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,
Plans for 2013
The intention is to return to Dartmouth. We enjoy Western France and would be more than happy to stay based at Rochefort, a most pleasant town with a friendly marina. However, for family too complex to describe here we will be heading northwards.
Meanwhile, our daughter, husband and two grandchildren will be with us for 5 days late in May. Also, our elder grandson in the USA has booked time off from work in June and hopes to join us for a week.
St Denis d’Ol eron
St Martin de Ré
St Denis d’Oléron, again
La Rochelle again
St Martin de Ré, again
Port Joinville, Ile d’Yeu
Port Tudy, Ile de Groix
St Peter Port
Dartmouth - Darthaven
Rochefort 23 April to 13
We flew FlyBe to La Rochelle from Southampton on 23 April. How else do you spend your 80th birthday? The marina, as agreed, had moved Anhinga from their boat park to the Zone Technique where there we water and electricity allowing us to live aboard for a few days and do a little work. These were gloriously sunny, hot days so much so that Oliver’s, the open air moules and frites bar opened earlier than his normal May 1.
Launching was as interesting and nail biting as ever with a crane when you have to disconnect the back stay. Is the backwards pull on the aft lowers really enough to prevent catastrophe? You console yourself that they have done it all before and that it will be OK. They had and it was. We got a berth in the inner basin near our (CA) friends from last year, Ian and Carol on their Oyster 406. We are close to Wizard of Paget, another CA boat but Mark and Judith had just gone back home for a while.
After an all too short hot spell, deteriorating weather to cold and miserable only hampered fitting out slightly. The upside was that it made it easier to answer some of the publisher’s queries for my book to be printed shortly and published later this year. How would we have coped without a 3G Data network?
One of the plus points for Rochefort is the proximity of (almost) everything you require. A few metres away, the small boulangerie/patisserie right by is excellent. The Lidl; s right by the boat park has some remarkably good fresh vegetables, reasonable meat and poultry in a cold cabinet, cheap drinkable gin and some passable cheese. The épicerie, even closer, has some vegetables of variable quality cold meats, dairy produce coffee etc.
A new Carrefours City has opened recently in town , a trolley walk away. The Monoprix in the town is a fallback. The three day a week market is not as good as it was years ago but has an excellent supply of cheeses, vegetables of varying quality. There are good butchers.
For the second time, Jennifer was able to buy a dress suitable for a family celebration at a rather high class boutique. The chandlers is good and will get anything that he does not stock. Getting good work done on boats is a bit hit and miss. The polishing and waxing was tolerably well done, better than last year. We miss the type of boatyard that we had at Lagos and at Dartmouth. You cannot have everything!
When we were here in 1997, we saw the keel of l/Hermione, a replica of the ship that took Lafayette to help in the American War of Independence. The masts are now on the ship but there is much still to do. It is planned to sail to the US in 2015 before returning to Rochefort where it will become a museum. The original took 300 men 6 months to build. But, they were not a tourist attraction in those days.
Planning to leave, Saturday . May 11.
For the past few days it has been looking as though we have a window of opportunity to get to St Denis d’Oléron on Monday. The lock will open at about 0720 to let us get down river and over the bar with no great difficulty. The coefficient will be 75 so no need for undue haste. That will be a reasonable time to get to St Denis in good time to cross their sill on the afternoon tide. Several days of bad weather are then expected and we will sit it out there. No need to go, except for a change of scenery.
Rochefort to St Denis d’Oléron, May 13; 25 miles
It was a rather cloudy day with a little rain from time to time as we motored down the Charente after a 0730 start. From the mouth of the river to St Denis was a beat into a WSW F 4 to 5. There was a short spell of rather more persistent rain but, otherwise, a pleasant enough sail to arrive at the St Denis waiting buoys at about 1330. As it was neaps, we could use a buoy; on a spring we would not have enough water.
We had enough water to cross the marina sill at 1700 and were meet by the usual friendly boat boys. From the forecast we will probably be here until Sunday. It would have been nice to go to Ile de Ré before Andy, Jayne and family arrive on Friday 24th but that seems not likely.
At St Denis
The market was in operation although much quieter than it will be later in the year. Together with the small Super U, good boulangeries/patisseries, boucheries there is everything that you need all close by and all together. The creperies we usually use was closed on the evening that we wanted to eat there but that turned out to be a blessing. We tried a creperies close to the port and it was excellent. It never caught our eye previously; maybe it has had a face lift.
Weather was mixed with some sunny but cold days and one exceedingly wet one. On a dry day we walked to the lighthouse at Chassiron and back. We like their outdoor display of the history of the light going back to the 17th century when it was simply a fire in a metal frame.
To Ile de Ré., St Martin. May 20; 20 miles.
We want to be in la Rochelle before Jayne and family arrive but having been at St Denis for a week (€109) decided to go to St Martin for a couple of nights. CROSS/#Météo France rather let us down as the promised “W - NW F5 localemant 5.” turned out to be a F5 or 6, 7 at times.
After the Ile de Re bridge the wind was more NW than W so, not being too sure of the lock opening times on a 46 coefficient, used a bit of motor to keep speed on.
I n fact, we need not have worried, we had plenty of time in hand. A call to the harbour office got a prompt reply and, as usual on arrival, were pointed to a place 2a couple.” Good to be back at St Martin.
At St Martin
We had a meal at our usual small, unpretentious creperies right by the harbour. No frills, just excellent galettes. It rained all night so we would not have to wash salt off the boat.
The next day the weather improved slowly after a wet start. We had the obligatory ice cream at the superb ice cream parlour, one of the few where they make their own cones. Worth coming just for the cones! Jennifer found a pair of shoes to go with the dress bought in Rochefort.
To la Rochelle, May 22. 12 miles
One reason to come to la Rochelle are to collect our new cockpit cover and carpet from the HR agent, LJB Marine. The second reason is to meet Jayne, Andy and the two children. Otherwise, la Rochelle is a place that we try to avoid. It is the largest marina that we have used; it is also the worst organised and the least helpful to visitors. The staff are friendly enough but the culture seems to lead to a general air of take it or leave it...
Andy and Jayne would need to leave their car here for a few days. When I asked at the Capitainerie they said it would not be possible as they had two major events on over the weekend. They had no suggestions. However, there is free public parking by a row of shops and restaurants adjacent to the marina. The car was as safe there as in the marina car park area and there was no physical boundary between the two areas. Why did not they tell us?
When coming with a boat, advice from the Capitainerie is that, you do not call to ask for a berth, you just fend for yourself. There are visitors several pontoons, not labelled as such. However, on these many places were taken by long stay boats or small motor boats and inflatables. We saw others arrive and wander round wondering what to do while on a long visitors pontoon with alongside berths much space was monopolised by inflatables.
At the Capitaineries, there are 4 gents loos but only two had loo paper dispensers. Then the showers ceased to work. It is the first place where we have had to pay for showers since St Raphael.
The family arrived on Friday, May 24 in time to leave for St Denis but it was far too windy for little ones not used to sailing.
Back to St Denis, May 25.13 miles
It was a fairly windy sail but we arrived with few problems although the 6 year old was sea-sick. The difference in the two marinas was marked with St Denis being friendly and helpful.
To Ile d’Aix and back, May 27. 30 miles
As forecast by CROSS, this was a beat in both directions although the sail to Ile d’Aix became a motor sail with little wind. Going ashore on the Ile was an adventure for the children and a delight for the adults. The sail back was a pleasant beat helped by getting over to the d’Oléron side and using slacker water against the flood. The 8 year old Ben was getting the hang of steering pretty well.
Back to la Rochelle, May 28. 11 miles
We had intended leaving St Denis on the morning tide but it was very windy with strong gusts and heavy showers. An evening departure looked better so we all had a last walk to the market and boulangerie. By evening it was still fairly windy with F6 to 7 but it dropped a little to a F 5-6.
At la Rochelle, May 29 to ?June 2
The family left for their ferry during the morning and we settled back into boat life. I can return to finalising my book for Reeds.
We collected our new carpet from the HR agent, put in the press studs and it fitted beautifully. We went into the town on the ferry from the marina. It really is a delightful town. Pity about the marina.
The good points about the marina are the excellent boulangerie/patisserie, the small but reasonably good alimentation and the nearby laverie.
Back to St Martin de Ré, June 2. 12 miles.
This was the most pleasant if rather short sail so far. Sunny, a good wind, just short of a one reef job, one tack to get over to the passage through the Ile de Re bridge. We arrived and had just got into a rather small slot when the port staff asked us to move for another British boat which was staying longer than our two nights. This was Ted and Erica Kemp, a cA member on his Westerly Corsair, Rafiki, On our other side, we had Ian and Sally on their Sweden 34, Keepsake.
To Sables f’Olonne, June 3. 25 miles
This was one of those all too rare fast sails in fairly smooth water letting us average 6 knots from entrance to entrance. The wind was off-shore and strong enough on occasion to wonder whether a reef would be necessary. It was also our warmest sail so far this year.
The harbourmaster’s office for Port Olona was as friendly as ever and we were allocated a berth where we prefer to be, on a hammer head. More to see, quiet from road and other people traffic. A longish walk to the heads but convenient for the excellent Carrefours. .This is another harbour that is so friendly as to make you wonder what is the problem at la Rochelle.
The weather stayed sunny and warm. At last, we were able to sleep comfortably without the cockpit extension cover. Jennifer got a hair cut in a salon that she has used before and bought a new pair of sandals. As it is a cheap bus ride away, we took the opportunity to visit Lidls and replenish the gin stocks that Andy and Jayne had helped to use up.
Friday seems a good say to leave for Ile d’Yeu. From there it is a (or should be) a not too long day to get to Pornic, near enough to Nantes to go and meet Jack, our 22 year old grandson flying in from the USA.
To Ile d’Yeu, June 7.30 mule. And at Port Joinville until ???
This was always going to be a light wind day and so it proved. After 8 rather slow miles it had to be a motor-sailing passage. Despite rumours of a regatta, there was plenty of room. “Ponton D. Aucune place!” Compared with last year there was a noticeable lack of British yachts and, indeed, we have never seen so many spaces free in nearly mid June.
Weather was mixed with some very heavy and thundery showers early and late on Saturday (June 8). Despite forecast improvements on Sunday, it stayed overcast although mainly dry. We took the bus across to la Meule for an excellent lunch of a local variety of clams (Patagos).
The island bus service is generally good although we were in for a rather rude surprise. The bus back to Port Joinville was due to leave at 1506. We and an elderly French couple, he was barely mobile, were waiting just out of sight of the bust stop. At about 1500 we went to the stop only to catch a glimpses of the bus disappearing. He had come early, seen nobody waiting and gone even though this was the end of the line. No problem for us; it is less than 3 miles back to the harbour. In fact we walked about a mile and caught another bus. The French couple had come from the mainland on a day trip. They would have to get a taxi as the next bus in two hours time (Sunday service) would be too late for their return by ferry.
To Pornic, June 12. 33 miles.
After a little rain, it was a better day than the Météo France forecasts were suggesting. The wind started at a F 5-6 with a 2 m swell. Using just the Genoa we had a reasonably fast passage. Pornic replied promptly on the VHF and we took a space at the end of a pontoon.
Despite being a fairly large marina, Pornic is a pleasant place surrounded by trees. The town does not seem to have changed much since we were last here in the mid 90s. Many restaurants, not that many food shops. Market is only twice a week, Thursday and Sunday but open until 1500. After asking at the capitainerie, we found a very good Super-U a 15 to 20 minute walk uphill from the marina – easy wheeling the trolley back!
Unfortunately, Thursday was another shocker of a morning; just too wet even to go shopping. Friday was different again, sunny, warm with a light wind.
After a nice sunny day on the Friday and Saturday, Jack arrived at Nantes where we met him to complete his marathon from San Francisco via Minesota, Amstedam, Paris. Unfortunatley, we ckose one of the restaurants at the marina where we had one of our few poor eals in France with the worst desert ever.
To le Palais, Bell Ile, 49 miles.
Initial plans were to go to la Turballe but the wind was such that it was more logical to go to le Palais to keep more options open for getting Jack back to a rail head, Lorient being our preferred choice.
As a sail, it was nigh perfect with an average of over 5 knots with no histrionics. The highlight was a great display by a large pod of dolphins which played around the boat for a good 15 minutes before they got bored with our slow 6 knots. The fly in the ointment was that high tide was too late for the inner basin to open. The choice was anchoring off or use the harbour. Neither are good if there is a swell from the south. Ferries would give much noise in the harbour as they turned around.
The harbourmaster recommended the moorings outside the harbour. Fine until about 2 am when a southerly swell worked its way in; probably a SW swell being refracted. Yet another of my well known rolly anchorages
We were able to enter the bassin à flot mid-morning with the usual helpfulness we expect here. It is just a charming Breton town. The Citadel is worth an hour or two of anyone’s time. Jack was most impressed by his first galette at a small homely creperies with a most pleasant ambience. Here we met Robert single-handed on his Ancona 36.
To Port Tudy, Ile de Groix, 19 June. 30 miles.
A most disappointing sail that was so nearly a good one. The forecast was for NE veering SE, 4 or 5. In fact, it started according to plan but became NNE to N 3 or 4 decreasing to 2. Not wanting to be arriving late, it had to be a motor sail.
Port Tudy was as uninviting as ever and, worse still, it rained steadily for the evening and much of the night. The Capitaineries was closed when we arrived, just after 6 pm. The showers and toilets were closed for refurbishment and we did not find out about the most inadequate temporary facilities until it was too late to think about using them. No great loss!
We met James Stevens and his wife on Tamara, a HR 34, a little older than Anhinga.
To Lorient Marina, 20 June. 8 miles
Not a marina that we would choose normally but Jack had to catch the TGV at 6 Am the following morning for a day in Paris before returning to San Francisco from Charles de Gallette (via Amsterdam, Loos Angeles.
It has been great having him with us and we were sorry that he could not have had more time and done more sailing. We had a farewell galette and crepe.
To Locmiquelic, 21 June. 2 miles.
An early rise to walk to the station with Jack. A good 25 minute walk un a steady drizzle that got quote heavy on the return. The marina staff were most helpful and friendly; the showers though, few in number were excellent. The area near Lorient Marina is well supplied with a range of shops but we were rafted out against a boat with high guard rails – not easy to keep going across.
The weather is not looking good for the next few days so the very friendly Locmiquelic seemed a better bet for its large finger berths, good showers, good washing machine....Shopping is reasonable rather than good. But, we do like the place.
The day after we arrived was a wet one. A quick dash to the shops was the limit. The Sunday was mainly dry but the first really sunny day was the Tuesday It looks as though Wednesday will be a one day window to get to Benodet Or Sainte Marine. After that we will wait for a slot to get round to Audierne.
We met Ken and Rose, CA members on their Grand Soleil; that really is a different ball park; they plan on 7 knots. If we reach 7 knots we raise a cheer. The Niger Blundell and crew arrived on their Starlight 35, another CA member.
To Sainte Marine, 26 June. 36 miles.
The “window” was a disappointingly light wind meaning that it was a motoring job in virtually flat seas. A few days ago, we had near gales and 4 metre seas. Quelle difference!
Sainte Marine seems to have changed little since we were last here some 18 or so years ago. On first sight, re-tiling of the showers is the most obvious change. The marina was a helpful as ever providing a useful g guide to the village. How long we will be ere is uncertain. The next 4 days forecasts is for NW winds, not the best direction to get to Audierne.
Met Latimer Lady, a HR42.Only later did we realise they were HROA members. We went across the Benodet on the ferry. The chandlers by the marina is one of the more comprehensive that we have seen lately. The Monday market is pretty good and wide ranging. Strangely, only one dairy products stall.
We have been watching a one day window to get round to Audierne for some while. With some minor differences, the GFS GRIBs have been remarkably consistent.
To Audierne, 2 July. 33 miles.
Left Sainte Marine at 0630 aiming to get round Penmarc’h as the SW wind was picking up. We then had a fast sail across the bay to Audierne. Going up the river negotiating the zig-zag course watching the leading marks always has a frisson of excitement. It was a neap tide, coefficient of 49 so there really was no problem. We were just about HW but several others came up far later.
Audierne has changed little. For yachtsmen, the biggest change is that the showers and toilets are now in the superb category rather than being just plain crummy. The capitainerie is in a building by the new pontoons, Very clean, well kept toilets andshowesr and really hot water. Other changes are that the take away creperies has moved and that the rather out of town Spar supermarket has disappeared but there is now a small Casino near the daily covered market.
Audierne is still one of our favourites. Small town Brittany with few concessions for visitors. You are just part of the scenery and not a target for commercialism.
When we were here in the 1990s up to 2000, the harbourmaster was a most kindly Anglophile, Guy Tapon. Not surprisingly he retired some years ago so I asked the current HM to pass on our regards – not expecting that he would remember us.
Saturday was the first day of the summer bus timetables making it a good day to go to Quimper, a most delightful town. A splendid cathedral and many old but well maintained buildings generally. Two Euros each for nearly a one hour ride in a comfortable coach through most pleasant rural countryside was excellent value.
We lunched at a trattorria that had been run by people we knew from St Quai Portrieux many years ago. Unfortunately but they had gone. The food was still good; simple French/Breton at its best in quiet, cool surroundings on a hot day. Most others were eating outside enjoying the heat after many cool days. We preferred to enjoy our food. The sun can come later.
Good news is that the weather is now dry and sunny, promising to be so for a while. The bad news is that we now have adverse winds from her to l’Aberwrac’h.
On the Sunday evening, Guy came back with his wife, Nellie. She had worked as an au pair in Plymouth so had adequate English Be had a most pleasant hour or so speaking in English French and Franglais. It is a sign of the esteem with whiv Guy is hald that another skipper came across just to say thank you to a most helpful harbour master.
To Camaret, 8 July. 30 miles.
As forecast, we had a fast, stedy 7 knot sail to the Raz deSain. Then, as we turned through 90 degrees, a head wind. At first it was just sailable but the headed and dropped. It did not seem too sensible to bear off and go round all the islands and rocks; so it was a motor sail to the Toulinguet Passage. We then had a final flourish as the sea breeze started to get up and roared into the Bay at Camaret.
The fine weather continues; we cannot recollect it ever being so hot in Cmaraet. Having just read a WMO press release on the decade 2001 to 2010, it seems not at all surprising. Certainly the climate modeller’s expectation of more usettled weather with more extremes seems tp be occurring.
Still at Camaret, 13 July
Previously, we have always regarded Camaret as a passage port on our way south or returning home. This time it has been a little different Since arriving last Monday there have been incessant strong NE winds making any ideas of going north to l’Aberwrac’h out of the question. Luckily, wind apart, it has been gloriously sunny. We have decided that Camaret, like many other ports, improves on acquaintance. There are some pleasant walks. There is a wide range of restaurants. We had an excellent meal in one of them. There is a good Super-U with a very good traiteurs and fish counter; so good that the fish shop that we knew 20 years ago no longer exist. The only downside is the toilet facilities which have not improved with age.
A slight oddity is the bread. We like the pain cereal and from Rochefort to Sainte marine, it has generally been excellent. Good flavour, nice texture, tasty crust. In Audierne, it was rather more pale with rather less flavour. Here, in Camaret, from three boulangeries, it has been a disappointment; tasteless and pale in colour.
Today we took the cliff path to Pointe de Toulinguet. The wind has now dropped away and we returned hot and thirsty. Just the occasion to try the Breton cider given to us by Guy and Nellie at Audierne.
Several days ago, we were anticipating being able to leave this Sunday or Monday. Winds have gone back to north, not ideal for the Chenal du four but are not expected to be strong. At least we will not have a strong easterly after the Grande Basse de Portsall... There seems little to choose between the next few days. However, strong easterlies are likely along the north coast of Brittany from next Friday. Plans are to get to l’Aberwrac’h tomorrow and leave for Roscoff not later than Thursday.
To l’Aberwrac’h, 14 July. 34 mile
We were expecting head winds up the Chenal du Four but a reasonable reach from the Basse de Portsall buoy to l’Aberwrac’h. Our first expectation was realised but not the second. The wind died right away.
L’Aberwrac’h has improved greatly since we were last here. The boat boys are very good and helpful in finding a place. The showers are in the excellent category. There is good WiFi; just as well because my SFR dongle is very slow here.
After several sunny days, it was a shock to wake up to a foggy morning. The sun was in short supply until late afternoon. We had a pleasant walk along the rather wild shore and saw some rather fine house.
To Roscoff, 16 July. 31 miles
A different morning again; sun from the start, albeit rather hazy. The promised F 2-4 was a little optimistic. Apart from a short sail while north of la Vierge lighthouse, it was another motoring job.
We went north if Ile de Batz although going south would have saved us 2 miles. My excuse is that it did look rather foggy ad Ile de Batz was reporting 50 to 200 metres visibility – according to the CROSS VHF broadcast.
A call on VHF 9 got an immediate response and a help in showing us to a berth. The marina is still under construction but it does look good. Close to the Plymouth ferry terminal, it will be a hit with many British sailors.
As it used to be only a drying port, we had never managed to get to Roscoff in the past. We have certainly missed a most pleasant place. The town is certainly interesting with many restaurants and small shops. Boulangeries/patisseries abound. Picturesque is a much overused word but it fits here.
In July and August there is a frequent (except over lunch) free bus service from the marina into the own. It stops at a supermarket on the way back.
Out of season, food shopping near the marina would be a problem. The supermarket is a reported half hour walk. There is a depot de pain at the marina but no other food shopping at present. Toilets and showers are still in portacabins but the new capitainerie looks well on its way to completion. There is a well stocked chandlers; a 50 tonne Liftout and it looks as though there will be firms available to work on boats. There is good, free WiFi.
Taken together with the greatly improved l’Aberwrac’h, and the new Brest marina, the whole area has become more yachtsman friendly over the year. It may seem tame to what it was, but there are still he strong tides and difficult weather to cop e with. On the last three mornings, land (radiation) fog has been a problem as it drifted out over the cold seas.
We met Rob and Jude Rudham on their HR36, Salvinia also a HR39 (whose names we did not record.)
To Trebeurden, 18 July. 15 miles.
Like the previous few days, it started with thick fog – but land (radiation) fog. This thickened as the sun began to stir the air up and by 1100 it was clear up enough to leave harbour safely.
The light NE wind picked up and, having motored out to sea a little, we had a good and increasing fast sail to Trebeurden. They responded quickly in good English on Ch 9. It is an expensive 36 a night – showers €1 – but prices come down to €31 for 3 nights. It is still more than we have paid since last year at Ile d’Yeu.
At €36 a night (reduced €31 for 3 days) is a little expensive. However, the facilities rank with the best. They provide a free taxi ervice to Lannion and other places not too far away.
We went into Lannion, a strangely quiet town on a Friday, with many fine buildings. We had forgotten that Trebeurden is, in fact, quite a high class small resort. For instance, la Tourelle is as good a restaurant as it was when last here. Not cheap, but good quality.
To Lezardrieux, 22 July. 32 miles
Winds were at last going to be westerly or northwest and it was a fairly high spring tide, so it seemed a good day to head for Lezardrieux. A bit more wind would have been nice and given us rather more sailing than we got. The tide did its bit and the charted 28+ miles was a little under 32. At one time we were doing over 9 knots over the ground with barely 5 though the water.
Lezardrieux did not reply on Ch 9 but were waiting for us. Having said that we wanted two nights, we were given a space in the wet basin. This must be the quietest berth during the whole of this summer.
At the Capitainerie, we asked about Bigouden Bleu that used to be owned by a delightful Frenchman who we met in Caramiñas back in about 1996 and later at Lezardrieux. Unhappily, he has gone to that great marina in the sky. His boat was a Moody 379; only 6 were built – designed by German Freres. It was one of only about 6 boats in this marina to survive the 1987 storm; and he was not insured!
Tide times and basin opening made it necessary to come out of Lezardrieux during the morning. With big tides we deemed it best to find a mooring or anchorage at low water to ensure that we would be clear of rocks. La Corderie in Ile Bréhat looked suitable and convenient to leave on the following morning
Some of the mooring buoys were clearly unsuitable – they were lying on their sides! The only two possible were taken so anchoring was necessary.
As the flood tide increased to about 3 knots, we saw two yellow buoys approaching. Obviously pot buoys that did not have enough mooring weight or had been disturbed by another boat. I got a boat hook on to them before the fouled our anchor chain but then let them go hoping that they would then drift past.
No such luck. They neatly got either side of our keel with their ground tackle swept strongly down tide. By High water we were being held firmly y our anchor forward and the pot gear behind. Our clever hook for freeing fouled anchor lines was useless. Even with little flow it would not sink.
The solution was to winch in on the anchor as hard as possible. That dragged the pot gear towards us. Then we veered out more cable so taking pressure of the pot tackle which then floated up so that it could finally be released. We then re-anchored well out of line of fire. We are all too aware of the dangers of fouling pot buoys but have never had to worry about pot buoys fouling us! ,,
To St Helier, 25 July. 43 miles.
With strong tides, 108 coefficient, this was not an easy passage to plan especially as we wanted to leave la Corderie in daylight. That meant arriving at St Helier after the strong west going tide had got going. We needed to keep up a good 5+ knots. With an uncertain wind that entailed more motoring than might have seemed necessary.
Rather worryingly there was an odd rattle from the engine that we could not trace. First thought were that we had some seaweed around the prop. There was a great deal floating in la Corderie. Also, we seemed not have some loss of power.
Arrived St Helier and then had to wait for a few hours before getting into the marina. Running the engine in neutral still gave the same odd sound.
At St Helier.
First priority was to make contact with Roger and Carole Thébault, old friends and one-time Senior Meteorological Officer for jersey. Next was to organise an engineer to look at the engine. The diagnosis was faulty washers around one of the injectors. That seemed to explain the odd noise and the loss of power. Hopefully the parts will arrive early next week.
Roger and Carole kindly invited us for a magnificent meal. After a tasty pate snack we had praires, a shellfish new to us, cooled in a garlic butter. Then oysters cooked in a leek sauce. That was followed by barbecued steak, cheese, strawberries with ice cream and coffee.
Now it is a question of getting the engine fixed and identifying good days to get to St Peter port and, finally, after 14 years, Dartmouth.
At St Helier there were three HR34s on our pontoon. One was Just So with Phillip and Ann Webster, HROA friends. As we were leaving we met David and Ann Suttle on verity, CA members.
To St Peter Port, 31 July. 26 miles
Having had our engine fixed by the most helpful engineer from Collins, the St Helier Volvo agent, we were able to leave. After two very windy days, the wind gad dropped markedly. The reach along the south coast of jersey was fair enough and it held as we rounded la Corciere lighthouse. It was good to see the Jersey weather radar with which I had been involved in my Met Office days.
However, the wind quickly dropped away so, with a very broad reach, we tried the spinnaker. It held for a while but the wind was just too light and there was quite an awkward swell. Speeds dropped and we were concerned about the tide turning even though with a neap tide it would not be too strong. All that is a long winded way of saying that we had to motor rather less than half the passage.
The marina staff shepherded us to a pontoon berth outside the marina which we were able to enter the following midday. St Peter Port has changed little over the years. Two noticeable changes are that Creasey’s, who have always been a franchise for Marks and Spencer now seem, in part at least, to be more overtly M&S. Secondly, the covered market is now a large Co-Op supermarket.
More so than we recollect is the food shopping. Perhaps it is because there is not now a produce market. There is no butchers in St peter Port. For vegetables, the choice is between everything pre-packed in M&S with produce mostly from the UK and continent eg Dutch tomatoes, or the Co-Io. The latter does have loose vegetables, some local produce such as Jersey tomatoes. We were told that there is now only one tomato grower in Guernsey. That we thought was truly amazing.
In bot, all the meat is pre-packed. We could find only one rather mediocre looking bread shop and a rather uninspiring patisserie. Of course, we are still on French standards for such shops. The best bread that we could find was at M&S! The world has come to a pretty pass. A seemingly major disaster is the price of gin. Bucktrouts used to sell their “own” gin at fairly low cost – fill your own bottle. No more from what we can see.
To Dartmouth, 4 August. 78 miles
We had been watching this forecast for several days and it had been consistently SSW, F 4 to 5. The day before we left, this increased to F 4 to 6 with a risk of F7 although that was further to the west. On the basis that the direction was good and that winds would not be favourable for the next week, we decided to go. If it got stronger than forecast, we could always reduce just to a headsail.
In the event, we had a fast sail. We slipped St Peter Port at 0605 and were in a Darthaven berth by 1845. From Platte Fougere to the approach to the dart, we did 74 miles in 1o hours 45 minutes; a shade over 6.5 knots.
The weather was fine until about 10-15 miles out when we had some slight rain. A little earlier there was a short spell of the top end of a F 6 with some big waves, Otherwise, the wind was mostly F 5.
A call to Darthaven got a helpful response and a kind lady took our lines. Good to be back. We have to leave the boat here for the next month a difficult time partly because it is so busy and partly because of the Dartmouth Regatta. We have had to be lifted out for a dry berth
Return to Home Page