On our way to Brittany at last

July 1st Haslar to Newtown 23nm logged

By the time we would be ready, the tide would be against us, and we initially thought we might simply head for Cowes. In the end we beat our way up the Solent, keeping inshore past Ryde and Wooton to keep out of the tide, then across to Lepe, before tacking back to the island side.

We anchored in Newtown, to sit out the next three days of indifferent weather.

July 2nd-4th, Newtown River

We have stayed here anchored at my favourite spot in Clamerkin lake. The weather has been pretty diabolical for July, with wind, cloud and spats of rain. It has only blown 4 or 5, with an occasional 6, from the west, but makes progress seem unnatractive. There is a much more settled forecast from Friday 5th. Every day, the harbour master from the National Trust comes around collecting mooring fees from those on buoys, and twice now he has stopped to invite our donation. The fee for a buoy here now is 15 a night for a boat of our size.

Of course, the attraction of Newtown is that there is nothing here, and it remains unspoilt as it has been for over 60 years. The birds clamour, and the tide ebbs exposing mud flats and oyster beds, and then it gets covered up again, every day, twice a day. We will not be here when the hoards arrive at the weekend!

Mo has been polishing the cockpit and making a very good job of it. I have been fighting the collective forces of Microsoft, Vodafone and 3. Vodafone because the phones don't work here because they get confused between 2G and 3G. 3 because I ran out of data allowance. Still now all is restored.

July 5th, Braye Harbour, Alderney 80nm logged

We left our anchorage at 0800 hrs, bucking the tide until it turned at Hurst around 0900 hrs. We kept inshore to keep out of the tide until we were past Yarmouth. There was no wind at all, so we were forced to motor. Despite the sunshine, it was cold and the visibility was poor. The crossing was fairly uneventful and we were able to sail for a while. Unbelievably we had a crossing incident with a cargo vessel, and to judge from his reaction when we called him up he had not seen us. I said that I would manoevre out of his way, but he was by then already executing a hard starboard turn. We turned away and rounded his stern, as he resumed course. The final approach to Braye worked well, taking advantage of the remains of the eastgoing tide until we reached the inshore stream along the north coast of the island. We anchored on the south of the harbour, inshore from a north cardinal mark, along with another yacht. I was a bit concerned when at low tide, a rocky head popped up not far from our route into the anchorage.

July 6th, Alderney

The plan had been to take the tide down to St. Peter Port, but in the morning there was nothing to be seen: the yacht nearby, and some fishing floats, but the beach inshore, the quay, and all the other boats in the harbour were shrouded in fog. We did pick up our anchor, and went towards the entrance, meeting more sensible folk coming in the opposite direction. Although we had the instruments to do it, it would have been a bit hair-raising and would have required a constant lookout.There was no wind either. So we returned to the anchorage, and after listening to the ladies finals at Wimbledon with the fog clearing, we took the dinghy ashore for a walk and a drink.

July 7th, St. Peter Port, Guernsey 18.5 nm logged

We set off as the tide set down the Swinge off the harbour entrance. There was little wind to start with, and we motored in the sunshine. The swirls and eddies showed the effect of the tide over the uneven bottom. The wind filled in a bit, and we were mostly then able to sail apart from a short period in the middle. The wind instruments seem to be not working properly, presumably a seagull has been visiting. We tied up on the visitors pontoons, and watched the last half of the men's final at Wimbledon. We then went ashore to get some fresh bread, pizzas, and a little wine to wash them down with.

July 8th, Trieux River 49 nm logged

The fishing boat with whom we had the entanglement
with fish farm and yachtin background
We left St. Peter Port at 1030. This was later than intended, but we had discovered that the bilges were awash with water. Some of this we expected, from our usual overflow from filling up, but the engine bed was also full of fresh water. Our mini portable bilge pump has been indisposed for some time, so we had to sponge it out. The water was coming from aft, and while I had been in denial, Mo had known we had a leak from the occasional buzz of the water pump. We had then filled up with diesel.

The tide was setting to the west inshore, so we headed along the coast. We soon had to put in a reef as the wind freshened. Our plan was to clear Les Roches Douvres leaving them to port, and we expected to be there as the tide started to run back south east. Having had a little too much wind, we then had too little for a while, and motored. It was certainly the wrong kind of wind, being chilly, and right up the chuff, never our favourite.

Once past Roches Douvres, we continued running on the same course, as close to the wind from astern as we could. We anticipated that we would be carried east, headng for the Isle de Brehat. As we finally approached the run in to the Trieux river, we were heading for La Horaine, but being carried by the tide at such a rate that I had to motor hard to keep us out of the reefs and heading towards the river. I thought about my father, who ventured this far in Roamer in the 50's with no depth sounder, a Walker log, a hand bearing compass, pencil, parallel rules and a funny thing called a chart. Roamer was 32 foot loa (including bowsprit and bobstay), a canoe sterned bermudan sloop, with an old Gray petrol engine that I suppose gave her about 4 knots under power.

I had hoped to find room to anchor in Port de la Corderie, on the west side of the island, but found it obstructed with moorings. If we anchored outside the moorings with the scope we would need, we would be very exposed. The anchorage on the south side would be exposed to the easterly wind, so a change of plan was called for, and we headed for the river itself. Under the first leg, sheltered from the easterly, there was an attractive looking bay, albeit obstructed by a fish farm, some moored yachts, and a large fishing boat on a mooring. Bearing in mind the 7m range of tide, we needed about 11m to anchor in, and would need to use at least 40m of chain. I did my best to position us, but Mo was just a little concerned about the moored fishing boat about a boat's length away outside us.

We went to bed listening to the graunching of the chain and the wind, and eventually got off to sleep. It was around 0300, when the tide had changed with more attendant graunching noises , that I got up for a pee. The fishing boat was being very friendly, and her bow was right outside the heads window. Somehow, she was now on the inside of us, and we were on the outside, locked together with mooring and chain entwined, as the flood tide was gathering pace. We got up, got dressed, moved some fenders, although fortunately our mate was well fendered up with tyres. More by luck than judgement we were able to fend off, and motor astern to get away from her unwanted attentions, initially the wrong way, so that our chain held us against her mooring, and then the opposite way, extracting our anchor from under and behind her. We motored up river in the dark, trying to decipher the lights as we went, until we found a reach where we could anchor for the remainder of the night!

July 9th, Morlaix 47 nm logged

We left our anchorage and set off down the river. We headed west to skirt Les Heaux, but we were again surprised by the spring tides setting us in towards the rocks. Our route took us inside Les Sept Isle, and we gybed down avoiding the various hazards. The original intention was to head in to Lannion for the night, but as we were making good progress, a case could be made for going up to Morlaix, as conveniently we could get there with a little time to spare before the tide would carry us up the drying river. A day off would enable us to attend to some jobs. It also meant that we could hopefully find an Orange shop to get our internet connection going again.

We arrived at the lock uneventfully, just in time for the first of the three locks, an hour and a half before high tide. There were three other yachts and a tripper boat locking in with us. The berthing master was delightful and helped us into a berth next to a Super Marimu, where we just fitted.

July 10th, Anchored south of Isle de Batz 10 nm

I paid the bill, and the other berthing master gave me directions to the Orange shop and to Intermarche. After breakfast we set off. As luck would have it the Orange shop was almost empty when I arrived, but no sooner than I had begun to try to explain my problem when it filled up with impatient customers. I had had issues last year, and ended up buying two SIMs. Now the one that had worked was defunct, and the one that hadn't appeared to be ok. He instructed me to go to a tabac and buy a recharge, which we accordingly did. After visiting Intermarche, we returned to the boat, but trying everything I could think of I could not make the connection work. So after lunch I went back to the shop, and finally convinced him there was an issue. The only solution, it appeared, was to buy a third SIM!

Back on the boat, the internet worked. There was time to visit the chandlery before heading up the mast to inspect the wind vane, which was now not working at all most of the time. There appeared to be nothing wrong with it mechanically, and the connections looked good.

At Morlaix, with new official hat

We took the first lock out, the only boat in the lock this time. Most of the river is marked by buoys showing the channel, but near the top there are transit posts on the bank showing the line you should follow. These are positioned for boats going up river, but you have to look back to see where to go down river: tricky when you also want to look where you are going. We strayed off the line, and ran hard aground! There seemed to be a slight flow down river, although in theory it was not yet high tide, and for a while panic and despondency ruled. This was not the place to spend the night on our side! We managed to wriggle off with a lot of engine and rudder, and regained the channel where our original track up river indicated it would be!

We needed somewhere to anchor for the night. With the strong easterly wind forecast I fancied that behind the Ile Callot, in the Penze river, would provide good shelter. I had picked up somewhere that with sufficient rise of tide, there was a short cut between Morlaix and the Penze river, past Carentec. Accordingly I laid a route of waypoints leading across the drying sands to the Pass Aux Moutons, mindful that we would be crossing at the top of a spring tide... My French isn't that good, but is a Mouton an old sheep? We made it through the chicane of beacons, and set out across the bay, as the depths slowly decreased. We then had to weave our way through a mass of small boats moored. I was on the point of bottling out at 0.7m under the keel when the depths started to increase again, then at last we were in the river and had sufficient to float at low tide. (Later I saw that this channel dries 6.2m - the predicted height of HW was 8.5m so too close for us). However, now we had made the effort, the wind was actually blowing from nearer north, and the proposed anchorage was quite untenable! Accordingly, we set up our course to take us past the new marina at Bloscon, and into the Chenal d'Ile de Batz, where we anchored behind the island in company with a handful of other yachts. We kept in relatively deep water, and were mindful of what we presumed were nearby fishing floats (but which later proved to be moorings!).