Page 28 - Yachter Autumn 2023
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                                    Early the following day after an evening of Moules Frites at the local bar, we were on our way again. We emerged from L’Aber Wrac’h and found a group of about 30, 10m ish racing monohulls with double foils that appeared to retract into each bilge, who after rounding a nearby cardinal mark were heading south with us through the Chenal du Four. Surprisingly in the 10 knots of westerly breeze they had little speed advantage, but I suspect our fried breakfast was far better than their weight saving would allow. We had decided to go
into Cameret as we were too late for the tide
at the Raz de Sein. Cameret was busy with a suitable berth on the inside of the wave break. It hasn’t changed much over the years, still with the derelict fishing boats hauled up on the spit, there are far worse places to be waiting for the tide as the multitude of photographers testified. Up and away earlyish the following day we were off again, still a light westerly breeze and to our surprise the same fleet out racing again, going south. We parted ways just before Ile de Raz, their course going outside. The usual doubt set in as we approached the Raz, had we got our tide times correct? We were very much the last boat going south, much checking and double checking of our conversions between UTZ, BST and CEST (central European summer time). All good and we snuck around Pointe du Raz and avoided the 6 knots of adverse tide that ran an hour later. Soon it was raining again as we pushed
on past Penmarch and toward our waypoint off Bénodet passing all of those lovely Brittany fishing ports. The breeze increased, we soon had the jib poled out and ticking off the miles nicely. As we approached said waypoint Mike had a eureka moment declaring it wasn’t the one he had intended and something about Concarneau. Oops, emergency turn port,
just as we had settled down on a close hauled course toward Bénodet entrance, a fierce squall with wind and rain battered us. The first reef got fouled around the boom, 2nd reef faired better (and was necessary), jib furled to a scrap. By the time we were in the entrance we were
at least tidy again although more than a little wet. To seaward there were several boats also caught out and still not sorted out. Sun out again we radioed in and the marina kindly allocated an up tide finger berth. Once in text messages from Devon and home started to arrive, we were being stalked on AIS and my friends David and Jenny were in St Marine,
the marina on the opposite side of the river to us. A phone call later they were on their way across the river to join us for evening nibbles and the odd drinky poo. Questions were asked, yes our course in was less than orthodox but we were too tired to come up with a convincing excuse. Later we rallied our spirits with one of Virginia’s Bologneses lovingly packed in the freezer for just such a moment. The following morning we walked along the river bank in the sunshine to the boulangerie and then refuelled.
After which we found ourselves abeam to an increasing tide pinning us on. I remembered reading somewhere about spronging, a variation on a spring, taking a doubled line from the outboard quarter to a pontoon cleat aft of the boat. Motor ahead with rudder turned in then with increasing power and less helm the boat lifts away from the pontoon, further reduce the helm and the boat arcs
away to point at whatever angle you require, slip your doubled line and Bob’s your uncle. Absolutely perfect, I did notice that the tension had wrung most of the water out of the line and Mike did admit to 2000 rpm on the engine (French cleats, boat and pontoon, are very good), also we didn’t waste 5 hours pinned to the pontoon waiting for the tide to turn.
It was a glorious day, wall to wall blue skies and a 10 knot westerly breeze, so with the coloured jobby up and the autopilot engaged (Andy or Dick, devilishly ingenious course keeper), either way a delightful day, declared “champagne sailing” by Mike although later downgraded to “last night’s champagne with
a silver teaspoon in the spout” due to having
to alter course for a pot buoy. Back to the title, crossing the channel was now graded “prosecco sailing”, nothing too strenuous, St Peter Port to Roscoff and Roscoff to L’Aber Wrac’h, “cold, over stewed British Rail tea” bloody awful, then the rest all tipples between. We reached Port Hooligan (Haliguen) just inside the Quiberon peninsular, as Ripple of Kyle noted on Whatsapp, stylishly late for the battle. This area has had serious money thrown at it and has gone very upmarket with matching facilities, not that we were complaining.
Up early again after another arduous meal ashore we were bound for Ile de Yeu. Passing inshore of Belle Ile, Ile d’Houat and Île de Hoëdic with their anchorages stuffed with boats, the owners on the beach, we came across a huge wind farm in construction, we seemed to spend most of the day staring at parts of it in the haze. We crossed the Loire with ships neatly

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