Saturday, 30 June 2018

Belle Ile and Houat

The swell died down nicely last night and we had a good night’s sleep. The wind blew steadily but lightly from the head of the fjord keeping the boats from swinging near each other or the rocks.

It was cooler too – not the searing heat we have become used to.

So we felt awake and able to have a decent start. I went on deck and got us ready to go while Alison put the cabin into day mode. That seems to be falling in to place as a habit – we must swap it around at some point.

The wind was strong enough that we debated setting the No 2 jib but XC said it was 3-4 and due to drop so we went for the No 1.

The shearwaters were looping the fjord as we left but proved very difficult to photograph. The zig-zag pattern on their upper wings is beautiful.

Outside we went head-to-wind to raise the main and then turned left down the west coast. The first part was pretty much due south and the freshening south-easterly wind pulled us along at 5 knots like a steam engine. Alison was finding it tough on the helm so we put a little reef in the main. We didn’t slow down.

The wind kept freshening and I realised we should have the No 2 jib but before we could change them we needed to reef the main more. I took it right down to the first hoop and we furled the jib and carried on with deeply reefed main and stay-sail.

I should have changed jibs then but didn’t think of it. As the wind eased Alison would have had the No 2 jib out for the last 15 minutes before I took the helm but didn’t want to try the No 1. When I took over I put the No 1 out and it felt good. Deeply reefed main and full head-sails shouldn’t really work but close hauled Robinetta was nicely balanced.

When I’ve read books on rig design they all assume the centre of effort is in a fixed place and one needs to reef fore and aft in parallel. With Robinetta the balance seems to shift with wind-speed and point of sail. I don’t know if this means a poorly designed rig or if it is true in practice for all boats.

We were quite far out to sea by now and beyond the bottom of the west side of the island. We tacked in to get closer for the views and to see if we could pass inside the only marked rock. This brought us close to another small yacht going the same way and we sailed beside each other for a while. Mostly Robinetta was faster but they did start to overhaul us when they put out more of their roller-reefing genoa. The wind was easing more and we went head to wind and shook out most of our reef in the main. It’s nice to sometimes find a boat that isn’t faster!

They dropped their sails and went into one of the bays, presumably to anchor for lunch.

The wind kept easing but kept us at about 3 knots all the way to the eastern end of the island. The whole seaward side of Belle Ile is lovely. The cliffs are quite high with offshore rocks and sea stacks and small sandy beaches.

Rounding the island’s southeast corner we lost the wind completely and put the engine on. The east shore is lower with bigger beaches. The southern one is full of moorings. On this Saturday afternoon – the last in June – it was full of motor boats and one sailing yacht. There are two or three further beaches and they were all occupied.

We could see Houat, our destination, now. Houat is surrounded by rocks and is said to be dangerous to leave or approach at night. There is a harbour on the north side and two good beach anchorages, one on the east side and one on the south. XC was predicting northerlies and our experience at the Iles de Glenans told us the vent solaire was likely to kick in from the north so we chose the southern beach.

Coming from the south there is an isolated danger mark and to the east of it a small island. An approach between the two avoids all the other dangers. Alison calculated a 2.5m tide and it was one hour before high water so we dropped the hook in 5m and went for a swim. A fender as an extra bottom rung to our ladder works well as a swim ladder.

We haven’t eaten ashore at all yet this trip. It was our only Saturday night of this leg and we felt like a change so we dressed up a bit and rowed ashore and walked into town.

The village on Houat is delightful. It is absolutely covered in flowers – lots of hollyhocks and roses and other flowers.

We bought some milk at the general store and walked to the harbour. There were lots of fishing boats and some yachts but what caught my eyer were two tiny three-masted luggers moored up together.

Alison spotted a hotel restaurant and we walked up their garden and booked a table. The Hotel Iles was running two sittings – one at 19:30 and one at 21:00 so we wandered off to find a bar for a drink before dinner.

The bar was nice and I spotted someone wearing a tee-shirt with a three-masted lugger on it. He noticed my interest and came over and said hello. He had sailed one of them over from Morbihan. It had been made in 1997 based on a Bantry Bay boat and been at the Breast festival in 2000.

Dinner was excellent. We shared a hot goats cheese salad starter and I had moules-frites and Alison had the seafood platter with spider-crab and langoustines and crevettes. I had raspberry sorbet and lime sorbet for afters and Alison had what was billed as Tiramisu but was more like summer pudding.
When we got back to the beach one of the boats at anchor was in full party mode with loud music blaring out over the whole bay. I hoped they would stop before midnight.

Back on the boat I was a bit concerned about the depth of water below us. Ever since I configured the echo sounder with the transducer offset I’ve not been sure what the chart plotter displays. We predicted the tide would have dropped by about a metre but when we turned the plotter on we were now in 3.6m by its measurement so it looked like we had a 3m tide not a 2.5m one. With the uncertainty of the reading we needed more information.

I dropped the dinghy anchor over to use as a lead line. We measured the depth of water with a steel rule and we only had 2.4m or 1m under the keel with another metre at least to fall!

Luckily there was a nice big space to move to. We put the engine on and I changed into older clothes and hauled the anchor up and we moved into 6m and dropped it again.

So now we know that the chart plotter does use the transducer offset number and we know that I need to change the number stored in the echo sounder. It looks like I should take at least a metre off the transducer offset.

The party boat went quiet about 11:20pm. Nice folks after all.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Port Louis to Belle Ile

Fort Louis
We spent a day in Port Louis, visiting the fort and its museums, then having a seista before catching the bus and going to the supermarket. We bought a ready to reheat paella and ate on board Robinetta. Add in a bottle of supermarket special offer white Bordeaux wine and we had a lovely dinner. All in all Port Louis was a good place to spend a shore day.

This morning we were waiting to pay when the office opened at 09:00. Only 18 euro for 2 nights, excellent value.

We left the pontoon at 10:15 and Julian got the bowsprit out while I helmed. We swapped jobs before we reached the main channel out of Lorient, and I got the jib up as we passed the fort we had visited yesterday,. It seemed a little gusty in the channel, do I flew the no 2 jib, bit within twenty minutes I changed it for the no 1. We had a lovely sail out of the South Channel, heading for Belle Ile at 4-5 knots.

Unfortunately the force 4 breeze began to fade, first to a 3, then to a 2. Our speed dropped to below 2.5 knots and we reluctantly put the engine on at 12:25. Julian was sure that sailing should still be possible, so he went forward and rigged the blue reaching sail. Once it was flying we put the engine in neutral to try it, but Robinetta made under 2 knots, so the sail went away again and we were back on engine.

Then, abruptly, the wind came back and we could sail at nearly 4 knots again. Every now and then it would go lighter, but we persisted with the sailing after 14:00, trailing a fishing line when the speed dropped and bringing it in when we sped up again. We did not catch anything.

A quartet of common dolphins came and swam lazily along side for about 20minutes, then headed off west, leaving us decisively behind.

We managed to sail until we were almost at the west cardinal that marked the rocks to the west of the tip of Belle Ile. The wind then failed again and we got the sails down before heading for the anchorage at Ster-Vraz.
Julian swimming at Ster-Vraz

We had found this anchorage in the “Secret Anchorages of Britainy” book. I would hesitate to call it secret, since there were a dozen boats in it, plus more in a side cove called Ster-Wenn. It is lovely though. Once we were securely anchored Julian went for a swim. We could have rowed to a beach at the head of the cove, but it had been a long hot day, and we just stayed aboard, and I cooked dinner.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Ile de Glenans to Port Louis

As there was wind and the morning was half-over we thought we ought to get a move on.

I went up and prepped the boat while Alison tidied away below and got the cabin into day mode. I don't think we've ever done it faster although we didn't hurry. We got the sails up on the mooring and sailed off it. We had the engine on and we needed it to tack out of the crowded moorings.

The two cat boats we had seen the previous evening were also leaving and we exchanged waves with the single-handed white sailed one. They headed out the north-east channel and we headed out the south-east one.

The southern-most island was a cormorant roost.

The wind was finally coming from the forecast direction - east. Where were we going? east! We sailed out of the archipelago but once free of obstructions we reluctantly turned the engine back on and motor sailed close-hauled until the wind died completely and then got the mainsail down and let George steer us towards Lorient.

It was a rather boring day. Motoring far out to sea with nothing to look at. At least it was a little hazy so it wasn't quite as hot as the previous day. I went below for a while and re-configured the Raspberry Pi so it is now possible to connect to it from my tablet. This is becoming more important as Lorient is the last place our Navionics charts cover. From now on the only electronic charts we have are the ones on OpenCPN on the Pi. We do have old but good paper charts Alison borrowed and we will make increasing use of these. We can see the OpenCPN charts now on my laptop and Alison's netbook and on my tablet and they seem quite functional.

The Ile de Groix has memories for Alison - she went on a geology field trip there in the early 1980s. We will stop there on the way back west. From 20 miles away it looks quite large. As you get closer it seems to stay the same size until as you approach it you can see its proper size - about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide. Very strange.

The entry into Lorient is straight-forward but there was quite a lot of traffic. One large cargo ship passed us went in ahead and another came out as we neared the Citadel of Port Louis. Two life-boats came out and half-dozen large fishing boats as well as some pleasure craft and the Groix ferry. We were alerted by the AIS receiver before we saw most of them.

There are lots of marinas. We had decided on the one at Port Louis as the Citadel there has a maritime museum covering the French equivalent of the East India companies. Also Port Louis is named after Louis XIII. I studied his reign in some detail for A level history although I've forgotten most of it. Less famous than his son 'The Sun King' Lots of interesting things happened during his reign - his first minister was Cardinal Richelieu and of course that makes it the period that the Three Musketeers is set. The English Duke of Buckingham is a character in the story and in real life he led an expedition to relief the siege of the protestant Huguenots on the Ile de Re in the harbour of La Rochelle after the 'Revocation of the Edict of Nantes'. Nantes and La Rochelle are all in the vicinity but too far for us to sail to this trip. The Edict of Nantes had given protestants some religious freedom in France but Louis XIII got rid of it which is how come many French protestants move to England and set up communities in London (which became Soho) and Nottingham (where they carried on making lace) for example. We'll look around tomorrow.

Entering the marina is easy and we ended up on the visitor's pontoon with lots of other English boats including Wyld One - last met in Cameret and Caroline - all the way from Tollesbury!

The showers here are top-notch - really new and nice and clean and they work well.

We are still trying to keep costs down so we eat aboard and had beans-on-toast followed by cheese and biscuits. Really rather delicious.

Manoeuvres in the dark

Robinetta began to rock in the swell as we got the bedding out, and the first half hour after “bed time” was spent tracking down all the bits and pieces on the boat that rattle when they move. Once we had everything quiet we did manage to get to sleep, but by 3 a.m. the movement was so extreme that the boom rolled out of its crutches. That brought us both on deck to sort it out, and neither of us could get back to sleep afterwards.

We discussed what to do, and decided the best would be to haul up the anchor, and go round to the other side of Saint Nicholas, where the island would be between us and the wind. Julian got the electronic charts up on his tablet as it was too dark to see much, then went to the foredeck and hauled up the anchor. I had to motor up towards it to help him.

Once the anchor was up I helmed us round the Isle de Bananec, following the chart and cardinal flashes. With looking at the lit chart on the tablet my night vision was not at its best, so Julian went onto the foredeck and called where to steer to avoid moored yachts. Once we found a vacant mooring we decided to take it, but I need two goes round to put Robinetta’s bow where Julian could reach the buoy.

Even these moorings, with an island between us and the wind, were not totally quiet, but they were a whole lot better than the ones on the other side of the isthmus that joined St Nicholas to Bananec, and I fell asleep almost as soon as we were secure on the buoy.

We were woken next morning, at 09:00, by the harbour master collecting his 10 euro dues for the buoy. Worth it for the four hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Le Guilvinec to Isle de Glenan

We woke late this morning. I could hear someone chatting on the pontoon and stuck my head up to see a fisherman about to get into his tender to go out to his boat. He called out to a younger man who was heading up the pontoon bridge. This turned out to be the Port de Pleasance harbour master, who had everything he needed to take our money. After a discussion of boat lengths we settled on 14 euro, 44 cents. 14 for Robinetta, and 22 cents for each person. It was good to be in a place that recognised that boats under 7m long might turn up!

He also told us where the shore heads and showers were, on the Lechiagat side of the harbour and the nearest place to buy bread. I jumped on the idea of a shower, so we headed there first, then bought croissant and pain au raison, plus a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Breakfast and lunch sorted.

We ate breakfast on Robinetta, then went for a walk on the Le Guilvinec side of the harbour. It turned out to be market day, and we got sidetracked into tasting some Loire Ch√Ęteau Grand Cru wine. The wine maker fed us oysters, bread, cheese, and strawberries as we tasted, and it was very easy to be tempted into buying half a mixed case.... We also bought some cheese and fruit, then purchases in hand we headed back to Robinetta.

There had been a lovely breeze in the morning, but by the time we were clear of the harbour it was dying away. We put the main sail up anyway, but within half an hour it was doing nothing, and we were motoring across a glassy sea, with the sun burning down and a swell pushing us around uncomfortably. We covered ourselves in suncream, and rigged the parasol against the glare.

A couple more hours did nothing to improve matters. I got the main sail down to save the UV damage, and Julian went below to stay out of the sun. He fine tuned my rough course to steer, and we headed for St Nicholas, on the Isle to Glenan.

The best bit of the journey was when a big pod of dolphins came and played alongside for ten minutes just as we reached the islands.

The anchorage on the north of Saint Nicholas seemed very busy. Most of the yachts were on moorings, with only two anchored. We joined them in dropping our anchor, seeing no reason to pay for a buoy. We are being cheap this holiday (helps to pay for the wine....) After getting the sail covers on and having a rest away from the heat we got into Worm, and I rowed us ashore.

One of the bars on St Nicholas
The sand had looked very inviting from Robinetta, and I entertained visions of wandering along the water line while Julian had a swim. The reality was a disappointment. The wet sand gave too much so walking was hard work, and I could see broken glass, with sharp edges that were not yet quite smoothed away. Julian decided not to swim either, and we ended up walking to one of the two pubs on St Nicholas and having a half of cider each.
The Isles de Glenan had supposed to be wonderful, but Julian and I decided that they were well down the list of islands we have visited in Robinetta. Part of our lack of enthusiasm was probably down to the heat, which neither of us like much. They have the air of tropical islands, low lying and fringed by sandy beaches, but have no other real points of interest. Not our cup of tea.

Back on Robinetta we ate tinned curry and rice for dinner, glad it was finally cool enough (at nine in the evening) to be able to face a cooked meal.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Into the unknown ...

We had a bit of a disturbed night. It was really calm but there was still enough swell to make Robinetta and the other moored boats pitch and roll all night.

I got up once to tighten the cord keeping the tiller still so the rudder wouldn’t knock when we rolled. Then we started pitching and got a different noise – probably the jib sheet block rolling back and forwards on the cabin roof.

So I needed a bit of a lie-in.

Eventually we rowed ashore to the beach at Sainte Evette and wandered to the public toilets at the ‘Gare Maritime’ which is where the vedettes go to the Ille de Sein. There don’t seem to be any shops – it looks like you have to walk to either Esquibien or Audierne proper. I thought it would be good to see it so we headed into town.

Audierne is a bit less than a mile up the river. The right bank of the river has a long quay wall and there are notice boards telling the history of the town in French and English (and a bit of Breton). Like Douarnenez it was once a sardine fishing town. When the sardines went they turned to crayfish. But earlier than that it had been a major centre for cargo shipping, sailing Caravels from Portugal to the Baltic and the British Isles.

We bought our groceries and a beach parasol and headed back. It was getting really hot and even using the new beach parasol like an umbrella I got burned on my upper arms.

Back on board I rigged the parasol to provide shade for the cockpit and we had a cup of tea and then went straight on to lunch.

It didn’t look like there was going to be enough wind to sail and I thought that if we weren’t sailing we should keep the sun off the sails – UV will kill them and we had more sun than I’m used to. So we headed off with the sail covers still on. Something we NEVER do!

Out in the bay the wind came up a little. So we got the covers off and the sails up anyway. We had to motor sail and not in quite the right direction but it felt right. We let George steer.

Our next port of call was to be Le Guilvinec, just round the Pointe de Penmarc'h. This was beyond the coverage of the charts on the plotter! We have borrowed paper charts and the Navionics charts on my tablet take us as far as Lorient and I have proper up-to-date electronic charts on OpenCPN on the pi but not having them on the cockpit plotter was something new! We found that the 8nm zoom lets us see the world base map which is ok for putting enough of a course in to help steer.

Alison went down into the cabin to do some writing and we pottered down the coast and I stayed in the cockpit on watch.

Sea bird commotion
The wind came up a bit at veered and I was about to change course on the tiller pilot when I noticed a big commotion in the water a little ahead and out to sea. Gannets and other sea birds had clearly found a shoal of something and were fishing.

We were a bit ahead of time so I turned the engine off and tacked towards them and put out our mackerel line. Alison came up to look.

Sea Bass for dinner
It took us ages under sail to get near and we did use the engine a bit to help but mostly we sailed. I pulled the line up a few times – once we caught a small mackerel but nothing much. Eventually the birds headed more out to sea and we went back on course but I did set the line again.

Then Alison noticed the line had come more horizontal and I pulled it and it was really heavy. I assumed we had caught several mackerel but as I hauled it in we could see two larger fish. We had hooked two fine sea bass!

Far too much to eat so we let the smaller one go.

An hour or two later we were met by a large pod of dolphins who played around the boat – the first we have seen since Cornwall.

After a while they wandered off and I started cleaning the sea bass. He’d been a greedy fish – his stomach was stuffed with sand eel. The dolphins came back so we threw them the insides and head of the bass – I think they caught some of it.

Alison spotted a tall ship on the horizon. We rigged the AIS to try to find out what it was but only got it’s MMSI. Looking it up later on Marine Traffic identified her as Morgenster – a 48m brig.

Morgenster on the horizon
The entrance to Le Guilvinec is tricky and strewn with rocks. Our old paper charts didn’t have the bouys we could see but my new charts on the raspberry pi worked well. I got them up on Alison’s laptop (using VNC) and she propped that up in the cabin and popped down occasionally to check. It was the only chart that showed the entrance to the harbour correctly although we would have got in OK just following the marked channel.

Fishing boats at Le Guilvenic
It is a really big fishing port, and as we have seen everywhere, many of the ships are old with wooden hulls but brought right up-to-date with steel superstructure and the latest gear. The port de plaisance is right at the head of the navigation and space is very tight but Robinetta is now snug on a pontoon with water and electricity.

I filleted and pan-fried the sea bass with garlic and shallots and we had it with potatoes and a little veg dish I did with a tomato and a little gem lettuce and some paprika. We had the mackerel fillets as a starter – just a morsel really.

It felt like a packed day.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Treboul towards Audierne

French bakers work on Sunday, which meant we could buy fresh bread to take with us. This baker also sold butter, which was just as well since the convenience store on the quay was closed until the start of July! Once provided with bread and butter we had enough dried provisions on board that we had plenty to eat.

We backed out of our berth, manoeuvring on ropes, to temporarily moor alongside the wooden sloop behind us. That gave us enough space to launch Worm back into the water from the pontoon. Then we set off into Douarnenez Bay, motoring across a bright blue sea with a light following breeze.

Approaching the Raz de Sein
George soon went on duty and we had a lovely trip along the coast with nothing to do but keep an eye out for pot markers and anchored sport fishing boats.

The wind seemed a little stronger after lunch, so we unfurled the jib and gave the engine a rest. We were ahead of time to reach the Raz de Sein at 15:00, high water Brest -½ as recommended by our pilot.

Passing through the Raz
We sailed slowly along at 2½knots so Julian tried the fishing line but with no luck. By 13:45 we decided we needed the engine again to make the tidal gate, and soon sped up to 3½ knots. I saw a blue helium balloon glittering in the water just to starboard, and since we had time we made a small diversion to pick it up, pop it, and bin it.

There were about 20 boats heading through or to the Raz when we reached it. A couple were going the other way on the very last of the flood, but by the time we reached the “now head through” point we were the last boat of the gaggle. With no swell, neeps, and very little wind the Raz was a non event of a tidal gate!

A modern yacht at the Raz
Once past the light houses we turned the engine off and sailed for a while. We were doing about 3 knots, on a run, but over 2 knots of that was tide and steering could be difficult.

Julian began to feel sick, probably heat stroke as it was too hot for our comfort and with the wind behind us we could not feel it. By 16:15 we had had enough and p ut the engine on to generate a cooling head wind.

And a classic!
An hour and a half later we were on a mooring buoy at Anse de Ste Evette, a bay just outside Audierne. There were plenty of free buoys, although they seemed very close together. Many of the visiting yachts were British, but most were French.

We ate on board, feeling too tired from the day to go ashore, then had an early night. The moorings were reasonably sheltered, but every time a boat went past any where in the bay it seemed to generate a large amount of wave action, so I could not describe the moorings as peaceful!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Back to Treboul

We arrived back in Douarnenez at lunch time after a very early start, catching the 05:07 train from Stortford to reach City Airport in time for our 07:45 flight to Quimper. Cloudless sky and bright sunshine greeted us, but no bus, so we shared a taxi into Quimper and did a little basic shopping before catching the next bus to Douarnenez, which required an hour and a half wait. We had checked the tides, and knew we could get out of Port Rhu from 12:30 to 15:30, pretty perfect timing for us!

Robinetta sat in almost solitary splendour on her berth in the historic dock; with empty berths on either side of her. The “display” (a piece of paper) Julian had taped to her staysail cover was still in place. We had left Worm afloat beneath Robinetta’s bowsprit with the Drainman pump rigged, and this had either worked, of there had been no rain, as there was very little water in her.

I got the cockpit cover off while Julian brought Worm round to the stern and rigged the staysail. With our recent engine problems we wanted to have some alternative motive power available apart from the engine. Luckily the engine checks revealed no problems and it started first time.

With wind and tide pushing us into the berth backing out required a decent amount of power, but it was really easy, and there was enough room to turn and head for the bridge. A yacht had just entered Port Rhu, but the bridge was already being lowered to let pedestrians across. Julian called up the bridge keeper, and by the time we reached the sluice gate the bridge was ready for us.

We now had a very light head wind, and the tide running against us too, but as soon as we were clear of the bridge the tide slackened and we picked up speed.

We moored up on the outside of the Treboul visitor pontoon, ahead of a blue painted classic Bermudan sloop with Kim Holmanesque lines and no obvious name!  The two of us made a marked contrast to the white GRP boats that soon filled the rest of the pontoon. We had left the bowsprit out when we moored up, but by mid afternoon the pontoon was filling up fast. We decided to drop back closer to the sloop, and had to pull the bowsprit in in a hurry to let another boat moor ahead of us! A Beneteau 44 then came along and rafted up on that boat, with their stern overhanging our bow.

The skipper of the wooden boat astern approached us, carrying a plastic bag. Would we like the fish he had caught that morning? He had to head home, and had no fridge available to leave it in. Whether his offer sprang from fellowship between wooden boat owners, a “welcome to France” gift, or we were just the closest boat with people aboard was not clear! We happily accepted a rather splendid gurnard, larger than any I have seen in a shop.

Julian got straight on with filleting it, and a French couple from a boat on the other side of the pontoon drifted over to have a look, and admired it, so Julian gave them a fillet; there was way more than we could eat! In the absence of many fresh provisions we ate it fried in olive oil, with a side of rice and jalapeno pepper relish. Lovely.

After dinner we went for a walk, heading west along the Treboul shore. The sunset was absolutely amazing and we took a lot of pictures.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Last day of the trip

Our flights home are booked for Saturday, so we needed to be back at Douarnenez by Friday. We have arranged to leave the the boats there, in Port Rhu, on the classic boat pontoons. Port Rhu is behind a lock gate that only opens for an hour either side of high water at neaps, so we had to get there between 12 and 2pm.

The morning saw a flat calm, and hazy sunshine. We got the anchor up under motor, pointed the bow straight at Douarnenez, and told George to steer us there. We then pottered about Robinetta, tidying her up, while also keeping an eye out for other boats, and crab pot markers.

The sun burnt off the haze by the time we entered the harbour. We were slightly early for the bridge, so went into the Port de Pleasance and filled up with diesel.
As we approached the bridge another yacht was also heading for it, so we followed it through, and after dodging three boats heading in the other direction, went into our pre arranged berth.

We are in exalted company, by far the smallest yacht on the heritage pontoons, one yacht away from the oldest surviving Camper and Nicholson yacht in existence and surrounded by smart wooden Bermudan sloops. Not bad for a little gaffer!

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Worm's Eye View

I wanted to have a go at securing the nut on the stern gland. I hoped we could undo two hose clips and put one around the big static hex nut and one around the small nut that keeps coming undone and lock some strips of steel from a hose clip between them.

We managed to get the clips around the nuts but we couldn’t do them back up again. We gave up.

Back on holiday we worked out that one of the caves the trip boats visit is on the island we are anchored by. We got into Worm and Alison rowed us around. The geology is spectacular.

The other caves visited by the trip boats are just along the coast towards Morgat and then down towards Cape de Chevre. The last ones are in one of the ‘Secret Anchorages’ in our book so we thought we would potter down and anchor there tonight, looking at the caves as we went.

Of course it is only about 6 miles in total so we had a really lazy day.

There was no wind so we didn’t even raise the stay-sail. I got the anchor up but left the chain flaked on the fore-deck so we could use it again.

We kept close in and looked into the caves but didn’t stop to try to get in to any of them in Worm. You can see into the town of Crozon, which is a little in-land where the beaches are lower than the cliffs.

Morgat looks quite modern and the marina is large and new-ish with rubble walls but looks worth a visit. It is surrounded by a large number of crab pots so needs to be given a wide berth at its southern end.

Just past Morgat there is a pretty light-house on the hill – it really looks more like a house with an observatory attached!

The Anse de Ile Verge is the northern end of the Anse de Norgard. The trip boat brochure says it was voted 7th best beach in Europe. We anchored there for lunch and didn’t think that highly of it. Nice enough though and even nicer with better weather – it was still very hazy and overcast.

After lunch we carried on south and came much more quickly than I expected to the Pointe de Dolmen and the Anse St. Nicholas. Then I felt a breath of wind and before long it felt like a light sailing breeze from the west.

We got the stay-sail up and it gave us a knot so we raised the main and turned the engine off. We were definitely sailing so Alison went down and got the No 1 jib and bent it on. We were still pottering but now under sail!

The breeze was light but solid and with a flat sea we could do three knots. More-over, the sun was finally breaking through and although the humidity was still too high for great light conditions I suggested Alison it was a chance to take some photos of Robinetta under sail. Back in the sound of Jura I’d got into Worm to do this and this time Alison did it while I sailed around her.

After the photo shoot we used our new heaving-too skills again to make it easy for Alison to get back aboard. With the tiller lashed I could set the fenders and ladder up and Alison could row up to Robinetta quite easily.

It was 4pm and the wind was really nice and it was sunny. Rather than anchor here for the night Alison wanted to go back to our lunch stop or even back to where we spent Wednesday night. We had an absolutely lovely sail back north but then we saw some rain clouds coming from the west so we cut the journey short at Morgat and anchored in the bay near the town. In the event, the rain passed south of us but we didn’t need to move again.

For once we cooked together – not really necessary as it was just pasta with a jar of sauce and the salami we bought in the market yesterday cut up into the sauce. With Ouessant beer and sweet Britany cider it made an excellent meal.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Treboul to Ille de L'Aber

Treboul has a major market day on Wednesdays, and we spent an enjoyable hour shopping for lunch and dinner there, getting some very good salami type sausage from a specialist maker for lunch and steak for dinner. We were planning to anchor overnight at Ille de L'Aber, and needed to cater for it. This anchorage is less than 10 miles as the crow flies, so we were in no hurry, and did not cast off until 11:00.

The wind was northerly force 3, so we beat across Douarnenenz bay at speeds between 2.5 and 5 knots depending on the gusts. The cloud cover was total at first, but did thin as the day wore on, although a humid haze lay over the land making photography difficult.

We saw some impressive sea caves between Point de Lanvellian and Pointe de Tal ar Grip. There were also a flock of land yachts racing on one of the beaches.

By the time we reached Ille de L'Aber the sun was trying to show through the clouds. It was local low water and we anchored very close in to the island, in 5m of water. The rocks seemed really close, and we were not sure the anchor was holding. Rather than letting out more chain we pulled the anchor up and went further out to anchor in 6m, with 30m of chain out.

One other yacht was in the anchorage, an"Ecole Navale" vessel. Probably one of 3 we had seen yesterday practising manoeuvring in Treboul. They pulled up their anchor after dinner and we had the anchorage to ourselves.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Necessary tasks and others...

Once we arrived at Douarnenez we could arrange travel home for Saturday, and sort out where Robinetta and Worm would stay without us on board. Once we had the flights booked and the bus times sorted out we needed to talk to the port authorities about the boats. We walked to Port Rhu in Douarnenenz, but could find no trace of a marina office. We asked at the boat museum, and they sent us back to the Port de Pleasance at Treboul, where we were already moored.

Turns out Treboul controls the pontoons inside Port Rhu as well as the ones in the Port de Pleasnance, and we were soon sorted. We had a berth on the classic boat pontoon from Friday on. That left us two days to explore Douarnenez Bay.

The rest of the day saw me doing laundry and putting a coat of Deks no.1 on various bits of the boat that needed it. The evening was spent in a very different fashion.

Last night, after Julian and I got back to Robinetta after a very good pizza at “Le Vintage” pizzeria in Douarnenez, we entertained a couple of Australians to a cup of tea. They invited us for dinner in exchange, and we had a lovely time swapping stories with them and theiir friends at their hired house, and we then all walked to Robinetta for a whisky. It was a bit of a squeeze with eight of us, but good fun!

Monday, 4 June 2018

Camaret towards Dournenez

Once we realised that we would need to be away from Camaret at 4 am to get through the Raz de Sein at high water slack we decided to head for Douarnenez rather than Audienne. That meant we could leave at a sensible time. The weather forecast was not great, light winds and pretty continuous rain, but after a day in port it felt like time to move on.

After doing a little shopping we got ready to go. The only problem was how to launch Worm. A Dutch yacht was moored just behind us on the pontoon hammerhead , leaving no space to put Worm back in the water at Robinetta’s stern. In the end we launched her into the empty half of the adjacent finger berth, and the skipper of the yacht Wild One, in the other half of the berth, handed us Worm’s towing line as we passed.

The light wind was from a helpful direction, so we managed to sail through the drizzle as far as the Point du Toulingvet at around 2 knots. This is too slow for passage making, but we only had 20 miles to go, which made a pleasant change. Once we turned to round the Point, and thread through some impressive rocky islets, the wind was dead astern. We slowed too much for the helm’s peace of mind in such confined spaces, so the engine went on to help steer through the gap.

The engine went off again between Toulingvet and Point de Pen-hir, and Julian put our remaining fishing line out astern. 2 knots is a good fishing speed, but at 1½ knots Robinetta’s steering can be difficult to keep on track, and I wanted the engine on again as we approached Pen-hir and its tail of islands called Les Tas de Pois. There were obviously fish around as there were quite a few cormorants on the water, but no fish took our line and Julian brought it in again.

We picked our gap to aim at based on where we saw another yacht motoring through in the other direction but in the end went through a different one. There are many "Pois", and the gaps between are narrow but clear of hazards.
Sailing slowly when there was wind, and motoring with the sails up when it died became the pattern of the day. Sometimes it rained, and sometimes it just drizzled. Visibility decreased as we closed with Dournenez, but we also got the best wind of the trip, and sailed at a steady four knots for 3½ hours.

The wind fell when we were 2 miles off Dournenez, and the engine went back on as we got the sails down and prepared to enter the harbour. The Port de Plaisance of Dournenez, is on the west side of the river, at Treboul, and this has a long visitor pontoon tucked just behind the breakwater. There were only two yachts on it, both on the inside, and we took Robinetta to join them in the pouring rain.

We were safely moored up by 17:05, after an enjoyable, but damp, day of sailing.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Ushant towards Camaret-sur-mer

We woke next morning to another sunny day, with a gentle south westerly breeze. Ideal for sailing out of the Bay, but virtually on the nose for part of the sail to Camaret. Wanting to sail as much as we could we raised sail on the mooring, but put the engine on to warm up, just in case.
Robinetta was eager to sail, and set off in a hurry once Julian untied the buoy. Unfortunately I was less prepared than the boat, and failed to keep Worm clear of the mooring. I had to reverse quite hard to help Julian get Worm free.
Sailing past Youc h' Korz
Once we were clear of the moorings I turned the engine off, and we sailed back along our track past the island of Youc h’ Korz and out between the arms of the bay. Once we were clear of the Phare de la Jument we turned onto a course towards Camaret. We needed to motor sail to make anything like our course, and once again we ran into overfalls half a mile clear of the bay. These were not nearly as bad as the ones off Pern though, and we sailed out of them without too much stress.
By the time we were approaching Camaret the wind had died, and we got the main sail down 3 miles off the harbour. There were plenty of other yachts around, most of them heading for Camaret like us.
The harbour master in his rib did not seem interested in us, so we moored up on the inside of the breakwater pontoon, as visitors are supposed to do. This was filling up fast, there was only room for one more boat behind us and that was soon taken. Then the harbour master appeared, and offered us a place in the inner harbour, closer to the shops. We were glad to move, and by 19:00 we were ashore, and eating dinner at the Kraken, the first restaurant we came to (which was highly recommended by Trip Advisor, and very good).

Friday, 1 June 2018

A day on Ushant

The moorings at Ushant are not the calmest, and Robinetta rolled a lot over night. Not that it stopped us sleeping! We woke to bright sunshine, with not a trace of yesterday’s fog, and after a morning to tidying up the boat (and Julian rebuilding George’s tiller attachment) I rowed us across to the island in Worm.

At low water it was impossible to enter the drying harbour, so we decided to go ashore at the steps on the side of the landing stage.

 The constant swell made getting ashore quite challenging, but we both managed it dry shod. The steps have a succession on rings for tying tenders to, and not knowing how long we would be we tied Worm to the highest one possible.
South side of the Pern Peninsula

After a good lunch of Moules Frites and cidre doux (which is only 2 % alcohol) at Le Fromveur we decided to have a look at the Phare de Nividic that we had sailed past yesterday evening. This is at the end of the Pern peninsula, and the walk along the cliffs of the bay of Lampaul was spectacular. Pern is an amazing place, with wild goats keeping the grass short, and granite outcrops that put sculptures to shame.

Goats on Pern

Sculptural rocks

West side of Pern Peninsula
Phare De Navidic and its electric pylons
The Phare De Navidic was built  in the early 20th century to be remotely operated, with its power supplied by electricity. This was brought to the lighthouse on cables strung from pylons. A cable car used the same pylons to enable people to reach the light house when needed. Lack of maintenance during WW2 brought the cables down, and it is now powered by solar panels, and maintained by helicopter.

We bought supplies in the supermarket in Lampoul, and carried them back to the harbour. The tide was now high, and while we could see Worm’s mooring line well enough Julian had to reach under water to untie it.

Once back on Robinetta we settled down for a quiet evening, or as quiet as it could be on a constantly moving boat. Five of the boats that had been there when we arrived had gone, with only two arriving to replace them. The CA Almanac says to come on neap tide for calm moorings, and we were closer to springs.