took Kala running on beaches and through parks.  She patiently waited for us while we explored 12th century towers and ordered croissants from patisseries.  Once again, we were lucky enough that most shops and restaurants allowed her to visit.  We found a daily routine that is sometimes the hardest part of being away from home.
Downtown La Rochelle
Awesome driftwood sculpture on a typical street in La Rochelle
Morning run through parks
Happy girl
Our apt was right above the red sign on the right
Morning run in the city (next to one of my favorite stores)


Looking west towards the towers
Kala waiting patiently while we do a quick tour

Saint Nicolas Tower
Up the tower
Checking out the view
Don't lean over too far
Spiral staircases are never boring
Are you done yet?

Cool boat at the Maritime Museum
The 411 on a boat named "Kala"

Bernard Moitesier's "Joshua" - steel ketch that was one of the first boats to solo circumnavigate (c. 1969).
Different view of a couple buoys - we usually only see the tops
Hotel De Ville - Under renovation while we were there
"De Generation en Generation" (From generation to generation) bronze sculpture.  It is about the transfer of generations is like telling stories from a book (notice the book emerging from the wall).  If one is not transferred to the next, it is lost forever with no recourse.
Over 5,000 boats at Les Minimes marina
French cafe for petit déjeuner (breakfast)
Je suis le chien a la cafe (I am the doggie at the cafe)
Please sir, may I have a croissant et un pain de chocolat?

le dessert
Heading into Les Sables D'Olonne
The entrance into Les Sables D'Olonne

A rainy, windy day in Les Sables

Rough seas beyond the jetty in Les Sables
Running on beaches in Ile de Re
Phare de Baleine (Whale Lighthouse) on Ile de Re

Running on beaches is hard work
A bit chilly but fun nonetheless
This is what happens when doggies run on sandy beaches