2015, Dartmouth to Ile d'Oléron and back

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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,

Plans for 2015

Basically much as last year. Cross the Channel to St Peter Port, the St Helier for the duty free. Maybe it seems boring but there are always new places to visit or old ones to see again after several years. We are also at a stage in life where we do not need really new challenges. The old, familiar ones will do us quite well.

Various family members are threatening to meet up with us. All will be welcome – but not all together. That would be impossible and might make us look like people smugglers.

The year began rather expensively. We had some work done on the teak decks and gunnel. Then we checked our aged radar, 1991 vintage just in case …… It was not. Darthaven were only too pleased to supply and fit a new model. Even sourcing parts for the old would have been difficult, even impossible. Technology has moved on from nearly 30 years ago when the old radar hit the market.

Darthaven is not the cheapest marina on the South Coast but they do have good shipwrights, electricians, painters. You get what you pay for.

St Peter Port
St Helier
St Cast
Locqmelic/Sainte Catherine
Le Palais
Back to Pornichet
Port Joinville. Yeu
Les Sables d’Olonne
St Denis d’Oleron
La Flotte anchorage, Ile de Ré
Back toLes Sables d’Olonne
Back to Port Joinville. Yeu
Piriac sur mer
La Roche Bernard
La Roche Bernard again
Haliguen anchorage
Back to Locqmelic
Port Tudy, Ile de Groix
Roscoff again
Lézardrieux again
Back to St Cast
Back to St Peter Port
Return to Dartmouth

To St Peter Port, 11 May, 72 miles.

Although a few days earlier than anticipated, this was a weather window that seemed to miss. A reasonable SW wind, F 4-5. Visibility was forecast as moderate or poor with fog patches. No problem, we had our new radar and our Digital Yachts AIS on the iPad chart plotter (iSailor or iNavX).

We certainly were glad of the radar. For some unaccountable reason, the DY kit could not receive a good GPS signal for the first 50-60 miles. The boat (very old Raymarine GPS was OK and so was the GPS on the Raymarine multifunction display used by the new radar.

The new radar was a great improvement on the old. The effective range is greater and the bearing line facility much easier than the old set.

The DY AIS started working as we left the Casquets traffic Separation System. That was as well as we were now in dense fog. I saw a vessel approaching us fairly close and going port to port, we altered course a little to make it obvious. The other vessel also changed course but the wrong way, towards us! We made another change and he followed. Was he trying to sink us? The AIS said that he was not a professional vessel but that he was a fisherman. Odd!

Another couple of large course changes and he still seemed to follow. Eventually, I called him (Hayley B) on the VHF to ask (politely) what he was doing. Lifting and dropping pots. Clearly, he had been quite oblivious to us. 600 metres away at times and we never saw him.

Going down the Little Russel, visibility improved and we got into St Peter Port just gone 1900. A fast passage, 72 miles in just over 12 hours.

The harbourmaster was keeping free all the pontoons on the south side of the marina. He said they were expecting 90+ French racing boats from Morlaix. Rumour was that 150 were expected. Probably it was around 90-100. All, most at least, had four or more crew members – there must have been about 500 people. We speculated where they were all going to eat.

We met CA member Keith Clifford and wife in their Malo, Gloriana.

To St Helier, 15, May. 24 miles.

Having to leave at LW St Peter Port, we had to get out of the marina at about 6 AM. The passage was a gentle broad reach until la Corbiere lighthouse then a motor along the south of Jersey.

Rather to our surprise, there seemed few visitors berths. Then we realised, it was another French race. This time only 45 boats. It did rather make our HROA rally of around 25 seem somewhat inadequate. They all left the following morning leaving the many spaces that we had expected. Were there any boats left in France?

We made the now usual pilgrimage to the duty free shop - £12 for a litre of Gordon’s export gin is not to be passed up. We are becoming somewhat perturbed at the electrics on the boat. We cannot hear the Mastervolt charger fan and its voltage output seems a little low. Also, more seriously, the alternator seems also low on volts when motoring.

As we had a one day slot to leave St Helier, the choice was to stay there and get it all sorted out or to get over to France, have a longer look and thought, and sort out the problems there. St Cast was a new port for us. Surely there would be technicians there.


To St Cast. May 17. 42 miles.

It was a short motors ail along the Western Passage followed by a fast reach to the NW Minquiers cardinal buoy. After that the wind became increasingly light and we had to motor the last 15 miles or so.

Approaching St Cast, no reply on Ch 9 was slightly surprising as they boasted 24/7 coverage. The entry channel is very narrow and full of pot markers. Not a place for a nighttimes entry.

Locals directed us to the visitors berths – on the inshore end of pontoon D by post marked with a large V. As we approached a finger berth we saw 6 Frenchmen off a yacht on the other side of the finger, standing on the main pontoon. One was even standing on the finger itself. Not one even offered to help.

We do not expect special treatment because of our obvious age. Normal courtesy, regardless of age, competence etc is to take lines. The racing yachts in St Helier had done so. We were just surprised at the ignorance shown.

Going to check in, we were a little surprised to find the office closed in Sundays. We are accustomed in France to finding chandlers closed on Sunday our Darthaven chandler is open every day of the week). To find the marina office closed is rare. St Cast has not got off to a good start for us. However, a local gave us the code for pontoons and showers. The latter were good. One redeeming feature at least!

At St Cast

The town is a short walk, about 10 minutes along a substantial path around the coast. All the necessary shops are there is a very pleasant town.

The engine alternator had stopped working on the passage from St Helier and the Mastervolt (shore power) charger was also not working correctly. We called the local marine engineers who came promptly. The alternator was easily fixed 0 after a lengthy diagnosis. It had seemed to be the regulator but was, in fact, a missing earth connection. The Mastervolt seems to be more problematical. The technician got it working generating 14.2 volts but by the next morning it was again only giving 13.3. . We had to call him back because we were still not sure that the Mastervolt was working correctly. It seems that it was. It is just that our batteries are in a good state and come up to full charge quickly. Total cost of the technician was €190 but, we are now greatly reassured. Peace of mind is worth a great deal.

Here we met Peter and Val Nutt on their HR43, Noisette and went on board for an enjoyable drinks and chat evening. We have friends and sailing experiences in common.

Strong west or NW winds had been forecast for most of the week; one reason for taking the opportunity to come here. On Sunday, it looked as though next Saturday might get us to Lézardrieux.

It is a pleasant place to while away a few days. The bay is picturesque. Good coastal paths for walking, a neat, tidy and seemingly prosperous town. Not many shops but reasonable quality with a small Carrefours as a back up and non food essentials. We had to post a letter to the USA. The Bureau de poste is about 1km up a steep hill. Closed noon until 1400. Beware!


To Lézardrieux, 23 May. 40 miles

GRIB forecasts had indicated last Monday that this would be the day to move on from St Cast. Predominantly N-NE winds, enough to sail with. In the event there was not quite enough east to sail the whole way but we did sail about half the time.

Peter and Val in Noisette had the legs of us and arrived about an hour earlier. The marina boat helpfully shepherded us into a slot All very friendly as always here.

At Lézardrieux

There was a great deal of activity and many boats left together. Clearly they knew each other. Perhaps it is rally time in France or it may just have been Sunday morning.

The short walk up the hill into this quiet village is good exercise and worth it for the bread. We met Richard and Andrew from St Peter Port who came on board for a coffee and chat . They gave us a “pilot” book for Guernsey full of inshore passages that would make us think twice about in a flat bottomed motor boat..

We are going to have to wait a few days somewhere before passing down the Chenal du Four. Bit where? We like Lezardrieux but that would mean waiting for two days of windows to get along the coast. Roscoff is OK. Not as attractive a mooring as lezardrieux or l’Aberwrac’h. There is a (limited – very in May) alimentation at the marina but rather limited foods shopping is a fair walk away. There is no bus in May/June to the supermarket Ll’Abeewrac’h is rather wild, “sauvage” as a French lady once said. There is a bus to good shopping. There is always something of interest to watch.


To Roscoff, 26 May, . 54 miles.

The forecast was touch and go whether we would be able to sail or not. At worst it would be a motor sail with help from the wind. Timing w as a problem. The time to leave Lezardrieux is to catch the full 6 hours of the strong west going tide. That would have med for a late arrival at Roscoff. While that was not impossible it would have not been conducive to carrying on the l’Aberwrac’h on the following day.

We might have anchored off Perros Guirec but that is exposed to a northerly swell. It would have made a long day to get to l’Aberwrac’h on the following day or staying in Roscoff as there is not a window to get westward for a the next few days. The tidal coefficient was 29 so we decided to have about 3 hours of adverse tide along the coast.

That is what we did, The wind was annoyingly nearly but not quite sailable although we did try twice. Even with this neap tide we had nearly two knots against us for a time. Total mileage was about seven more than last year when we had the tide with us for six hours.


To L’Aberwrac’h, 27 May. 37 miles.

This was another nearly sail. Tide times are not currently in our favour. To take the tide through the Chenal de Batz and have west going to l’Aberwrac’h would mean leaving at about 1300. The forecast seemed to hold out the prospect of a sailing wind. Hope springs eternal, even after many years of experience.

After clearing the channel between Ile de Batz and the mainland, it did look promising. We would have to put in a tack but that should let us get to the Libenter westerly cardinal buoy at the western end of the rocks around the Vierges lighthouse, the tallest in Europe. Well, it did not.

The wind headed and, although only slightly more tan on the previous day, it was a most awkward sea. Anhinga simply bounced with speeds dropping to near zero. However, even with the abortive one hour tack out to sea, we still got to l’Aberwrac’h in eight hours – and five more sea miles because of the tack and the lesser tidal help compared to last year.

Rather than try to find a space or go alongside another vessel we took the easy option of picking up a buoy for the night. A call in the morning to the marina got us a finger pontoon berth – a “catway” to use that well known French term.

We should have gone on to Camaret as winds are not promising but opted to stay. At our age we have no need to rush and an excuse to stay in harbour not to be turned down lightly. We could be here a few days, maybe a week.

At L’Aberwrac’h,

We took the bus to Llanyllis for some shopping. We had fond memories of market day here last year. However, this was not market day. Shops were little better than the nearer (walkable) Llandeda although we did not see the LeClerc that would have made it worthwhile. A lesson for next time.

We might have left on Saturday (29th) but winds at the bottom end of the Chenal du Four were expected to reach F5-6, SSW; not a happy prospect with the strong S going tide. Stuart and Pamela in the Westerly Consort, Laykin, did go. We opted to stay until Wednesday when winds and tides look loke being favourable for the passage direct to Audierne. Between now and then some strong winds and generally unpleasant weather are expected – and occurring.

Staying here we had a good meal at our usual Captain restaurant, We also visited the now automatic semaphore station for the panoramic view of the islands around the Vierges light. and to see the exhibition of pottery and painting. Both typically rather quirky French style.

Needing more provisions, we walked the 40 minutes to Llandeda. Unfortunately, being Monday, the boucherie/traiteurs was closed. We might have caught the bus back but decided we needed the exercise. It is downhill coming back.

Change of plan. Forecasts of 2.5 - 3.5 m swell do not bode well for entry to Audierne or a night in the bay outside. Now hope to leave on Thusday, 4 June for Camaret and, thence, yo Audierne on Saturday or Sunday. After that, strong E'ly winds are expected. Audierne is as good a place as any to spend a few days - see our log for 2000!


To Camaret,4 June,. 34 miles.

The story in France so far has been little or adverse wind and much motor sailing. Hopefully after several days of strong winds and large swells keeping us in port, this would be different. An easterly 2-4 sounded OK. We did sail for about an hour before the wind went SE to S ad decreased. Never mind, there is always another day.

In Camaret walking to the shops we met an old CA friend, Maggie Pryde off Mithral Aegis. It seems they have engine problems. Jack was hard at work. We also met our new friend Pamela off Laykin ex-l’Anerwrac’h. On the boat we got talking to Paul and Vicky Bryant off their Naiad 332 from Mylor, in the Fal Estuary.

Strangely, the office at tye large basin was closed, only open July/August. As we had to go into town, we paid at the main office by the small boat/local marina. Others who did not go into town did not pay. Nobody came around to check. The office was not at all welcoming. Surly is the best word I can find.

To Loctudy, 4 June, 60 miles,

As strong winds are expected from next Sunday so we want a good place to stay a while. Audierne is always our first thought but when would or could we leave. Sainte Maine, another favourite has good but restricted shopping. Loctudy seemed to have interest and variety. We had not been there for about 20 years. The approach and entrance were shallow to we needed the top half of a ride.

A forecast of NW 4 – 5 sounded OK. Leaving Camaret to reach the Raz de Sein at low water would give us an adverse tide to Point de Penmar’c but, hopefully get us to Loctudy around HW. If it did not look good at either end, Audierne/Ste Evette was a possibility at one end or a slight longer sail to Sainte Marine at the other.

All eventualities covered, so we thought.

Initially the wind was SSW 3 so we had to motor to near the Raz. Then the promised NW set in rather light at first giving a slow run suggesting that the engine would be needed again. No need to have worried the wind increase to 4 – 5, then to 5 – 6. Then, around and past Pointe de Penmar’c it reached F 7 for a while. All with full mainsail rolling in the Genoa as we went onto a reach around the many cardinal buoys. It did not drop below F 6 until the approach to Loctudy.

Approaching we saw (visually and AIS) a large number of racing yachts beating into the F 6/7. Good luck! We also saw a gaggle of fishing boats racing into Loctudy. We were happy to be behind them. Fresh fish tomorrow?

The marina looked full with rather narrow spaces between pontoons. We went alongside the outer pontoon while Jennifer found a Hallberg Rassy owner who helped us into a space. A quick G&T and an even quicker heated up pasta, then bed!

At Loctudy,

Not surprisingly, all we can remember is the black and white chequered tower just north of the entry channel. It is a very boaty place with serious chandlers, not marine boutiques. It is clearly a place to get work done on a boat.

A fairly short walk got us to poissonneries, two boulangeries, bank, chemist and restaurants. There is a Proxi alimentation/charcuterie but not open. Seasonal? There is a supermarket a rather longer walk, ~ 1 km. Presumably, market day apart that is where we will get fresh vegetables and fruit – as in several French towns/villages that we know.

Strong winds had been predicted to last for some days and so it is turning out. The day after we arrived, we were joined by Paul and Vicky in their Naiad 331, met in Audierne. Perhaps not surprisingly, a German Naiad owner asked if this was a Hallberg Rassy rally.. There was the HR39 who had helped us in and them a HR352 arrived; Peter and Susan Woods were here on their HR342, Safir; Richard and Jane Ogden arrived on Musketeer, HR37. Then Peter Chennell (RYA Passage Planning author) with his HR34.

Paul and Vicky left for a short upwind motor sail to the Odet and Sainte Marine to be replaced by Martin and Sue with their Starlight 35, Ackee, .also from Mylor.

By one of those chances that seem to occur with cruising sailors, we discovered that we had met the HR352, Delicartus, in the Mediterranean. Robin and Sue invited us on board for a chat and drinks.

On Tuesday the wind is still blowing great guns even stronger than previously. We cannot remember the wind howling and shrieking so much for so long. It reminded us of Boras in the Adriatic Pointe de Penmarc’h and Ile de Groix were both reporting average winds of around F6 but gusts of gale force strengths. Wednesday should see some lessening. Thursday looks like being a change as a small low comes across. Maybe we leave on Friday.

It is a very pleasant area. Many rather fine houses, some obviously holiday homes. Good walking if you just want to wander as we did. Although Sainte Marine has its good points and is an old favourite, , Loctudy has the edge for a stay of several days.

To Locmiquélic - Sainte-Catherine, June 12. 37 miles.

We had waited at Loctudy until the strong winds had died down, so much so that I woke vecause it was so quiet, and an extra day to get a good wind for Locmiquélic. We were not dsappinteed. It was a broadreach all the way, sailing virtually door to door. The capitainerie at Locmiquélic was as efficient as ever, giving us a berth number, which side of the pontoon and which side to the finger.

At Locmiquélic - Sainte-Catherine

Little has changed here. There is e new and good boucherie/traiteurs in the village and the already small supermarket a little smaller..

We walked one direction around the coast to Port Mané, one of the terminals for the boat buses across the river. There is a marina here but small and unlikely to have spaces for visitors.

Another day we walked the opposite direction to Port Louis. Many, perhaps most British sailors use Port Louis than Locmiquélic. We have often wondered why. Until recently the toilets/showers have been in portacabins although now they are greatly improved. Shopping is not as good as at Locmiquélic. The village is prettier. Then we found that they charged €15 a night as opposed to Locmiquélic €23!

To Le Palais, 50nm. 15 June, 24 miles.

A stop and start sail with a wind only really when the sea breeze got going. We were told, sorry there is a big race event, no room in the Bassin a flot. The helpful harbour boat helped us to a mooring between the wall and a buoy. It was not a peaceful night with a noticeable swell at high tide..

At Le Palais

We pumped up the dinghy to go ashore while wai8ting to get into the inner basin. We were told it might be quite late. There seems to be much work generally improving buildings. We were disappointed that our favourite creperies had closed down.

In the event we got into the inner basin around 1520 0 along with many other boats. Ackee, with Martin and Sue, got in before us and we rafted alongside to be joined by a further two. It is a popular place!

It can also be dangerous. Small cargo vessels also use the bassin a flot. When they start their engine and the prop is turning, they create a tremendous disturbance in the water, Any yacht fool enough to try to move will be flung around totally out of control. For the third time we saw this happen. This time the harbour boats were not around to act as buffers. The small yacht hit two others with a resounding crash. Some damage must have been done.

There was a mass exodus on Thursday. We are inside boat in a raft of four but all are going tomorrow, Friday, on the morning tide.

To Pornichet. !9 June. 35 miles.

Not a bad sail apart from a couple of hours light variable wind. We got a prompt reply on Ch 9 with clear description of where to go and then shown by a marina boat.

We have always been put off Pornichet by Peter Cumberlidge’s description as “le parking lot.” It is fairly large but not overly so. It is an artificial harbour rather like some on the east coast of Spain just off the coast linked by a bridge. Built in the mid 70s, some of

At Pornichet

We came initially as a reconnaissance exercise prior to grandson Max visiting us for a long weekend from Metz where he is studying for one semester. He will come via Nantes and we will meet him from Pornic,

Saturday is market day in Pornichet and this was one of the best that we have seen for a while, Excellent fish, good produce generally. There are also a good number of food and other shops all near to the marina.

To check on trains for Max to return to Nantes, we walked to the station, a longish walk along one of the many Rues de Charles de Gaulle. The buildings along the way were interesting in their variety. It is very different and more attractive than the holiday resort frontage seen on the approach. The Mairie is a particularly impressive building even by French standards.

We were pleasantly surprised with Pornichet. Showers were some of the hottest “fixed temperature” that we have come across. Food shopping is good only a short walk away. The market is excellent and the covered market is open daily apart from Monday. We found a good, reasonably priced fish restaurant not far from the marina. Staff were as pleasant and as helpful as anywhere.

To Pornic. 22 June. 18 miles.

Really we should have waited until late morning or early afternoon to get the sea breeze. We did not and had to motor virtually all the way.

The marina office was closed for lunch so no reply on Ch 9 although a boat 15 minutes earlier did get a reply. We rafted alongside a CA boat, Harry and Maria Douglas on their Sunbeam 44, Bonnie Ellen.

As we intend staying 5 days, until Max arrives, the marina found us a berth on a finger pontoon rather than a hammerhead where we would be continually have boats coming alongside. The downside was that it was as far from the heads as possible, not to mention the town etc.

A surprise was to see HR352, Masquerade previously owned by Niger Frow a founding member of the HROA. The boat is still listed in the yeat book and we assume that it is stil in the family.

At Pornic.

We know Pornic fairly well. The town, a short walk away is delightful. Inevitably that means that it is rather touristy although, at least in late June, not overly so. Shopping is pretty good with markets on Wednesday and Sunday.

Unusually, WiFi is only available near the marina offices. Even there it seems rather slow. On the boat, it is Back to email over the cell phone with GPRS!

 Showers are good and hot.

The fairly small market at Pornic (Thursday and Sunday) is excellent. In particular, it is the first market this year to have a large comprehensive cheese stall, two in fact. The lack of large cheese stalls has surprised us this year. Sometimes none at all or very limited.

We are reminding ourselves about local shops. The famous ice cream shop is pretty good but falls short of St Martin de Ré. We are also checking on various options for Max’s all too short visit. A complication is that work is in and on the railways and some services to and from Nantes, the TGV station are wholly or partly by bus.

It really did become complicated as it was virtually impossible to get back to Nantes on Sunday. The two main options – other than get to St Nazaire on Sunday were to sail to Pornichet and se the TGV back from the nearby la Baule or sail to l’Herbaudiere and use a bus service from Noirmoutier to Nantes. As winds were fairly favourable we chose the former.

Back to Pornichet. 27 June. 18 miles.

We always seem to have to motor out of the bay away from Pornic and this was no exception. We did, however have a good fast sail for the last 9 or so miles to give Max a good spell on the helm.

Entering the harbour we were hailed by Neil and Bron Eccles, old friends, on Cutaway. The marina gave us a more convenient berth this time, still fairly quiet even on a Saturday evening. We dined at the same fish restaurant than before. We had better WiFi which pleased Max.

On Sunday morning, the marina kindly booked a taxi for us to La Baule Escoblac. As at Pornic, Max saw some “proper” small French shops and the covered market where we bought some good patés – something that he had not seen at Metz.

At the superb station at La Baule Escoblac, there were no less than 4 staff manning booking desks. The very helpful clerk explained that, at Nantes, Max would have to get off the TGV from La Baule, walk along the platform to get another TGV to Paris.

To Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu. 2 July. 30 miles.

After a night of thunderstorms with torrential rain, there was some sucking of teeth about leaving. A useful website showed that the thundery activity was moving northwards and would not affect us.

It was a good passage, the only excitement being an unpredicted temporary increase to F 6’7 off the NW of Ile Noirmoutier. We dropped the main and were broad reaching under headsail alone at about 6 knots.

As usual, the marina office replied promptly on Ch 9 and gave us a berth – helped in by a CA member on Taliesin. Later, we found this to be Geoff and Joyce Meggitt with whom I had stayed on one of my talks in the NW of England.

We were hailed on the pontoon by CA member, Roger Bennee here with his wife Penny on their Jeanneau, Anjou. Yet more CA members were t Roger Osborne and Mike Wood on their very early Amel, Beryl Grey.

At Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu.

We just like being here for the friendliness and the happy holiday atmosphere. We walked a little, got the laundry done, shopped and just enjoyed Port Jpinville, as we always do. A prime attraction is he lady making crepes and galettes “pour emporter” in the market on the quay. They virtually melt in the mouth.

Winds look right to move on Sunday.

To Les Sables d’Olonne. 5 July. 26 miles.

After a rather windy, cloudy start to the day we decided to trust the forecast but played safe by using just headsail alone at first, The wind dropped away and gave a broad reach which let us have a 10 mile spinnaker run. Our first since2013.

We always prefer Port Olona, the harbour authority, very large marina. We find it quieter than Quai Garnier’ it is near chandlers and other facilities. It is reasonably close to a good Carrefours; The only drawback is that there is no boulangerie close by, only a rather indifferent “depot de pain.”

To St Denis d’Oléron. 7-8 July. 31 miles

This was a pretty good sail as far as the bridge from La Rochelle to Ile de Ré with an unusually steady W F3-4 that increased to F 5. We approached the bridge near LW, not normally a good idea but the LW was 1.3 above datum. We got down to 0.9 under the keel, around 2.9 metres.

As it would have been a stiff beat after the bridge to St Denis, we picked up a mooring buoy for the night opposite La Pallice. In marked contrast to SW English rivers, nobody came knocking on the hull to demand payment.

Overnight the wind died and veered to WNW F3.4, a good direction for St Denis. Well it would have been except for a shower and squall giving 30 knots for about 15 minutes. Luckily the direction did not change.

Perhaps for the first time in our many visits here, there seemed to be little English spoken in the office or by the boat boys.

At St Denis d’Oléron

This looks like being a sociable stay. We are near Isa Lei, a HR37 with Peter and Janet Melson on board. They told us that Musketeer, Richard and Jane Ogden - last seen in Loctudy - were already here. Tui, a bot we know although I cannot remember the names is here.

Returning from an excelled meal at a nearby creperies we saw a Naiad 390. I was just saying that some of our best friends had Naiads, when we were hailed. It was Ian and Bev Miller just returned from Spain. They came on board for drinks. In the return match, we were accompanied by Richard and Jane.

Another CA boat was Intrepid, a Dufour 39 – feeling very much at home in France, with Bob and Sue Garrett. Finally we met yet another CA boat, a HR46, Jubilate Deo with old friend Trevor Hames.

To La Flotte en Ré anchorage. 12 July. 14 miles.

Times of tide and the opening of lock gates were not too helpful. An early afternoon start from St Denis would mean a good sail to the Ile de Ré bridge but a hard sail if we were to get to Les Sable d’Olonne. It would be a much shorter beat to St Martin de Ré. However, that would be crowded for the July 14th holiday. It would be very noisy.

We decided to anchor off La Flotte en Ré, a drying harbour, make an early start the following morning, motor sail as necessary and aim to reach Les Sables before the afternoon sea breeze coupled with the swell made it a really tough sail. The downside was that we would miss St Martin de Ré, an old favourite despite the virtually inevitable necessity to raft out.

Part 1 worked well. A fast reach to the bridge, then a one reef beat to the anchorage. As the wind dies down, the wind-sea did also giving a quiet night. The bottom was thick, highly glutinous mud. We have visited Flotte en Re by bus from St Martin so it was a little different seeing it from seaward.

Back to Les Sables d’Olonne. 13 July. 25 miles.

Part 2 of the grand plan was a rather miserable motor sail in a fairly long, 1 to 1.5 m swell. The wind was never strong enough to sail and only helpful for about half the time.

The Port Olona reception staff were as pleasant as ever. Within 1/4 hour of arriving we were moored. A nice surprise was to meet Malcolm and Barbara Wharton, CA members on their Jeanneau 391. Kimi Rpssi who invited us for drinks on board.

Back to Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu. 16 July. 25 miles.

This was a one day window of SE to S winds, F4 expected to increase later to SW F5 or 6.

It was a fast sail with boomed out Genoa for much of the time and winds a goof F4 to 5, even a little F6. After getting in to harbour, winds increased further.

Having left fairly earl, well – by 8 am – we got to Port Joinville early enough and before the main armada to get a finger berth. Later, we saw some 20 or so yachts in the commercial wet basin. Some were quite small. In the marina itself there were many boats rafted up and also on the hammerhead berths.

What we found difficult to understand was why some boats left Les Sables going south into a predicted strengthening wind. They had had a NW wind the previous day and again expected on the following day. They should read a good weather website.

We took the great little bus service to La Meule on the west side of Yeu. Lunch here was a little disappointing. Even French restaurants cannot always produce large quantities of meals to a high standard.

For exercise we walked from La Meule to La Croix and took the bus back from there. In the marina. we met CA member Keith Clifford and wife in their Malo, Gloriana, last seen in St Peter Port. .

To Piriac sur mer.. 20 July. 42 miles.

This was a curate’s egg of a sail. The forecast was good. However, the swell was quite large and the initial F2/3 could not cope. Near the entry to the Loire channel, winds increased to nearly reefing time and we sailed well and fast. Then the wind went and, mindful of times for entering the harbour we motored again.

A quick reply on Ch 9 and we were met and ushered in to a berth with a good finger from a substantial main pontoon. It was our first time here and all looked pretty. There were some minor oddities in the showers/toilets but WiFi is among the best.

At Piriac- sur mer

This is a pleasant small town with some good quality shops for clothes and food. The market (3 days a week) is good. There are pleasant walks from the marina from where you can see into the Vilaine entrance. A good place from which to enter the Vilaine. We met Bob and Sue again on their Dufour, Intrepid.

To The Vilaine and La Roche Bernard. 23 July. 15 m8kes.

With rain and strong winds predicted for Friday (tomorrow) and further strong winds for the next few days, it was a no-brainer to come to La Roche Bernard. This is a good place to avoid the masses of people afloat and shelter from strong winds. It is also low cost.

We motored the 7 miles to the Vilaine entrance into a head wind and up to the lock. The Arzal lock has not always been a happy experience but this was the easiest that we have ever had. More enjoyable also as the lock keeper asked us to move up and go alongside a British yacht. Brilliant! It was Clive and Jane from the Helford River on their Westerly Fulmar, Haquanage. We had met them last year in Audierne friends of Ross and Wei-Wei, Australian/Taiwanese living in Falmouth.

We carried on upriver to La Roche Bernard and found a berth on the visitors’ pontoon. Celebration was another good galette at La Belle Epoque. Later, Haquanage and Intrepid joined us, both concerned at the strong winds expected over the next few days. We met Malcolm and Eileen Perrins, CA members on Serica of Woodbridge, a 11.9m Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39.

Having had twp disturbed nights on A pontoon, which takes the worst of wind and wave noise, we asked for a move and were allocated to J pontoon. Just about the first people we met were old HR friends, Alan and Elizabeth Hickman on Elanik, HR39.

To Rieux, July 27. 14 miles

History repeats itself, this is the same date as last year! After a short motor away from La Roche Bernard, it was a fast sail under Genoa, sometimes reefed, doing over 6 knots at times. We arrived at the bridge at Cran with about 15 minutes in and for the 1400 opening. We passed Intrepid on the way up.

Rieux was its usual soporific self. We got an alongside berth when a small yacht left. At $13 a night with water, electricity and some of the very best showers it is remarkably good value; a great place to wait while winds at sea die down and about 1/3 the price at some marinas.

Shopping is still very limited with two boulangeries and nothing else. There is a small market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The hill by the pontoons with its ruined fort and historic descriptions is fascinating. This year enlivened (not really an appropriate word for Rieux) by some tree sculptures. Tree trunks made into a tee-pee shape with “birds” made from bits of trees.

Serica of Woodbridge was here with Malcolm and Eileen. We also met Kevin and Sue on their catamaran, Rum Tum. They seem to use this as a second home. We had a good - and remarkably low cost – meal at the Bistro right by the pontoons.

Back to La Roche Bernard. 30 July. 14 miles.

It is always difficult to leave Rieux but leave we must if we are to meet up with Jack. The bridge at Cran opened on time. The quiet motoring back to La Roche Bernard was quiet and uneventful. It is rather like going down the Yare or the Bure although the countryside here is rather softer in character.

Back at La Roche Bernard we met old friends Ian and Bev on their Naiad Polonia as well as Peter and Janet on their HR37 Isa Lei. Winds are favourable for us to depart Sunday with a SE to S wind, probably for an anchorage near Port Haliguen, Monday looks like being a SW, ideal to get up to Lorient.

The only snag is that the Sunday lock opening is a little too late as we are on a bog spring (104%) and do not want to be crossing the shallow Vilaine entrance on a rapidly falling tide. Maybe we are worrying too much but any delay in the lock opening and we would have to delay a day with less favourable winds. We will go through the lock Saturday evening and hope that we can use the pontoon on the north bank. Alternatively we could anchor. Yachts are not allowed to use the waiting pontoon unless waiting to pass through the lock.

Need not have worried. We had 2, me on the pontoon. Many others had the same idea. Despite all the boats there is was an exceedingly quiet night.

To Haliguen Anchorage, August, 2,. 26 miles.

This was a dream sail. We had a SE F 3 – 4, fast broad reaching all the way. The anchorage, in the Baie de Quiberon, a mile or so from the Teignouse LH was deserted. The only disturbance was from private aircraft using the nearby airfield and motor boats back and forth. There was a barely credible large number of boats coming out of La Trinité and Crostey. Manu were heading for Houat and Hoedic. On the AIS, I say three boats entering the bay at the W end off Houat. It must have been nigh impossible to find a place to drop the anchor. We were well out of it.

Back to St Catherine’s Marina. Locmiquélic, 3 August. 25 miles.

Another great sail, this time in a SW 3 – 4, hitting 5 at times. Five hours from weighing anchor to tying up in the Locmiquélic marina. Again a quick reply on Ch 9 with clear directions to a berth,

The first people we met were Roger and Penny Bennee, last seen in Port Joinville. We also saw Peter and Janet on Isa Lei again but they left after a couple of days.

Having time to explore, we did took the bus to Riantec, a delightful village very spread out but little in the way of shops as far as we could see. From there we walked around part of the “inland sea”, really a very large largely drying out estuary. It is a place to watch birds complete with an ornithological centre. The following day we took the bus the other way to Port ouis and walked to Locmalo with its small marina. Then on to Riantec but on the opposite side of the inland sea to yesterday,

Bad news from Jack is that he could not book a TGV from Paris until about 1800, arriving Lorient 2100 on Saturday. There will still be the water bus running to Pen Mané but we will not back here before 1030. He will have had a 9 ½ hour flight, had to kick his heels in Paris before the TGV. To reduce his agony a little, we have agreed with the marina to move round to Pen Mané ourselves on Saturday. One benefit is that there is a LeClerc supermarket a short bus ride away also a Lidls. Gin is getting a little low!

In the eve he was able to get a cancellation on the train so that we need not have moved to Pan Mané. However, it was all interesting. The only drawback is that there was no WiFi at Pen Mané despite assurances from the marina.


To Port Tudy, Ile de Groix

Winds were not favourable for going on to Concarneau as we had hoped although it was, perhaps, as well as we ha Jack slept in until mod morning. Instead we had a nice short beat across to Port Tudy. As so often happens in August there were no pontoon berths. We had to raft outside in a mess of boats that looked as though they had been knitted by a revolution tricot use.

We have never found the restaurants around the harbour to be very good. This time we walked into the town to find a small creperies patronised by locals. it was good with a nice ambience.


To Concarneau. 10 August. 27 miles.

Unravelling the knitting in the morning was easier and far less painless than might have been imagined. We got away at 0900. Winds were light so we motored for 3 ½ hours then had a nice sail for 2 hours. The marina answered us on promptly in English Ch 9. Surprisingly there were many vacant berths.

This was our first visit here since the early 90s. Much the same apart from a new capitainerie with the hottest showers of anywhere. We had a walk around the old walled town which was full of tourists. No doubt we should have explored the town more carefully; The creperies was poor compeer to Port Tudy.


Back to Loctudy, 11 August, 12 miles,

A miserable day but a good sail in a brisk NE wind. Loctudy answered promptly and ushered us to a berth.

At Loctudy

We have come here because there is a bus into Quimper for Jack to get the train to Nantes for his flight to Berlin and his conference there. We have a last meal booked with him and will go into Quimper to see some of the town – and, now doubt lunch as an absolutely final meal!

The ABF meal turned out to be a galette made before our eyes in the market and eaten from a paper napkin. Jack got off safely. We will miss him.

To Audierne. 8th August.28 miles.

This was a pleasant sail to Pointe de Penmarc’h but then a motor in a decreasing wind across the bay. We always enjoy being here and this was no exception.

We had planned to meet Ross, Wei Wei and their two young daughters. It is not often that you meet a 4 year old bilingual in English and Mandarin!

Back to Camaret, 19 August, 27 miles.

The forecast SW F3-4 increasing 4-5 was accurate, although it did touch F6 at times. We had a fast sail and found a berth in Camaret with no problem.

Back to L’Aberwrac’h. 20 August. 32 miles.

Another good forecast. Windy again just touching a force stronger. Another fast sail in strong SW winds. We got an immediate response on Ch 9 and an alongside berth not rafting up.

We may be here for some while. We had assumed that it would be busy and that we would have to use a buoy overnight and get a finger pontoon in the morning. However, the boatman called us in saying that he had an alongside berth without rafting out.

It was a concrete pontoon and, for some unaccountable reason Jennifer fell heavily when she went ashore. Her right leg was very painful and she could not stand. An ambulance was called and we were taken to a hospital near Brest. The X-ray revealed two cracks in bone but no break. I could have been far worse.

Advice was to stay put for a while to let the cracks heal. It will be a slow process. She is on pain killers in the meantime. One curiosity of the French system is that hospital pharmacies do not supply medication to out-patients. As it was late evening the taxi taking us back to the boat had to find a “Pharmacie de la Garde.” These are pharmacies always on call.

When we got back to the marina at around midnight there was no way that I could get Jennifer back to the boat unaided. No boats were showing lights – all asleep, no doubt. Luckily, I found three young Frenchmen who all had good English. The carried her along a long pontoon and, with a little pushing, we got her on the boat.

At L’Aberwrac’h.

One the last two passages we had been first chasing on the reaches but passing on the runs a HR36. This was Senninha with David and Rose Echlin. They also are stuck in L’Aberwarac’h – with a defunct engine water pump. Very kindly the prepared a meal on their boat that we ate on ours. A nice thought that lead to a pleasant evening.

We had several more pleasant sessions with David and Rose. Particularly interesting was meeting with Any, a Polish skipper of a HR352 about to embark on a round the world trip single handed except where he might find a crew. We had an entertaining evening polished off (appropriately) with an excellent Polish Vodka.

The weather has been awful with very heavy periods of rain and strong winds. It is set to improve slowly. We are hoping that Jennifer’s leg will improve sufficiently to leave around 4 or 5 September. Time will both tell and heal.

Andy left early today (Thursday, 27th August) with a forecast SW 4-5. Even with a tidal coefficient of about 45%, that could be rough down through the Chenal du Four to Pointe Ste Mattieu. We must look out for www.Andyroundtheworld.com. MMSI26102827.

David and Rose left – we will miss them. However, Ross, Wei Wei and their two daughters came the same day. As ever, they were most kind. We went shopping together in Landeda, a good 25 minute walk together. They came on board bringing wine, cheese – and the children. All very enjoyable..


Back to Roscoff, 1 September. 23 miles.

Not much wind so we motored with a strong current, then had to slow down to avoid arriving at the Chenal de Batz too early, also at Roscoff. The current through the marina can cause problems.

Ross and family had left earlier and arrived much earlier to give the children some time ashore. Very kindly, he organised a berth for us and someone else to help us in. Jennifer is still not very mobile. It was as well because the marina office was closed.

The supermarket here is some distance away and not very good. I prefer to walk into Roscoff, about 20 minutes and use the few shops there A small but good boucherie/traiteur. Several boulangeries, one that we like, and a small but well stocked and helpful alimentation.

Again, we saw a good deal of Ross and family.

Back to Lézardrieux, 5 Sptember . 47 miles

Grand-daughter Sophie arrived on the Saturday ferry from Plymouth just after 7am. By 0745 we were on our way to Lézardrieux. This was one of our best passages. We had left Roscoff a little late to get the tide all the way but we had a good wind and averaged over 5 kn. It was not until we turned for the Moisie Passage, after the Les Heaux de Bréhat light that we had an adverse tide.

Back to St Cast. 7 September. 35 miles

After a pleasant day at Lézardrieux it was time and the wind was suitable to move on. St Cast would give a better lie to St Peter Port so, St Cast it was.

The wind was lighter than expected so we had to motor over half the way across the Baie de St Brieic. Then it was a pleasant sail. St Cast answered promptly on the radio and directed us to the visitors pontoon.


Back to St Peter Port, 9 September. 53 miles.

This was a great sail. The wind was a broad reach, mostly F5 touching 6 at times. Enough to put in and take out one reef a couple of times. Averaged over 6 knots door to door. The St Peter Port harbour staff were as friendly as usual.

A minor scare was when the iPad did not start up – it has become a near essential navigation tool. However, the Apple shop sorted us out. Hold the home button and the on/off switch until the Apple logo appears.

Finally, back to Dartmouth. 11September, 67 Miles

Forecasts were for a SE becoming S F4 to 5 – Met Office, Météo France and the GFS GRIBs all agreed. We left St Peter Port in a fresh SE wind looking forward to a fast crossing. The wind held for about an hour and a half before dropping to a miserable F2. We then motored all the way across.

Crossing the shipping lanes was a little tense. For the first time I felt is necessary to call up ships, 3 in all, to check intentions and to clarify what action we would take. All three replied promptly and helpfully.

We got back to Darthaven in the light – just. Our berth was free. The showers were as hot as ever. Home again!

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