Gina’s take on the 2016 Cruise

Nombre 10: The Last Post

Sark!  No coastal paths! 

Arriving in Sark after a fairly good sail, we picked up a visitor mooring in Havre Gosselin, a lovely bay by the tiny island of Brecqhou, separated from Sark, by the  Gouliot Passage. About 10 visitor moorings here. The bay is surrounded by sheer cliff faces, some of which have large sea caves, the sea makes a booming sound with each wave that crashes in to the base! 

Our only way onto the island was to row to some steps that formed a concrete landing, at the bottom of the cliffs & then a zig zag path to the top. Not long after we reached the top it started to rain, only forecast as a passing shower, however, it rained for our entire visit! 

Sadly no coastal paths, the only village is on the top & centre of the island, from the centre it forms a cross with four main lanes which take you across the length & breadth of the island. No coastal paths, which we both love!  However we walked to the village & across to the Maseline & Creux harbours. Back up to the village & across to Little Sark, to view the causeway! By this we were pretty wet, so decided to return to Tiftie! Once on board & dried out, of course the sun came out !! 

Our mooring gradually got more & more swell, we were rocking & moving all over the place. One boat had already left, so we decided to try the other side of the island which should be more sheltered & anchor for the night! 

Off we went, with the tide & anchored in Dixcart Bay, along with 4 other yachts. All seemed calm! Cooked supper & gradually the swell was here too, all of us were being moved about!! But we were not moving again, no where to go, just an early exit for Alderney in the morning.  

Having not slept much, constantly awake by the boat rolling, checking our anchor hadn’t dragged !! (Ken had set our anchor watch, but still I can’t sleep) I was up to see the moon rise. Really beautiful, all golden & on fire. Then later. see it high above us, now bright & silver. To dawn breaking! 

Eventually we pulled the anchor & made our way to Alderney. 

Not a bad passage, but reaching the waters that surround Alderney, is very different, called The Swinge!!! Huge currents run through here with over falls  & standing waves! Very exciting if not a bit frightening for me! 

In Braye Bay there are lots of visitor moorings to choose, behind a large sea wall. A very friendly harbour master & a very efficient water taxi!  Good facilities ashore too! We booked for two nights, but I was so tired from Sark, I curled up & slept all afternoon! 

Saturday 25th

Up early and ashore on the w/t we headed off to hire bikes!!(I know, I said I wouldn’t , but!!) Alderney is small & not that hilly, Ken loves to explore & loves anything to do with history! There are so many German fortifications on the islands, it’s endless! Surely, I say, one is just like the rest ?? But not quite true. On Alderney, they have really tried to preserve a couple, with lots of information!

We watched yachts struggling on the south of the island in water called The Race, similar to The Swinge, both incredibly strong currents & tides! 

I just love the views along the way & the wildlife too. We reached various points, just sat & soaked in the beauty of it all, so unspoilt & natural, totally not busy. 

We reached the headland that looks out to Les Etacs, it was amazing, up to 3700 pairs of northern gannets nest here, almost 2% of the worlds population. Even from our position, one could hear the cry of the birds, they cover the 3 massive rocks, many of them in flight too, circling over the top or flying across the water. Gannets can dive as deep as 30 metres. I love them & think they are a most spectacular bird ! ( see video, only short, below) 

We were so lucky it was another beautiful day! Sunny with a breeze, but perfect for us! Back on Tiftie, we are tired but really enjoyed our last day! 

Now supper to cook, venison steak, roasted Onions, red pepper & tomatoes, fresh asparagus, followed by creme brûlée, good bottle of wine, cheese & port!! I called it our last supper !!! 

Early to bed as a very early start. 2am to catch the tide, but unfortunately the wind is still not in our favour!! 

1.36am, both awake, kettle on, getting dressed & mooring dropped by 1.56am Promised to be a cloudless night, not quite, but enough moo for us to gently motor out & into the forthcoming dawn! 

I’m really not a great fan of night sailing, but can cope when I know dawn is only a matter of a few hours away. 

As expected there was quite a breeze & quite a large swell, unfortunately the wind not in our favour. 

We had to get past the lighthouse and all the treacherous rocks around the island.  Unable to sail, but wth tide we ploughed our way up & over waves, Tiftie being thrown about like a cork, as Ken described the sea state as “confused”!  Waves coming from all angles, eventually we were able to motor sail & now with the sun rising, we had reached the shipping lanes, which are 5 miles wide & very busy!  Today they seemed to come along in 3’s, moving across our bows or stern. Never a dull moment here ! By 9.39amwe were through both sides & heading for Dartmouth! Phew!! The other wonderful bonus was having two sets of Dolphins swimming with us, the second group swam & played with us for over 30mins!  Never tire of watching them .

Approaching Dartmouth & the weather was really closing in!  I checked the forecast again, over the next few days it was only going to get worse!  So what else could we do but press on for Plymouth, tide turing in our favour within the hr & the wind now backing to our favour, we started to fly towards home! 

Rain, mist, wind & large waves, what more could they throw at us?? Well how about the ferry from Roscoff, steaming in at 22kts!! Ken, who by now was motor sailing, increased engine output & we tightened  the sails to get maximum speed in order to cross in front of ferry rather than slow down & pass sedately astern!!!   Guess which one I would have chosen ?   However, we passed well in front, without causing any distress to the ferry, & continued our passage to the Mayflower Marina!! 

Berthed by 20.07hrs, some 20 hrs since we left Alderney!  What a long day!! But we did it & we have had a great trip.  Now, I can’t wait to see family and friends, the garden and house etc etc

Mush love to you all, Gina

The centre photo showing the Gannets on Les Etacs. 

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Very poor image of me!!! (Ed)
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Waiting for Ken on the coastal path, Alderney

 

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Les Etacs – Gannets galore – amazing

 

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Alderney

 


Nombre 9: Our Little Haven

Beaucette Marina Sunday 19th June!

What a contrast, for all the wonderful reasons! This little Marina is a haven, not only for us, but for the wildlife too. Crystal clear water & gentle rocky slopes on all sides, where various plants have taken hold! Oystercatchers, continually calling & chatting to each other! Along with numerous other birds. It is on the far north-east of the island, coastal/cycle paths starting here too. It was originally an old quarry & when they were finished, they simply blasted a hole through the rock face, to create a 15metre entrance, as you can see from the photo below!

Neatly high water ! Very calm today !
There is a natural cill too.  Hence, we had to wait for the rise of the tide! But one can see, why at certain times it’s too dangerous to enter!

It started to rain not long after our arrival, just spits & spots but,as promised, it became a lot worse! ‘Oh the wind be howling through the rigging, the rain be pouring down & Tiftie tugging at her lines!!’
But we were quite secure, so good to be inside, snuggled up, heating on, glass of wine. Even watched the tv for the 1st time since leaving the UK!! Country file !!

Monday 20th June:  Absolutely pouring down & even more wind, but all due to clear up around 12 midday! Yep, heard that before!! We decided to catch the bus into St Peter Port, but 1st to find the bus stop!! The HM told us it was just down the road, so we started walking, no sign of said bus stop, but lots of small lanes heading off in various directions!! We met a couple & asked for directions, “oh take this road, at X-roads turn left & then sharp right, bus stop by blue letter box!  3 X-roads later & time running out, we ran, to eventually find the bus stop, within seconds the bus came along!
All journeys, no matter how short or long or what age you are, they all cost £1 each!!! Amazing !
St. Peter port was busy, not like ‘St Hel’ but still busy none-the-less! It still holds its charm. They are much stricter here re planning consents for buildings etc. The shops are behind the main road, up steeped stepped ally-ways, all higgle-de-piggledy. The tide was out, so lots of boats moored on the visitor pontoons in the outer harbour, waiting for the tide to change! Some 3 or 4 abreast!
We had a good look round. Ken went off to his meeting & I went shopping!!!
Later, we met up again & had coffee in the RGYC, watching the activities of a very busy port & harbour. Glad we had a small, quiet retreat to return to!
We decided to catch the island tour bus, it would have been amazing, apart from the fact that sea fog had beset the island.  However, I had Ken, who had a map & described every cove & rocky outcrop along the way.  Marvellous!!! Lol!

Back on board we had an easy supper, a glass of wine or two & ready for bed!

Tomorrow we hire bikes & get riding !!! What joy! Kens cooking tomorrow, so I expect we will be going out! (Just joking !!)

Tuesday 21st! Woke to a dull day but warm, perfect for our bike ride. The marina hired bikes out, £15 per day each, great!

Off we went along the joint coastal/cycle paths. They encourage you not to cycle on the roads, as they are busy & very narrow. Often, the bus has to use the footpath to carry on through !! Lots of people walking too, all keen to stop & chat!

We had a great ride, the sun came out too, in the end it was very hot & by the time we finished I was completely ‘spent’ !
However, along the way we were rewarded with wonderful views of this pretty island. I even found the same shop, where I had visited, at the age of 13, with my parents! Still the same couple who hand-make the Guernsey sweaters. We all had one back then, mine sadly long gone! I planned on buying another one, but it’s still that rather thick & itchy wool! I had hoped I might find one in cashmere (stupid me!) apparently they started making them in cotton, but it was not successful! Sadly, I didn’t buy one!
Back on our ride again, we managed mostly to stay off the main roads, thanks to Ken’s map-reading skills & despite the visitor map, taking us up some very steep, & stepped coastal paths.  We had a great day. Stopping for coffee & homemade cake by one beautiful bay & later in St Peter Port, we rested our very weary bodies & bums, treating ourselves to a cool glass of wine & delicious crêpes!

The tide had come in & it was very entertaining watching the antics of all the yachts being shown to their berths, by the harbour masters, two of them, who insisted in roaring round at high speed in their tenders, creating as much wash as possible, causing more panic for some of the boats !!
We cycled on, now only about 4 miles from Tiftie, found a local shop to buy essentials & arrived back, me swearing to never ride again this holiday!! Next year, I’m packing my padded cycle shorts (ouch!)

Large G&T, refreshing shower & home made curry, I felt so much better !!
Yes, we did the whole way round!!

Wednesday 22nd

Rest day planned today, laundry & cleaning, then a gentle walk.

Low water, Spring tides, showing the natural cill at the entrance to the marina!! Great history of this marina & how it was formed can found here, http://www.beaucettemarina.com/beaucette-quarry-to-marina/
We finished off our lovely stay here by Ken taking me out to dinner in the restaurant on the marina, very well known for its fabulous cuisine. We were not disappointed. Arriving back on Tiftie just in time, as the heavens opened up to an enormous downpour !!

Thursday 23rd – Moving to Sark today to pick up a mooring. Apparently, it’s a beautiful island to walk, tiny but very worthwhile. Having had a huge thunderstorm last night, the air this morning feels fresh & cool!! It will be sad to say goodbye to Beaucette, but I’m sure Sark will not disappoint.

On our countdown to home now, possibly only 6 more nights !!!

Much love to you all

Gina xxx
Sent from my iPhone

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Nombre 8: Heaven to hell and back to heaven

Sadly leaving Îles Chausey at 6ish to the most beautiful sunrise, we travelled out through the north passage! Nothing like a challenge Ken? It is very narrow & shallow in places. Lots of underwater rocks. Concentration paramount !!!

Safely through, we were able to sail all the way to Jersey. It was a dull, cold start but great conditions for our sail. Arriving in Jersey some 4 hrs later, fantastic time, to beautiful sunshine. We had 3 hours to wait before we could enter the Marina, however the guest pontoons were all set up with hook-up & water! We explored ashore, not having been here before! Well, how disappointed we were. St Helier was so busy, dirty & unfortunately it was the big football match. So every pub was overspilling with drunken, noisy fans!!
What were we doing here! Eventually, we got into the Marina, again big disappointment, the visitor berths were crammed into one corner. Luckily we found a vacant finger berth, otherwise we would have to raft!

What were we doing here??? Should we go or stay?? We agonised for about an hour, we could sail back to Îles Chausey or struggle with tide for Guernsey !  After much debate, we decided to stay, hire a car the following day & then hire bikes the next day, sorted!

So glad we stayed! Our hire car was a Smart Car, great fun to drive & it goes anywhere!! As expected, Ken navigated me down every narrow lane possible, we covered virtually every harbour, bay & headland, proving how beautiful Jersey was & how hideous St Helier is! We picnicked in a beautiful spot by the water, took lots of photos & really enjoyed our day, in glorious sunshine. The coast line is treacherous, with 11 meter tides so much rock  is exposed, it’s staggering! Imagine Weston super mare or & Burnham beaches, tide out & just rocks, as far as the eye can see!!

Saturday, another blue sky & sun day! We hired bikes & rode out to the St Aubin’s & picked up the old railway line, to La Corbière. To the lighthouse across a large causeway! Nothing but jagged rocks for miles on either side! Very frightening as we would be sailing past here on Sunday morning !!

Ken wanted to cycle on, but I thought I might like to go back to Tiftie. The Marina was open when I got back, & in they came, yacht after yacht, boat after boat & so the fun & games began!!

Can’t wait for tomorrow, leaving early to head to Guernsey, St. Peter Port!

I was up at 4ish eager to leave, showered & ready, we finally left around 6!  Unfortunately so did lots of yachts and powerboats!!! All heading to Guernsey, which we had been told could be very crowded.  However, we would worry about that when we get there! Once around La Corbière lighthouse, we were able to sail all the way.

Reaching St. Peter’s Port, we could already see the boats were rafting up on the visitors’ waiting pontoons, but, because high water was 4 hrs away, we decided to move on and look at Beaucette Marina.  It had visitors’ buoys outside & looked much nicer! We picked up a buoy, had lunch & then I snoozed for a while. Just before 4pm we were greeted by the harbour master, Ricky, a young Irishman.  He explained that he would find us an inside berth & which side it would be, just 3/4 hr to wait for the tide to rise! Fenders ready & lines in position, he came out in rib again & took us in! A very narrow entrance, just 15mts wide!!

The small Marina was formed from an old stone quarry which was very close to the sea and the entrance was blasted through.  It is a most beautiful spot. We will stay here for a few days, hire bikes & travel the coastal paths!! Can’t wait, so excited to be back in Heaven!!

Love to you all

Gina xx

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Nombre 7: Hello & goodbye

Arrived in St Cast to be met by Jonty & Wynn, G&T were already poured & waiting for us!! Had a lovely evening & delicious meal cooked by Wynn, bottle of Bubbly, wine & Port, falling into our bunks at gone 1am!!!

The following day, we wandered into town to shop, more wine & bubbly purchased & fresh food. St Cast has a lovely beach, stretches for miles and an open walkway around the cliff bottoms to & from the town. No railings! (Wouldn’t be allowed in the UK, we are far too much health & safety, no safety lines!! ) We relaxed for the day & Jonty booked a table for the evening at the waterfront fish restaurant.

They had fresh oysters on the menu, having not eaten these for years, I was game to try them again! They were delicious too! Ken was the only one not to eat them, however he was most unsure what he had ordered !!! The restaurant was quite busy with locals (always a good sign !) and lots of yacthies. We got chatting to another couple, who ended up, coming back on board with us for coffee, port etc! Another late night!! But great fun!

In the morning we readied ourselves for our passage to St Malo. Not much wind but we were able to sail the whole way. Amazing how things change so quickly on the water! Ken decided to take the shorter, narrow passage through the rocks, whilst Jonty took the main channel. All of a sudden a squaIl came out of nowhere! (having had permission from the captain to leave the cockpit ) when all of a sudden all hell broke out! Ken was shouting for me but I didn’t hear him. It was pouring down, 12kts of wind, too much sail which both needed to be shortened !! Why the urgency,you may ask? Not knowing how strong these gusts were going to get & with rocks around us and a narrow channel, leaves not much room for manoeuvre or error!

Sails shortened we settled down again, except the rain! We sailed on towards the port, being rewarded with lovely views of the most beautiful houses on Dinard. Such individual properties with exquisite designs & gardens. Almost as the squall had arrived it had dissipated within 10mins!

Having never been here before we were unsure of the procedure for entering the huge lock, which lead into the very large commercial port beyond. Lady Cressida had gone through ahead of us, with an enormous cargo ship & another French yacht. We waited & waited until eventually the enormous lock gates stated to open, on the green light we were able to enter! Luckily Jonty had called us to explain the procedure! Locks are one of the most dangerous places!

We entered at the bottom of the lock, & the lock-keeper throws you a line to attach your line to, then pulls it up. We were told we would need long lines, no joking there! Gates closed behind us, we were the only boat in there! And slowly the lock filled up, 15 mins later we had risen to the top of the lock. Gates in front opened & the road bridge slides away for us to enter the basen!

Lady Cressida was already berthed & they were waiting to take our lines. Wynn was already cooking us all a delicious cooked breakfast/brunch, with wine !! I was cooking this evening, so once we were ship shape, we had a quick look round the city before cooking commenced! Great evening, enjoyed by all.

St Malo is a lovely setting & the marina was opposite the walled city! As the evening drew in, so the lights of the city shone out! Around the outside of the city walls they have planted trees, which have been shaped & illuminated underneath at night time. The beach runs from the city walls for miles. There is a huge sea wall, but in front of this, they have erected hundreds of tree trunks, upright into the sand, most stand erect & noble, whilst some are at jaunty angles, very statuesque, like warriors defending the city! I so wanted to photograph them when the tide was in, but too late at night, I did manage some during the day!

I am reading by chance ‘All the light we cannot see’ by Anthony Doerr, about St Malo! Great book!

The following day, Monday 13th, rather overcast & threat of rain later! We explored the city & then took the short ferry ride over to Dinard! It was beautiful, despite the rain. Walking through the town, mostly closed on Mondays, the price tags were incredibly expensive! 170€ for a pair of gents shorts, 180€ for linen shorts for me!! ( lucky the shops were closed, I can hear you say) now come on, even I wouldn’t spend that kind of money!!

Arriving back at Tiftie, Wynn invited us on board for the evening, lovely food & wine, again!

Tuesday, it was time to say farewell, the lock gate would not open until 1.30, so we all had lunch together, enjoying ourselves far too much! It was pouring down with rain, & had to make a mad dash on Tiftie to the lock! As soon as her stern passed the gates, they commenced their closing.

Once through, & clear of the harbour, we were able to hoist the sails & have a rather good sail to Ilês Chausey, a beautiful island, with visitor moorings.

Leaving the city behind, it was looking quite majestic in the rain, ahead we soon saw the island on the horizon & looking to the east we could just make out St Michaels Mount! Not possible to get near on a yacht, as all around it are huge shallows! We will be back in the camper van !

Visitor buoys were not obvious upon arrival, no harbour master or official to ask either! Two or three boats were in front of us all looking for a mooring. The islands are extremely rocky & very shallow in places. Ken was not keen to go too far in & in the end we picked up, what could have been a fisherman’s buoy, if he came back we would move! No one came so we stayed put for the night! It was glorious evening & a beautiful sunset too. One just has to be patient, waiting for that perfect shot!

Wednesday, we woke to blue sky & a quite a strong breeze, some boats had left so we decided to move the boat onto the visitor buoys, you have to pick them up, fore & aft!! Not easy in tide & wind!! However we have a routine which works well! Having secured the fore buoy, we needed to hook up to the aft buoy! It was a long way from us, no choice but for Ken to take a long line in the dinghy, hook up the buoy & row back! Success !

All sorted, we could now go off & explore the island. But first I wanted to just wash our smalls! Much to kens amusement, earlier on in the holiday I had purchased a large salad spinner! “Why do you need that?” He queried ! “For my underwear!” Came my reply!! I thought that with small items it would be excellent, rather like a spin dryer!! Actually it is quite good, provided you balance the items! Anyway washing & spinning completed I now had to peg out & tie my said underwear to our safety lines! Really didn’t want knickers flying off the boat!!

We rowed ashore, dragged the dinghy out the water, to then enjoy glorious weather & a beautiful walk round the Ilês! We bought a lovely bottle of chilled Rosé & fresh bread, to have back on board with cheese & pâté ! Back on board, we again watched in amazement, the chaos of French yachtsmen, & an English man who actually fell in the water, without his wife even realising !!Ken had to raise the alarm as she was still on the bow & he was struggling to get back on board at the stern! No life jackets either!

Ken had to have a certificate of competence to sail in French waters, where as the French, can just charter a yacht with no real experience, what so ever! Completely bizarre!

Sitting in the cockpit, 8pm & still beautifully warm, so peaceful apart from the French boat, just two away from us, with about 7 on board, not stopped laughing all evening! Fabulous!

It’s going to be another fantastic sunset tonight, if I can stay awake I will take some photos, but early start tomorrow. 6am, heading for Jersey! So I may tuck in early !! Apparently the Channel Islands are also renowned for bumps !! Watch this space!

Sent from my iPhone

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Nombre 6 – From St Cast

Hard to believe it’s only a week that we have been back on board. Time just passes & we are so relaxed!!
Having left Roscoff last Saturday morning, in rather inclement weather, we headed to Tréguier. A quiet place to moor in a small marina with lovely views from the visitors berths, almost at the head of Rivère de Tréguier. Arriving in glorious sunshine, to be met by a group of English boats that were on a cruise from Chichester yacht club & the boat adjacent to us were friends of our friends, small world! The sunshine continued throughout Sunday too, marvellous.
The local village was up the top of a hill, (as they all seem to be) but good exercise for us. No bikes for hire here, but we had a lovely walk along the river & into the village, which has a beautiful square & magnificent cathedral with the most ornate spire!
On Monday morning, we planned to leave for our next location which was the adjacent river, Rivière de Triuex. Both locations were about 4-5 miles from the mouth of the rivers! The Chichester group decided to leave, well 4 of them & off they went leaving 3 boats behind to catch up the next day!
As we were preparing to leave, the English boats were returning to the marina! Why we asked, Mist, came the reply!
We have a chart plotter & AIS which really enables you to travel blind!! So off we went!

Getting out of our berth was fun though, as the tides are rather vicious here, running at 3 kts!! Having taken into account the tide we expected no real problems, but even the best laid plans can sometimes go wrong. Tiftie weighs around 7 ton, added to that the racing tide coming across our berth, it was somewhat heart stopping when the despite all our efforts we glided into the hammer head, fortunately no other boat was involved & no damage, only to our pride! Down the river we went with 6kt of tide underneath us but, no Mist!!

Ken had been told that we could travel through the Passé de la Gaîne, which apparently would be beautiful ! It’s a very narrow passage between rather large rocks ! Not long, after entering the channel, the Mist came upon us with abundance! We saw absolutely nothing & visibility was at times little more than 100 yards! (A good 9 iron or pitching wedge to the green sprang to my mind!) Carefully we inched along using the chart plotter, which is amazing, but both looking out for the next Channel Mark. The mist sadly stayed with us until we were halfway down the next river, which also is renowned for very fast running tides!
Lézardrieux is another beautiful spot, lovely views & a pretty village ( up another hill!) with a beautiful village square & local shops & a rather intriguing church. Which, when I looked inside, I found 3 double ornate confessional boxes, for a small town they must have a lot of sinners!!
We left Wednesday morning, again visibility was poor, really disappointing as we wanted to see the beautiful islands at the mouth of the river, however having left with the tide on the turn we knew we would have to pick up a buoy or anchor at the mouth to wait for the tide to turn in our favour.

As we neared the Ile de Bréhat, the mist was lifting, to reveal all we had not seen before. Brilliant, we could anchor here, get the dinghy off with motor & explore ashore.

Oh, so thrilled we did, the island was beautiful, the dinghy dragged up & out of danger we began to explore. It is a very popular island & they come in their droves from the mainland by ferry, apparently for the restaurants & some to walk!
We ended up walking nearly the whole of the island, eating crêpes with apples, caramel sauce & ice cream, plus local cidre, delicious!
Arriving back at the dinghy, we had about an hour to wait for the tide to reach it, so we found a nice bar overlooking the bay & Tiftie at anchor. I asked for a large Rosé but misunderstanding me, I ended up with the whole bottle, not a problem for us though, we sat & drank it slowly, soaking in the evening sun, just totally chilled! It was paradise we decided.
Well, time to get back on board, oh heck the tide was well & truly in, dinghy now afloat & the painter attached to a ring also underwater! I had shorts & flip flops on so I braved the water, and found the ring, almost up to my armpits, retrieved her & got Ken aboard without him getting wet!

Back on board Tiftie, we decided to stay here for the night & set off the following day for . We had the most glorious evening, eating in the cockpit, then off to bed very contented.

As always around 3am, I’m wide awake! I tend to get up & have a look outside, which I did, only to find the Mist had returned with vengeance! You could not see anything except the anchor lights on the top of the masts of the 3 other yachts also at anchor! It was very eerie! No way could I possible go back to sleep! Not long after this our anchor alarm went off, oh god I thought we are dragging & it’s such a rocky coast line! It woke Ken as well, but having checked all his coordinates he concluded that it was purely the boat swinging on the tide!
Definitely, I won’t sleep now!! So we had tea & chatted, eventually deciding to get up & lift the anchor & head off!
Visibility was dreadful again but we gingerly kept to our said route & travelled the some 15nm to our next port of call. We could not see the entrance to the harbour until we were almost upon it!
St Quay Pontrieux, is a new marina & extremely well run! We were met by the harbour master, who gave us a tremendous welcome & showed us to our berth, then took our lines!!!
We settled in & as our berth was along side, rather than bow or stern in, people stop & chat, all nationalities, so much nicer!

We met a lovely couple, who also came from the Mayflower marina in Plymouth. Their boat was called Teddy Bear, similar size to us & immaculate!! They invited us that evening for drinks on board, we had a very jolly time! Peter & Rosalie, whom we will no doubt meet again!
The following day I decided to give Tiftie a really good clean! It was now so hot, much better to be on deck in the cool breeze than fry in the heat of the cockpit! She now looks so much better, it’s amazing how dirty it gets from being at sea!
Friday, we were on the move again to Saint Cast, where Jonty & Wynn were waiting for us, & also cooking us a meal. A real treat to meet up with them again & spend some time together.
We had a lovely evening & plan to spend the next few days together, moving around the bay exploring various places together around St Malo!

No Mist at the moment, so here ends my Mist-storey!!!

Much love to you all

Gina xxx

ps. Happy Birthday Jane & Sarah xx

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Nombre 5: Bonjour

Well here we are just about to start part 2 of our passage! Tiftie was just as we left her, no extra crew stowed on board !! I would love to tell you it’s a lovely sunny day here, but it’s not!

What a contrast, yesterday we had supper in the garden, bathed in sunshine & watching the bird activity, going bonkers on the new feeders! I said we needed to soak in the picture of our lovely garden, mixed feelings about leaving home again but now back on board, I feel fine!

We have had such a lovely week at home. Surprises all round, lots achieved in the garden & for Ken lots of work sorted out!

Missing my golf, I dare not go near the course, that would definitely of made it harder to leave !

Bye for now & see you all in July

Love Gina xx

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Nombre 4: Bonjour!! 

Well, I should say hello, as we are now back in UK, but only a flying visit !! Going back to France on Friday night, to be reunited with Tiftie in Roscoff!

I’m hoping she will be OK as they have been experiencing huge problems with illegal immigrants, trying to stow away on boats, trucks & cars headed for  the UK!!! Let’s hope we don’t have any extra members of crew when we get back on board Saturday morning!

We came home primarily because Ken’s family were all in Cornwall this week on holiday, including his son & family from San Diego.  They were not expecting us &, so, when we rocked up in Porthtowan on Monday, they were thrilled & very surprised! Plus, Ken had a birthday on Tuesday & it was wonderful for him to spend it with them all, a rare occurrence!

We also sprang the surprise on friends on Sunday when we went to a lovely lunch (only the host knew we were back ).  Their faces were a picture !   Great fun! Catching up with Hannah tonight.

It’s lovely to be home & catch up on the garden etc.  Not to mention, having a long, long bath & sleeping in a large bed.  We have decided that, in future, we will sail in 2/3 week blocks, leave Tiftie & return home to ‘tidy up’ and then continue!

France has been great & we are now looking forward to part two! Let’s hope the weather continues to be good over there!

Bye for now, love Gina X

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A hair-raising walk along the coastal path east of Porthtowan

Nombre 3:  Shall we, Shan’t we.

Sunday 22nd May –Having moored in the small visitors’ marina, we managed a walk to a
headland & round the village, after the deluge of rain subsided. On our return, we met another English couple who were moored ahead of us, they have sailed here many times before. Their passage was heading south towards Spain, where they intend to leave the boat for the winter, with no real time constraints. It is really interesting talking to other sailors, they come up with wonderful tips of places to see or not to see. Andy & Alison, as we later found out, were leaving that evening for the Îles De Glénan. They, like us, prefer more remote, quiet spots, rather than large marinas. They really recommended we take a look at the islands. Ken was in two minds, but I was keen to explore. So, he agreed that, in the morning, we would motor over to take a look before moving on! We had a very relaxing evening on board, but, boy, did the wind blow, & we certainly did not envy Andy & Alison, their evening sail!

Monday 23rd May – We woke to beautiful blue skies & just a soft breeze! Whoop, whoop, it was a shorts day!! Up early to catch the tides, we readied ourselves into action, finally leaving our berth around 9am. To our delight, once outside the harbour, we had some good wind, and hence we sailed for the whole of our passage to the islands! But, due to the westerly yesterday, the sea state was quite uneven, making sailing later rather more uncomfortable! The islands are about 10 miles offshore & very low-lying & with lots of outlying rocks. Careful navigation is required, of which Ken is brilliant! We were approaching low water & as it was a Spring tide ( very high & very low) we would have to watch the depth gauge with hawk-eyes!

The islands looked beautiful, bathed in sunshine & glistening white sand, but the water was very shallow. We ventured in so far, but when it read 0.5m under the keel, Ken decided we should venture no more! So about turn & off we went to continue with our 40 mile passage! After a while he said “Umm, what are we doing? Wind on the nose, against tide, it’s not going to be much of a fun passage!!! Let’s go back and pick up a mooring for the day, leave early in the morning, when the wind promises to be more favourable!” So, we turn around again & we have another go, there are visitor moorings & anchorage spots in the bay. I sit in the bow & watch as the water gets shallower & shallower!!! Ken reading out the depth! We reached 0.0 m under the keel! I was waiting for a touch, it was sandy but you would feel it! Nothing! The depth went up & down from 0.6 to 0.0 many times. Arriving in the little bay off Ile de St Nicolas, we picked up a visitor buoy & relaxed. Alison & Andy were moored here too, but had gone ashore. It was glorious, rather like a desert island, lots of wildlife & not too many boats. But, gosh, was it windy (18 kts instead of the forecast 3). We lunched, wined, read & relaxed, waiting for the wind to abate so that we could venture ashore. However, under the protection of the spray hood & the sun in the cockpit, it was very relaxing. (Crisis, only one bottle of wine left!!!)

“Ahoy there” we heard. It was Alison & Andy returning to their boat. We invited them on board, & had drinks. It turns out Alison is a lovely watercolour artist & her diary of their sailing is in watercolour paintings with notes! Really beautiful & she has inspired me to definitely take a watercolour course this Autumn. (I did one many years ago & long to rekindle my art). She sketches really quickly & then paints. A very free-flowing, light touch! I’m very jealous, all my brushes etc are at home!!! My diary, if you have not guessed, are my e-mails & photos, some of which, I hope to re-capture in watercolour.

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Alison’s sketch of Tiftie at her mooring in the Iles de Glenan

They told us about their sail over the previous night, a little hairy, at times! But picking up the mooring in 30 knots of wind, in the dark was not so much fun! We have exchanged e-mails & no doubt we will keeping touch. Their trip sounds very interesting indeed.

We sat in the cockpit in the early evening, watching the terns, diving for fish. They are so quick & talkative on the wing, watching the water all the time, then quick as flash, dive down then back on the wing again. Fish caught & swallowed with a gulp! It should be time to sit back & relax, it’s  9pm, still light & we hope that eventually the wind is dying down. We should then have a pleasant night, just gentle rocking & I’m hoping to catch an amazing sunset! But no such luck, first we must move to another mooring!!  I can only describe our situation as similar to parking in a big supermarket car park. One parks away from anybody else, loads of other spaces left! You return to your car to find someone parked next to you!!! Despite there being masses of free spots elsewhere! Exactly that, lots of free moorings, but oh no, a French boat arrives, passes us & we think no more. Then he decides to ignore the channel & motor quite close between us & another boat!! He then picks up a mooring two buoys away, fine. He is a bigger boat than us, so it leaves plenty of room between us. But hang on a moment, he is dropping that mooring & heading for the buoy adjacent to us. Due to the wind all the boats are swinging quite vigorously on their moorings. But he seems oblivious to this, we just watch & wait. They eventually tie up, however, instead of keeping their lines short, they leave long lines which give even more chance for the boat to swing. I become anxious, because with the wind we could actually clash! They seemed totally unaware, so we decide to move. I know at least I can sleep with one less thing to worry about!

In the morning we hope to go ashore & walk the island, there is no rush, Ken had admitted earlier that, sometimes, he needs to be reminded that we don’t have to rush! It’s lovely to just sit!!! The forecast is great for our sail to the next destination!

5am, Tuesday 24th! – We are wide awake, & have been up for some time. Why? you may ask? Rock & Roll springs to mind! As the wind has veered, and as we are moored off the island, we are now more exposed to the open sea breezes !! Rather like a cork being tossed around in a bath tub!! Ken had set the anchor watch the evening before, because as he said, “one never knows!!” That’s comforting, not! No really, it’s not at all comfortable, even lying in our bed, one is rolled from side to side, plus up & down. My anxiety levels have shot up & my back, which I stupidly put out yesterday is rather painful! Ken made us tea which was quite a challenge to drink !!

We drop the mooring around 6am & quietly motor out. We are greeted by the most beautiful sunrise, the sky looks like it’s on fire! 18kts of wind too so that by 6.30 we are sailing. We sailed for the next 10hrs & saw up to 23kts. One of our more memorable sails & Tiftie performed well.

Arrived at Douarnenez, actually Treboul, around 4.30. Long day but we had great wind, tide & sunshine, all in our favour. Plus we were treated to an Air Sea Rescue operation taking place, very interesting to watch & photograph. Not sure if it was a real life situation or training.  A large fishing trawler was the subject !   Then, my greatest pleasure is being joined by a group of dolphins. I saw them off the starboard bow, obviously fishing as they were leaping & jumping & lots of birds were diving too. Then they headed our way & swam with Tiftie for some time. I tried to video it all, but as we were moving quite fast & they move even faster, it’s hard to capture without falling in oneself!! Never ceases to be magical though. Our berth for the night was very pleasant, a quiet visitors pontoon just inside the small harbour.  We have moved this morning to refuel & they have given us a berth in the inner harbour, not quite so picturesque but more protected from strong winds. Off to explore the village now, Ken has gone ahead as there is a museum he wants to look in!!! Not for me!

Today has been a mixture of house-keeping, washing/drying etc.  Then, we used the bikes the marina offer, what a great idea! We cycled off into the old town. Very picturesque & nspoilt.  Lots of traditional boat building taking place too with many workshops, along the waters edge.  We stopped to look at one in a small workshop. Truly a work of passion, that lovely smell of wood & shavings!! He explained it had taken 13 years on & off to restore her!!!

We hope to move on tomorrow, no wind as such but lots of rain!!

Bye for now love Gina xx


Nombre  2: Saturday 21st May,

Sitting on board having lunch, tied on a mooring up the River Odet. A peaceful setting opposite a beautiful Chateaux. We were here a were here a week ago, on our outward bound trip in the most glorious weather. A very different story today! We have ‘Borrowed’ a mooring for the night, again! Waiting to see if anyone turns up to claim it!!!

Anyway, last week, when we were here, it was obviously after a wedding! Today, it is pouring down & there seemed very little going on at the Chateaux! As we had entered the estuary & sailed past the town, the bells were ringing out, I remarked to Ken, it could be a wedding!!

So here we were, sitting quietly, when suddenly at high speed, a rib was coming up the river towards the Chateaux. Behind, at a more sedate pace, was a beautiful wooden, open sailing boat, one man at the helm & two others huddled under brollies by the mast! It was pouring down, but they made their way toward the chateaux. Suddenly, people were running across the lawn! Lo & behold the wedding couple were in the boat, under the brollies!!! We grabbed our cameras & wondered how would she get ashore? There were beautiful gates that would have opened but today they remained closed! With the boat & rib alongside a wall, some people had gathered above, on the wall. The bride raised her hands upward, only to be grabbed from above and her husband lifting from below, she flew up in the air and was safely ashore! Her little bridesmaid who had run across the lawn to greet her, now walked up with then towards the main house, she, dutifully carrying the train. Now bearing in mind, Benodet is some two miles down stream, she must have been wet & cold. Our hearts went out to her, but what a game girl !! I’m sure they will have a great day & no doubt we will see more later tonight!

The two boats now headed back down the river, from whence they came!

Last Tuesday, still in Ile du Groix, we walked some 10 miles around the island, bathed in sunshine. Following mostly the coastal paths, which were very quiet, apart from the sea birds & delightful little sand lizards, that were basking in the warmth of the sun, but scurried away at our approach. If we stood quietly, they would reappear, beautifully marked, some brown, with hints of gold, or greenish in colour. The thrift was in abundance along with many wild flowers & ferns, that are so hardy & adapted to withstand the constant battering of cliff top life.

The beauty of the coastlines around Brittany & the outlying islands are the beaches, mile after mile of pure white sand, the sea that Mediterranean turquoise, exquisitely clear & very inviting! We found so many secret coves on our walk, hard to choose which one would be perfect for our picnic. I did brave the waters, but only to cool off my feet, rather refreshing, as in, it takes your breath away, refreshingly cold!

Wednesday 18th, however, a very different day. The forecast was not good, rain, strong winds & unsettled sea states!!! Think we will be staying put for another day. Time to relax & read for a change! We met another English couple who have been sailing the French coast some 14 years! They invited us to join them for supper at a local restaurant, called ‘Le Cinquante’.

We walked around the sea walls to view the water, it was really blowing & back on board we recorded gusts up to 30kts!!! So relieved we were not sailing today!!

Jenny & Bruce our supper partners, were apsoulutley charming & great company. We had a most enjoyable evening, the food & wine delicious, if somewhat expensive! They, like us, have a deadline to return back to England. They advised us that we need to plan our return carefully, as often they leave the boat in France & catch a ferry home! They live in Cornwall, so not too much of a problem for them.

Thursday 19th. Woke to blue sky & not too much wind. Decision made, we would move on to the next port of call. We had two choices, La Trinite sur Mare or Crouesty, both had been recommended to us. Leaving Ile De Groix, we motored out, into our first experience for this trip, of the Atlantic Swell. Which was left over from the unsettled weather yesterday! To begin with it was not too bad, but not enough wind to sail, or to steady her. Gradually the swell got bigger, not a very comfortable ride. Some waves so big that the horizon disappeared before reappearing again. It was chilly too, needed more layers on! Rounding Quiberon & Teignouse, a little light house, the swell lessened, good wind arrived & the sun came out to boot.

We had a great sail, all the way to La Trinité-sur-Mer. So imagine how disappointed we were to find the most enormous marina, not our scene at all. All the visitor berths full & our only option would be to raft along side another boat! Not ideal, one ends up having to walk across other boats to get ashore & then otters can obviously raft against you! We turned around & moved on to Crouesty. Beautiful sail all the way there, only to find the same problem!!! What must these marinas be like in the summer!!!! ????

From the chart, we knew there was a large bay not far away, with many areas to pick up a visitor mooring or anchor for the night! Bliss we thought! Well yes, but the tide was coming in & with 6kts of tide under us, we flew down the ‘Golfe du Morbihan’ finally picking up a mooring Port Blanc. ( after 3 attempts!! So much tide makes it very tricky) Not sure if we picked up a visitor mooring or not, but just waiting, in case some irate French sailor comes along, demanding his mooring back!!

Looking back over the last week, we have had mixed weather & mixed feelings about sailing the French coastline. It’s beautiful, spectacular in parts, but we also love driving through France in the camper van. Much easier to explore on foot or by bike ! I love the French way of life, but busy marinas are not our scene & the further we go south, the more busy it becomes. We don’t mind anchoring either, but after studying the charts, Ken surmises that there are not too many places to anchor, plus of course, one needs the right weather conditions too. So, we are now in two minds what we are going to do.

We have made the decision to return north, with still so much to explore, plus the Channel Islands & the Scilly Isles if weather permits. Much calmer & less crowded we hope!

Back we return to Ile du Groix, even with our reservations about this place, it fitted our movements. And actually, we had a lovely evening there, (no mad yachtsmen crashing into each other! Except one, in the calmest of conditions managed to ram the jetty on his arrival!! Then spend quite a long time, just looking at his boat & the jetty, as if in disbelief that this has just happened!!)

We left very early in order to catch the tides to sail to Benodet! Only one problem, it was raining most of the way! Guess who helmed? Nope, it wasn’t me!!! Poor Ken! I did keep him supplied with drinks & munchies!

ps. Despite the rain, the wedding couple braved the weather, walking down to the waters edge for photographs. I was lucky to be able to get some shots too. They look so happy, how wonderful! Sitting on the boat, we keep hearing whoops & cheers, the wedding party is in full swing! Did I mention this was a peaceful location!!! Ha ha!

Just before we turned in for the night, we heard much merriment from the wedding party! We went out on deck, to see beautiful Chinese lanterns being lit & floating up high above the river. Lanterns had already been lit along the shoreline, the reflections were exquisite in the calm waters of the night!

Their merriment went on into the wee hours but it did not worry us. Waking to find blue sky, we motored back down L’Odet to a small visitor pontoon, at Sainte-Marine with all good facilities ! Sadly now rain has set in for the day, but we will don our wet gear & walk out round the headland later. Tomorrow we leave very early to catch the tides for our sail to Morgat or that area!

Much love to you all Gina xx

 


Nombre 1: Bon jour mes amis !

Well, here I am again, sailing along on the high seas! Quite a contrast from our trip last year!!! Having left Plymouth at 12.15 midnight on Saturday 7th May, we have had the most enjoyable week.

Today, Monday, 16th May, we are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone? Ken is whisking me off to a remote island, lle De Groix!! We are suitably stocked up with champagne, good wine & fresh food, perfect for an anniversary supper !!

We are making our way along the coast from our 1st port-of-call at Roscoff to Port La Forêt, our berth last night. Then, we visited Concarneau, staying free for two hours, which enabled us to shop & take a little look around! We may come back here on our return journey! Our next stop was Port Manec’h, which had been recommend to us, so just exploring, before sailing on to Île De Groix, with a mixture of motor, motor sailing & sailing, which is so wonderful, turning off the engine & just hear the movement on the water. All very gentle & relaxing.

We have had some varied experiences so far. My worst fear was by far crossing the channel!! I did not help matters by not really being ready on time when leaving cheddar. As you can imagine, trying to leave everything, house, garden & cottages for 7 weeks, in someone else’s hands. There was a lot to do. Not helped by one of my washing machines breaking down the morning we left!!! Very irritating. Ken had sweetly booked a table at ‘Jolly Jacks’ for 7pm, well there was no way we would be on time!

So we arrived at 6pm in Plymouth, pushed meal back to 7.30, unpacked car & packed the boat. Showered, then ate & relaxed for a while. Back on board, so much stuff to be stowed, no time to sleep & off we went just after midnight into the inky black of the night. It was quite chilly but smooth waters! Once outside the boundaries of Plymouth, we were able to motor/sail, your eyes gradually adjusting to the night light, watching the glow of Plymouth disappear behind us. I don’t get seasick but feel seasick, it’s horrid !!

A long 18 hrs lay ahead of us. The channel was busy closer to Plymouth with fishing boats & smaller craft moving from one area to another. It was a beautiful night, the most amazing array of stars, so clear, so beautiful! By the time dawn broke, we were nearing the shipping lanes, which were very hectic with enormous ships that had no intention of giving way to us, even though we were under sail!

Finally through the shipping lanes, we had clear waters ahead on our way to Roscoff. We were the only boat around as far as the eye could see, in any one direction. Not much sleep had by either of us, but very pleased to land at Roscoff, a nice marina where we could stay a couple of nights to recoup our energy! Roscoff is a very pretty old town, interesting coast line, treacherous, so many rocks, some up to 3 miles off-shore.

From Roscoff, we set off for L’Aber-Wrac’h, a very hazardous entrance to the harbour, Ken taking great care! We were joined on our trip by a group of dolphins, who took great delight in playing in our bow wake.

Woke the next morning to very dense fog, but with our AIS, (automatic identification system) Ken has no fear about venturing out. Sadly, we saw nothing of the beautiful French coastline until we reached the island of Ouessant (Ushant), just briefly, before the fog came down again. We picked up a visitor mooring in a sheltered bay. Baie lampaul . Rowed ashore in the morning. It was quite sad as the village had obviously seen better days, lots of the buildings in desperate need of repair. Transpires lots of the men went to war, were killed & the village has never seemed to recover!

We have seen lots of wildlife, more dolphins & I spotted some whales off the port bow, it was really calm, so easy to spot them on the water. Another one, much larger, then broached the water, just off our starboard mid-ships, blew out & then disappeared as quickly & silently as it had come! No time to reach for my camera, but the image is etched in my mind. Wonderful displays of acrobatics, as various sea birds dive for fish in unison, just lovely to watch.

I have been very busy so far on this trip. Having only seen the boat in October last year, I had no idea how dirty she had become over the winter months! Ken had been down a couple of times & took the jet wash with him, coming home very proudly announcing he had cleaned Tiftie! It was not until we reached France that I realised how dirty she had been and mucky she still was! So gradually, on our quieter passages, I began to clean!!! Clean & clean & clean! Obviously, next year, I will clean her beforehand!!! But a hard lesson learnt!!! Whilst I was gaily swilling the decks down with fresh water, my heart sank! Oh god, I had left the rear porthole ajar, I rushed below to find our bedding soaked !!! Bleep, bleep, bleeeeeep!!! But lucky it was a really warm day, so all dry in time for bed!!!

I have also been learning knots. They are coming on, but something in my brain just can’t quite get them fixed !! Try & try, I’m driving Ken nuts!! I’m sure by the time I return home I will have my knots well & truly conquered !!

Finally, we are in the marina of Île De Groix. What a carry on! Little did we know that today, 16th May was a French holiday! The marina was quite packed and very little space for a boat of our size. Ken & I are quite organised, we have our fenders out on both sides & lines at the ready! However, best laid plans & that, the French have their own ways of doing things. Really short finger piers between berths, very narrow & extremely short. Ken wanted to get in quick, as a lot more yachts where heading in as well! Eventually, we were secured in a berth, then the fun & games began. More yachts came in looking for a berth, despite a high sea wall around the marina, the wind still managed to whistle through. One by one they came. Some quite large & some small, but the seamanship & technical handling took much to be desired. Shouting, boats hitting other boats, more shouting & fists waving! We helped where we could, but you wonder why there is not a driving test for French boat owners.

Our hearts were in our mouths, my nerves where on edge. We both agreed we would not leave the boat until we knew she would not be damaged by another mad yachtsman!

Eventually, the evening calmed down. Our champagne finished, I prepared our meal, which we ate in the open air of the cockpit, very relaxing!! Friends will be pleased to know that having run out of wine, and, unbelievably, no cork screw on board, all has now been rectified!!

On that note, I will say goodbye for now. I know some of you are looking at Ken’s blog & some are watching us on Boatwatch, but as Ken always says, I like to paint a picture, so this is my painting of our journey so far!

Love to you all Gina xx