It was a Monday morning when we set off. The 31st July, not quite as rounded and satisfying as the 1st would have been. The lock openings at the river gave us no choice but to depart that one day earlier.
Everything started as usual; early wake-up call, coffee, walking the dog, yet I already felt slightly queasy, and the slightest little thing had my eyes welling up with tears.
Concentrating on the task ahead, we powered through the morning. Piling everything into the car, shopping for a week’s worth of on-board meals, and finally loading what seemed an impossible amount of cargo into the boat.
Suddenly, it was time to leave. Ready or not, the five of us – Dad, Devin, Alex, Holly, and myself – were off.
It is one of those situations where you want to say so much, yet are at a loss for words. I hugged Mum tight, and hoped she knew what I meant (then hugged her a few extra times for good measure). Monty the Dog looked bemused, slightly worried (was his mum about to leave him?), but most of all eager to get off the moving pontoon. I stroked his ears and made him promise to behave and look after our Mum.
Mike – who has put so much effort into helping us get Haji ready for her voyage – waved us off too. We took Richard (Holly’s dad) down the river with us, throwing him overboard before going through the lock.
We picked up a buoy and waited the thirty minutes until the lights went green, meaning we could enter the lock at Arzal.
Unlike last time, we jockeyed for position amongst the other boats, and found ourselves near the front gates. Quickly and efficiently, we were securely held alongside the lock wall by the heavy chains. Time to relax and enjoy the action as the other yachts and motor boats took their spots.
To our surprise, we looked up at the opening bridge to see Mike and Richard still there, waving. The final farewell party.
The gates opened, creating whirlpools as the salt water rushed to meet the fresh. Full steam ahead! We motored on down the river, waving until the bridge was out of sight.
By 6pm, the Villaine was left well behind us, only a few of our favourite Breton islands surrounding us. There was only one way left to go: straight out to Sea.