Abemama is out of the canals ans sporting 2 upright masts after having them on the wheelhouse roof for five weeks of plenty of cycling, plenty of socialising and a deal of work between Agde, Bordeaux, the River Garonne (which was a nice down-tide ride) and The Gironde.

We are currently at Pauillac – the epicentre of Bordeaux and Medoc wines. The Gironde is not my favourite river for a number of reasons. Yesterday, at Lormont (the only sensible stopping place at Bdx) began with a tree trunk running up with the tide and lodging itself, first in the rudder and then under the hull and bilge plates. Gently, we verified that it had not jammed the rudder and that the prop shaft would turn. For an hour we heard it bumping below and were apprehensive that it would jam tight, or come out and damage the prop, when we motored into the stream. Fortunately, a passing passenger liner kicked up a big wash and bounced it clear.

Bdx – Pauillac was wind over tide and an uncomfortable ride, crowned by about 3 knots of current at the pontoons. It is always’ heart in mouth time’ here as you shoot in through the narrow entrance and have to make a 180 turn in a tight place to get bows into the tide. Happily, our big rudder and 50 horses screw us round very well, but it is not a manoeuvre to which I look forward with pleasure.

Today, the sun has shone enough to make remasting a warm pleasure. We started at 1100 and have put up both sticks, bent on 3 sails, mounted the wind instrument and the radar, restored the Navtex, wired in the radio antennae and stocked ship for 2 days. Here, handling a mast costs 200 francs. A neighbouring ketch paid 850 francs in the Bdx docks and 500 is the norm at Royan. Our berth was charged at 85 fr including water, electricity and shower.

Tomorrow, we hope to get down to Royan, where 2 things will exercise our minds – getting out of this often problematic river and finding diesel because the lorry drivers and farmers are blockading all deliveries of fuel.

As all our Pauillac neighbours resignedly tell us “C’est la France”.