The Great Escape: The final furlong
25 May 2016 | Sainte Marine
Reasonable people told me that it was nigh on impossible to do the Cenal Du Four and Raz de Sein in one go.
They were, of course, perfectly correct.
However, I never listen.
So, I did it anyway.
After some research, I figured we had to be off L'Aber Wrach at about HW Brest +1 to make the most of the tide going south. So we cast off at HW Brest and were offshore about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
A gentle breeze, but not enough to sail by, so motorsailed in the direction of Cenal Du Four. Going with the tode we made good progress. SOG was a whopping 10.6kts as we shot past Pte St Mathieu. Guess I did time the tides just right.
As we approached the headland, a stiff breeze kicked in - 25-30kts over deck. And to make things even more interesting: confusing seas. Easterly wind, westerly 3 meter swell and a ripping south going tide. Now look at the stars, now look at the fish, now look at the stars...
Luckily this didn't last more than 10 minutes (Yanni slept right through it).
Then some nice sailing towards Pte du Raz - a gentle F4 beam reach. Bliss. SOG never dropped below 7kts. We were nearly 90 minutes ahead of schedule. There's this saying about counting your chickens before they're hatched... About 2 miles off Pte du Raz it was like we hit a brick wall. We were struggling to make 2kts over the ground. Meanwhile boats going north shot past is at a rate of knots. To make matters worse, a strong breeze kicked in: 30kts over deck and on the noze. But I was determined to press on, no point in turning back at this stage.
Once we (eventually) rounded Pte du Raz, speed slowly crept up towards a dizzying 3kts. Unable to handle such excitement, I left Yanni in charge and had a kip for an hour or two. By the time I woke, we were once again doing over 5kts. Would have been more, had it not been for the annoying SE headwind.
By the time we were approaching Penmarch the tide ran in our favour again. So I started to do some mental arithmetic: head for Loctudy (as planned) or make a quick dash for Sainte Marine (our final destination). Arriving at our destination one day early was tempting, but I wanted to be sure we could get there in daylight (first landfall and all that). And there was no way we would find our mooring in the dark.
An hour later it was decision time: progress had been better than expected and by my calculations we would arrive at the mouth of the Odet river just before 21H30 (sunset 21H58). We went for it.
Strange feeling to finally sail up the river we have walked along so many times these last few years and to observe some of our favourite haunts from the river.
Luckily for us, the moorings were well marked/numbered and we had no problem finding our allocated mooring. Picked it up with much hassle at the first attempt. Mooring strop fitted soon after.
And that was it - just another day in paradise. An early night. Much to sort in the morning. Not in the least, our return to 'the real world'.
All in all, a pleasant few days on the boat, but lots of mixed emotions too.
Such is life.