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A straightforward, day to dayStrong'''

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.

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

Plans for 2021

Covid is making it difficult to have any plans as the situation is constantly changing. Our elder son’s 60th birthday is June 2nd, so first priority is to get to Mylor by then. May has been a terrible month for weather, wet and cold. We did, or got done, a number of jobs on the boat including having a new flexible solar panel, a new battery and monitor. By late May, winds had settled down to a reasonably strong easterly, so off to Mylor.

Ports visited

River Yealm
River Fowey
Mylor Yacht Harbour
Cawsand Bay
St Peter Port
St Helier
St Brieuc
L’Aber Wrac’h7
Ste Evette and Audierne


Port la Foret

Back to Ste Evette and Audierne

To the River Yealm, 29 May. 25 miles

Slipped 1045 to refuel. Out of the river we had problems hoisting the mainsail as the main halliard had got the wrong side of the lazy jacks. Teething problems. Then had a good very broad reach, arriving an hour or so before LW. Many boats but found a buoy with two pick-up lines, one already in use.

To the River Fowey. 30 May. 20 miles.

Another downwind sail. The swell was a little more and the wind dead aft, or nearly so. After a while, for comfort, we dropped the main and ran under headsail alone, still doing well over 5 kts. We knew that there was a big race coming in and were wondering where to go. The harbourmaster advised to go the and furthest pontoons up river. There we found a space and had a quiet night.

To Mylor Yacht Harbour, 30 May. 23 miles.

The wind direction was a little kinder giving more of a reach. We made good progress. Although we had booked well in advance, the harbour gave us a berth on the outside of their pontoon E. With a strong E wind, this was uncomfortable as we would be staying on board as Ralph had invited all the family in the UK. However, after a couple of nights, a space become available inside pontoon E, so we moved.

We will stay here for about a week and then see what is happening Covid-wise. The Isles of Scilly are one option although it will be crowded; better in June than July, no doubt. The Channel Isles is opening up and we may yet get to our first choice, France.

At Mylor

This was a family get together with 4 generations. At time there seemed to be a game of pass the baby. Luckily, Frederick, just over 3 months is a placid child.

To Cawsand Bay, 9 June. 37 miles.

A day with poor visibility and a little slight rain but a good sailing. There were far fewer boats moored in Cawsand bay. It was our first use of the new Rocna anchor.

To Salcombe. 10 June. 21 miles.

An even foggier day but with enough wind to sail much of the way. Arriving off Bolt Head we had to use the radar to enter the harbour safely. Just staying for one night, we were helped onto a buoy so did not have to use our new mooring gadget – my birthday present from elder son Ralph. However, it made getting a second mooring line on the buoy easier. When another boat, Fleur, rafted alongside, we were able to demonstrate how it worked. Their little dog. Harry, was desperate to get on Anhinga. A friendly dog, as ere his owners. Jayne joined us for the crossing to St Peter Port.

To St Peter Port, 11 June. 68 miles.

From Salcombe, it is a little easier to go south about Guernsey. Times of tides were such that going that way would give us a passage entirely in daylight. The forecast promised a good fast sail.

We were not disappointed, apart from a short period early when we mad an abortive attempt to use the spinnaker. Otherwise, it was a fast sail in a slight sea, often going well over 7 knots. Rounding Les Hanois, the wind dropped so we had to motor the final 10 miles. We were met by the harbour launch and escorted to the waiting pontoons with strict instructions to stay on board and report to the Covid test tent at 0900 tomorrow.

At St Peter Port

We tried to fill in the Guernsey online form but had some problems. However, staff were very helpful and corrected our errors – mainly due to sloppy programming. Our tests were done and we now have to sit and wait. It could be as long as 48 hours but, hopefully much less. Meanwhile, we have to isolate on the boat. It is difficult for Jayne who wishes to fly out on Sunday. Such is life under Covid!

Hoping to go to Jersey, we have been filling in forms. All rather confusing, partly my finger trouble, partly the complexity of the forms. After several attempts, we have managed to book into St Helier for Thursday. We will have to go out of the mania onto the waiting pontoon. The pontoons connected to the shore are only for quarantine. St Helier Marina also required advance notice of boat details. In addition, they have a minimum 3 days charge.

We met and had drinks with CA members John and Chris on Aman Cara, a self-designed 12 m yacht and Stuart and Jane on Ishka, an elderly Moody 36. Both boats are from Alderney, several mor boats arrived also from Alderney.

To St Helier, 17 June. 24 miles.

As a sail, it was and fast with a F4 touching 5 almost dead astern. With boomed out genoa, we went like a train to La Corbiere light house. A slight increase in wind along the south coast suggested a reef for comfort. The downside was the rain which became heavy approaching St Helier and up the approach channel. Jersey coastguard called first to check our intentions, then to tell us where to go in the marina. (Pontoon G. right at the far end.

Quite different from Guernsey, we were directed to the Covid checking station, near the ferry terminal. We could have gone anywhere. So lax, after Guernsey so strict. I asked the office should we check in. A rather officious lady asked how long we would be staying. I do not know. In which case, we cannot book you in! I said that we might go to France. “Well, you will not be allowed back here,” was the curt reply. With that attitude, we will not come back, even if we wanted to return - we do not. By contrast, the marina manager is helpfulness itself.

At St Helier

All rather frustrating. Marina WiFi is rather tedious with uncertain connection. Trying to get to France, we had to decide between St Malo and St Brieuc. We chose the latter as a new port for us. We sent customs forms provided by the very helpful CA local representative. We then telephoned the harbourmaster only to be told that there was no space. Luckily, the local rep had contacts and got us a berth on the shipyard quay. We then had to get a Covid test - £145 each. Someone is making a bomb out of Covid.

The good news is that we are about to meet up with our old friends, Roger and Carole Thébault. Roger was Chief Met Officer here in the past and Carole comes from Sale, our old home town in our schooldays- and earlier.

We met them first on Anhinga and then at their “new” house in Gorey. A delightfully quiet small group of small houses. Ideal for retirement.

To St Brieuc, 23n June. 42 miles.

This was a good passage, largely under poled out genoa. No problems on passage. It was a close call whether to go west (up tide) or east of the Grand Lejon lighthouse. We chose the former as easier navigationally but, with a stronger tide, east would have been safer.

We arrived at the St Brieuc safe water mark at the optimum time, 90 minutes before high water. Right up sun it was difficult to see the buoyed channel but plain sailing thereafter. The lockkeeper replied immediately on Ch12, saying the lock would be ready in 10 minutes. In the event, we need not have worried about a berth. We were directed/escorted up stream to the Port de Plaisance – not really a marina where there is a veritable armada of mainly quite small yachts, mainly, and motorboats. Facilities are somewhat basic but adequate.

In the village there are two boulangeries, a small general grocery – good fresh produce, several bars and restaurant, post office and a yet to be found fromagerie. The bread, croissants and pain au raisin were some of the bests. The Pain au cereal was good enough to eat like cake.

It is pleasantly low key. Everyone is most helpful

At St Brieuc

We called in at the Bureau de Port in the morning and paid our dues. They had the copy of the customs form that I had sent to them on the advice of the CA local representative. We asked about passports being stamped but were told there was no need as the Douane had all our details. They might visit if they thought there was a need. Nobody wanted proof of our vaccination history nor evidence of PCR test prior to arrival. All very laid back. It was almost as if neither Brexit nor Covid had happened – except that if you put a toe over a shop threshold, you get a quick reminder, “Masque, Monsieur”.

There is a frequent, regular bus past the port, presumably up the hill to the main town. Jennifer had to replace a leaky Musto jacket at the Accastillage. They had her size.

To Lezardrieux, 26 June. 26 miles.

With light winds this was only going to be a motoring job. It was a big tide and, at times we had nearly 3 knots helping us along. A Dutch yacht, Eddie that we met at St Brieuc followed us.

Since our last time here, the marina office is now a tourist centre in a good-looking building. I think that they are settling in because they told me that the showers were open all the time with no code. However, hoping to use them in the evening, it was only by card entry. A mystery to be solved. We had a good meal of galette and crepes at the idiosyncratically names, Les Ar d'Reo.

To Roscoff, 29 June. 38 miles.

A Hobson’s choice day. The following day would be very light winds with a threat of rain and poor visibility against a day with a promise of wind but also with poor visibility. In fact, going through the Moisie Passage, visibility was poor. The tide had just turned and the sea was very rough and unpleasant. However, after the Jument des Heaux NCM, we had a wind that increased nicely and a strong tidal stream. We made good time.

Arriving at Roscoff, we got an email from Ross asking us to help with his headsail. We had not realised that he was already there. We also met the crew of a Dutch boat, Panache. Hans and Carool took our lines and said they had some good photos of Anhinga.

At Roscoff

Next morning, wet Ross, who had in fact only got here on the ferry after us! He had seen us on Marine Traffic before leaving Plymouth. We went to the Douane to get our passports, belatedly, stamped. We are now legal! Covid jabs and tests were checked.

We had hoped to move on to L’Aber Wrac’h on Friday, July 2 July but just as we were about to go, a thick blanket of fog descending causing a rapid change of mind. The Chenal de Batz is tortuous and, more importantly, what would it be like at the other end? Having an aversion to going when we know there is fog, we stayed. The problem now is that there is no obvious window. We knew that we would have to wait somewhere but would have preferred L’Aber Wrac’h.

For several days, forecasts had been for severe gales overnight 5/6th. They duly came and were very strong – up to F9. We had a disturbed night. Later, we heard that boats had been blown over in the boat park at Port la Foret. However, forecasts, after being up and down, are no predicting light winds on Friday 9th. Directions are not ideal but we should get some help with the sails on the 16-mile leg after the Chenal de Batz. We shall see. It is not an ideal window but as good as any for the next week or more. Anyway, we have just about exhausted Roscoff.

A bright spark was to find that a mini-Carrefours had opened in the town on the 7th; we were some of the very first customers. This was sorely needed as the Casino is not good. The super U at St Pol de Leon is good but a €2.50 per head there and back. A second plus is the opening of a Brasserie at the marina. Food is excellent and good value for money. This is good competition to the pre-existing restaurant.

To L’Aber Wrac’h, 9 July. 27 miles.

We were expecting to have to motor sail for much of the way with light winds. In fact, we sailed about half the time. After we arrived, many boats arrived from the south. We asked for, and got, a finger berth (catway in French) instead of having to go on the main visitors alongside pontoon with its long walk to the showers.

At L’Aber Wrac’h

As usual, we had a meal at the excellent Captain Creperie. We walked up to the old Semaphore station with its great view over the entrance and to La Vierge lighthouse. We have never noticed the selection of unusual hydrangea species before.

To Ste Evette and Audierne. 13 and 14 July. 53 miles.

The north-westerly winds continued so it was a case of choosing the best bet for a good sail through the Chenal du Four, across the Iroise and the infamous Raz de Sein. Leaving L’Aber Wrac’h and getting to the north end of the Chenal du Four is often difficult with wind against tide and a most uneven sea bed. This was no exception. From the Libenter WCM it could have been a good sail. In the event, it was just too tight on the nose and the wind strong enough against a 3 kt tide to make it one of our worst experiences of this leg.

Once we had turned south, past Le Four lighthouse, it was a gentle broad reach getting us to being abeam Pye St Mattieu about one hour after low water. Across the Iroise to the Raz is a matter of careful timing. Usually, as was the case on this occasion, we had to slow the boat down to arrive at the Raz at LW, one hour before Brest LW. We furled the genos, took a reef in the mainsail and then had to depower by hauling the main right in as the wind went even more astern. For once, we got is just right. It was one of our easiest rounding of the two world famous towers, L Vielle and La Platte. It was difficult to reconcile with the famous photos of both in a storm.

The final leg along the coast was fast with the ebb tide. It was a little too late to go upriver, so we used a visitor’s buoy in the Ste Evette Bay. A most helpful young man took our line to a buoy, charged €15 and took an order for croissant in the morning.

These duly arrived and were good. A call to the marina secured us a place. The lady harbourmaster met us to take lines and help us in. The berth was one of the easiest in what is often a difficult approach with strong tides.

Wednesday is mid-week market day, right by the pontoons. All other shops are close. As ever, the flowers around the marina were glorious with some quite highly scented. Audierne lived up to its reputation of being one of our favourite ports.

At Audierne

Here we had two consecutive sunny days, a first since St Peter Port. As ever the flowers around the marina were excellent, well-kept an nicely scented. All the nearby shops are good, some of the best we know. Audierne remains our favourite port. Certainly, the most convenient for provisioning. everything s within 100 metres or so from the top of the passerelle on pontoon C, 200 metres from pontoon G. A slight oddity is that the local “pain au raisin” is larger than usual. Not a patch on those at St Brieoc.

To Loctudy. 16 July. 30 miles.

A disappointing wind which started nicely, broad reaching to Pointe de Penmar’c nut which petered out to give a motoring job. As ever, the boatman was helpful. Even by late evening there were spaces in this usually full marina. A combination of Brexit and Covid.

Somewhat worryingly, the Raymarine autohelm ceased to work. The next leg will be to Port la Foret, a short passage but probably, with E or light winds, another motot sail.

To Port la Foret. 18 July. 30 miles.

As we expected, this was a motoring passage in a light easterly. We refuelled on arrival and we’re gratified to have used only 60 litres since leaving Dartmouth - 40 hours. It has become exceedingly hot - after an abnormally cold spell. We have usually said that it gets warmer, once south of Brest but this is an extreme example.

We met up with Sue and Michael on Jinn. Great to see them again after all their health problems. Like us, they feel comfortable, safe and relaxed when aboard — even in harbour.

At Port la Foret

First priority was to find a Raymarine specialist as our self steering has ceased to work. Artaud, Concarneau came quickly. We knew that he is good - having fitted Jinn’s auto-helm two years ago. Apparently, the motor is not working. Probably it will mean a new one, 2 or 3 days but we are not in any hurry especially in this heat. Second priority was a social evening on Anhinga with Sue and Michael. The hot weather continues.A longish walk for bread and other necessities is our exercise for the day. By Wednesday evening, as promised, the problem was fixed - €510 - and we now have a working autohelm. Rather essential for passages more than a few hours. Discussion with Raymarine and a Google search show that we were lust unlucky.

We had drinks on Anhinga and Jinn where we met Peter and Ledwine, an interesting Dutch couple who have a sister ship to Jinn. Over the next day or so, we met up with Michael and Sue so that more wine, gin and beer were consumed.

As throughout this trip the weather is still being difficult. We would like to have gone to another favourite, Locmiquelic, but it looks very uncertain when we would be able to start going northwards again. We said good bye to Jinn knowing full well that future meeting will depend critically on our age and their health. Fingers crossed for both!

Back to Ste Evette and Audierne, 26/27 July. 32 miles.

This was a nearly sail until Pointe de Pemarc’h. Nearly sailable until we turned the corner past Men Hir lighthouse after which we had a fast reach across the bay to Audierne. Being late afternoon and knowing the marina upriver would be busy, we picked up a buoy in Ste Evette telephoned the marina to book a berth for the next morning.

Picking up a buoy was simple using our new device – a present from our elder son. The buoys here have large rings but we find them quite heavy to lift, especially with a strong wind blowing. Pulling the bouy near enough was not easy – for us. A French boat came in and a large man just hoisted the buoy clear of the water. On another, a crew member just leant over the side, grasped the buoy with one hand and fed his line through with the other. What it is to ve young and strong!

At Audierne

The following morning, we motored up to the marina for a berth on the hammerhead of Pontoon D. It felt like home!


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