One has to leave at high tide, needless to say, so we woke up at 5 AM to the alarm on my cell phone, and in the first daylight at 6 we where already under way. Slowly motoring in a drizzling rain and a light fog. Everything went fine through the channel this time, and soon enough we where in rhum sea again.
Not much wind today either, so we ended up motoring all day long. This far on the voyage, we have either had headwind or no wind at all, but we expect this to change once we turn south over the Bay of Biscay.
The plan was to go to the *Isle d'Houat' (The Duck Island) today but since the forecast mention NW wind tonight we changed our plans and continued to the river 'La Vilaine' (The Evil) instead. This meant motoring five hours more over a dead calm Sea. After noon the sky cleared though, and it was sunny and very warm the rest of the day. After entering the River Estuary (at high tide, mind you) and going a ew miles up river we arrived to the town of Arzal where there is a lock and a dam, so the rest of the river upstream is calm and tide-less. The construction was made in the 60-ies to put an end to the regular floodings that gave the river it's name.
After passing the lock at 8PM, we anchored at the first spot we found, quite close to the town.
We headed here to meet friends of ours, another french-Swedish couple that we got to know last winter in Falsterbo, Sweden.
Le Pouldu is a small, drying port in the estuary of *La Laita' rivier. Our friend had talked to the harbourmaster and been told that it should work for us given our draft of 1,6 meters to enter at high tide +/- 1 Hour. So we did.
The channel is narrow, as it turned out, very narrow. At one point, we happened to touch the fine sand bottom and with the last of the tide from behind got stuck. Lucky enough a small, local fishing vessel arrived after a few minutes and helped us off this sand bar. After some discussion in the very tiny port we were directed to a mooring along a long rope between a number of bouys, where the depth shoud be enough even at low tide.
As it later turned out, the few boats our size that actually made it into the port, all had pilotage from the locals, since the sand bars move once in a while. No harm done though, except maybe some antifouling paint lost underneath *Röde Orm's' sturdy full keel.
the estuary and teh little town of Pouldu is beautiful, and we had a wonder ful time here, thanks to Annika and Michel and some of there friends and neighbours. There's quite a bit of new footage in the Gallery from here.
Everything has it's time, and after letting a cold front (yes, another one) pass by, we left early one morning.
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