On this page
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.
Plans for 2016
With advancing age we have decided that La Rochelle/Ile d’Oléron is our limit. Much as we love Northern Spain and the Rias we think that these are really beyond our comfort zone. This year will be similar to the previous two years so I will try to say little and keep this log more as a note of where we have been rather than detailed descriptions.
We hope to see our eldest grandson, Oliver with his partner, Gee for a few days as well as Sophie our multilingual granddaughter who is an excellent sailor.
St Peter Port
Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu
Les Sables d‘Olonne
St Denis d’Okéron
St Martin de Ré
Back to Les Sables d’Olonne
Back to Port Joinville
Oliver and Gee
La Roche Bernard
Back to La Roche Bernard
Port la Foret
Back to Camaret
Back to LAberwrac’h
Back to St Peter Port
Back to our home port
May 4, Dartmouth.
Again the year began rather expensively. We have bought an iPad Pro mainly for use with our Navigation/AIS software and had hoped that the laptop would continue to work well if rather slowly. In the event, we had to buy another laptop – a Dell 15 with Won 10. This has given much trouble culminating with a hardware fault. It has gone back to Dell. Whether we will see it again this season is an unknown.
After having a weekend with Jayne, our daughter and family, we have been waiting for a suitable day to cross the Channel. Winds have been adverse and gentlemen do not beat. We had several days’ notice of the wind becoming favourable if rather light. However, it also there was fog. Flying the spinnaker in fog is not too sensible so we had to wait another couple of days. All forecasts (US GFS, UK Met Office, MétéoFrance and Jersey Met all agreed that we would have a NE, F3/4 with some F5. Sounds good.
Dartmouth to St Peter Port. 13 May. 68 miles.
It started well with a NE F4 which increased to 5. There were mutterings about a reef might be necessary. In the event, about halfway across just west of the Casquets traffic separation area, the wind died away and the motor came into play.
A bright spot was the improved AIS. We had upgraded the associated VHF aerial making it easier to be tracked by our shore based fan club. The iPad Pro was a definite success. I spent a fair amount of time comparing our two navigation apps. I like iSailor for its easier route planning. I prefer the iNavX display of information on AIS targets.
We arrived St Peter Port too early to go into the marina so spent the night on the pontoons outside. No great hardship as they are now walk ashore. We entered the following day.
A problem is that we are not charging the batteries properly either using the alternator or by shore power. We will have to find an electrician.
Forecasts are such that we will probably want to leave here on Monday for Lézardrieux. There is a boatyard there so should be able to get it fixed there.
Later, we found a loose connection to one of the domestic battery earth terminals. Problem solved?
To Lézardrieux. 16 May. 42 miles.
This was a satisfying if unexciting passage. We sailed virtually all the way, sometimes slowly. Nine hours for the 42 miles does not sound too bad but the tide was a help. It took us nicely around les Roches d’Ouvres and up the Trieux.
Approaching Lézardrieux, we saw HR34, No 20, with James Stevens, ex RYA Training manager and wife Caroline. Their HR34 is one of the few like ours with the straight stern and prop-shaft.
The harbourmaster kindly showed us to a convenient berth. We may be here for some while as the forecasts are not good for the next week at least.
Quintessence, a CA boat a Bavaria 43 with Giles and Pauline arrived from St Quai Portrieux. We had last seen them in St Peter Port. We took a bus ride into Paimpol to take a look at the harbour which is up a long drying approach. There we were hailed by a motor boat. It turned out to be Peter and Val Nutt who used to own a HR43, Noisette.
For some days now the forecasts have been for an E wind on Tuesday, 24th. Quintessence left on the Monday hoping that the MétéoFrance W-NW would be more NW than W. We prefer the certainty of an E'ly of a reasonable strength - 4/5.
To Roscoff. 24 May. 38 miles
The morning forecast was for a E F4/5 increasing to 5/6. After leaving the approaches to Lézar5drieux we had to motor a few miles to the Jument les Heaux NCM. After that full main with boomed out Genoa took us with increasing speed as the wind increased. Approaching the Roscoff bay we dropped the main and were still doing well over 6 knots through the water. Maximum over the ground was 9.7 knots. Our passage time door to door would have been our fastest ever for this leg - 7 hours.
However, pride comes before the fall. The Genoa furling gear jammed and we had to drop the sail in a wind F6/7. Not easy as the halliard jammed and I had to go aft to free it. This let the Genoa go o0ver the side and me the job of hauling it back on board. The marina launch saw that we were having problems. Also that a ferry was about to leave and we should not have been entering the marina. Kindly, he called the Port Control and asked them to wait a few minutes.
Quintessence had come the previous day and were among the welcoming party.
Wednesday is market day - and this is a good market. Perhaps not surprisingly, we met Jack and Margaret off Mistral Aegis, CA members who we have met on several occasions around France. Laikin, a Westerly Consort was moored near to us with Stuart and Pamela on board. We last saw them at this time of year in l'Aberwrac'h.
We should have left (with all the others) for L'Aberac’h on Thursday (26th) but the engine would not start. The battery was well charged. An electrician diagnosed a fault with a relay that, he said, was redundant. He removed it and all is now OK. But we missed the tide so will have to wait for tomorrow. We understood him to say that the relay was associated with fuel and temperature gauges and we have neither.
Over lunch the sky darkened and we had much thunder. The whole of Brittany was covered in lightning - according to a lightning display.
To L'Aberwrac'h1.. May 27. 31 miles.
As boring a motoring passage as it is possible to be. Flat calm until we reached the Libenter buoy and began to feel the local sea breeze. The high spot was being re-united with my new laptop. This is| a mixed blessing as I am not finding Windows 10 easy to use. Too many bells and whistles.
Windows 10 seemed to be behaving very slowly after having downloaded a pile of email and checked the forecasts. Luckily, Ross and family had come to their boat now based in Roscoff. The children wanted to "do something" after the ferry crossing and we were the obvious target. Ross, a confirmed Linux/Apple Mac man is now a Win 10 enthusiast. His diagnosis was that Microsoft are continually issuing updates, some quite large - 100+ mB. Being on a slow 3G service MS updates were blocking everything else. Remedy - stop updates TFN.
To Camaret. May 29. 32 miles.
This was a good sail by any standards. For much of the passage we ran under Genoa alone. Across the Rade de Brest, we used full main with a wind up to F5 on a fine reach. In the marina there was a welcoming party led by Giles from Quintessence to help us in. There were also Brian and Maggie on Dragonstar last met here in 2013. Jack and (another) Margaret on Mistral Aegis were in the marina. Margaret produced a loaf of excellent boat baked bread and some homemade marmalade.
To Loctudy. June 1. 54 miles.
This was a curate’s egg sail. “In parts, very good.” Cruising like life is never straightforward; as ever MacPherson’s law holds good – “If anything can go wrong, it will.”
In a near re-run of last year, easterly winds in a few days’ time precluded our next stop being our Brittany favourite, Audierne. Loctudy ( which we also like) it would have to be. After a windy day and night it was still sufficiently windy to make springing off under a strong beam wind a spectator sport. Always an impressive looking manoeuvre it is easy to get right – to the onlookers’ disappointment.
We started under genoa alone but the wind dropped and it was first full sail then some motoring to get to the Raz de Sein at slack water. With more of a side wind we then sailed across the bay to Pointe de Penmar’c with an increasing wind leading to a reef in the main for a while before the wind dropped again making a spell of motoring necessary.
Passing the string of cardinal buoys around the numerous offshore hazards went well until we got to a stage when the course was up to wind 0 the dropping away again. No problem – om with the engine. Except that it did not start – an apparent re0run of our Roscoff experience.
Chances of sailing into a convenient harbour seemed bleak. It was not quite a Pan Pan situation but clearly we needed help. I tried to call the only boat in sight but got no reply. (Later, we found that this was a CA boat Polar Bear motoring with the cockpit speaker turned off so did not hear our call.) Visibility was not great. Luckily, Brian and Maggie on Dragonstar heard our call and replied to ask if we had a problem. Like good Samaritans they came back to tow us into Loctudy.
Entering with the flood tide and a beam wind could be difficult and dangerous for them. After discussion we agreed that they would cast us off in the approach channel. We entered slowly under a scrap of genoa alone while they went ahead and surveyed the situation. They reported that there was enough space for us to go on the waiting pontoon by gybing and coming up tide. With contacts (Polar Bear) already there, they arranged for several helpful Frenchmen to take lines and stop us. All went well. A tribute to the general helpfulness of sailors who know that it might be their turn next. Years ago we towed a French motorboat many miles to safety.
After our new computer problems in Dartmouth, the jammed furling gear approaching Roscoff, the starting problem there this year is turning out to be a litany of near disasters.
We subsequently heard that CROSS Etel had heard my call for help and had been in contact with Dragonstar asking for an update. Very reassuring.
First job was to go to the local chandlers/boat servicing – Locmarine. An electrician came promptly and diagnosed the problem. Although the Roscoff had identified the original problem he had not noticed that a short length of wire was old and rather thin. He had also used a connection that was not good. Hopefully one problem fixed. What will be next?
It is getting like a friends re-united. David and Jilly Cunliffe, Swallowtail, HROA members were here at their home port, Anne Wylie on HR36 Dione. We also meet CA members, Dereck and Jean Lumb on Nightsong and Giles and Pauline, Quintessence. Later, we met more CA members Robin and Johanna Pudney on their Westerly Storm. Another boat that we keep seeing is Stuart and Pamela on the Westerly Consort, Laikin,
To Port Tudy. June 5. 31 miles.
The day started cloudy with no wind but a big tide meant that it was not wise to leave before about 1330. In the event, the cloud broke, the sea breeze effect licked in and we had a good 15 mile sail before it decreased making the second half a motor sail. Approaching Ile de Groix, I saw VN Sapeur, the AIS. Jennifer called that there was a boat with big water jets either side. It figured.
We rafted against a French yacht for the night in the yacht basin.
To Locmiquelic, June 6. 8 miles.
This seemed the best place for our voting papers to be sent to. It is also a marina that we like. The village has nothing of note except that it is not a tourist attraction as Port Louis. It is always friendly, rather laid back with few shops although enough. One of the boulangeries is excellent, the créperie is good, there are two good traiteurs but no poissonnerie. Showers are excellent.
Waiting for our voting papers for Brexit. Met Michael and Sue on Jinn, last seen here in 2013 on our way back home. Also Roger and Angela on Kandy a Starlight 39. They live near here and this is their home port.
In Camaret we had met a Dutch HR 342, Lyra, but had not remembered to note their names. They were off to N Spain in one hop after a long sail from the Netherlands to Camaret. Times have gone when we used to do such passages. It was good to hear from Philip and Mariëtte, that they had arrived safely at Ribadesella but were now in Aviles which we had used as a bolt hole some years ago. Interesting to see how the place has changed.
Our BREXIT voting papers duly arrived and were delivered to the boat by the helpful staff here. We had heard that boats were being turned away from Port Louis - justifying our decision to use Locmiquelic - which we prefer in any case. Now to await the outcome.
To Le Palais.June 11. 25 miles.
After a day so wet that we only got off the boat for a rather indifferent evening meal, we left for Le Palais, Belle Ile with a forecast of strong winds (F 5-6)and a week to ten days of unsettled, windy weather. It was a fast sail with two reefs in the main and a few rolls in the genoa. We covered the 21 miles from the Passe de Sud of Lorient to Le Palais in about three and a half hours.
We rafted up with a French charter yacht and British crew and the watched as a most competent young lady marshalled many others into a complex set of rafts, some moored to the harbour wall and others to fore and aft buoys. As ever, here, she and a colleague were most helpful and efficient.
To Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu. June 12, 49 miles.
This was another windy sail still with two reefs but mainly no rolls in the genoa. The distance is 50 miles door to door and we covered this in seven and a half hours.
Looking for a space (for once we had no reply here on VHF) we saw Polonia, the Naiad of our old friends Ian and Bev. . Then after we had tied up, in came Dragonstar with Brian and Maggie. We may be here for a few days but that should be no hardship! The following evening we had a pleasant time on Polonia with Martin and Barbara off Tui, a boat we have seen in these waters in the past.
On passage we had passed a 30 metre ketch making her stately (compared to our bouncing around) progress towards Belle Ile. The AIS had said that it was the Marama an aluminium yacht on a leisurely 4-year global circumnavigation. Although we are both privately owned cruising yachts we are worlds apart in most other respects.
To Les Sables d’Olonne, Port Olona. June 15. 31 miles.
On our last passage we sailed 50 mules in seven and a half hours. Today, we sailed a charted distance of 30 miles in 8 hours. The wind started light but increased slowly after midday. It also headed us around a large shower cloud. We put in a short tack but the wind freed and increased so that we were close to having to reef.
Normally, they put us in the eastern half of the marina. This time we are on pontoon A at the extreme western end. Very quiet, about the same distance from the shower block, further from the Carrefour but near to le Petit Louis, a pleasant, good family run unpretentious restaurant.
To St Denis d’Oléron. June 17. 35 miles.
First thought were to head for St Martin de Ré with the alternative of carrying and anchoring below the bridge from Ile de Ré to the mainland. However, once on the water, looking at the wind and thinking about the forecast, we took the better option of going west of Ile de Ré, direct to St Denis. After a slow start the wind increased and we had a good fast sail. As ever, the capitainnerie boat heard us on VHF Ch 9 and directed us to a berth.
There are very few British boats here but one was Magnet, a 13m CA boat with James and Megan. They are now liveaboards and heading southwards. Lucky them!
To St Martin de Ré June 21. 17 miles.
We had missed St Martin out last year so wanted to rectify that omission if only for the best ice cream in homemade cones. The day started misty but it was an early start. By the time we were near La Pallice/La Rochelle it had brightened up. We sailed fairly slowly right to the waiting buoys outside St Martin before checking that they were not having a rally over the next few days. We had been asked to leave the harbour a few years ago in quite heavy weather.
Despite always being rafted out we like St Martin. Particularly enjoyable this year was meeting Martin and Michele on their Bavaria Ocean 40. Also Robert Viney on his new HR48, Quo Vadis. We had seen the boat several times but never had a chance to speak. Hearing him on the VHF made us realise that he is one of the relatively few Jersey men, a fluent French speaker. He put my schoolboy French to shame.
St Martin is one of the many places fortified by Vauban. A booklet (free from the capitaliser) had a great aerial view. Quite astounding.
Back to Les Sable d’Olonne. June 23. 27 miles.
We would have liked more time at St Martin but favourable winds are in short supply. The US GFS suggested that today would start light SE but go to NW by late morning so we planned for an early start with the lock opening at 0700.
In terms of direction, it was a good forecast. The SE was stronger than expected so was the NW. However, we had a good sail even with the NW on the nose. The sea was fairly flat so that one tack out to sea and another inshore got us to the Sables entrance 6 hours after leaving St Martin.
As it has been and looks like being warm, we again preferred Port Olona rather than the more enclosed Quai Garnier. A French yacht that we had been alongside at St Martin had the same ideas and we are on the same pontoon.
Back to Port Joinville. June 26. 30 miles.
Not the best of days. We had a difficult choice. Over the past 3 days, this was a one day slot to get northwards. Not too strong winds, possibly able to sail but would expect to have to motor-sail. Tuesday, two days later, might have been a better bet But we had seen enough of Sables d’Olonne. We wanted a change of scenery and, waiting for Oliver and Gee, would rather spend a few days on Ile d’Yeu. The passage was not too bad but it was our first really substantial motoring job since L’Aberwrac’h. Maybe we are expecting too much.
The start was a setback. All ready to slip our mooring, started the engine but no cooling water coming out. Had to change the impeller. Not a difficult task; just fiddly and always difficult to get the old one out.
Arriving, Port Joinville again did not answer by VHF calls in both French and English despite answering other boats before I called and after we arrived. They said that somebody had had problems with their volume control. Perhaps, but we have always found them most helpful in the past. There are no boatmen/women just now so maybe the office is a little overloaded.
We moored on a hammerhead pontoon which like so many French pontoons did not really have enough cleats. Getting lines on was just little more difficult than normal. A French motorboat crew were having lunch on the other side of the same pontoon. They just ignored us. That is most unusual; crews of all nationalities usually are only too ready (occasionally over eager) to help. For once we were disappointed with our arrival at one of our favourite ports.
Various friends were already here. Judith and Mark Grimwade on Wizard of Paget, Derek and Jean Lumb on Nightsong, Giles and Pauline on Quintessence all recovering from a CA mid-summer party that we just could not make without a hard slog to windward. Later we also met, briefly, Graham Wylie on HR36, last seen in Loctudy.
Mooring mishaps and lessons
Once or twice we have commented that when French sailors are go Od, they really are good. The converse also holds. We have seen some very poor approaches into marina berths, too fast, not allowing for windage, turning too soon or too late. We have had two minor collisions to date. No damage but that was due to our vigilance. We are seeing an increasing use of bow thrusters by those who seem to think that they should be used come what may. Here we saw a large (over 50 foot) yacht make a real mess of getting into a wide berth. All he had to do was come in slowly and let the wind blow him onto the pontoon. Using the bow thruster was quite unnecessary and made an easy manoeuvre into a comedy of errors.
Then we saw an old ketch Lola] with a great long bowsprit come alongside the other side of the same pontoon. There was little room to turn between pontoon and harbour wall. As the approached slowly, the crew lassoed a cleat on the pontoon. They then let the boat swing on that line adjusting the length to avoid other boats, including us. Having turned the boat through 180 degrees virtually in its own length, they cast off the line and just gently motored alongside. Beautifully done by a professional who had clearly done it before. A great example of good seamanship in an old boat with no fancy extras. Maybe unkindly, I call a bow thruster “the lazy man’s rudder.”
To L’Herbaudiere. Jul 1. 20 miles.
A fairly windy, SW F4-5 with a touch of 6, dull and drizzly for much of the way. Entry was straightforward with an instant and clear reply on the VHF. Two nights here then across the bay to Pornic to prepare for Oliver and Gee.
So far this has been the least sunny and coldest summer period in our sailing experience. The upside has been that we have had some good fast door to door sailing. We did have a few warm days in Locmiquelic, a record breaking hot day in St Martin de Ré and another in Sables d’Olonne. Otherwise it has been cold and cloudy.
We came to L’Herbaudiere to spend a couple of nights before going to Pornic. Luckily, I telephoned Pornic to ask for a berth on a finger pontoon (“catway” in French marina speak.) “Sorry, we have a large regatta and cannot let you stay.” L’Herbaudiere also has a major event with 100 boats (allegedly) coming and we have to leave here on Monday. We are pinning our hopes on Pornichet!
We have only been here once before and still find it a little strange. It is a very boaty place with many private boats of all sizes. The fishing fleet is quite large but there is only one poisoner here and that is only open twice a week – but closed this week. Two boulangeries/patisseries and a general food shop are about it. There is one bus a day.
The Ile Noimoutier is famous for its potatoes. There are many restaurants of all shapes and sizes. L’Herbaudiere is clearly a small holiday resort with many day visitors. Without bicycles on board it is not a good place out of season for more than a few days. In season (July/August) you can use the free Gratibus to get to market and supermarkets.
Here there were two other CA boats, both Westerly Storms. One was Cyclone with Robin and Johanna last seen in Loctudy. The other was Kalessin of Orwell with Cruising editor Camilla Herrmann and Sam on board.
At last there are signs that the weather may be rather more clement. It is about time and, if so, well timed for Oliver and Gee
To Pornichet. July 4, 14 miles.
Part motor part sail in a slowly improving day. Asked for and got a berth for four nights. This marina has its good points but WiFi was never one of them. After great reception at L’Herbaudiere, this is not easy to use here on first experience.
With Oliver and Gee we hope to be sailing around the area between Belle Ile and the mainland. In our sights are Piriac-sur-mer, an anchorage off Houat or Hoedic, Le Palais, La Turballe, L’Herbaudiere and Pornic for the train back to Nantes. Not all, of course.
I will not be making any more entries here until after they leave – July 14. Our locations can be seen using one of the several Marine or ship tracker apps.
Whilst waiting we again met Michael and Sue on Jinn last seen in Locmiquelic. Also, briefly, CA members Mark and Lisa Pollimgton on their Sweden 45, heeding South as new liveaboards.
Oliver and Gee are arriving on the day of the France Germany European football semi-final. That may make finding a quiet place to eat rather difficult. They are leaving on July 14, Bastille day. Neither date is a happy choice! In the event they arrived too late for a meal out.
Oliver and Gee. July 7 to 14.
This was quite a windy spell with some brief sunny spells but stubbornly cold in the wind. . The first day we sailed with some tacking to Piriac sur mer in a good F5-6. Bravely, Gee decided to try not taking Sturgeron. Inevitably, the experiment came up with the expected result. Forecasts were such that we were considering going up the Vilaine. After some careful consideration of the forecasts, we stayed out, Gee took the medicine, dressed more warmly and we had a great time with good, fast door to door sailing.
Prudence – and the forecasts – dictated a return to Pornichet then on to L’Herbaudiere. We took the Gratibus (free bus) service to Noimoutier en ville to find yet another market in full swing. In an area of superb markets this one was truly outstanding. Sights and smells were For the first time in France we saw salesmen demonstrating their products with non-stop patter and great enthusiasm. Fascinating even though we could not follow the jokes; a great mime show. Another free bus ride took us to the Plage des Dames for lunch.
Finally, yet another windy sail, a downwind short passage on head sail alone to Pornic. Although we had planned initially to meet them here it was better to end up at Pornic, the most picturesque of all ports in the area.
Getting back to Nantes for their flight back to Bristol was not a problem both train from Pornic and the Navette to the airport ran like clockwork even on Bastille day. We had a great time and hope that they did also. We will miss them as we return to our slower, rather more staid pace of life.
Last year the WiFi was only available in or around the capitainnerie. Now it is available on the berths with a good signal. The downside for us is that it is on a restricted 2 hours/day system. The problem was that after a few minutes of usage I would log off but not be able to log on again being told that I was time expired. I suspect that this is a Win 10 issue.
We are now looking for favourable winds to get north to the Vilaine, a nice quiet retreat in the busier parts of late July/early August. Monday July 18 seems a good prospect. Ironically, after Oliver and Gee left we have had three days with wall to wall sunshine, dawn to dusk. Summer has arrived rather belatedly and, of course, maybe only briefly.
The marina at Pornic has got busier day by day since July 14th. No doubt a foretaste of days to come. The finale of our stay here was a flying display. First a single engine propeller aircraft doing aerobatics. Then a flypast by a modern jet fighter aircraft doing tight turns with steep climbs and dives. Very noisy with much use of the after burners. Part three was the French version of the Red Arrows. Pretty good but without quite as much variation as the British version.
To La Roche Bernard. July 18. 48 miles
An early start with a good wind saw us cover the 38 miles to the river Vilaine entrance in well under 6 hours. We lunched on the pontoon below the Arzal lock where the lock keepers marshalled us all with their usual good humour and firmness.
For the fourth day on the trot we had unbroken sunshine and high temperatures. After anchoring above the lock for the night we got to La Roche Bernard and found a berth. It is still very hot and our Mediterranean sunshade has been brought out of retirement.
We have a battery charging problem so have called for a technician. No sooner said than (nearly) done; The servicing people said that he would come after 4pm. The problem might have been the charging regulator. In fact, as we had been expecting, it was really an old battery problem – too many recharges. The recommendation was a better battery – AGM. Total cost of diagnosis, supply and fit was €345.
We have always liked La Roche Barnard; it is a delightful place like many in this area with flowers of many colours in profusion. The Thursday market looked one of the best. We bought ready cooked meals at the excellent traiteur.
For the third time this year, we met Cyclone, the Westerly Storm with Robin and Johanna on board.
To Rieux. July 22. 14 miles.
It is always pleasant to go up the river through the swing bridge at Cran and on to the alongside berths at Rieux. This had been an important crossing in Roman times and, no doubt, pre-Roman as well. It was also an important place in the time of Jean d’Arc. The village is now rather nondescript. The berthing facility is just quiet and peaceful – or so it always has been.
Here we met (again) the catamaran Rum Tum with Kevin and Sue still endeavouring to go slowly southwards. They seem to have had problems but what better place to be in that position. We also again met German friends, Dieterma and Etta, who use this as a base to entertain grandchildren.
This time, there is some form of show (we are not too sure quite what as yet.) Our peace may be short lived. In the event, there was a procession with some in fancy dress and pleasant singing. A barge from the other pontoon came and went slow and stately. It involved a meal. We are still mystified.
Apparently it is come form of play with a few professional actors and many other people taking part. After processing along the river they must have gone into the village before ending up near the old broken down chat0eau just by the moorings.
It is entitled “Le supplice de Chantal” or “Les fins e mous sont difficile.” We understand that it is some form of black comedy. We were somewhat misled because Jean Frances Chantal was a 16th century wealthy widow who did much good in her life and became a saint. She was not, apparently, martyred or ill-treated; “supplice” means torture or torment.
We briefly met CA members. Malcolm and Julie on their Maxi, Misty Blue on their way up to Redon. Then Robin and Johanna came up from La Roche Bernard and rafted alongside. We also met ex-sailors John and Faith Martin who now have a camper van for, they said, age and health reasons. They are still sailors at heart and it was a joy to have them on board for coffee and a chat.
Back downriver to La Roche Bernard. July 25. 14 miles
It is always hard to leave the delightfully quiet Rieux. Motoring slowly downstream a peaceful enough but we knew of a pontoon about halfway down where we could tie up for lunch. For the first time ever nobody else was there but we were joined by a British yacht registered in Brixham. A Twister – built by Uphams of Brixham. Holmans who owned Uphams now own our Darthaven marina. Later, we learned that it was Jihn and Beryl on Tammie Norie (Parsifal on YBW.)
Coming into La Roche Bernard we were helped by John and Jennifer Crebbin on Ocean Gypsy. They are an Irish boat from the Royal St George YC, Dublin. Also there were Peter and Janet Melsom – but not on their boat (HR37, Isa Lei;) Peter has had a knee operation and cannot sail for a year. They are confined to shore based activities but these include visiting places that they have been to by sea.
We had seen a Japanese yacht anchored off and were fairly sure that we recognised it. However, there was no sign of life. Then, suddenly we realised that it was on its way upstream. It was It was, indeed Drifty. When we saw Hiro and Kako Matsuzaki in A Coruna in 2010 they were off to winter the boat up the Vilaine and then head for the UK. What we still do not know is whether they ever got to the UK.
Uncertain when we might leave; wind directions are not too friendly.
To Crouesty. July 29. 37 miles.
It is always difficult to leave La Roche Bernard; the rather soporific atmosphere is compelling. But, leave we must if we are to make some progress northward to be able to meet up with David and Anne-Laure with their splendid ne catamaran.
Le Palais on Belle Ile was our first choice but tide times and winds were not favourable. . Port Haliguen was too much dead upwind. Crouesty is not a place that we would choose at any time, particularly high season but anchoring off did not seem too sensible given the wind directions, so Crouesty it had to be.
As might be expected this enormous marina was choc a bloc. We had to raft three out. We were told that by 1100 the following day it should be possible to get a finger berth. We had forgotten that those using the passport escae had to leave by that time or lose their free night.
Apart from two boulangeries (there may be more) and a supermarket the marina is surrounded by a vast number of eating establishments and clothes shops. Anywhere more different from La Roche Bernard it is difficult to imagine.
Winds are sensible to leave here or Locmiquelic on Monday
Crouesty is a large marina but set out in several not over-large basins. It is well organised with helpful staff, excellent showers and toilets. The supermarket is across the marina, a fairly long walk if carrying beer and wine, but they have a free ferry service across and back to your pontoon. Just remember to take the handheld VHF radio. In all respects it is far better in than La Rochelle, Les Minimes although we have heard that they have improved – not before time.
There is a pleasant walk around the coastal footpath where one can marvel at the number of boats coming and going. As ever, when you explore a marina and not make facile judgements it is rather better than you might imagine.
Back to Locmiquelic, August 1. 32 miles.
We prefer the less crowded, much lower key style of Locmiquelic. It was a quiet start motoring across the Quiberon bay, then going northwards the wind picked up to give a steady, unexciting sail. AIS showed the Civil Service Sea Essay behind us, a Sun Odyssey 40. Rather surprisingly we gained 500 metres on them in ½ hour. As usual, the boa
We spent some time exploring the Marine Traffic App watching David Mcleman on his new 46 ft catamaran, Offbeat, Sea Essay and checking that Ross, Wei Wei and family were tucked up in Audierne. It has been very windy here. Wednesday was cold and wet as well, Sea Essay was tramping along averaging 6.5 knots in 18 knots of wind heading for Benodet. Not that far south, Offbeat had a sunny day with a gentle F3 from giving an average 5.5 knots and top speed of 9 between Les Sables d’Olonne and Ile d’Yeu. Arriving in Port Joinville, he used his twin engines to turn in a confined space.
Meanwhile, in the real world of mono-hulls sailed by rather older people, we are waiting for a not too strong wind to get north without having to beat. Vive la difference!
To Port la Foret. August 6, 32 miles.
After a slow start, the wind picked up to give a pleasant sail most of the way. This was more as per the US GFS rather than Météo France but that seems rather par for the course, especially over day ahead.
This is a new port for us and we have to wonder why. There were several spaces on the visitors’ pontoon and we were directed to the south side. Staff in reception were helpful with good (enough) English – ie better than my French.
Although large, it is relatively quiet and low key. It is up a short creek surrounded by trees. There is a sandy beach east of the entrance. The nearby village of Fouesnant is a reasonable walk, not too far by cruising standards. The Sunday market was excellent. We walked one way and, rather shorter on the return around the golf course.
One reason for coming to Port la Foret was that it seemed to be a good place to meet up with David and Anne-Laure on their new catamaran, Offbeat, which they have just collected from the company in La Rochelle. . This is a Nautech Open 46. 14 by 7 metres it is a new world to us.
We arranged with the capitainerie for a suitable berth to be reserved for them. Port la Foret is Jinn’s home port so that Michael and Sue were able to join us a welcoming party. We then enjoyed drinks and a viewing of this magnificent boat.
On board were Robin and Andrea, contemporaries of David and our son, Ralph. Also Lucy Stevenson, a longstanding sailing friend of David and Ralph.
Very kindly David and Anne-Laure took us on a day sail to Iles Glénans of sailing school fame. The Iles Glénans were at their best with many boats anchored in the area.
For this we were joined by Simone, Anne-Laure’s mother who we had not seen for many years. It was a great opportunity e to see catamaran sailing at its best. Offbeat has many features that we, in our 10.3 m mono-hull, can only dream about. They have separate refrigerators for wine, beer and food, deep freeze. The navigation system is state of the art.
A great day, one of our sailing highlights.
A down side of Port la Foret is the WiFi. Connection is variable and they turn it off at night because of misuse. I cannot send emails via my Thunderbird client but can do so using webmail, far less convenient for me. Nor can I send emails from my iPad for some unaccountable reason.
Back to Loctudy.August 11, 14 miles.
We could have sailed the whole way – slowly – but knew that Ross, Wei Wei and family were still there. So the mechanical topsail was pressed into service.
On arrival there were a surprising number of spaces that did not get filled until late evening and even then a boat arriving could still find a berth. We have seen throughout this year that there are fewer visitors than in recent years.
First priority was to say hello to Ishbel and Verity as well as their parents of course. After coffee on arrival they treated us to a seafood spaghetti dinner. Our contribution was Crepe Suzettes. Second priority was to get internet connection. Bandwidth is a major problem here and, in contrast to earlier in the year the marina WiFi signal was unusable on the boat. As a short term solution Ross gave me access to their private network but even that was rather hit and miss. Luckily, outside the boat I can use the iPad and, no doubt the laptop also.
At Loctudy – waiting for Sophie.
Trying to write up my log the following morning the laptop ran into problems – twice with that dreaded blue page and white writing. My love hate relationship with Win 10 is more hate than love.
However, a ray of hope. Around noon and early afternoon, the local WiFi started to work normally with good speeds. I am never too sure how much these problems are too many people using the WiFi, how much bandwidth is taken up by the multitude of smartphones and how much is due to Windows trying to download updates. I think that I can discount the latter as I can control when to download them. Anyway, I will try to make hay while the sun shine.
We met CA members Ron Houston and his crew (sorry, I did not remember their names) on Ngahue II, a Hallberg Rassy 37. Sophie arrived safely after a flight to Nantes, train to Quimper and bus to Loctudy. We celebrated with a good meal on Ile (really a presqu’ile) Tudy.
To Audierne. August 15. 28 miles,
A gentle breeze let us fly the spinnaker for about 2-3 hours with. Speeds from 4 to a giddy 7 knots near Pointe de Penmarc’. Then, expecting the wind to head- and as it was lunch time, we dropped the kite a little early. In the event, the wind headed us and we had to motor the last 8 miles into a light wind.
This is one of our favourite French ports, mine at least. Everything is close at hand. We topped up with the essentials – beer, tonic, wine, water as well as “normal” food.
There is a major works project to repair the commercial quay and car park. The surrounding hoardings are covered with some magnificent photos of the area, fishermen , sailors and their womenfolk in the early 1900s.
Back to Camaret
A slow sail with a period of fog around the Raz de Sein. We saw nothing of the lighthouses. The forecast was for the wind to go to the NW so we did not fly the spinnaker. A mistake but we did manage to sail most of the way.
Back t0 L'Aberwrac'h August 18. 35 miles.
Originally, we had intended to move north on Thursday, 19 but the forecasts were for very strong winds and a big swell. Not ideal for the Chenal du Four. The fall-back was to use one of the Brest marinas so that Sophie could get to the airport on Sunday. We had discounted moving on Wednesday as winds would be too much from the NW and wind against tide is an unpleasant prospect in this area.
In the event, we did a rather leisurely shop then noted that winds were decreasing and latest forecasts were for more west in the wind. We calculated that we could leave Camaret at about 1300 and just get to the Basse de Portsall area and have tide to L’Aberwrac’h.
We just about made it but had an unpleasant sail in turbulent waters. It really did drive home that the Chenal du Four is not a place to be with any wind against the tidal current and particularly with a big swell. We had a bog swell.
The helpful tourist enquiry office at the marina helped Sophie to sorted out how to get to Brest airport on Sunday. Forecasts are not encouraging for a quick move on after that – unless the swell goes down quickly on Monday. We could be here until next Friday.
A yacht in the marina is sporting a large ensign – a black cross of St George with Breton motifs in each quadrant. Apparently, this is the Breton navy ensign from the sixteenth century. There is a group of pilgrims here who had been hoping to go to the Isles of Scilly. They are now going south.
Tides are not good for going Eastwards - the Chenal de Batz us not lit. Weather is glorious with unbroken sunshine and we like L'Aberwrac'h so will stay a few days. Thursday looks good with a crack of dawn start. The GFS is promising a good northerly. Fine as long as there is no easterly in it. Mateo France is saying NW but we find the GFS to be more reliable a few says ahead.
Tried to depart L'Aberwrac'h today (Thursday) but had thick fog so turned back while still in the river. There was no mention of fog the previous evening and we had no Internet signal this morning and no VHF reception either. When we finally got WiFi, Mateo France forecast said "bancs de brume." Probably the effects of thunderstorms inland yesterday . Hopefully we will be able to leave tomorrow. The wind may be a little less favourable but light enough to motor sail.
It is never a great problem having to stay here; there is always something happening; boats coming or going, the sailing school. Shopping in Landeda involves a 30 minute uphill walk to the shops although there is an infrequent bus both to Landeda and the larger Lannilis. Shopping is only slightly better here and the bread is far less good. Lannilis has a better market day. It would have been nice to still have had Sophie here with her infectious enthusiasm. As it is, we just take life quietly - despite the frustrations of a poor WiFi.
Back to Roscoff. Aug 26. 31 miles.
Actually, we tried to leave the day before but there was thick fog and we could hardly see the buoys. Mateo France had not forecast this the previous evening but there had been thunderstorms not far away and we had some very moist air.
The following morning, we left with light winds and excellent visibility. Somewhat surprisingly, we were the only boat going through the shortcut of the Malouine Channel. It was a part sail part motor-sail with the wind just a shade too much ahead of the beam.
Again we were surprised to see some boats going north of Ile de Batz. The Chenal de Batz is easy enough at high water. One boat, 12 metre, had left L’Aberwrac’h before us, game round the Libenter buoy and north of Batz. We were in and having lunch before they arrived. As usual in season we were met and helped to a berth.
A pleasant surprise was to meet Malcolm (except that he is usually called Denny) and Julie on their Maxi, Misty Blue. We saw them last at Rieux – rather briefly. We also saw CA boat Golden Eye but never got close enough to speak until we were departing
A surprise treat was a small Breton band playing at the bar by the marina. There were many folk songs – including British and American. The finale was some Breton dancing consisting mainly of a large group slowly circling holding hands by locking thumbs before breaking up into doing square or country dance type steps.
Back to Lézardrieux.. August 29. 52 miles.
This never seems as easy a passage as in the west going direction. It was a rather slow mainly motoring sail across the Golfe de Lannion but well before Sept Iles, we had enough wind to sail on a broad reach. Not quite enough behind to use the spinnaker in a rather rolliy sea. Nevertheless, we made good time with not very strong currents.
We saw Golden Eye head over to Treguier and drop sails on passing the first channel buoy. We and Misty Blue held on to the Moisie passage into the Trieux and were rewarded by a cracking sail right up to half a mile below the marina.
At Lézardrieux we were able to repay Misty Blue’s hospitality. A bonus was that Ross and Wei Wei having reached Roscoff the next day telephoned to ask were we taking visitors. Of course we were and took the opportunity to repay some of their ever generous hospitality (and Wei’s homemade jams) a meal at the nearby Creperie – very old type French and good.
Back to St Peter Port.
September 2. 51 miles.
Tides were such that a daylight passage meant having a strong west going tide initially, then some adverse currents before eventually having an east going tide along the south of Guernsey. Forecasts were encouraging although the flat calm early morning at Lézardrieux resulted in the inevitable prophecy of much motoring from the first mate.
In the event we had some strong winds to the west of Les Roches D’Ouvres and a reef in the mainsail. The wind the eased, for a time to motors ailing for half an hour then a strong flourish around the southeast of Guernsey up to the harbour. We arrived with just enough light to see our way into a berth. Misty Blue, a Maxi got in just before us and kindly took our lines.
At St Peter Port
More socialising with Denny and Julie. We seem to get on well with Guildford CC people; Ian and Bev, Polonia, with whom we have had some great times are also GCC. Today (Monday) looks on the worded forecasts as possible to go. However, the Jersey Met, the US GFS and the French detailed (AROME) all show just a little too much west in the wind for a good crossing. Tuesday does not look a good day with light and variable winds. Wednesday has SE winds, which could be too broad for a good sail unless strong enough to goose-wing the genoa. Today is also rather misty with fog patches. Wednesday promises better visibility. Thursday now looks like being too strong from the SW. This is a change from previous forecasts and clearly there is some uncertainty. All this is a long way of saying that we are on the horns of a dilemma. All we can do is watch the forecast carefully. We may even cross on Tuesday although current forecasts are too light.
Throughout the summer, we have been seeing a Westerly, Goshawk, but never got around to making contact often being in different parts of a marina or seeing nobody on board. Now, right near the end of our cruise, they came over to us. John and Chris Twigg, live in Woodbury near to Jayne and family, near the cricket club . They know Jayne’s neighbours
A final social fling on the eve of our departure for Dartmouth was with CA members John and Barbara Sumner on there 12.4 m Beneteau, Tonic They had just arrived from Dartmouth.
Return to Darthaven Marina.. September 7. 77 miles.
We had hoped to leave on the two days earlier but wind directions were marginal for a comfortable Channel crossing. For several days, Wednesday forecasts had been E‘ly and not too strong. The only question was whether they would be too much astern. Anhinga’s autopilot does not handle downwind sailing at all well.
In the event, we were lucky on several accounts. First, we awoke to the sound of three foghorns. But the early morning fog around Guernsey lifte before our 7AM start. Then dense fog in the late afternoon around the Dart lifted before our arrival. Although a broad reach at times it was sailable all the way and beam reach for much of it, almost calling for a reef in mid-Channel. Lastly, although the shipping lanes were as busy as usual, we were able to hold our course right across the Traffic Separation Scheme and pass astern of ships that were close and safely far enough ahead of the others.
It was a near perfect crossing and instead of dropping as we approavhed the coast in the evening gloom, the wind actually increased and we sailed up river almost right to the marina. One the way across we saw dolphins several times – unusual in the Channel in recent years for us. One dolphin seemed to like demonstrating his ability to slap the water with his tail.
All in all, we have had a great year. We made many new friends and met several old ones. We had our two oldest grandchildren (grands petits-enfants, as I like to tell the French.) We saw the latest in large catamarans. The weather was generally good with good winds, although rather cold through May, June and early July. We sailed 1112 miles but only logged 92 motoring hours.
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