We both felt the need to relax and unwind following our eventful journey from the Azores. We chose Douarnenez because it offered a safe approach in the prevailing weather conditions. It could not have been more suitable as a resting place. We dropped anchor, and there it remained for 11 days!
As usual, one of our first priorities was to organise some internet access. None of the local wifi stations that were unsecured worked for us from the anchorage, well out from the shore. General opinion has it that SFR offers the best mobile connection deal, but a visit to the Tourist information shop revealed that they did not have a shop in the town. Instead I tried Orange, and came away with a SIM card without problem. Unfortunately, back on the boat, this did not want to work on my supposedly unlocked Vodafone dongle, causing the software to crash. The next day I was out again, this time investing in an Orange wifi hub, with yet another SIM card and a different number. Problem this time solved for the time being: it comes with 500MB credit only and Orange in France is relatively expensive compared with the deals we have grown used to on our travels.
|The harbour front at Rosmeur is lined with bars and restaurants|
Douarnenez is a pleasant town. It grew substantially in the 19th century on the back of Sardine fisheries, and a number of canneries that were opened in the town. Sardines, apparently, migrated from the Atlantic in their millions into Douarnenez bay, and the locals grew very adept at extracting them. The town still boasts a modern fishing port, and services for large fishing boats, but many of the canneries have now closed.
Our anchorage was in Port Rosmeur, in the bay to the east of the town, and sheltered by the breakwaters of the fishing harbour. The bottom shelves gradually up to the shore, and the inner part of the bay has many local small boat moorings, so when we arrived we were forced to anchor some distance off. This was not a problem, however, with the outboard. There was a launching ramp, used by the locals to launch their dinghies, have picnics, or generally amouse themselves, and this was accessable at all states of the tide. At the top, across the road, we found a fresh water tap. So the harbour really provided us with everything that we needed. We bought some diesel in cans from the marina: there is a credit card operated pump, but deliveries were limited to 69 euros, and the berth would have been awkward to get in to for Fuga, with a very short hose on the nozzle.
A trip to the market on a Saturday morning was educational. Our haversack full of fruit and vegetables set us back some 30 euros: everything was considerably more expensive than in Portugal. We didn't even look at the fish and meat, as we still have plenty of meals in the freezer.
Various things occupied our time. One afternoon we walked across the bridge, and along the riverbank to find the marina at Treboul. There is also Port Rhu a pool with a lock gate that opens near high water, in which there is a museum of old boats, as well as a number of local moorings. We walked back across the dam and over a lifting bridge, and so returned to the boat. Space in the marina looked very limited, and visitors were berthed on a pontoon outside. A Dutch friend sailing alone on the yacht next to us had paid 35 euros for a night there, and it was a much longer hike into town.
|Looking out towards the entrance of the river, Ile Tristan to the east|
the sill and foot bridge (passerelle) with boats moored in Port Rhu, with the marina beyond on the west side
|There is a museum with several old boats moored in Port Rhu|
Having broken the main halyard, and used it in place of the topping lift, we had to procure a new topping lift and run it in. The old one was worn. Unfortunately the lady in the chandlers cut the line at 27 metres, not 37, (although she charged for 37), so the job had to be done twice! Then the halyard had to be run back in using a mousing line dropped from the top of the mast: this was not easy as there was a fairlead below the sheave that made getting the weighted line in quite difficult.
On a trip to Lidl, at the commercial centre in Treboul, we luckily found a set of screwdrivers that included the special star shaped bit that we needed to take apart the VDO instrument that had become waterlogged. Luckily this was mainly with fresh water, and when it was reassembled after thoroughly cleaning and drying out in the sun, it worked again. We had found out about the Lidl when talking to a Dutch sailor who was waiting for weather to cross Biscay. It was quite a hike with haversacks, and during our time in Douarnenez we never saw a recognisable taxi.
Tuesday 21st was our 13th wedding anniversary, so we celebrated with a very pleasant meal in the restaurant Chez Fanch, opposite a more up market establishment on the front called Bord'eau. There were plenty of places to choose from, but we liked our choice of a little family run establishment, eating our meal outside on the pavement.
Several of the days were wet and windy, so were spent hunkered down on board. I reprinted some old Times Sudokus for Mo. Boredom was relieved on one occasion when Mo remarked on the water pump running. It proved to be the twice-repaired accumulator tank that once again was leaking. With our new water pump, the tank is supposedly unnecessary, so we simply removed it from the system, and it seems to work fine without. In addition, the generator was given an oil change or good behaviour.
Mo's son Dave in the end could not get away, partly down to a shortage of reasonable flights, and partly because he was unable to arrange for a cat sitter at short notice. We have also decided to make tracks for the UK so that we can organise a replacement rental property for the one in Oxford that we are hoping to sell. So the direction of travel is now northwards, not south!
We took advantage of the better weather, sunshine and light wind, to leave Douarnenez and head for Camaret. Despite the sun, which disappeared behind cloud halfway in any case, the wind was very cold. We beat our way slowly out of Douarnenex bay against a south westerly. Once we were around the Cap de la Chevre we were able to free up and made much faster progress inside the Rochers de Toulinguet and around to Camaret. We anchored in the bay to the north west of the port, in company with some others, and were joined by the Douanes Francais patrol boat. Tomorrow is an early start to catch the tide in the Chenal du Four.
We set the alarm, but I was awake long before it went off, so that we were up and left the anchorage at 0745hrs. The tide started to turn north at Pointe de S. Mathieu at 0800, if I had interpreted the web site correctly. It seemed fresh, and Mo suggested we put in a reef, but I declined to initially. Once we were clear of the sheltering land and had the first F5 gust, I changed my mind. It was dull and overcast. With the wind on our beam, we sailed rapidly out of the Brest estuary, and turned down wind up the first leg of the channel towards Le Four. It was uncomfortably close to dead astern but we made rapid progress with the tide under us. I went down for a rest, but could not sleep in the bows, particularly with the jib, now rolled, complaining about the down wind work. I had just emerged when the wind increased still more, and Mo announced that it was gusting F7, and we took in our second reef. The line snagged around the spinnaker pole, and its new toy, the topping lift jambing cleat we had just fitted, so that a trip on deck was necessary.
We settled down to a bacon and egg sandwich round, and a fast sail in mainly flat seas past Le Four and Ile Vierge. We reached the entrance to the channel south of Ile de Batz at 1600 hrs, and took down the main to slow our giddy progress a little, continuing with the jib alone.
I had wondered about anchoring clear of the ferry landing pontoon, off Roscoff, where we should be adequately sheltered. My mind was made up for me by a ferry, as we negotiated the narrow channel trying to identify successive beacons, some of them little more than perches mounted on concrete bases, virtually invisible at high tide. The ferry appeared approaching from ahead, from around the jib, travelling quite fast towards us. I had very little time to assess it, and I could not tell which way he intended to pass us. Mo thought, and afterwards it was perhaps clear from his actions, that he intended to avoid us passing us on his starboard side. I decided at short notice that I didn't know what he was doing, so executed a sharp turn to starboard, expecting him to twitch to starboard also. Instead, he went to port, ensuring that a collision was nearly inevitable. Fortunately we had the engine ticking over, so I executed a crash starboard U-turn, with the jib backing, as he went by behind us, no doubt swearing about the incompetence of British yachties. After that, anchoring near his berth became unthinkable!
We had planned to anchor because it seemed churlish to break our near unbroken month without using a marina. Roscoff now has a new Port de Plaisance, but it precedes our Pilot book and we have no details for it. Rather than go up river towards Morlaix, I picked out a bay just east of Primel-Tregastil, and set up a route to that. We unrolled the jib again, and set off. We had not been going long when we encountered a large British ketch. She was anchored in the channel close upwind of the Plateau de Duons, off Roscoff. We were wondering what she was up to there, as she appeared to be lying stern to the weather, as if caught by her stern gear, when the rib from the marina appeared. We were glad we did not have to stop and try to help, but continued a wondering for some time. We found our selected anchorage off a beach was delightful and pretty, and had no problem dropping in 8 metres. As the tide fell, rocks appeared in various places, but none of them were alarming.
We set off in relaxed fashion, after breakfast, and enjoyed our sail in reasonably good conditions. The wind was from the south, so we considered one or two of the smaller anchorages en route. As it was, we made good enough progress so bypassed Treguier, and made for Loguivy, a fishing village at the entrance of the Trieux river that leads to Lezardrieux.
Having anchored there, we were completely surrounded by land and rocks on all sides, with Ile de Brehat to our north. It was sufficiently calm and peaceful to enjoy drinks and supper in the cockpit. Quite unusual for this abysmal year!
|The rocks that appeared beside us|
We were anchored between the rocks and the fishing boat on the right!
Overnight we had suffered from some graunching on rocks and the occasional snatch of the anchor chain, and we had both looked out to check that we were still in situ. So we were somewhat horrified when around breakfast time, some rocks started to emerge on our port side, not much more than a boat's length away. There was still quite an ebb yet to come. When we had anchored, I looked for the right depth, and had 'scouted around' with the depth sounder, not detecting any trouble, and had anchored as close to a small fishing 'barge' as I could. However, we had 45m scope of chain laid out, because of the 6m rise and fall of the tide, in addtion to our anchoring depth. We were lucky we had not encountered the rocks at low tide overnight, with the strong wind blowing.I had not re-checked our actual anchoring position on the computer chart before we had 'closed down' the evening before, otherwise we would have seen we were too close to a rocky outcrop.
We got the anchor up, and moved smartly to deeper, and we hoped rock free water.
We had planned to stay overnight to allow for the passage of a forecast weather front. It was grey, and blew, but there was only limited rain, but it was sufficient to put us off launching the dinghy to go ashore.
We reckoned on a fairly fast sail to Guernsey, with fresh WNW winds veering NW later. We did not have a tidal atlas at all, so I relied on a look at a web site that we had found, so it was a question of taking some snapshots, making a note of the main stream, and hoping that I had the time zone correct. This research suggested a lateish start at 1200 hrs, when there would still be a little ebb left, before the flood set in. I hoped this would give us some advantage, planning to route west of Les Roches Douvres. In my mind's eye the course for Guernsey was around 050.
As a certain mariner friend of ours would say, my approach is perhaps a bit too casual. When the course was set up, the leg to clearLes Roches Douvres by one mile was 018, and even the subsequent leg was only 042. I almost gave in and set out east of the rocks, but that would have put us at more of a disadvantage later, when the wind could veer. Equally, we found we could only just fetch the course to clear the rocks, and the tide set eastwards before we got there, setting us down onto the rocks. The one mile planned clearance was not enough, and was reduced to only half a mile as we skidded around the dangers. After that, it was all much more relaxing, but the tide actually sets south east into the bay, so in order to get to Guernsey, we still had to head up, slowing us down both in boat speed and our course over the ground. In the end we were shy of St. Martin's point, and had to motor back across the Grand Bank at the entrance to the Little Russell.
We anchored in Havelet Bay, next to a Dutch yacht. This time we checked the chart afterwards, and deemed ourselves too close to the rocks, so reanchored, but not before we had been told we were too close. To the yacht or the rocks, we wondered. We anchored then between two more Dutch yachts, one of whom came up to the cockpit to give us the evil eye. We stayed and ate on board.
In the morning we motored into the harbour, and filled up with diesel, then went alongside one of the visitor's pontoons in the harbour. We were able to get ashore, and visited the chandlery, buying some new mooring lines and some tidal atlases. We enjoyed a meal ashore at a restaurant on the front called Saint Emilion, but run by a hospitable Italian.