No not that “1st” time, the other 1st time !!!
We were introduced to sailing, as I’ve said before by my uncle Colin & his wife Penny aboard their yacht “Baneile” a Shipman 28. We eventually bought Baneile from them when they upgraded so she was our 1st …… you get the idea!
So here we are in the marina in Port-la-Foret and there’s a Shipman 28 opposite us. We haven’t seen one since we sold Baneile way back in the early 90’s bringing back many great memories. As luck would have it the owner was onboard so I popped over for a chat. It was easy to see the years had not been kind to this yacht and she needed a complete refit from stem to stern. The owner was sat in the cockpit with a huge baguette in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. I asked him how long he’d owned her and in his best English he said ” 6 year, I ‘ave lot woerk to doo, but looke ze sun iz ‘ere so I sit wiz my lunch”.
I think his project will never be complete……Gotta love the French!
Camaret is a lovely little town with a good visitors marina protected by a huge breakwater from all winds except easterlies. We were going to stop for 2 days but ended up staying for 3, mainly as our friends Nick & Carol on “Sea Spine” were heading down. The marina fee was 33.66 euros per night including “tourist people tax” whatever that is ! We met Sea Spine in the middle of the bay and sailed together down through the Raz de Sein in perfect flat seas (phew) into a lovely designated anchorage at Sainte Evette just outside of Audierne. It is possible to pick up a mooring there but the balls are very close together and as there was no wind forecast, we and Sea Spine decided to anchor. The high speed vedettes which are large passenger boats stopped running giving us a very peaceful night. In the morning we noticed we’d swung around over 90 degrees which wasn’t an issue. Our next destination was Port la Foret near Concarneau so we wanted to get going with all of the favourable tide. Nick’s anchor came up BUT ours didn’t! We’d laid most of our chain out as there was plenty of space and due to the tidal range. Unfortunately only the first 10 metres came up and the bow dropped along with the windlass straining. It was clear the chain was caught. We tried many different manoeuvres but in the end I dived down and found a huge rock. In a final attempt, I tried to locate the anchor so at least that could be saved …. just as the first vedette came in creating a huge wake and swell. Decision made on safety grounds & nearly 3 hours, we cut the line losing everything, leaving nearly £2,000 of ground tackle behind. Extremely hacked off but the right thing to do. This was the most expensive free anchorage we’ve ever been to.
Now in Port la Foret we’ve got the replacement chain onboard and the new Rocna anchor should be with us in a couple of days. The marina trolley only just made it with all the chain in it!
The weather has improved and I can officially declare its shorts time !
On a brighter note, Steve & Helen on Allegrini have now left their home port and are on their way ! We hope to meet up in the next few weeks which will be a great reunion. They are also bringing out a new mppt controller for our Rutland ……… more on that in a later post.
Having spent 3 days in Falmouth at a cost of £31.00 a night on a swinging mooring (£21.50 on our anchor!) it was time to leave the UK. Falmouth is beautiful and as the harbour master said, “we are the first and last port in the UK”. We picked a window meaning we had to motor the entire way to L’aberwac’h on the north Brittany coast, a trip of 101 miles which took 16 hours. We were given a word of caution by friends who’ve sailed the area we’re going into to be aware of the atlantic swell which persists even if there’s little wind, as the weather many hundreds of miles away in the open sea eventually reaches the end of the english channel. They weren’t wrong, with very little wind, the initial flat water became a constant 2 metre swell !
We were met by the harbour master in his RiB who pointed us to berth on the outer breakwater visitors section which wasn’t ideal as clearly the French have no speed limits to speak of, together with an unfavourable wind direction making our 2 nights there not as comfortable as we’d of liked. The price for the berth was 38 euros a night including electric, water and the marina facilities…. in our opinion the facilities were less than basic, with no toilet seats and a shower which provided 15 seconds of luke warm water before having to push the button again, meaning we didn’t use them. The tidal range here is huge too at 7 metres!
With a forecast of force 6/7 arriving later on 16th May, we decided with Charlottes’ approval as it was her birthday to leave L’aberwac’h and try to stay in front of it down to Camaret-sur-mer a trip of 34 miles through the chanel de four which is a tidal race through a very rocky section. With just the genoa up, we made good time at an average 7kts, the promised wind arrived just as we entered the marina! We wanted an alongside berth which would keep Silhouette off the pontoon, but with the wind at 25kts she decided where she wanted to go,luckily in a space big enough !!!
It looks like we’re here for a few days to allow the wind and swell to settle before heading on south towards Audierne & Concarneau.
We have also seen another ARC yacht called “Mares Tail” with Jonno & Ethna so introduced ourselves to them and of course had a drink ! They are doing the same as us in taking their time to get to the Canaries, they are doing ARC which is direct to St Lucia but we will no doubt see them again either on this side or certainly on the finish line.
The weather is very slowly improving, but still not shorts weather.
You can easily tell which yachts are cruising yachts, we think this picture says it all !!
We spent 3 nights in Dartmouth over the UK bank holiday and amazingly the weather was absolutely stunning, with wall to wall sunshine. Our next stop was Plymouth where we were to be reunited with our passports…. hopefully.
As part of the WCC arc+ fleet we receive a discount at the Mayflower marina of 50% for the first night or 10% off if staying for a much longer period. Our cruising budget is about average we think but it doesn’t stretch to staying in marinas for too long at £45-50 a night, this is why we have a big anchor!
When we arrived at Mayflower marina we noticed many of the shore lines were attached to old car tyres which were then attached by chain to the pontoons? We soon found out why. The main channel to the south is very busy with naval and commercial workboats which have their own minimum steerage speeds, this causes swell which reaches the marina. As we weren’t connected by tyres our shore lines snatched every time which was frustrating. That said the marina itself is very nice with a great chandlery on site.
We knew our passports were in a secure place, however it was a little worrying when the taxi driver said he’d never heard of the location ?!? We were going to get a bus but so pleased we didn’t as we would’ve never found it. The taxi driver was brilliant though and eventually we found the address and now have our passports with 10 year US visas attached 🙂
A weather front bringing strong/gale force winds has been forecast so we left Plymouth and actually “sailed” on to Falmouth having to put in 2 huge tacks though as the wind typically was coming from the exact direction we wanted to go. Out in the channel we found ourselves in the middle of some navy war games with about 6 vessels darting around and 2 very very fast jets “attacking” them. At one stage a destroyer made a charge for us and we felt like we were being lit up like a christmas tree !
We picked up a hitchhiker along the way, a pigeon landed on deck with what looked like a damaged wing and stayed there for most of the trip only leaving when I jumped on deck to bring in the mainsail. The “gifts” left on deck were memorable for all the wrong reasons….. he grabs a free lift and then craps everywhere !!!
So we are now in Falmouth on a harbour authority swinging mooring which costs £31 a night until the weather blows through in about 3 days. It is less to anchor but with a south and southeasterly blowing up there’s fewer safe places to anchor in calm water and we do get to use the very nice facilities block.
This is our last UK port!!!
Over 25 years of dreaming, 3 years of planning & preparation, we’ve only gone and done it !!!
Our leaving party last weekend was something to remember with about 140 family & friends there to share & celebrate a lifelong dream. We had a fantastic singer for the evening called Nina Garcia, Youtube her and we would thoroughly recommend her to anyone. With so many people to talk to and say goodbye, it was difficult to speak to everyone… if we missed you out we’re sorry. Our great friend Nick said a few words which brought tears to many, thanks for that Nick!
We went to the new US embassy in London to be interviewed for our B2 visas which went well. They keep our passports and they are being forwarded to a secure address in Plymouth. This is supposed to take about 7 days but they’ve turned it around in 2 so we know they’ll be in Plymouth before we arrive so no waiting around.
So on Thursday 3rd May we finally cut the lines and left our home port of Poole, with a mixture of excitement & nervousness as it all sank in. After a quiet night anchored in Studland bay we sailed (well motored actually) to Dartmouth….. WE’RE OFF !!!
Marinetraffic shows our track, the 74 miles taking just over 10 hours in smooth seas, Lyme bay was kind to us. We’re not purists, we’ll take motoring with no wind over a bash in a force 6 and above anyday !!
We haven’t been into Dartmouth for over 20 years so today with the sun shining, we’re going to explore……. not forgetting today is Caroline’s birthday !!!
April has been busier than March, and that was busy…. but we are now declaring Silhouette ready to go!
A very quick 4 days ashore for antifouling, anodes and making sure the rudder bearing we replaced last year was still firm (it is) along with fitting a disc rope cutter was all completed in wonderful sunshine and without a hitch, which was a relief. There are a number of small jobs we want to do but these can be done anywhere and it’ll be good to get going. As we were only out for 4 days, we paid to have Silhouette polished and are stunned at how well she looks. We were a bit worried when the crane got a bit close though….
A lovely couple, James & Bex berthed next to us for 3 weeks with their Moody 425 “Hepzibah” and we socialised with them until they left last week slowly heading off to the Med. They are exactly the people we want to meet and hopefully one day our paths will cross again, such is the cruising lifestyle, making friends and then sailing in different directions.
Last weekend we went to Steve & Helen from “Allegrini” leaving party at their home port in the Hamble, & they will be down this weekend to ours. A small affair of about 140 people !!! I think they’re coming to make sure we actually go.
Our departure has been delayed 4 days due to a bit of a cock up with our US visas. We thought our ESTA visas would be fine for when we enter US waters next year but have luckily just found out we need full B2 visas. 5 hours on the US website filling in the application forms with some truly odd questions and a website which continually crashes was “frustrating” and we now have interviews at their embassy next week. As long as this all runs smoothly we’ll leave Poole on the 3rd May heading firstly down to Dartmouth to collect our OCC membership papers & burgee, then onto Plymouth to collect our passports which the embassy keep for a few days. Caroline had the bright idea of getting our passports sent to where we are heading rather than delaying our departure another week waiting around! We’ve always used Boracol on the teak which is easy to use, but having seen another yachts teak after being treated we decided to do the same. The finish looks great, we’ll just have to see how long it lasts before needing doing again!
With preparations completed, the next entry will be “on the move”.
So here we are at the end of a very full month finished off nicely with the arrival of our ARC+ flag and handbook from the World Cruising Club. We raised the flag straight away to see how it looked… and why not!
With First aid, sea survival and diesel courses duly completed, the boxes are getting ticked off well and truly. All very necessary but I think the sea survival was the most eye opening. Throughout the course our instructor kept saying “don’t get into the liferaft”. What he meant was try everything to save the boat and keep trying. Having spent time with 7 other soaking wet people in a liferaft in a warm swimming pool, I can definitely agree.
Our next entry will bring us up to departure FINALLY !!