Ready for departure from Brest

We have ben happy to be here for a couple of days, entertained by the happy joys of the sea. Slowly we found out about the two languages of Brest. All roadsigns were bilangual like in Ireland and belgium, only here the second language is keltish brought over from Cornwall when the anglo-saxons invaded England.

During the quiet days, Erik spotted a commercial for Danish beer (Royal Export), and had a haircut.

Our new Crew has arrived and we’re ready to depart at about ten pm to catch the outgoing tide (or we will have to wait til 11 am tomorrow). In front of us is the crossing of the Bay of Biscay. 138 nm in what looks to become very light airs – we expect the crossing to take 3-4 days.

Sunday in Brest

Weekend traffic in and out of Brest harbor

It is not so overwhelmingly quiet here after all. Saturday night and Sunday morning, there was a lively traffic in and out, of all kinds of boats – all of them bringing fishing rods.

Sunday morning there was a market in the main streets of Brest, and it was packed with people

Market day

We could get all kinds of specialties, even shrimp as tiny as the Danish “fjordrejer” (fjord shrimp).

A good selection of shrimp on offer

Or how about a fullgrown roasted pork?

Pork for sale

You could even have your own chair braided on the spot

Chair production

And of course, a good paella is always appreciated

Paella

Quiet time

A bit more on yesterday’s savior – the guy who went up in our mast for the halyard. He was from Malmö, had sailed with some friends to Holdand, and taken the ferry to Plymouth to buy a 35-foot cement boat from 1972 at the price of 150000 kr. They had mounted a tractor motor and were now starting a round-the-world cruise. The boat had already taken the rounds a couple of times. Also on board was a young man from Skive in Northern Denmark. Brave!

Now it is really quiet here. The dinghy regatta is over, so less activities around the harbor.

Peace and quiet in Brest

Crew 1 have gone home. It has been a great pleasure to have them all on board. We have laughed a lot, discussed trim, tactics and not least wind and currents. Thank you Mette, Elsebeth and Hanne for letting us borrow your men! We have just loved stage one of our voyage!!!

Brest

We headed out already at 7.30 am, in order to catch the favorable tide – and we succeded. The picture below shows a current whirl the likes of which we can see at the narrowest part of Kerteminde fishing harbor, when the tides are strongest in or out of Kerteminde Fjord – but this is out in the open sea!

Current whirls

Once we came closer to Brest, we found that the entire entryway was lined with canons, left from the 2. world war.

Veteran canons

And upon entering the harbor, we found ourselves in the midst of a huge regatta, starting from here. All kinds of dinghy types, but also kayaks.

One discipline was jumping from kayak to kayak, the whole line – which was not always a success!

Kayak jumping

Another discipline was the traditional Optimist dinghy, but wearing atypical sails (in Danish, junkesejl)

Atypical Optimist dinghy trim

We arrived at around 2 pm.

As luck would have it, we met a nice young Swedish guy here, who voluntered to go up in our mast and fix our gennaker halyard. Heya Sverige! Much grateful.

The plane tickets for tomorrow have already been booked. Brest will be where there’s a shift in the crew – Polle, Christian and Jørgen will leave us tomorrow, and on Tuesday they will be replaced by Johs Egede and Mogens Pedersen (MP). In the days to come, while waiting for the next crew to arrive, we will spend our time doing laundry, shopping and realaxing.

Roscoff – L’Aber Vrac’h

Roscoff is definitely worth a visit. A charming old harbor surrounded by the town; restaurants, shops and well kept houses. A ferry harbor with connections to Plymouth, Cork and Bilbao. We were docked in a brand new marina in beautiful surroundings and very good facilities.

Wednesday’s 72 nm in 12 hours allows us to relax a bit more over the next couple of days. Today, just 30 nm to L’Aber Vrac’h.

Without our previous knowledge, L’Aber Vrac’h definitely became the surprise of this stage of our voyage. We had really only chosen the place in order to bite the last distance in two – and then we get the most exiting route through various marked rocks and cliffs into a lovely fjord.

On both sides there were oyster banks, busy with harvesting shells before the next high tide. Too bad none of us like oysters.

Oyster harvest

At the end of the fjord, a small marina and a village with a blooming maritime life.

Sailing school and kayaks – the white things at the top of the masts keep the boats from capsizing – practical at low tide

The difference between high and low tide is very noticeable here.

Low tide

The floating docks are anchored to poles, on which they slide up and down with the tide. Very clever. The two pictures below show the difference between low tide (left) and high tide (right). Note the red tip on the backgound of the first picture, which only just sticks out of the water in the second picture.

We absolutely love this place!

 

Guernsey-Roscoff

Our Guernsey day was properly laid to rest with lots of “hygge” on board. 

The course was then set onwards across the channel in a fresh western breeze. We couldn’t hold on one tack, and ending up tacking inside the beautiful archipelago of Bretagne.

The island group Septembre Isles which at low tides become one island.

Watching the coastline pass by offers good entertainment, with lots of towns, castles, lagunas with sandy beaches and dinghy racing. Our goal was Ile de Batz at the center of the Bretagne coastline.

On the mainland across from Ile de Batz lies Roscoff, where we are now ashore and seated at a restaurant on the old harbor, having a true Bretagne dinner.

Guernsey

Wow! The gennakker made a dramatic improvement to our speed – helped well on the way by the southgoing tides. 13.5 knots over the ground, and current whirls in open waters.

Now we have made harbor, our first stop in the UK. We must fly a quarantine flag and guarantee that we do not have animals on board.

We will be heading straight for the first, the best pub we can find.

The island is a tourist mekka, and duty free. Small, narrow shopping straits and a slightly oldfashioned atmosphere. They really stick to their british nationality. Only british pounds are accepted – and even before we made it to harbor, we were hailed by another boat in open waters to change our recognition flag: “you are now in britsh waters”.

 

The narrow shopping streets

In stead of water locks into the harbors, which can be necessary with 9-10 meters tidal difference, the channel harbors have sills. This is a sort of doorsteps which lets the water in and out without a mechanism. The below picture shows how the water is let in as it it rises.

A sill in action

As a sailor, you have to be very aware of when you can pass a sill. You can’t see it at high tides! We prefer to moor outside of locks and sills, so as not to have tides be the only determining factor for when we leave.

Cherbourg

We had a bit of a rough night, sailing towards Cherbourg. It was very foggy, and that was no joke – even though we were able to see the buoys etc. on the navigator screen. But we managed, and arrived at 2 a.m.

In the showers this morning, the men met a sailor from Fåborg who had arrived from Le Havre shortly before us last night. In the midst of the strong fog he had lost his AIS signal (the signal showing other boats in the vicinity), so he wasn’t able to “see” any boats on the screen – nor in real-life due to the fog. That had not been fun.

Our voyage plans are for now entirely determined by the tides. After sleeping from 4 am, we have had a wonderful breakfast with fresh-baked bread and sunshine. We then left with the favorable currents at 11 am.

Leaving Cherbourg we could clearly see what the lights told through the fog and darkness last night – it is (or was) a very strongly guarded harbor, with a giant “banana” holding a strong fortress.

The fortress outside Cherbourg harbor

We have the gennakker back up, and are racing past all the myriad of other sailors leaving the harbor to catch the favorable tides, now the fastest boat on the water. Wonderful!!!

IT turned out that the knot and fitting on the halyard were perfectly sound – in strong contrast to the rope!

This is what the broken halyard looked like

We are currently logging 9.5 knots towards our next stop on Guernsey. After Guernsey we plan for Roscoff, before the change of crew in Brest.

Onwards from Dieppe

Before leaving Dieppe behind, a touch of the city’s history: Saturday they had “celebrated” the 75th anniversary for the first allied landing, which completely failed. The landing was Canadian led, and it cost the lives of 3000 allied soldiers. The city was still full of Canadian flags and veteran jeeps with elderly camouflage clothed men at the wheels.

We left Dieppe along the steep shores in a rainy mist. The coastline looks a bit like the Danish Stevns Klint, and through the mist it reminds us of an endless New York skyline.

The steep French coastline
The water is colored green by the chalk

The weather has now cleared up, and turned summer. There is oil on the water, almost entirely flat. We will be sailing on through the night, taking advantage of the nice clear weather and aiming for favourable tides when rounding the next coastal point.