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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 2019

After the usual fitting out discovering the usual ever-growing list of mainly minor problems, 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
L’Aber Wrac’h
Port la Foret
Le Palais
Piriac sur mer
Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu
Les Sables d’Olonne
St Denis d’Oléron
Les Minimes, La Rochelle
Saint Martin de Ré
Back to Les Sables d’Olonne
Back to Ile d;Yeu
Pornichet again
La Roche Bernard
Back to La Roche Bernard
Port Haliguen
Piriac sur mer again
Piriac sur mer again
Pornichet yet again
Houat, Saint Gildas
Port Haliguen
Port Tudy, Ile de Groix
Lorient Marina
L’Aber Wrac’h

To St Peter Port/ 4/5 May, 77 miles.

The forecast was for strong winds, top end of 6 with various GRIB outputs, ECMWF, GFS, ICON all suggesting that a F7 was on the cards. Forecasts suggested a decrease after midday so we decided om a middy start rather than our preferred 0200. In the event it probably would have been much the same with winds mainly NE F4/5 with periods of F6.

The ships heading/leaving the Casquets TSS were mainly well space although we did call up one partly for the peace of mind of its captain. We had some slight uncertainty with the Platte Fougere light but then heard a Guernsey Nav waring saying that it was working with reduced power. With the strong winds we were a little early so had to slow down waiting for the south going through the Little Russel. It was a fairly big spring tide so unpleasant overfills were a possibility between the lighthouse and Roustel.

Daughter Jayne and husband Andy came with us as their two children were playing for the county tennis teams.

To Lezardrieux. May 11. 48 miles.

We had intended within until Tuesday and make an early start. However, forecasts on the day suggested that a 1300 start would get us to Lezardrieux with just in failing light with the option of anchoring lower down. There are few lights up the river.

It was a good fast sail with NW 5/6 much of the time rather than the F4 in all numerical models. We arrived just in time to see the pontoons and get into an up-tide berth.


We seem to have hit a difficult period of tides. Leaving Guernsey, we had the choice of a very early start or a later one risking arriving at the Trieux, largely unlit river in the dark. Now wanting to go west while we still have easterly winds will mean another early start, at first light.

Provident, the Brixham Trawler arrived on the mid-stream pontoon, looking great and well kept. Strangley she was not wearing an ensign. The courtesy flags had the French ensign below Brittany and both below another flag. Most strange and un-seamanlike. A Dutch yacht, Zeerwalk arrived on the way to Spain, Portugal and beyond.

To Roscoff. May 16. 40 miles.

It was a good forecast, starting light but increasing to F5/6 after midday. Just a pity that it was so light until after we arrived and that we did not have the stronger winds much earlier. As it was, we motored all the way with a strong flood tide – surprisingly strong for a 76 coefficient. Motoring at about 6 knots we had over 9 kts over the ground at times.The 48 miles charted was only through the water!

Despite having been here 11 times previously, we were caught out by the strong flow through the marina and had to be helped after being swept onto an Island Packet. No damage done except to our self-esteem. We are far from being the first to to suffer and will not be the last. The boat boys were having lunch but later arrivals were shepherded with the marina dinghies acting as large fenders.

It is chilly with the strong E wind. So much so that we had a glass of port this evening rather than the usual G&T!

To L’Aber Wrac’h. May 18. 27 miles.

This was another occasion when five models all under-predicted wind strength. From the previous evening forecast we had resigned ourselves to another motor-sailing day. In the event, after prudently motoring through the Chenal de Batz, we had a good fast sail helped by a spring tide. Helaina, a Bavaria 32, followed us from Roscoff (and previously from Lezardrieux.). Jeff is ingle-handed.

After a rather misty morning, the day brightened up to give a pleasant late afternoon. We did the usual pleasant walk up the hill for food shopping in Landeda and had a good creoe meal with Jeff at The captain.

To Audierne/. May 20. 50 miles.

Another surprising sail. The forecast was for NW F2-3, perhaps 4, increasing F3-4. A slow sail down the Chenal du Four, when others motored, hoping that a slow crossing of the Iroise would get us to the Raz de Sein at HW – slack just turning south through this infamous tidal gateway. Most, if not all the armada that left L’Aber Wrac’h seemed to go towards Camaret.

In the event, the wind increased a little so we had to slow down. Tried furling the genoa but still to fast. Scandalised the main, still too fast. Dropped the main and used a tiny amount of genoa. That worked until about 6 miles off when we could use more genoa to get the timing right. The wind then increased to a good F5-6. We got there at 1800, about Brest HW-1, strictly speaking about ½ hour too soon but no problem. Then carried on, still only under genoa doing up to 6 knots to arrive at Ste Evette only about one hour after their high water and could go upriver to the Audierne marina.

A new (to us) harbourmaster came over in the morning and suggested that we might move at low water to a place a little upstream nearer the toilets and with a slightly easier current. The town has had a makeover – we saw it starting 2 years ago. It is now even more attractive and us still one of our favourites.

On this passage some rather large dolphins came and deliberately bumped the boat. It seemed more than just scratching their backs. Approaching the Raz, we also saw the Eva Kristina, only 17.5 metres but carrying a fantastic amount of sail in a F5-6. We had only a genoa at the time but our average age was probably double or triple theirs and we were doing 6 knots!

To Lesconil. May 24. 25 miles.

An uneventful sail, pleasant enough with no over strong or over light winds. No reply on VHF 9, but it was lunch time (about 1430!) It is our first time here and, as we had heard, very pleasant.

There is little by the port, several restaurants, a boulangeries, a post office, Compte Marine and a pharmacy. The big excitement was the commissioning of a new fishing boat. A plus is the excellent WiFi.

Looked very smart. Our friends, Ross, Wei Wei and the children cam over from Roscoff to say hello and have lunch. Next stop Port la Foret.

To Port la Foret. May 26. 16 miles.

A good sail broad reach in a nice F4 touching 5, close hauled for the last couple of miles. We met Michael and Sue on Jinn, old friends. They keep their boat in this excellent marina. Happily, Michael has recovered from a rather serious sounding illness. They intend leaving in the next few days. Jeff on Helaina was already here coming from Loctudy.

The boulangerie in the village seemed not quite as good as we remembered although the beignies were still good. The charcuterie is one of the best. High class. Unfortunately, it is closed on a Wednesday so we only got one meal from there. Winds have been quite strong but decreased quicker than forecast. We could have left today (Wednesday 29th). On the other hand, we are only paying half price – hors saison – and we will have another bottle of wine with Michael and Sue.


To Locmiquélic. May 30. 31 miles.

For once the wind forecasts were commendably good. A fast reach for about 12 miles, then too light to sail; maybe we could have flown the spinnaker but it was a little too shy. Wind increased a little approaching the approach channel but dropped again only to increase with the sea breeze up the river. Far too late for us but some boats were flying spinnakers when we were getting fenders and lines out.

Michael and Sue on Jinn followed us about an hour later but got no reply on VHF. Maybe my French iis better than theirs?

A plus here is the WiFi. It used to be an incredibly clumsy Orange system needing you to re-register a new username every 24 hours and with totally unmemorable passwords. We were given the usual three days’ supply but found that it is open and needs no password or username. Care in use is needed nut it is far easier. As usual, speed is variable but we were able to stream BBC radio.

The small supermarket in the village is far better than two years ago. It is now a Coccimarket run by a lady who has introduced some rather unusual items such as smoked fish and tines of duck rillette.

To Le Palais June 3. 26 miles.

The wind was a force stronger than forecast giving a pleasant sail rather than a frustrating “shall we motor” one on a nice e sunny day. Calling on VHF when arriving we were told that we could not use the wet basin because of a big rally so had to use a mooring outside the harbour. We will have to move on tomorrow but where? Winds will not be favourable for going south. Piriac or Pornichet were the favoured options. Piriac was the choice although we like both.ac was the choice although we like both.

To Piriac sur mer June 4. 26 miles.

Timing arrival was a little critical as the wind was expected to increase and we did not want to have to anchor off. A very heavy shower just before we left did not bode well although we had hardly any rain en route. CROSS kept issuing warnings of a “grand frais” (F7) to the west of Belle Ile – slightly worrying as we were going quite fast enough under headsail alone. Timing was good and we got a berth after a call on VHF and being met by a boatman who showed us to a berth. Just in time as winds did increase to F7 even here.

The bad news is that they are hosting a race event starting Thursday with 70 (!) boats expected. Races and rallies are becoming a serious hazard in June in this area and are not always posted online. Neither of these were. We find it difficult to see how they can find 70 spaces without evicting about 50 boats. Domestically, they are rebuilding the Capitainerie and the toilet block. They have showers and loos in portacabins. 70 more boats plus racing crews????

We are in a quandary as whet to do next. We do not want to leave tomorrow. Southerly winds are expected on Thursday but maybe not too strong so that we might be able to get to Pornichet reasonably easily. Port Haliguen, Crouesty, La Turballe all nearby are all going to be involved in some such event in the next few days. Watch this space.

To Pornichet. June 6. 16 miles.

The first5 or 6 miles was going to be into a possible headwind increasing in strength so we made an early start to give time for before the wind increased with the usual diurnal effect. In the event the wind increased but, at least, it got us to Pornichet before lunch. Although we asked for 3 or 4 days, they gave us a mooring only for two days as the owner was returning. However, we were able to reposition easily.

The biggest minus here is that WiFi is only available in the capitainerie building. Otherwise, it is a good place to ride out the impending storm. The Marine Traffic display shows more leisure craft on the move than we have ever seen in this area. But there are several rallies or races taking or about to take place and many others seeking shelter.

At Pornichet. June 7.

It began blowing last night and is showing no signs of easing by today evening. Despite a berth between two large motor boats, we are heeling markedly. Walking across the bridge to town was difficult. Since two years ago, they have put new rails=ing along the bridge. In certain directions and wind speed these set up a continuous high pitched whine.

The saving grace in this rather humdrum marina is the excellent food shopping in the covered market. The fish, meats, vegetable and cheeses all look tempting.

Sad news is that three French lifeboat men were drowned off Les Sables d’Olonne in a rescue close to shore. It is not the first fatality here and will not be the last.

To Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu. June 10. 31 miles.

After a wet and windy spell it was good to get to sea again. The forecast was good and the weather duly obliged, more or less. A nice gentle F3-4 initially, some lighter winds with boat speeds of just over 2 knots, an increase back to 2-4, then for the last hour and a half, F5 touching 6.

As usual, Port Joinville gave helpful and clear instructions for aberth for 3 or 5 days. No boat boys, probably a little early in their season.

To Port Olona, Sables d’Olonne. May 13. 30 miles.

After one wet day and one dry one, it was a good, one reef F5 touching 6 to Sables d’Olonne. Contrary to most other yachts we prefer the relative quiet of Port Olona. The piece of paper they give you shows the berth place on a chart, which side to, how many places it is down the pontoon AMD the name of the boat usually moored alongside. All on their database. The access codes for heads and pontoon are unique to you.

At Les Sables d’Olonne

We are now in a everything going wrong phase. First, least important, marina WiFi is poor. Then my laptop decided it wanted a new battery and, probably a new charger. We had some, rather frustrating calls robDell in the U.K. who would not help at all, then some calls to Dell France with lost connections. Then our friend Ross in England Googled computer shops in the area and found one nearby. The battery will not come until Wednesday. With no laptop, I am typing this on the iPad, rather laboriously using the touch keyboard.

We had decided to eat out tonight. Our nearby favourite, Petit Louis, is closed for the week. The restaurant next door has a big party so no other table, a third is closed tonight. Troubles come in threes, so what is next?

Bad news on the computer front - motherboard irreparable. I can cope with the iPad although it is a pain using the on-screen keyboard. Probably not worth getting a Bluetooth keyboard.

Having expected that a new battery would arrive Wednesday, we had paid for another three nights here. It is one of the few places where you pay in advance. It goes against the grain to waste a couple of night’s fees. So, will stay until Wednesday. Jennifer can do an extra clothes wash in the good liveries here. Winds look fine for St Denis d’Oleron.

For the most part this “summer” has been disappointingly cold with cloudy days and more rain than we usually see. Since arriving in Les Sables d’Olonne, the weather has improved to give us sunny days, even if the wind is still chilly. In Port Olona we are sunbathing and even using a sunshade. It is not clear for how long. Cloudier weather is predicted with showers,

Jeff On Helaina has gone on to La Rochelle to meet up with friends. We will probably see him again, somewhere or other.

To St Denis d’Oléron.. June 19. 36 miles.

We said goodbye to Graham and Judith on their Island Packet, Island Girl They are new to sailing but are learning rapidly by experience. They are on their way to the Med. Next stop Spain, probably Bilbao. We wish them luck.

This was a windy sail in AW F5-6 for much of the way. In fairly shallow waters it was a little rough, enough to pull in the second reef for a while. Around the NE of Ile de Re, the tidal currents seemed odd. Together with the rough waters our ground speed dropped to 3.5bknots despite a 25 knot average wind speed. However, as we bore of Effer the Phare Des Baleines, speeds shot up to 8 knots at times. We arrived in the approaches to the port right on the planned time of 2.5 hours before HW.

Our friends Denny and Julie on their Maxi, Misty Blue, had arrived yesterday and booked us a berth by them. Also saw Goshawk, a Westerly with John and Chris from Woodbury who keep their boat in the old harbour at La Riche Bernard.

At St Denis d’Oléron

First call was the daily market and one of the best boulangeries that we know. The marina has an interesting outdoor display of photographs showing the story of the port. On the walk up to the village there are numerous photos of the area dating back to about 1900. All very attractive and a god insight into local life in the past. Lifeboats propelled my manpower, numerous wrecks, swimming and other attire over the ages.

Still at St Denis. June 23

After three warm/hot days in Les `Sables d’Olonne we went back to fine weather with cold winds. Our first two days here were similar but now we have had two warm days as we have lost the cold NW winds for a while. Plans are to leave tomorrow, Monday, anchor of Ile d’Aix and head up the Charente to Rochefort. Their lock gates only open for 20-30 minutes around high water. Timing is critical and it is about 10 miles from the bar.

June 24

Should have gone today nut overnight thunderstorms and heavy rain worth a strong wind determined otherwise. Every cloud has a silver lining. We have tour CA boats here so, inevitably, we had a pleasant evening on board Amy Clair, a 12.9m Beneteau with Keith and Elizabeth who live barely a mile from us in Lightwater. We also had David McConnel and Una on Vadanu3, 13.4m Elan Impression and our old friends Julie and Denny on their Maxi 1100, Misty Blue. A mimi CA rally.

To Port-Des-Barques. June 23. 14 miles.

A slow mainly motor sail across to and up the Charente. This was necessary because the Rochefort lock is open tomorrow at 1300 for about 1/2 hour. We could not get out of `St Denis early enough to do it on one day without some very hard motoring. The mooring is pretty quiet but, as always on a river, interesting. They charge €22 for the nightP, we asked if the buoy was made of gold..

To Rochefort. June 26. 10 miles.

Timing was critical as, with such a low coefficient, the gate was only open a bare 1/2 hour. We wee about 15 minutes early. A consequence of the very nea-y tide was that water levels in the marina were too low to let us go into the second basin - nearer to the boulangerie and liverie.

The weather has taken a massive U-turn and France as a whole is entering a record breaking hot spell. The last two days have been the first time this year that we have sailed in T-shirts with nothing else on top. With my background, I do not dare mention climate change.

Little seems to have changed since 2013 when last here except that the harbourmaster, Pascal, has had a serious accident and is not expected to return to work. We are looking forward to our moulds frites at Oliver’s. As long as you do not mind everything, even the wine, being served in disposables then it is great and great value - IOM was. We live in hope.

June 27.

Olivrer’s moules frites are as god as ever. With a 50cl of vin rose, ice cream sweet, total €30! The nearest boulangeries has changed hand but still has good croissants and pain cereal. The Thursday market looked good but some of the fruit and vegetables were not good. Well below St Denis and, sadly, a good supermarket.

It is extremely hot. We chose the wrong time to come and will not be able to enjoy this lovely town as we would like to have done. Someone, please tell Mr Trump about climate change.

June 28

Much cooler today by about 20 degC degC. Cloudy. Quite a different day. Yesterday evening, the plates were warm in the cupboard. We had to cool the tumblers down before putting the gin, tonic and ice in. For the first time, our Lindt chocolate melted. All unknown before, even in `Greece when we had a hot spell there.

Back to Port-Des-Barques. June 30. 10 miles.

We left s rather cloudy, miserable looking Rochefort for a 90 minute motoring to a buoy off Port Des Barques. This is a convenient stop, particularly in the evening when getting to St Martin de Re or even La Rochelle would have meant beating. It was s little too late to carry on. We called the harbourmaster on Ch 9 to ask for a buoy. He gave no indication which to use and visitor’s buoys did not seem to be marked as such. Not very satisfactory as, on the way up, the harbourmaster had told us to call up on arrival. For what?

To Les Minimes, La Rochelle. July 1. 12 miles.

We did not intend to come here. There had been overnight thunderstorms and still a rumble or two at first. South of Ile d’Aix, the wind increased causing us to put in s reef. Approaching decision time - under the bridge to Ile de Re and St Martin or turn right to Les Minimes. The forecast had been for an increase in wind. So, Minimes won. In retrospect, probably the wrong decision although tomorrow does look like being s better day.

Les Minimes have never been good at showing you to a berth and this was no exception. Staff in the office are always friendly and helpful; they just let themselves down on the water. With 3000 berths here, it is not helpful to say, “Find a berth on pontoon 3.” OK, we know where that is but had to go a long way down a not too wide slot before we even saw a vacant place.

Met an ex-CA member, John, who had single-handed from Aviles. Aviles is a port that many do not visit so it was interesting to catch up with our past.

To Saint Martin de Ré. July 1. 11 miles.

Before leaving, we met Misty Blue with our old friends, Denny and Julie. As ever, stimulating and interesting.

We waited for the rising ride and were rewarded with one of our most pleasant sailing in this area. All too often coming northwards, it is unpleasant under the bridge connecting the mainland to Ile de Ré. Then a beat to St Martin. This time it was a fairly stiff beat to the bridge, then, after a coup de moteur through the bridge, a relaxed broad reach. We were a little early so furled the Genoa. That let us go straught in through the lock.

We met - and long chats with - Ian and Diana Greenhill on their Moody S38, Private Dancer.

The following morning, we had to rise early as the boat inside us in a 3 boat raft, had to leave at 0730.such manoeuvres here are always interesting and rarely easy. The boat furthest inside is to leave later in the day on the afternoon tide. More interest and, with more people around, more spectator interest. Maybe useful as some extra hands might help.

Saint Martin de Ré Is one of many places where Vauban did some fantastic engineering. Vauban was a military engineer in the 17th century working mainly for Louis XIV. He was a master of using natural resources coupled with civil/structural engineering. His work can be found all round the French borders of engineers particularly its coasts. Bearing in mind the resources he had available, he must rank in the top flight of engineers along with Brunel and other names more recognisable to us Brits.

Back to Port Olona, Sables d’Olonne. July 5. 23 miles.

This promised to be a good sail and started as such. Winds were forecast to be NE 3-4 and to decrease with thunderstorms in the afternoon. In the event, the wind decreased by about 0900, then set in from the west where, not too far away we could see some ominous dark cloud. I used my Huawei dongle to get online. On the French radar there was a mass of showers west of us moving parallel to our course. The Lightning display showed how active the showers were. Then we got a sudden increase in wind to 43 knots in a gust. The main came down rapidly and we made some progress under the headsail alone. Then the wind headed, not too strong, for us to sail to Les Sables d’Olonne. We had no rain but heard thunder. The tidal coefficient was 94 so that for about 28 miles over the ground, we only logged 23 through the water.

Knowing Denny and Julie had arrived yesterday, we asked for a nearby berth. They met us with the good news of a table booked at le Petit Louis. Just hoping they find it as god as we have always done.

We expect to be here until Tuesday. By the, we should have easterly winds again.

Need not have worried about the restaurant. Le Petit Louis was as good as ever. Well prepared, well presented. Just as good as you can get without paying a high price. Three course, wine and coffee for €30 each. The 5 assiette sweet, samples of 5 different sweets was excellent.

Briefly met CA boat, Vela Fresca, a Dufour 32, with Neil Matson and his wife.

Back to Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu. July 9. 32 miles.

Meteo France said “mollisant F3-4. In fact it was a fast sail in a F5-6, full main as it was a broad reach and a one reef Genoa. The boat boy took us right down a slot, almost to the end, indicating a berth intended for 8-10 m. He gave us not enough room to turn and did not have the skill,or witbto put his inflatable between us and the rocks, luckily, the bot in the next berth out was our old friends, Michael and Sue on Jinn,they got Aline to us and pulled us off. It is the first week of the summer boat boys and, clearly they are on a steep learning curve.

Denny and Julie have arrived from St Gilles, Croix de la Vie. All coming on board tomorrow evening.

A rally of some 90 boats left just before we arrived. It must have been mayhem here and worse at L’Herbaudiere and St Gilles. Les Sables d’Olonne will handle them OK but it really is a maj-r problem when boats are told that they must leave because of a rally an Weather is had. It has happened to us in the past.

With the two boats we have seen most of this year, Jinn and Misty Blue, it was clear that a get-together would be fun. So, Anhinga was host and a pleasant evening it was.

Thursday, 11th, seems a good day to go although rather more quickly than we would have liked. Forecasts for at least a week ahead are not good for going north. Remain here for an indefinite period or go while the going is OK, even if far from perfect. Being tight up against a motor boat, with rocks close behind and a -top which will push the wrong way, we will need help to extricate ourselves. We hope the boat boys will have learned s lesson - at our expense.

To Pornichet. July 11 . 38 miles.

Being in such a tight spot with little room to manoeuvre, we waited until half tide. Jinn also left at that time, making getting out of our berth a little easier.As expected we had to motorsail the first 8 or 9 miles. It then became a good, fairly fast sail to Pornichet. We would have liked to have gone further but the late start dictated otherwise.

On arrival, Pornichet were excellent. After an initial reply in French, they spoke good, clear `English, gave us a place saying which side of the pontoon and which side to. A boat boy met us and shepherded us to the p;ace. The best of any marina this year. Unfortunately, as we like the town - particularly the excellent market - we are having to move on because of strong N winds predicted for Saturday.

To La Roche Bernard. July 12. 32 miles.

A miserable misty start after (not forecast) overnight rain. It was a frustrating sail. We had expected a head wind to Pointe de `croisic but as we bore off, the wind just headed us again. It was only after the Bayonelles cardinal buoy near Piriac sur mer, that we could sail. The wind continued up the Vilaine to the lock at Arzal. Here, as ever, the staff did a great job, showing great patience. From arriving at the lock, it took nearly an hour to get through.

At La Roche Bernard, the boatman showed us to a berth. We could be here enjoying the peace - except for Bastille day, of course.

July 14 - Bastille day.

No problems during the day. However, late afternoon a rather scruffy boat tried to come alongside - downwind. The wind caught his stern, blew him round and, in doing so, put a dent in our rubbing strake. After they left, a tri-maran tried to come alongside. We said NO. Then, a Feeling of about our size also tried to come downwind. After being told the correct way, he came upwind successfully. Now for the fireworks.

This is the “home port” for Elanik, Alan and Elizabeth’s HR36, As the ball was in our court, it was an excuse for a pleasant evening on Anhinga. We did see some other CA boats but did not get a chance to meet up. Plans are to go upriver to Rieux on Wednesday.

To Rieux. July 17. 14 miles.

This is something of an annual pilgrimage to have a few days in the quiet of the Vilaine far from the crowds in marinas. This year is different. It was not crowded at Port Joinville or Ile d’Yeu. The Arzal lock was quite busy. La Roche Bernard was quieter than normal. Here, at Rieux, we have often had to raft out for at least one night. This year, there is masses space. All very strange.

There are still just the two boulangeries, one mediocre, the other reasonable. The good creperie On site is still a restaurant but specialises in takeaway pizzas and burger bar. Most disappointing. We will not eat there again. Otherwise, for a low cost, €13 a night, quiet few days, it is excellent.

Return to La Roche Bernard. June 20. 14 miles.

The usual, uneventful passage with the usual worry of will the bridge open or not when it is 5 minutes late. A few years ago, it did not open.

Got a berth st LRB on the hammerhead of L pontoon. This is the berth the furthest away of any from the Capitainerie. We asked if there was s free bus service. Although almost under the suspension bridge it is quiet. A plus is that there is a small, new toilet block. The hottest water of any marina - even Darthaven.

Tomorrow, Monday we will head down for an evening lock at Arzal and then back to sea. Like all rivers, the Vilaine has its good points but we do miss the sea.

We had an excellent meal at Le Vieirinha Quartier. A slight criticism is that portions were a little too large. Maybe the French are following the English - unnecessarily, certainly in our case.

To Port Haliguen. July 22/23. 34 miles.

Went down river to anchor overnight just above the Arzal lock. A quit anchorage before the usual drama of the lock the following morning. The sail to Port Haliguen was one of those frustrating days when the wind never quite decided whether to blow or not. Some dead running, some motoring. Then, about 5 miles off Haliguen, a rumbustious F5.

They answered our call immediately and showed us to a berth. We were last here 5 years ago and the Manua has changed greatly for the better in terms of layout and ease of berthing. The toilet block is good and fairly ample.

At Port Haliguen.

The Wednesday morning market was as good as many. Wii have to find the supermarket for the heavies tomorrow. Also a boulangerie. For today, the market bread is good enough. We are now waiting for granddaughter Sophie and `Johnnie expected on Augustv5 for a week. Will probably meet them at Pornichet as a convenient port with many options for a week sailing .

Back to Piriac sur mer. July 27. 23 miles

A gentle sail with speeds varying fro 2 to 6.5 knots but with winds forecast to increase “Apres midi.” They did just as we were arriving creating rather hectic conditions. Several boats were leaving, several of them motorboats. Several yachts were arriving. For the first time here they gave us an alongside mooring. From the sound, the wind must have been well up to F6.

By way of celebration, we had excellent ice creams, at least `Ile de Re standard. We wil wait here for a few days as some strong winds are predicted and we are in no hurry’ pending Sophie and Johnny arriving.

At Piriac sur mer

One reason for coming was that a small but nasty looking low had been forecast. It duly arrive late Monday and is still noosing stronly with strong gusts. Not too far away, Ile de Groix was reporting average winds of about 20 knots with gusts to 40. Belle Ile had similar strengths. Also taking shelter here, we have Elanik with Alan and Elizabeth.

To Pornichet. August 1. 26 miles.

Returned here to await Sophie and Johnny. We had a meal, slightly disappointing, st the Hermitage hotel beach restaurant.

To Houat, Saint Gildas. August 6. 28 miles.

Sophie and Johnny arrived safely. Forecasts are a little problematical with gales on Friday. Planning became the art of the possible.

First, we sailed to a mooring - Saint Gildas on the NE corner of Houat. The wind started fairly light. After a while it headed and we put in a short tack. However, it then gradually lifted and our course was banana shaped. Sophie and `Johnny had a swim in the bay. The only minus was the wash from the frequent ferries.

To Port Haliguen. August 7. 8 miles.

A short sail with another kind wind. We walked to the village of Quiberon.

To Port Tudy, Ile de Groix. August 8. 25 miles.

Mostly a broad reach, near dead run with some strong periods near showers. We got wet. On arrival, we called on VHF and got a berth, “a couple,” on the fishing boat pontoon. Ross and family were already there. We agreed to meet for a dinner in the village at a restaurant we had used before. Very French, mainly local clientele. Excellent value.

At Port Tudy.

Strong winds were expected later today, Friday and early Saturday. Various options to get Sophie and Johnny to the Lorient SFR station by 0900 Sunday. Ferry from Port Tudy, sail to Lorient marina - if winds died down, ditto to Port Louis. According to Ross, the Lorient music festival was making finding a berth difficult. In the event, that was not a problem. It all depends on the wind. It is only a couple of miles to the Lorient entrance but we would rather avoid F8.

To Lorient marina. August 10. 7 miles.

In the event, we telephoned the marina who said they would find us a berth - a couple. The ind dropped to a W F5/6 for a gentle sail across under a small amount of Genoa. The fun was arriving. Due to the festival, we were rafted about 6 out. The marina staff were extremely helpful and skilled at organising arrivals and departures. The toilet block is in the superb categ-ry. New, well appointed and spacious. This must be the best ever.

It was the penultimate day of the festival and he usic went on until about 0200. At least, the re interestingthan using the ferry.nterest of the berthing and the festival made a nice flourish for Sophie and Jonny’s last day/ mo using the ferry from Port Tudy.

To Locmiquélic. August 11. 1.3 miles.

The attentive marina boat arrived promptly as we were disentangling ourselves for the short hop fownseam to Locmiquélic. We have been here many times and were welcomed ack with the usual helpfulness. We will probably stay until Wednesday for a reasonable S wind or, maybe Friday.

At Locmiquélic .

The weather is distinctly unseasonable just now. Heavy showers and cold winds. Wednesday looks like being very windy. Friday may be OK to get to Loctudy but we will probably have to stay there for about 3 days. After that a settled spell is on the cards.

Of our various friends, Jinn is in Port Louis so we might be able to get together, Misty Blue is in Port Haliguen having been in Vanes. and Gemini is now in Vannes. Sue and Michael from Jinn came over for an afternoon visit having met Mist Blue at Port Louis. Unfortunately, we could not meet with Julie and Denny. It looks like we have a one day window to get to Loctudy before getting round Penmar’c and northwards.

To Loctudy. August 16. 36 miles.

This was a more wind sail than forecast. A good direction but we had three hours of a good F5-6, largely 6 and 3 hours of a goof F6 touching 7. One reef for three hours and two reefs the rest. It let us do the 36 miles door to door in 6 hours. Maybe, just after Assumption day, boats had left; maybe the wind strength kept others in harbour; the outcome was plenty of spaces and the harbour master saying A pontoon, take your pick.

It looks like a 4 or 5 night stop until we have a favourable wind to get round Pointe de Penmar’c and the real northwards legs. Saturday evening and night was one of the wettest ever on the boat, it stated rising around G&T time and only stopped about 0500 the following morning. At least all the salt will have been washed off.

Here we met Margaret and Jack on CA boat, Mistral Aegis and, briefly, Gary Rowitt On Chinaman of Poltuan, another CA boat. Then, we met Mike and Lyn on their HR ketch, Forever in Blue Jeans. We never got around to asking if they ever had problems spelling it out to a French coastguard.

To Camaret. August 21. 53 miles.

This was a day when the forecast was remarkably accurate. A good easterly gave us a broad reach or dead run along to Penmar’c and continued on the 14 mile leg to the Raz de Sein. It the fizzled out and everyone, at least 10 others, all had to motor to the Raz. Approaching the wind went to the NW to give a direction too tight to sail to the Toulinget Pate. It then freed just enough to give a fast fine reach in fairly flat seas. Anhinga does not normally fine reach with full sail in a F5 doing up to 6.5 knots.

We like the town despite it being a little touristy and the whole area is picturesque. Probably like many, we find the toilet/showers off-putting. You descend into a dungeon. The showers are good and hot, water in the taps is hot, a rarity, but wcs are in short supply.

Mike and Lyn arrived on the same tide but from Audierne.

First thought had been to go on the L’Aber Wrac’h on Friday but it now looks as though Saturday will be better. The forecast is for fair winds and we should be able to carry the tide nearly all the way. Maybe that is not too critical as the coefficient will be in the low 40s.

We had Jack and Margaret on Mistral Aegis on board for drinks before our early morning start.

To L’Aber Wrac’h August 24. 29 miles.

We started at first might with the sun still threatening that. o show its head. It was Brest LW+2 but that gave us a fair tide right up the Chenal du Four and right to L;Aber Wrac’h. The wind was not quite as kindso that we had to motor the first hour or so and the last. Arrived in time for a late lunch.

To Roscoff. August 27. 26 miles.

A curate’s egg sail, some good, in fact mostly good even very good. A short spell of poor as the wind dropped away. Started well with a fast reach after leaving the Malouine Channel. Approaching the `Chenal de Batz, we were going so fast that we had to slow down in order to arrive st Roscoff st slack water. Following us was Bil on Black Pearl who we had met last year and Mithril Aegis with Jack and Margaret.

Strangely two boats ahead of us went north of Ile de Batz and arrived about an hour later. It is about 5 miles further and there are often some uncomfortable seas around the N of the island.

Normally, we like to go on to Lezardrieux or St Cast and then the Channel Isles. However, for the first time in recent years, we can see no chance of a weather window from St Peter Port to Dartmouth within the next two weeks. As a result, we intend crossing from Roscoff. This will mean a 20 hour crossing, more than we like these days. A complication is that it is Dartmouth Regatta weekend. The marina will be full. We could ask for our berth to be clear but would lose one month discount for next year! All in all, and for an easier entrance at night, we will head for Brixham. Bill (Black Pearl) has briefed us on his home port.

Before leaving, we saw HR36, Srardust 2 with HROA member David Anderson but did not have an opportunity to say hello. Strangely, we can recollect seeing only on other HROA member this year.

To. Brixham. August 30/31. 99 miles.

This turned out to be an epic - st least by our modest standards. After a light w ind start - 5 hours under engine - a pleasant SSW set in giving a reasonably fast passage. Perhaps we could have made Falmouth and Mylor to see our elder son’s new house. However, the wind veered enough to dispel those thoughts. It was looking tobe a good fast crossing. But, about 30 miles out from Brixham, the wind was dropping away so, rather than arriving with the dawn, we decided to motor-sail.

That idea quickly evaporated when we started the engine to have no cooling water spouting out of the exhaust. No problem!. Change the impeller, a. Job we have done many times ashore but never on passage. Easy - except that there was still no water. Again, no problem, prime the water pump. Then the truth dawned. An apparently major problem with water gushing in. Nothing for it. Close the engine seacock and hope the wind did not die away. As a precaution we called Solent Coastguard in case we became a RNLI casualty. -However, the wind held and even increased to give a good sail-right to Berry Head. But how to get into the marina on a dark night with no moon, only stars. The marina could not help. The RNLI refused to help, presumably we were not an emergency. Eventually after some discussion, we managed to get near enough the anchorage just outside the harbour without blocking the entrance. This was not easy because it was so dark and the wind so variable close inshore. Maybe it sounds easy enough, and had been our first ides, but we had been concerned not knowing the area, having no engine to dig the anchor in the shifty wind and not really being sure of our location in the pitch black conditions.

Crossing the Channel further west than normal was interesting. The east bound ships were much further from the Traffic Separation Scheme and the ships much more spread out. The west going ships were almost as near to the TSS . On the day they were a real problem coming in groups that made threading through them a head ache.

A 24 hour passage took 24 hours in total!

In the morning the marina workboat towed us in (with no charge) . We called Darthaven emergency service, Darren duly arrived and realised that part of the heat exchanger had failed. Luckily, he was able to make a repair the part on the spot. We will stay here tonight and, probably Sunday to letvRegatta dust settle. Darren was kind rnough to say that most owners would never change an impeller themselves, let alone at sea!

To Darthaven September 2. 9 miles.

The sting was in the tail. We had a fast fine reach from Berry Head to the Dart Mew Stone. Entering the Dart, we dropped the sails and were organising lines and fenders when we heard a shout for help. A small motor boat who had lines round his engines. We took his line then called Dart Harbour to ask them to take over the tow. A problem was that he did not seem able to steer and he was surfing down the waves. The harbour boat took over just past the Castle and we went on to our berth with no further alarums or excursions.

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