Sailing on La Savoie from Evian

At Alpine Property we have been web based since our inception in 1999. This has had some huge benefits for our business. Apart from anything it has helped us keep at the forefront of technology throughout that time. However to make up for the lack of day to day team contact we arrange a team meeting in Annecy every other month and a team outing twice a year. This year’s summer outing was on a boat trip on Lac Léman. We love to descend out of the mountains to the shores of Lac d’Annecy or Lac Léman. They have an otherworldly feel. It might only take 30 min to get there but when you do it feels like a holiday.

La Savoie at Evian

We went for an afternoon’s sail on “La Savoie”. This is a replica of a traditional cargo boat used throughout the 19th century for transporting rock and gravel from the limestone quarries that can be found on the sides of the lake. A boat like this could shift up to 200 tonnes of rock, all of which will have been wheelbarrowed onto it’s deck. Yes, the deck. Not the hold as you might think. The waterline length is 35 m, though for the older sailor it might be better understood as 114 ft.

La Savoie was launched in the year 2000, so it’s only a year younger than Alpine Property.. However it took 3 years to build. It’s design is based on a boat that was originally built in 1896 in Geneva. There are 3 of these traditional boats on the lake. 2 on the Swiss side and La Savoie in France.

France in the background, under sail and heading towards Switzerland.

We had been trying to organise this trip for a few years. La Savoie had been in dry dock for a refit in 2014 and 2015. It was relaunched in 2016 but taken out of service again in early 2018 because of a problem with the masts. In fact these boats have 2 parts to their mast. The mast and the enormous “lateen” (antenne in French). They are called Lateen rigs, a derivative of “latin”. They came about as an evolution of the square rigged ships. For the sailors among you, this evolution allows the boat to sail further into the wind than the older square rigged ship.

Sorting out the new antenne’s was a saga in itself. You can’t order this sort of thing online! They needed 2 very long slow-grown Spruce. In this case 27 m long. These exist around the Lac de Montriond. The Mairie of Montriond kindly donated a couple for the job. Cutting them down and transporting them whole to the workshop by Lac Léman warranted an article in the paper. Then follows hours of preparation and 3 coats of varnish. In total they estimate 450 hrs of work, so something like 20,000€ to turn these tree trunks into useful “antenne”.

Down below, seating for 60!

These eye watering figures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to running costs. Apparently La Savoie requires new sails. Much of the fabrication is done by hand. Not even with a machine. Many of threads are hand stitched! The total sail area is 350 m2 . There is only one company in France that can undertake the job. The cost of the three sails amounts to a staggering 70,000€!

The mainsail, 155 m2

We went out for a couple of hours. It was a private trip which we had restricted to 38 people. Below this number the crew will sail the boat. They got us involved with a bit of hauling to hoist the sails up and even let us helm for a while. They will take up to 70 passengers, however with this number the deck becomes too crowded to safely sail, in which case they will just use the motor.

These trips are open to the public April through to October. Generally on weekends at a cost of 18 euros. A few times of year they run a day cruise over to Switzerland for 90 euros with lunch included!

Returning to Evian

Further information can be found here

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