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Entre Terre et Der 2021

Submission for Dinghy Cruising Journal

The fourth edition of Entre Terre et Der was held from 1-3 October on the Lac du Der-Chantecoq in the Champagne region of France. The event was superbly organised by Christophe Lattach of the French Federation Voile-Aviron ( It was one of the last get-togethers of the French sail and oars association of the season.

The Lac du Der was created in 1974 to balance the flow of the river Marne. At 48km2 it is the biggest artificial lake in France and a major feeding area for migratory birds. The event took place at the Club Nautique de Giffaumont which overlooks the sailboat area of the marina. Sailboats and motorboats each have their own trailer slips. At 20m wide each slip has plenty of room for manoeuvring with cars and trailers while allowing 5 or 6 boats to launch at a time. Judging from the facilities and accommodations the Lac du Der must be absolutely crowded during summer but when we arrived the place was very quiet.

Friday 1 October

There were some 40 participants with 22 boats. The big French contingent was joined by UK expats Christopher and Christine, Fabien, Anne, and Pierre-Yves from Switzerland, Fabienne from Belgium and Joost and Hubert from the Netherlands. The boats were an interesting mix of Seils, Silmaril, Goat Island Skiffs, Northeaster Dory, Passagemaker Dinghy, Skerries, Skerry Raid, Whilly boat, Aber, Viola 14, Norwegian pram, a trimaran, a rowing skiff with sail and an alloy canoe with a bulb bow. More than half of the boats were made from kits supplied by Emmanuel Conrath, the French kitmeister of sails and oars boats..

Many boats were already on the lake as Hubert and Joost arrived on Friday afternoon. Joost managed to run aground while rounding one of the islands. The sunny weather and a mild S2-3 made for relaxed sailing. After the afternoon sortie we tied up our boats in the well-appointed marina and found our room in the Ufolep building (Ufolep is a French sports organization with their own accommodations) Back at the sailing club it started to drizzle so all of us adjourned inside for the merriment of apero and BBQ dinner.

Saturday 2 October

In the morning we assembled at the sailing club. Most of us had VHF sets and those without were loaned spare VHF sets so we were all set up to communicate over channel 72 and take to the water. As the weather prediction was for S3 gusting to force 5, Hubert, Joost and the two Goat Island Skiffs started with one reef as a precaution. Once on the lake we were mystified to see that most boats sailed happily without a reef.

The Lac du Der is a big round lake. It is ideally suited for events with faster and slower boats, because you are always sailing in sight of each other. The plan consisted of rounding the island counterclockwise and then sail east through a passage in the dyke into an adjacent reservoir. Then we had to enter a neighbouring lake through a narrow passage in the dyke around the main lake. Since the water was some 4m below spring level, we had to scrape the shallow bottom with our centerboards to reach the next lake. After some sailing frolics we headed back to the main lake and onto the landing spot near the old church. When we got out of our boats we were literally 'Entre Terre et Der' - very muddy indeed! The floor of the church was raised to the top level of the lake before the Der valley was flooded to form the lake. We climbed up to the church to have a very enjoyable al fresco lunch with a nice overview of our surroundings.

After lunch I put in an extra reef since the wind was piping up. While we were sailing around the lake we found that the gusts were very local. It was very enjoyable sailing with two reefs in. Even now many boats did not bother to put in even a single reef. As the afternoon progressed the fleet finally thinned as many boats found their way back to the marina.

At the club house, the apero got underway with live music from Cecaliko, a family of five playing Celtic music on violins, guitars and bass. This was accompanied by the culinary delight of Soupe Champenoise (champagne, fizzy drink, Latafia and lime) presented by Bruno. Dinner consisted of Alsatian Sauerkraut with various sausages and pork varieties which tasted very well and added to the couleur locale. The choucroute went very well with the regional white and sparkling wines and the local cheeses that followed. The atmosphere was very convivial with many sailors helping to set the tables, doing the dishes and cleaning up.

Sunday 3 October

Sunday morning started warm, but with a force 5 gusting to 8 it was too unpredictable for sailing. As the boats were pulled onto the ramp we understood why so many boats sailed without a reef: most boats carried water ballast. The Silmarils carried about 100kg under the cockpit and several Skerries had 60-70 litres of waters in plastic containers strapped to the cockpit floor.

After thanking Christophe for the overall organisation and saying our goodbyes it was time to hit the road. It had been a very enjoyable weekend with relaxed sailors. On retourne!

20211003_0_le_bon_plan_2018.jpg Map -
20211003_1_20211002_094731.jpg Preparing our boats - photo Annick Lombart
20211003_2_20211002_100626_HDR.jpg Leaving the marina - photo Annick Lombart
20211003_3_P1560621z.jpg Fleet sailing - photo Ans Conrath
20211003_4_P1560624z.jpg Kitmeister Emmanuel Conrath - photo Ans Conrath
20211003_5_P1560617z.jpg Skerry Raid - photo Ans Conrath
20211003_6_IMG_20211002_124032z.jpg time for lunch - photo Emmanuel Conrath
20211003_7_P1560704z.jpg Northeaster Dory - photo Ans Conrath
20211003_8_P1560773z.jpg Joost chasing the fleet in the Viola 14 - photo Ans Conrath
20211003_9_IMG_8359.jpg At rest - photo Jerome Unger
20211003_a_Concert-CECALIKO-Lac-du-DER-2-Oct-2021.jpg Music by Cecaliko - photo Cecaliko