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Monday, 23 June 2014

Belon - Pornichet (4 June 2014)

The day after our visit to Chez Jacky we moved on to Locmiquelic in the L'Orient estuary. We have been there before and I had been in email contact with the lady in the Capitainerie in the hope that we could leave Whileaway there for  August.  The personal visit worked - contract for 5+ weeks from end July until early September agreed!
After a couple of days, last Friday we sailed to Port du Crousty at the entrance to the Morbihan. We were then only 30nm from Pornichet where we were to leave the boat so good progress. In contrast with the quiet Belon, Port du Crousty is very very busy, a bit "motorway services" I suppose! But the peninsular is very attractive with excellent rural and coastal cycle paths and on Saturday we cycled over 20m on our Bromptons.
Two more new harbours were planned before Pornichet.  Firstly another downwind sail, in light airs on a sunny Sunday late afternoon, to Le Croisic. This is another little navigational challenge as entry is restricted to around 4 hours either side of HW; in addition you have to carefully line up with leading marks on the shore to follow a channel. Most of the harbour dries but there are some moorings in a pool which has a minimum of about 1.5m of water. We picked an empty mooring and fought our way to it - now mid tide and it was coming in very fast - but we got our lines on. The Pilot says that all the moorings are locals but visitors can use vacant ones. Over the next three hours we watched as half a dozen boats returned, fortunately none for our mooring! Le Croisic is the "city of salt" as all around are sea salt pans as well as oyster and muscle beds. We have seen the pans before but not the town. It is very attractive with some fine old buildings, a number centuries old. Two small hills in the town are apparently formed of the ballast from 19 century ships that came to take away the salt.
The photo shows Le Paule (photographed from the Town) at LW and you may just be able to see the tractors of the muscle farmers on the exposed sand in the background.
Our next harbour was only a short 15nm down wind F4 sail away. But timing is even more cruical at La Baule/Le Pouliguen. The entrance is across a long sandy beach so I was keen to visit at high water the first time. There is a marked  channel but even at HW we only had 2m. A further question is that different Pilots suggest that the minimum depth on the Visitors pontoon was somewhere 1.2 and 1.5m. And we draw 1.4m. Apart from a rib, a sailing dinghy and a catamaran we had the pontoon to ourselves. And that night we had nearly 2m of water at LW. Le Pouliguen was quiet, a pretty old town but with newer blocks of flats on the sea front. Photo shows the channel at LW!
On Tuesday we had plenty of rain from mid afternoon. And early on Wednesday morning it was getting windy. We left around 0930 LT. Fortunately Pornichet was only 4nm across the bay but it was the windiest part of our trip, gusting to 33kn,  F6/7. We wouldn't usually go out in that! Good news was that Pornichet had our berth available and we arrived very quickly!

Ste Marine - Belon (27 May 2014)

Since our last update we have had mainly sunny weather and it has gradually warmed up.
From Ste Marine on the R Odet we had a pleasant 30nm down wind sail to another river, the Belon. Belon itself is a small quiet village up a river with a shallow bar at the entrance. Timing was important and we crossed the bar with about 1.5m under the keel about 3 hours before HW. Once across the bar there is plenty of water. The mooring that we had used before wasn't ideal with the strong tied running so went further into the village centre.  A local guy helpfully pointed us to a fore and aft mooring that was available for visitors.  On the opposite bank to the village is a famous sea food restaurant Chez Jacky. We decided to blow the budget and had probably the best ever plateau de fruits de mer. Superb Belon oysters, excellent crabs etc etc. And vg Muscadet sur Lie (Chateau) to go with it. Only snag was that by the time we left nearly 3 hours later, our dinghy was well aground so it took a bit of lifting and carrying across the silt and sand! (Photo from Belon with Chez Jacky beyond Whileaway).

Audierne - Ste Marine, River Odet (26 May 2014)

On Sunday the sun was out and on a lovely day with light winds we sailed south round the Pointe de Penmarc'h. One of our sailing books talks of entering a new warmer world when you come round that headland and it certainly felt like it yesterday. We were heading for Loctudy (about 10m W of Concarneau). Last year we called only to find the harbour closed for dredging! We passed the distinctive chequer board light which welcomes you to Loctudy (photo) and then discovered that this year the visitors pontoons were full of local's boats! The nearby harbour of Lesconil is being dredged and so all their residents were in Loctudy. Fortunately there were plenty of spare mooring bouys close by so we picked up one of them for the night. We were miffed though as we like Loctudy (and especially the fish market open morning and evening when the fishing boats come in) but we feel that the Harbour Master doesn't have a very "customer considerate" approach!
We did get to spend time watching the antics of the herons who had a nest with youngsters at the top of a very tall tree.
But on a brilliantly sunny morning today we gently cruised a very short distance across the bay to Ste Marine on the River Odet on the opposite bank to Benodet.
Today we have cycled along the long sandy beach to Ile Tudy and also popped across to Benodet on the small passenger ferry.
Our next stop as we carry on south will probably be the small village of Belon and then one of the harbours in the L'Orient estuary.
Lets hope that we are all now in for a spell of sunny weather.

Trebeurden - Audierne (24 May 2014)

We left Trebeurden last Wednesday bound for L'Aber Wrac'h on the NW corner of France. In my opinion that day showed that the French weather forecasters are not much of an improvement on their British counterparts! The "suggestion du jour" was E4 reducing to E2 in the afternoon. A very nice suggestion with a following wind. What we got was top end of NE4 to start then NE/E 5 and 6 from noon onwards including gusts to 33kn. As some of you know this north west corner is renowned for significant swell so we had that to cope with too!
The good news is that we sped along and did 52nm in 8 hours despite fighting the tide for the first 3!
What we did achieve for the first time was a passage through the channel between Ile Batz and Roscoff.  What Tom Cunliffe describes in the Shell Channel Pilot as a "rock strewn chamber of horrors". We have seen it (from above Roscoff) at low water with rocks and sand bars everwhere and agree! We passed through at high water, a flat sea and motor sailed. Very satisfactory and beats going around the outside of Ile Batz notorious for its rough seas and heavy swell.
We had planned just a night in L'Aber Wrac'h but strong winds suggested a longer stop.That day we had nearly 18 hours of rain!
On Friday morning we set off for the Chanel du Four, a major tidal and weather gate on the north west coast. As we left L'Aber Wrac'h we had heavy driving rain for about 20 minutes but that proved to be the last heavy rain of the day. We left in company with another British boat making the same passage. That NW corner of France is also renowned for heavy swell as is S of Cd4 and around the Raz de Sein 20nm on. The wind was soon at W4 later 5 but after about three or so hours, once we were in the Chanel, it eased considerably. We were planning to go to Camaret SW of Brest but made good  progress so decided to press on to see if we could get through the Raz, the second gate. We had heavy swell and gusty wind but got to the Raz just before the tide turned. A result! We then followed the coat round to the E to Ste Evette where there are moorings in the bay. There is also a river entrance to Audierne (where we had not been before). It was just after low water so we gingerly motored up a channel following leading marks. Despite what it said in the Pilot (dredged at least 1-2 m) it has silted. A few times we had just 0.5m below the keel and plenty of sand near us. But we made it to the harbour about 2nm upstream. So 60nm L'Aber to Audiern W4/5 occ 6. Nice town with plenty of suitable restaurants! (Photo)

On Saturday the weather was much improved and amongst other things we did an 8m return walk to the nearby town of Pont Croix listed as a "Petite Cite de Charactere" and very attractive it is.

Gosport - Trebeurden (20 May 2014)

We left Gosport at 0500 on Friday morning 16 May and after a quiet motor sailing crossing with little traffic (just 5 ships and 2 yachts sighted in 13 hours), 85nm later we tied up in Cherbourg. A bonus was that it was the weekend of the opening of their new marina - so a free stay for regular visitors! On Saturday morning we shopped in the market and saw their other weekend event - vintage American army vehicles as used on the liberation. And French dressed up in WW2 combat gear. They take the liberation of Cherbourg in late June 1944 seriously and this year is the 70th anniversary with a summer of events. We were moored next to a German boat in the marina but thought that we wouldn't mention the event!
On to Guernsey on Saturday afternoon and on a lovely sunny Sunday we enjoyed a day with friends Steve and Dot going over to Sark with a picnic on the boat.
Decided to move on yesterday and spent 11 hours getting to Trebeurden. All uneventful except for the last hour when we enjoyed a thunderstorm with the wind quickly reaching 30kn! We had not long got down the sails as the wind had diminished.
Photo shows a view of Trebeurden harbour at low water. We we enter between the green and red posts at mid tide and above. By then the sea level is about 4 metres higher than in the picture, a little above those square concrete platforms.
Decided to have a rest day today! So an enjoyable walk around the beach and on the hill above Trebeurden.
On to L'Aber Wrac'h or L'Aber Benoit tomorrow,  possibly Chanel du Four on Thursday.

Welcome to Whileaway

Welcome to news on Whileaway,
a Westerly Oceanquest 
sailed by Richard Kitson & Andrea Llewellyn

The cruises on this Blog include: 
Channel Islands, Brittany and the Biscay coast of France
North coast of  France, Belgium and the Netherlands (including the Standing Mast Route)
 The north of the Netherlands, East Frisian Islands and in the Baltic Sea, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.  

SSR 69025     MMSI 235075682