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

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

Plans for 2019

After the usual fitting out discovering the usual ever-growing list of mainly minor problems, it will be our usual summer of Brittany, the Vendee, Charente Maritime meeting old friends and probably meeting some new ones.

Ports of call.

St Peter Port
L’Aber Wrac’h
Port la Foret
Le Palais
Piriac sur mer
Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu
| Les Sables d’Olonne

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

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

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

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

To Lezardrieux. May 11. 48 miles.

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

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


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

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

To Roscoff. May 16. 40 miles.

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

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

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

To L’Aber Wrac’h. May 18. 27 miles.

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

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

To Audierne/. May 20. 50 miles.

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

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

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

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

To Lesconil. May 24. “5 miles.

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

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

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

To Port la Foret. May 26. 16 miles.

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

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


To Locmiquélic. May 30. 31 miles.

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

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

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

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

To Le Palais June 3. 26 miles.

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

To Piriac sur mer June 4. 26 miles.

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

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

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

To Pornichet. June 6. 16 miles.

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

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

At Pornichet. June 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Les Sables d’Olonne

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

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

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

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

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

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