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A straightforward, day to day account of what we have done during the current year's cruise. What we found may help others. I hope that anyone interested in the area will cherry pick rather than trying to read from start to finish.

Our boat is a Hallberg Rassy 34, Anhinga. This year it is crewed by Frank and Jennifer Singleton, Home port is Darthaven, Kingswear opposite Dartmouth

Plans for 2018

A slightly fraught start as our daughter has a detached retina operation which delayed our departure. We now hope to cast off from Darthaven on Monday, 21st May for St Peter Port intending to join a HROA rally n 26th May.

After that it will be our usual summer of Brittany, the Vendee, Charente Maritime meeting old friends and probably meeting some new ones.

Ports of call.

St Peter Port
St Helier
St Cast
L’Aber Wrac’h
St Pabu, Wber Benoit
Back to St Pabu - Aber Benoit
Perros Guirec
Lézardrieux yet again
St Cast again
St Helier
St Peter Port
Back to our home port

To St Peter Port/ 21 May, 77 miles.

A pleasant sail, if a trifle murky with visibility around 3-5 miles generally. A nice NE 3-4 generally but dropped off in the shipping lanes so motored to keep a constant speed. No alarums or excursions.

Overnighted on the outside pontoons. We had hoped to visit Dielette but wind direction and tide times were far from ideal. Will stay put waiting for the HROA rally starting next weekend.

We met Trevor and Kay Parrish, CA members on Moonbow, their Moody Eclipse. We were not the first HROA boat to arrive. Kudu, Ariana and Saltmead. Fifteen are expected in total.

On Sunday most of us walked along the coast path to Fermain Bay for a lunch. The evening was dinner at the rather laid back Guernsey Sailing Club. Very pleasant. Apart from a brief early morning shower, we missed the worst of the thundery showers. We did meet a racing boat from Plymouth who had met 50 kn gusts to the south of the island.

To St Helier. 29th May. 26 miles

Wuth St Peter Port HW at 0700 and optimum departure time 1200, we got out of the marina to make it easy for others. It was a very fast sail in s good F5 NE as far as La Corbiere Lighthouse. Along the S coast of Jersey, the wind increased and was too tight to sail. After a while, like all the others, had to give a “coup de moteur” as the wind increased to a good F6/7.

Everyone arrived safely. The marina staff were very helpful in shepherding us in. The forecast seems to be stuck in string NE’lies with some mist but also thundery showers.

We had an excellent dinner at the Royal Channel Isles YC on the Wednesday evening.

To St Cast. 1st June. 42 miles.

A good fast sail as far as the NW Minquiers cardinal buoy. Slow after that so that we all had to motorail. The Jersey forecast was certainly good.As a group, St Cast has put us on the outside of the wave breaker. This can be uncomfortable when small day boats come in and leave – especially at 0400.

We walked around the delightful coastal path into town still as pleasant a N Breton town as any. Good views, good beach, good enough shopping. Tides and weather suggest leaving Monday for Lezardrieux will be fine.

On Sunday we walked in the opposite direction around the headland by the marina and back into the town. It seems a well-to-do area with many large houses, some wth spectacular views. The final rally dinner at the adjacent fish restaurant was a most pleasant occasion – apart from the most impressive thunderstorm and torrential rain. Luckily it cesased, more or less, just before we had to get back on board.

A nice touch was the supply of three photos taken by the marina. Most thoughtful and much appreciated.

To Lézaedrieux. 4th June. 35 miles.

It was a miserable day with forecasts of Averses, parfois orageuse from both Meteo France and Jersey Met – despite there being no sign of lightning on the lighting websites. In fact there was fairly steady, mainly light rain for much of the passage. I could not help thinking that both sets of forecasters were simply following their computer output and not looking at what was actually happening.

After a couple of hours motoring we had a good fast sail with the wind touching F6 as we approached the Ferlas Channel . As the visibility was poor, we dropped the main to get down to a comfortable speed through this rather complex approach with its many buoys and beacons.

As ever the marina responded to a call for a berth. A disappointment was that the ladies showers were out of order. The choice was a longish walk to the main shower block or both to use the men’s showers. These were hot but extremely cramped. C’est la vie croisiere!

Forecasts seem good for a day here before the passage to Roscoff.

To Roscoff. 6th June. 47 miles.

Even with a neap tide there can be a strong flow through the pontoons with some odd eddies near the outer end where we were. A French boat left early and did all the wrong things. He got into a right mess – no damage, luckily. We left it until midday, an hour before HW – there was a strong wind blowing up our transom and the British boat alongside was making dire comments about wind and tide, he was leaving it until morning. In the event we made a perfect departure, quite elegant – the Brunton Autoprop is magnificent going astern.

After a breezy motosail down river we reached the Moisie beacon a little after HW and had a quietly, reasonably fast sail to Rocoff only motoring the last 2 miles getting sails down and fenders out.

In the marina office, I only had to say Anhinga and the lady recognised us. Famous or infamous, who knows.

David and Fiona were already here on Saltmead, their HR36 having left the rally before St Cast in order to return to the UK for a wedding. We expect to see them further down after they return.

Wind direction and tide times necessitate moving on fairly quickly – hopefully tomorrow, Friday. It looks as though we may be able to have a few days in L’Aber Wrac’h before heading south through the Chenal du Four.

Before leaving, we met Northern Song, HR342, with David and May Richards.

To L’Aber Wrac’h. 8th June. 36 miles.

After a misty morning visibility improved. The forecast was for thundery showers but these seemed unlikely. Visibility was “moyen sauf sur precipitation.” Reassured, we left. We had a nice wind through the Chenal de Batz but visibility the deteriorated to become fog. The wind also decreased to make motoring a necessity to avoid being out in the dark and fog.

All went well until after the Libenter WCM. Navigation was radar and GPS. We dimly saw the first two port hand markers, Jennifer caught a glimpse of Le Petit Pot de Beurre. Then we hit something nasty. I had been watching our position carefully but was attending to matters such as lines and fenders. A few seconds loss of concentration and we were on the wrong side of a green buoy which we had not seen.

Everything seems OK in the boat – apart from the refrigerator not working – maybe coincidental – however we have booked a lift out for Monday. We seem fated at L’Aber Wrac’h. This is where Jennifer cracked her hip two years ago – the capitainerie still remembers that.

Here we met Jonathan and Rona on their beautifully kept Moody 31, Ichthus and Australian Bill, based in Brixham, Devon on Black Pearl. Eating at the Captain, we found that we were sitting by someone born and who lived in Sale, our home town, when it was in Cheshire and not part of Greater Manchester.

Haul out and check at L’Aber Wrac’h

The system is that a tractor pushes a low loading cradle into the sea and you drive the boat towards it. A little unnerving because all you see is the front post of the low loader and have to hope that it is straight behind the tractor.

After being hauled out, the damage at first sight did not seem too extensive. Bits of keel that could be made good, a shallow scratch under the hull, the keel fridge heat exchanger plate had gone. However, Francois Begoc, from Chantier Naval des Abers was more perceptive.

We called in the Pantaenius surveyor, Dominique Breton. His advice was to get the boat to the Chantiier. He said that the keel would have to be removed to check the keel bolts although he thought these would, in fact be OK. Some cracking around the keel would need sealing. Francois said it would take about 2 months – largely because of the need to dry out the GRP before remedial work around the hull

To St Pabu, Aber Benoit. 12th June. 8 miles.

We motored round from L’Aber Wrac’h into the complexity of rocks and islets of the Aber Benoit entrance. We have always heard that this is the most attractive of the Abers and it lived up to expectation. Many moorings but no facilities. Arriving at St Pabu, Francois shepherded us to a mooring buoy.

At Chantier Naval des Abers, St Pabu

Haul out at the Chantier was another new experience. Early the next morning Francois came out to take us alongside posts to which he attached us with great care, making sure that as the tide went down we would sit upright on the bottom. At low water, a low loader was pushed down under the boat and we were then hauled up the beach. They put Anhinga in their area used for washing down and scrubbing. Interestingly, with the boat standing on the keel and kept secure to the wall, there no complications such as with a travel-lift type hoist and cleaning would be complete. Of course, with us on board, there were other supports.

We agreed to stay on the boat until we could leave. The secretary arranged our ferry from Roscoff on Sunday and said no need for a taxi. Francois would drive us! At the yard, there are toilets and a very hot shower that we could use as well as a washing machine and dryer. Everyone is most helpful and we met other. local sailors who spoke highly of Francois.

The “town” is more dead than alive just now although it probably comes more alive in July/August. There is a good but inexpensive restaurant/creperie within 100 metres and a bar that has some bread but no croissants. There is a Superette/Proxi about 2km, 20 minutes, walk away. That is all. It must be one of the few sizeable villages that cannot support a boulangerie. The bread at the Proxi looked OK but it is a little far for breakfast croissants.

The St Pabu website claims to be the Perle des Abers. That is so visually on the river shore but somewhat of an exaggeration a few metres away from the water.

Back to Anhinga and back to sea. 13-17 August. 9 miles.

It began with an overnight crossing by ferry Plymouth to Roscoff and a taxi ride to the yard. It became quickly obvious that the yard had lived fully up to its reputation. All, well virtually all, had been done to the highest standard imaginable. The radar was not working but we assumed that to be an error in reconnection. The rod kicker had been mounted upside down. We easily fixed the first ourselves. The second was a mystery to the local electrician but we contacted Darthaven and after a few words between the two electricians light dawned. Reversed polarity.

Apart from an open air service on the Feast of the Assumption, St Pabu was no more alive than in June. The bright spot was Francois bringing us, unasked, bread and croissants on two mornings and the general helpfulness and friendliness of the yard. Anyone in the area wanting work done should look no further. Good work at a reasonable price.

We finally left of Friday, 17th to L’Aber Wrac’h, 9 miles. When we passed our nemesis, the Starboard hand marker, Basse de la Groix, we could not see why we had got it wrong. Still, we live to sail another day.

To Roscoff. 23 August. 31 miles.

We had hoped to meet up with Ross and family on Gemini but the seemed to be firmly anchored to Audierne – which we can well understand. However, we saw a good opportunity to sail back to Roscoff. Apart from a 1 ¼ hour spell, we sailed all the way rather slowly until our final approach when the wind increased within sight of the harbour. Also the entry lights turned red as a ferry was about depart and another one arrive. All of which delayed us about ¾ hour.

After getting lines sorted on the pontoon etc, just enjoying a G&T, we heard a familiar hail. Wei wei and Verity! We had had an email to say that they had left Audierne but Roscoff? Apperently the left early and had used to engine all the way. Tides and times wre just right do, Roscoff it was and a meal in the town. The restaurant at the marina was serving no fish or vegetarian options!

At L’Aber Wrac’h and here we met Bill on Black Pearl. Naturally, he asked how the boat was now. Then he confessed. He had done just the same but at Piriac-sur-mer in daylight! He had got distracted and hit a rock. Like us, his keel had to come off to check keel bolts. Cheeki Rafiki has left a big shadow. While commiserating with Bill, it was somehow reassuring to know that we are not the only ones to get into silly situations.

Black mark for Barclaycard.

On our way back to France, we had received ab email saying that Barclaycard was sending us new cards. I phoned them and asked them to hold the new cards until we were back home. At first the BC person said she had no record of our card ending xyyz but did have one for card ending yyyz. Then it dawned on her, that was the new number. Then some days later after using our card several time in France, we were blocked. I called BC and had a very long time being passed from pillar to post and back with innumerable request to “hold on, please.”

Eventually, we were told that the initial request had not been activated, they had sent new cards to our home address, they had cancelled the cards in our possession, they could not reinstate the old card (expiry date in 6 months, they would credit our account with £100. Totally unsatisfactory and the subject of an ongoing complaint.

To Perros Guirec. 25 August. 25 miles.

This harbour is only accessible when the tide is 7 m above datum. The length of gate opening varies with the tidal coefficient. For once, times of tides, heights and weather were all in our favour for a first visit in many years along this coast. Approach was easy and the gate, 6 m wide well sheltered. Unuaually, on this coast there were no boat boys, on the other hand there were plenty of spaces on the visitors ponton and berthing was easy.

The town, 15-20 minutes uphill is quite delightful. Many buidings are constructed or clad in local stone to a “town style.” There are pleasant walks. Near the marina there is a small alimentation in one direction and a boulangerie in the other. The creperies next door to the capitainerie served one of the best galettes ever and good ice cream desert. Being open only a few hours at a time, the marina was quiet. We walked round the coast to the Pointe du Chateau to look at the mooring buoys. We were going to have to use them when we left the marina near high water but wanting to leave near low to go eastwards.

Back to Lézardrieux. 29 August.30 miles.

Not one of Météo France’s best forecasts. the NW 3-5 was a W, 5 or 6. It was a fast passage. Normally, we use the Moisie channel but at less than half tide and rather windy, we chickened out and used the main channel but getting there was right down wind an glose to some unpleasant looking rough water. Others took the Moisie and perhaps we should have done so. It is a good short cut, wind direction would have been easier.

Arriving at the marina on a strong flood tide, we decided on discretion and used the mid -stream holding pontoon so that we could take a pontoon berth in the morning at slack water.

Clint Eastwwod might have said that there are rwo kinds of people in this world; those that use Tréguier and thaose that use Lézardrieux. We like the quietness of the latter. Although more limited shopping is good for essentials – boulangerie, boucherie/traiteur and a modest but adequate Utile.

On current forecasts, we will leave Monday or Tuesday for St Cast and then think about return to the UK. It looks as though we will have a prolonged spell of easterlies.

Too late, but we realised, after they had gone, that we were near CA boat Amarita. Flags were hanging rather limply.

A great find was a new creperie in the village square. The seemingly rather naff name is Lez Ar Detreo. The owners claim that that means L’art des crepes. Maybe, maybe not but the crepes were truly excellent. A little different with a little imagination. Even the hyper critical Jennifer was moved to say “superb and delicious.” We will certainly go there again.

Back to St Cast. 3rd September. 38 miles.

A favourable NE was forecast, which it nearly was. Partly for prudence sake and partly through necessity, we motored through the Ferlas Channel. It is straightforward enough – just watch the N and S cardinal buoys. After the Carn ar Monse N cardinal it should have been plain sailing. It was apart from an hour well before the Grand Leon lighthouse came abeam. A good sail. Plenty of spaces for visitors and a welcoming reply on VHF.

The question is where to and when do we leave. No urgency as St Cast is delightful. Current thoughts are to Jersey next Friday or, more likely Saturday. Thence to Guernsey on the following Tuesday but both have a measure of uncertainty.

Watch this space.

St Helier. 8th September. 3o miles/

A very light wind so motored all the way. Left about an hour too early so had to buck the tide after NW Minquiers NCM. Had a short wait on the waiting ontoon before going in. With its greater variety of shops we really prefer this to St Peter Port. An added attraction is the duty free shop. Purely functional with as much charm as an American Liquor store in Georgia.

Finally, back to St Peter Port. 11th September, 23 miles.

Big decision was when to leave. Tuesday seemed the only possible day unless we stayed here overlong. Jersey Met said SW 2-4, F5 in mid Channel. As it was a big tidem coefficient 111, we did not want a strong wind against tide along the S coast. With a good F6, that is what we got and very unpleasant it was. After La Corbiere light we were able to sail on headsail alone at speeds that increased as we got further north. About 10 miles S of St Martin’s LH we were seeing a touch of F7 and doing 8 knots on a fine reach - headsail alone.

With such a big tide, we were concerned about depth on the harbour pontoons. The Marina assured us that there would not be a problem and met us to help us to a berth pending enough water to go inside.

Not a pleasant sail. Rather like last year (Lezardrieux to St Peter Port), Jersey Met got it badly wrong. Last year F9 when we were expecting up to a good F6. This year up to F7 when F4 was forecast.

Still, we got here safely. Current plans are back to Dartmouth over the weekend. Andy and Jayne have booked flights arriving Friday. Fingers firmly crossed.

With Andy and Jayne, we had a good meal at a new restaurant, the Slaughterhouse. On the Saturday, we took the ferry to Herm, walked right round the island finishing up at a Cider and Gine festival. We tried one cider.

Back to Dartmouth]16th September. 70 miles.

Fore several fays this had been looking a good possibility with some uncertainty between Saturday, with lighter winds but not quite as good direction and Sunday with stronger winds but ideal direction. By Friday, odds were heavily on Sunday and a good choice it was. It allowed us to have a gloriously sunny day on Herm and a great sail across the Channel.

Once clear of Guernsey, we had a SW 4/5 and a sea with little swell. For musch of the time we were registering well over 6 knots with spells of 7-8. About 10 miles from the Dart wind increased to 6/7. Normally, we would have put in a reef but with Jayne and Andy, we just took some rolls in the Genoa. 70 mil-es with slipping St Peter Port to tying up on A10, Darthaven was exactly 12 hours.

Now it is tidying up, noting winter jobs and thinking about next year,


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