07/30/2009, N 47, 44 W 03,57
After two lazy days in Loctudy with fish and 'Fruits de la Mèr' for every meal it was time for a new surrounding again.
At 'Pleine Mèr' , high tide, we motored in slooow pace the 10 miles to the Iles de Glenans in a sunny but still chilly summer afternoon. We had a very light following breeze, but since the charging regulator for the solar panels 'gave up' a week ago, the need to charge the hous batteries called for the engine to be run for a couple of hours.
Les Iles, are low, sandy islands, islets and rocks and the shallow water between them has an almost emerald green colour that is quite exotic. Still just around 15 degrees (60 F) in the water mind you, therefore not too many adults swimming.
These islands are famous for the sailing school, where practically all of the French racing sailors have learned the basics as young. Eric Tabarly for instance who were here during several summers before joining the navy and becoming a professional racer. Talking about Tabarly, there is a museum in Lorient started by his widow.
we spent a few hours walking around here, as shown by a number of pictures in the Photo Gallery. A very inspiring place, and one where yoou would only anchor over night in settled weather. Presently it looks as if the high pressure will stay around for a few days at least.
07/27/2009, Loctudy N 47,50 W 04,10
Neptune is on our side again... We spent two nice days in the beautiful Camaret at the extreme point of the Crozon Peninsula. We played tourists, hiking on the trails of the mighty cliff almost at the point of Penn hir, we went down a pristine beach borded by high cliffs filled with mussels colonies at their bottom. To make the Raz, between the point of Brittany and the Island of Sein, we have to depart at 11 am to be at slack water at the entrance. It is a very dangerous place, a string of rocks which extends for several miles. As a short cut, for smaller vessels, there is a passage which needs to be negociated carefully with the tides. We did well, because it was a very smooth passage close to the very impressive lighthouse "la Vieille". We continued toward Loctudy after passing the Pointe de Penmarc'h, turning East and having a wonderful ride under sail. The entrance at night in the small harbor of Loctudy is a challenge, but again, the tide was with us and after some stressful moment finding the right spot, we took a mooring buoy.
Alarm rung at 7AM (Tides- tides, remember?). Breakfast, and then over to the fuel dock to bunker diesel and fresh water, then off at 9 with some 20 other boats that had been waiting for this opportunity to go south. All of us motorsailing in a convoy against the last two hours of incoming tide, to get through the Chenal with a following tide. Needless to say, the conditions can be extremely nasty, and even dangerous there with winds against the tide.
Chenal du Four (four=oven) is the inshore passage between the mainland and Ile d'Oessant. to go inshore saves some 20 miles and avoids the heavy commercial traffic in the Traffic Separation zones that meets outside Ile d'Oessant. The Oessant (Ushant in English) is one of the most infamous shipwrecking areas in the world. From the western side of the island there is absolutely nothing except the open ocean until the US east coast on the other side of the 'pond'.
Today, with the sunshine and the calm seas, it was a child's play to go through the well marked and quite wide channel.
After successfully negotiating it, we turned eastward after Pointe S:t Mathieu towards Brest. Viewing the map of Brittany, it looks like a Dragon's head facing the Atlantic Ocean. l'Aberwrach could be the eye of the Dragon, the Chenal du Four part, the nose, and then a divided penisula outside Brest could be the tongue. We anchored for the night outside Camaret sur Mer, on the top of the tongue.
The next step will be to go through the Raz du Sein (the jaw of the dragon). A short, narrow passage that should be navigated in settled weather AND at slack tide. This means that one has to plan the departure, the speed with regard to tidal streams, to pass the Raz within a timeframe of one hour. Interesting! or? Slightly scaring aswell, but it saves 20 miles offshore since Ile de Sein has offlying rocks and dangers many miles to sea.
So tonight we will do our homework with the charts, the divider and the tide tables to get it right for tomorrow.
The picture today shows 'La Vieille' (the Old) north of l'Aber Wrach, arguably the highest lighthouse in the world
SW winds, gusting to Force 7 (25-30 knots) kept us below deck almost ll day. At high tide, 8 PM (spring tide again now with a range of 9 meters and current of 3,5 knot) the wind had decreased so we could row ashore. We took the opportunity to go for an evening walk of three hours along the river before returning at sunset.
The forecast is cheering us up at last, with promises of a high pressure system settling down (?) over this area for a few days, providing light air and sunshine for a change. The reason the marinas and anchorges are far from full is due to the poor weather until now this summer.
Since we learnt the lesson by now, that here, a good weather window means no wind or even weak head wind (!)
we are getting ready to go south through the infamous 'Chenal du Four' tomorrow.
Another 'step' this time to 'lAber Wrach' almost at the western point of the Northern Brittany peninsula. Aber is a Breton word that means the same as 'fjord' or 'ria' (spanish). A river estuary that got it's characteristics from the ica age.
A beautiful, protected little town, with a Marina bulit in 2007 and bars, restaurants and all the boat associated shops. A very busy saailing school too.
We choose to tie up to a visitor's bouy here too, not for free though- we had acess to the showers and other facilities, and used our inflatable dinghy to get to shore.
Today we passed the 1000 miles mark on the GPS since we left Falsterbo.