23rd Aug 2012 - St Gilles-Croix-De-Vie to Port Haliguen
28 August 2012 | Port Haliguen
Up bright and early and used the excellent shower block facilities at St Gilles Marina (I like this marina - people are v helpful and feels a little less like a 'boat park' which some marinas can feel like) then picked up the weather forecast from the capitainerie. Back on board we quickly got Petrella ready for sea and left at about HW 0900 ish. Following the channel out, have to keep your wits about you with plenty going on - there was a yacht maneouvering, two fishing boats coming in to land their catch, plenty of anglers with their rods from the harbour wall (they didn't look overly pleased when I moved over to let the fishing boats in but hey ho 'don't fish in narrow harbour channels if you don't want your gear driven over!) We followed a yacht out the harbour with his cruising shute / spinnaker up (?!) and picked our way through the vast amount of lobster pots - the minefield extends right around the little headland / point there and found a reasonably clear spot so we could put the sails up. Set a course to the Cardinal mark leaving the rocks in between the mainland and Ile De Yeu clear. There sea was slight and the wind good, with the sun out - we made good progress. As we rounded the headland we went onto a beat with Petrella sailing well at around 5.5knots about 40 degrees off the wind - any closer she tends to stall. We had done about 30 miles when the wind really started to head us and slightly increased, plus there were some signs of the weather system approaching which was due to arrive tonight with strong winds. We tacked and we were able to make a good course towards Pornicett which was one of our possible destinations - have taken to a tactic of keeping plenty of options open once out there and seeing what it's like so we can cover as much ground as possible, but keep some bolt holes available should it turn a bit grim. The sea state was flat, we were covering the ground at 7.5 knots and a good heading of North. It is times like these when it's a good idea to cover the distance whilst the going is good - with some calculations done I thought we could make Port Haliguen just before 10pm - Pornicett is a bit in the wrong direction going East of our heading North, and the coastline generally is going NW which is the way we need to go. The dogs seemed happy and Petrella was charging along. We tacked and headed directly toward Port Haliguen.
With some careful plotting to avoid the rocks / reefs noting the cardinal marks as we went past on the inside of Ile Hoedic and Ile de Houat. Light was fading with about 7 miles still to go, and the wind was starting to increase with a bit more chop in the sea but we knew we would get into shelter soon before the weather turned grim. Picked up the South Cardinal Mark and the light from La Teignhouse lighthouse – plenty of lights round here! Kim and me got the ropes and fenders ready in advance of entry to the port – not been here before and always a bit harder to find your way about at night. Conveniently the visitors pontoon is on the right as soon as you enter the harbour proper. One word of caution – there is a wreck right at the entrance which you can go either north or south of (we went north which although slightly longer gives you a chance in case something comes out the harbour as you go in – it’s quite a tight blind turn). Oh and there is an unlit cardinal buoy to avoid too if going in at night. Once in, we could see the Visitors pontoon – in fact that was pretty much all we could see as there is a big brightly lit sign on the end of it which makes it very hard to see anything at all with night vision ruined! Once we slowly went passed the light we were able to see that it was very busy with yachts rafted 3 or 4 deep – we looked for a suitable spot and decided that going alongside an Ovni 36 was the best option (although he was at a bit of a funny angle with nose pulled in and stern sticking out – not a problem we would point the opposite direction). Dogs were very helpful as always ensuring everyone knew what we were doing – Whistle is very protective of our vessel. Moored up easily and it was now about 11pm – we had been sailing since 9am so I was a little tired now, but we had covered 76 miles in the right direction which was good going. We said bonjour to our neighbours who were leaving at 9:30am – we were not going anywhere I said as the forecast very bad but would be happy to move out of their way in the morning.
Alarm went off at about 8:30am and the harbour master said hello to me as I got Petrella ready to move for our neighbours. We gratefully accepted the offer of a finger berth to ourselves which we were escorted to after saying bon voyage to the Ovni people. Moored up safely we set about constructing the cockpit enclosure – we’ve become very good at setting up camp with Kim cracking on with the canvas, electric plugged in, lines and fenders positioned correctly etc etc (military operation like efficiency). By the afternoon the weather started to turn really grim – fortunately we had made a visit to the decent size Casino supermarket in town (taking the dogs for a walk too) – my god it was busy with what seemed like ‘everyone’ in the store! I like the harbour with a very well run marina – very good shower block! Including a Laverie which there don’t seem to be many further south. Glad we had not gone out because the wind had really got up – I hoped the people on the Ovni had just gone further into Quiberon Bay as not the sort of weather for passage making safely. A roast chicken and salad was put together and we resumed the ‘weather sheltering tactics’ we had come so familiar with when we were in the Dart back in April – Kim remarked how the weather had changed so significantly so quickly (the hot sunny weather of Spain of only a week ago already seemed rather distant – we must be getting nearer the UK and home.....