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Now on Guernsey

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Another great cycle ride around Alderney which doesn’t fail to please and surprise.  A bit windy, but bright sunshine.  Filled in some of the bits that we missed last time, including what turned out to be Alderney’s steepest hill!!!

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G, having chosen a 7-speed bike with panniers, on the steepest hill on Alderney..  Raz Island in the background

Then, after a peaceful night, albeit with a bit of rolling, we left on the first of the ebb through the Swinge – without any problem whatsoever.  Tried to motor in close to Les Etacs for a view of the Gannets, but the conditions were misty and poor.  Motored on to Guernsey at a gentle pace, in 2 knots of wind, knowing that we would not be able to get in over the natural bar for two or three hours.  Spent a couple of hours on a mooring outside and then, when sufficient water, motored in to what must be our favourite marina.  Just not so busy and manic as St Peter Port.

today is a bit windy, but we will hire bikes and cycle around the coast a bit.  Ian arrives from California, via Gatwick, this evening.  Very exciting.

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Braye Harbour, Alderney

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Discovered that Salcombe charge £1 per metre for anchoring in the estuary even though well away from the Town!  Saved £11 because  they don’t charge for half a night and we intended to leave at 3 o’clock!!  Bargain.

Upped anchor at about 03:00 yesterday and enjoyed an excellent passage to Alderney.  Never winds about 11 knots and waves more or less to match.  Dull and a bit cold for most of the trip, but suddenly sunny and warm by the time we arrived.

Crossing the shipping separation zone is always  exciting and this time was no exception because they were, as ever, pretty busy.  Helped a lot by AIS because you can plan avoidance tactics long before the ship can be seen (2 miles). It can still give anxious moments though.  An interesting incident towards the end when messages from the traffic control began appearing on the chart-plotter with audible warnings.  Not sure what it was about, but I imagine that I had done something wrong.  No repercussions yet, though.

We crossed the Swinge with wind against tide, but only about 10 knots of wind and neap tides.  The sea disturbance, even in those light conditions, does make you wonder what it’s like there when things get serious!!!

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Braye Harbour, Alderney, in sunshine

Picked up a visitors’ mooring and enjoyed a well-earned rest after a 14 hour (ish) crossing.  Today, we go ashore and hire bikes to ride around the island again.  It is never tiring.

I have just updated G’s Take.

Back and on our way to Alderney

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After a short break, during which G had a week’s holiday in Rhodes, we are now back on board and making our way to Alderney.  Couldn’t be bothered with an early start this morning and, so, after a lazy start made our way slowly to Salcombe which is about 20 nm closer to Alderney.  Wind on the nose all the way, but not much of it and not much in the way of waves, so fairly pleasant although motored all the way.  Decided to anchor in Sunny Cove instead of picking up a mooring off the town and what a pleasant evening it has been.  During the early part of the evening, we had a visit by our friends from hereabouts.  The Turners popped over.

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At anchor with the Turners

It is now just after 22:00 and G has gone to bed but I am in the cockpit watching the tide turn with only 0.1 m under the keel and making sure that all is well.

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Sunny Cove as the sun sets and about to eat.  Bliss.

We will be up and away at about 03:00 in the morning because we need to reach Alderney during a flood tide as the tide runs very strongly over there.  Wind should be ok although not much of it.

Final Change of Mind

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Snug in our berth at Roscoff, having arrived the previous afternoon (Tuesday) with plenty of time to clean the boat down ready to catch the ferry on Wednesday afternoon.  But, during the night, my mind, occasionally, addressed the various ‘problems’.  How much stuff do we take home? What about stuff on the boat that, really, needs repairing? What about G’s mum’s hip?  What about Andy’s shoulder? What date do I need to book the return ferry? Why is there no security at Roscoff marina for when we leave the boat? When I woke in the morning, I said to G “we could sail back to Plymouth and not bother with the ferry?.  I thought that very thing last night, but didn’t want to bother you, she replied!!! G popped up to the marina office to pay for one night whilst I prepared the boat to leave.  And orf we jolly well went!!!

Of course, that decision was reached in the very persuasive knowledge that a] the wind, from the North-east, was relatively favourable and b] we would save about €650 on marina charges, ferries and taxis!!!

And so, off we set at about 10:00 due north – destination Plymouth, where we berthed at about 03:00 and went straight to bed.

Ile d’Ouessant to Roscoff

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It would appear that, despite so much sail-racing in the past, I am not a sailing purist, but consider Tiftie to be a motor boat with and, when convenient, assisted by sails.  Thus it was that we had a great ‘sail’ today from Ushant to Roscoff, a distance of 57 nm, with the engine off for no more than about 10 minutes.

We dropped the mooring at 05:10, pretty much as intended to catch the beginning of the flood around the south of the island. There is always something magical about starting a voyage in the dark and watching the dusk and sunrise over the distant horizon. There is also something very satisfying about being on a favourable tide, especially one running at 3 knots or more.

The day started dull and cold and ended sunny, but still chilly.  We had thought that we might stop at L’Aberwrac’h, but we were moving along too well to stop.

By the time we reached the Chenal de l’Ile de Batz, which is narrow, twisty and shallow, the tide had turned and was falling. But this was our fourth time through, so no real surprise that we motor-sailed through under full sail.  G kept watch to leeward, under the genoa, and trimmed it to keep full drive against the tide.  How exciting.

So, now we are in Roscoff and will catch the ferry back to Plymouth tomorrow.  Then home and catch up on work and family (G’s mum has had a hip replacement and Andy has broken his shoulder mountain-biking in Spain).  All being well, we will be back at the beginning of June.

This part of the cruise covered 728 nm and enabled us to visit and walk or cycle:  Ile de Batz, Iles de Glenan, Ile d’Yeu, Ile Houat & Ile d’Ouessant.

Ile d’Ouessant (Ushant) at its best.

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Tas de Pois in the morning – cloudless and very light winds 

The main moorings at Ushant, in the Baie de Lampaul, are open to the usual south-westerly Atlantic swell.  But when the wind has been from the north for three weeks, the swell is very slight and the Ile is not to be missed

After a very peaceful night, we upped-anchor about 8:30, in no wind, and motored gently out past Les Tas de Pois (pile of peas! Prosaic, what?) on our short cruise to Ushant.  On the way, we pass the archipelago of Ile Molene, with lots of off-lying rocks, but, not wanting to miss a decent view of the islands, we take a course through the rocks.  Not too exciting until I read the Cruising Association Almanac on the islands and it casually remarks that navigating through the archipelago is forbidden.  Oh well.  The scenery was worth the risk.

Arrived at about 3 o’clock to find that many more moorings had been laid since we were last here and nabbed one of the last three. A beautiful, cloudless, light-air day. Launch dinghy and go straight ashore to encounter a much busier scene than last time, but I suppose good weather coupled with a Sunday has resulted in many more day-trippers from Brest, all. Apparently, on bicycles.  We had a bit of a walk, bought some fresh fruit etc and rowed back to Tiftie for our meal. Incidentally, I rowed ashore, upwind, but G insisted on rowing back, downwind!!!

Then a sea fog rolled in!!! And reduced visibility to less than ½ mile.  Still we slept well with very little rocking.  Meanwhile, the wind has freshened and resumed its north-easterly flow which is unhelpful foer our next journey in a north-easterly direction. And there is no way that we can leave here in a foul tide which runs at 4 knots even at neaps.  So, decided to leave here either at 5 o’clock this evening, or, more likely, at 5 o’clock in the morning when the wind is forecast to back to the north.

So, a lay-in this morning, and then row ashore to hire bikes for the afternoon and cycle the island of which, as promised, the north shore is breath-taking.  The hiring of bikes is the most casual ever.  €20 for the two bikes and no names, cash and no security.  Pretty much bring it back after we close, if it suits you, or down at the other end of the island at the ferry, if you like. There are three hire firms with, respectively, red, silver, or blue bikes. Toured the island visited the Phares de Le Stiff and Creac’h.  Great experience.  Oh, and the sea fog gradually cleared until we had perfect weather.

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Spectacular north coast scenery (G is smiling)

Then back on board for the usual gourmet meal from G. Two large and great steaks bought locally for €9 washed down with a very nice Merlot and, then, Crepes Suzette!! Two of them!! How does she do it?

In the last half-hour, the wind has started to back towards the north, fingers crossed, and, in any case, the alarm is set for 04:45 to catch the first of the flood at the La Jument lighthouse.  Time to go.

Another Great Day ends at anchor in Anse de Pen-Hir

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G keeps her pecker up during our last minute relocation by reading book after book after ….

I forgot to tell of another reason that we left the Iles late.  The French appear to be defy convention in at least two ways.  One is that the men have a propensity for peeing in public.  We must have seen at least a dozen – off their boats, off the pontoons, behind refuse bins, off slipways.  You name it – they’re peeing off it.  The other, the reason we moved, is that many see seagulls as we would see a robin.  They sit on their boats and feed them, from their hands.  So, at Iles de Glenan, the seagulls land on your boat and wait to be fed. And while their waiting, like a good French seagull, they c**p on your boat. Enough!!!

Anyway, today, after a late awakening and a bit of food shopping, we set off quite late, for us, at 11:00 for a shortish sail/motor to St Evette, about 30 nm away.  However, having rounded Pointe de Penmarc’h, a bit of research revealed that either we took on the Raz de Sein at about 5 o’clock that afternoon, or at about 5 o’clock tomorrow morning, in the dark.  A bit of a no-brainer really.  So, sorry St Evette, but now where.  Morgat is good, but about 10 nm out of our way.  Douarnanez is better, but even further.  A bit of chart  exploring and we ended up, with eight other boats anchored in Anse de Pen-Hir, a beautiful quiet bay protected by the spectacular Tas de Pois.

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Approaching our B&B.  We anchored to the left of the boat you can see

Tomorrow, little wind is forecast and, so, we intend to make for Ile d’Ouessant (Ile de Croissant as G calls it), but what, mostly, we call Ushant.