Day 8, Bouveret-Montreux

Sunrise behind motor yacht when sailing around Lake Geneva

Sunrise peeking through the clouds before more rain

My meal was not that great last night. Tortellini that seemed to come out of a box for CHF25.-. Switzerland is absurdly expensive, yet it’s absolutely magnificent as is this morning. And I slept under a leak all night. I managed to put a plastic container at my feet to contain the problem and it worked. But I was thirsty, and it was too late to go to a store or restaurant to buy water. I regret not filling up at Evian. This sucks! But the rain is coming down hard, so I put out deep plastic dish to capture rain water. In the middle of the night I was so thirsty I drank the rain water collected in the receptacle at my feet in the cabin, and in the morning what was collected in the plastic dish outside. Being alone on a boat sailing around Lake Geneva with very little develops ingenuity. And this morning’s glow of sunrise is peeking behind the jagged peaks. Today I will make it home!

Bouveret in the early hours when sailing around lake Geneva

Leaving Le Bouveret in the early hours

I hoist the main sail and sail out of port under a slight back-wind. A couple is sitting on the back of their boat sipping coffee watching me go by. We wave, and I’m in open water. I can see wind ripples just ahead, and flags are flying on land, so I know Alfred is just around the corner.

Castle of Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva and swimmers

Chateau de Chillon is Switzerland’s most visited sight

It doesn’t take long to be under full sail and cruising at a good speed. Montreux is just across the lake, which means I have to cross this last part. If this winds keeps up I can do it in a hour. I pass in front of the mouth of the Rhone river. This really symbolizes the extreme end of the lake. Two days ago I was drifting in the current of an outgoing Rhone, and this morning the river is incoming. I can see Chateau de Chillon in the distance. Switzerland’s most visited sight, the castle has been poised on an underwater cliff for over a thousand years. A beautiful fortress absolutely worth a visit. I’d been there as a boy and many times with visiting guests. Nearby is an island with a single tree on it. It’s also an interesting sight. Apparently it was given as a gift to the Queen Victoria when she was vacationing in the area. It is said she gave the island back when the Swiss government expected the British to pay taxes on it. I would have a look, but behind in the valley is more rain coming, meaning more of Alfred. Living nearby I’ve sailed and seen the castle and tree island many times, and I’m not taking chances this close to home.

Storm lights warning sailors when sailing on Lake Geneva

Storm warning lights flash at two different speeds

Alfred is being firm but gentle, the rain is now steady as my cheap orange rain gear suggests. I’m anticipating a sudden series of gusts, and wondering if I should not have taken precautions by taking in a reef. I feel anxious like when you’re watching a movie and you know something bad is about to happen. That is how feel right now. It’s unnerving.  I’ve seen what the the Vaudaire can do when when it sweeps down the Rhone river valley and sweeps its destructive wand. It recently ran aground a friend’s boat onto the rocks by tearing its mooring with deep swells. The storm warning lights installed in all the ports around the lake flash in two cycles. Slow flashes indicate “You have been warned”. And the rapid flashes clearly say “Get your ass into shelter now!” They are very reliable system guided by the meteorological authorities similar to airports. But this nature we are talking about, and it will surprise you when you least expect it.

No swimming sign and crashing wave

Powerful waves generated by the Vaudaire wind

Sailboat grounded on rocks after stor on Lake Geneva

A Fierce Vaudaire storm grounded this boat

The marina in Clarens is gradually approaching – I’m almost THERE! Please Alfred, don’t fuck with me too much right now, and he didn’t. He was kind enough to allow me to sail into port and slide into my slip under sail. And just as I arrived the rain stopped, and the sun shined. Could this be any more perfect?

Montreux under clouds when sailing around Lake Geneva

Montreux is getting very close

Yes it could. I raised both sails so they could dry, and walked over to the shop for coffee and croissant. When I came back they were dry! I put them away, packed my gear and stepped off my little 21ft Sansonnet and bid farewell to Alfred. But as I looked out onto the vast expanse of water, Alfred was tickling the surface as if he was tempting me to come back and play with him. To go sailing around Lake Geneva again I wanted to step back onto the Sansonnet and take off right away. But I bid farewell to my friend Alfred with a “See you later”. No worries my friend, I will be back to play.


Splendid rainbow over the Swiss Riviera when sailing on Lake Geneva

Splendid rainbow over the Swiss Riviera