Sunday 31 July 22
I am ahead of my plan, now already in Brittany, that was not intended, but so what. The weather conditions were ideal, even if the wind didn’t often stick to the forecast. Now I have at least 3 days of westerly wind here, and so there is a break in this beautiful place.
I met a number of very nice people in Cherbourg, topic of conversation my boat (petit bateau) and after the where from and where to, my trip to Spain. It is very international here, represented: Yachts from Sweden and Norway, from England, quite a few from Germany and of course from the Netherlands and Belgium. Cherbourg is also the port on the way from east to west and vice versa. In addition, I had a long chat at the Bureau du Port, because the pleasant woman wanted to speak German. Here they are multilingual really.
Unfortunately, the conditions for my way west are still good, light wind from the north, the possibility of rounding the cape to the west at current just starting and not hot. I left a bit late, unfortunately. The current was already running well to the west from Cherbourg and there are still 13 miles (ca. 21 km) to the tip. At the Cap, I had a good 6 knots of current in my direction.
The buoys are fast
and amica too. You can see it at the top right corner, SOG 11.2 nm/h
The Raz Blanchard was moderate compared to the Raz Pointe de Barfleur.
Now? Yes, actually, I wanted to go to Dielette, but I would arrive there at low tide. You can’t get into the harbour until 3 hours later, so around 7 pm. I’d be in Guernsey at the same time. Off to Guernsey. Again, the wind goes to zero, after the Cap it was hardly any better. Only I was able to sail again shortly before Guernsey. Everything is expensive on Guernsey that has always been the case. Many things don’t work or work badly. When I want to pay my harbour-dues, the harbourmaster threw several times his beautiful iPhone on the counter because the connections broke off. I’d rather not say a word about the sanitary facilities. Fortunately, a suitable wind direction forecast for tomorrow, and the wind was supposed to remain moderate. I just sail again straight away. I can’t afford Guernsey.
48 nautical miles to Lezardriaux. There is no suitable current on the route, always across, sometimes also across against. Halfway there was a rock (Plateau des Roches Douvres) in the water, with a tower on it and some flat spots around it. It was no problem with a plotter. From here on, the wind freshened up to 5 Bft. I reefed in time and was able to keep the course to the mouth of the Triaux well, the sheets a bit slack off. The current first set to the west and then strongly to the east shortly before the entrance. I could see it very well later on marinetraffic.com.
Unfortunately, I had to pass between the rocks closed-hauled wind, now by at least 6 Bft jet. The main thing was not to hit any rocks by this strong current. However, I knew there would be cover in a moment; I could drop the sails in sure place. In the narrow inlet towards Lezardriaux, the wind was gone and AIS was not received anywhere. Briefly about AIS: I switch off my AIS 15 to 30 minutes before reaching a port. On my plotter, everything is black, black triangles overlapping. It becomes a bad habit to keep running the AIS in harbour. There seems to be an increased danger of collision at the berth. Out at sea, it makes sense, although off the Belgian coast everything sometimes went black. Now there are simply too many transmitters.
Tuesday, 9 August 22
The days at land are increasing, not always wind and water, currents, swell, rocks and the favourable northeast wind. I’m slowly arriving in France, Brittany is simply beautiful. Admittedly, first, it was the westerly wind, that kept me in Lèzardrieux and now the northeast wind is a bit too strong here at the tip of Finistère. So, I finally found the time to look around at land. In Lèzardrieux, I couldn’t miss or ignore the enormous tidal range of almost 9 m. The way up the bridge at low tide is exhausting, and I wasn’t the only one snorting.
The bridge at high water
The bridge at low water
Harbour with gate at high water
Harbour with gate at low water
Sometimes it is very exhausting to go 2 hours by foot here, I haven’t been used to so much up and down for a long time. Besides the Breton architecture, there were always exotic plants to discover.
Flowers, growing along the road
Oh yes, and the banana, which I had already discovered in 2018, was still there. But I suspect these are already the offspring.
At the pontoon I had a French yachtsman as neighbour, who spoke perfect German, his mother comes from Germany. Quickly we got into conversation, and I was able to learn some French, but above all, I was able to acquire a few technical terms related to sailing.
Here the nearest harbours are all not very far apart, unfortunately, they have the problem, only being accessible around high tide. When I asked, I found out that most sailors only sail a little in front of the harbour. Even the people at the Bureau du Port shrugged their shoulders, when I asked them, how to get to the port of Perros Guirec from here. With the current, that much was clear to them, then you have to wait hours outside the harbour until enough water has risen again. Exactly not practicable, especially with an onshore north wind. I cancelled Perros and chose Roscoff as my destination, which is almost 50 nautical miles away. What’s more, I couldn’t leave until midday, because the current then heading west.
The forecast north wind was, of course, more north-west and so it was a case of keeping the sails tight and sailing a long beat high to the wind. It was rough, pitching and a bit wet. Halfway past behind Les Sept-Îles, the wind shifted to NNE and then the rest to Roscoff went very quick, also thanks to the now clearly noticeable current. The rocks in the way always make navigating exciting.
There was finally the longed-for northeasterly wind to Aber Wrac’h, I only had to get half a mile up to behind Île de Batz, wet again of course, and then it was a half-wind’s trip. The current weak despite the near tip of Brittany, the wind was also decreasing. The last hour to the entrance to Aber Wrac’h the outboard was necessary; otherwise, I would still have counter-current. There was also a short visit of some dolphins, classic with close company at the boat. They managed to land a few splashes on deck with their jumps. It would have been nice to film or photograph these cute friends, but swells from the northwest of about 1 m and swells from the northeast about 0.5 m left me no time to do so. It was quite a tiring steer, letting go of the tiller was not an option.
amica in Aber Wrac’h
The Alps in the water, 4 km away
Beautiful bay, also for anchoring
Every Breton lives by fishing
Then there is the “Grand Phare de l’Ile Vierge”, the highest lighthouse in Europe. If you define the freestanding construction as a criterion, then it is even the highest in the world. However, it was far away from my course, and you can’t reach it by foot, it stands on the Ile de Vierge. Of course, the Bretons don’t miss the opportunity to open up the tower to tourists. The ferry leaves directly from my berth on the other side of the pontoon, several times a day.
Tuesday, 16 August 22
One week later and now in the heart of South Brittany. The two difficult Caps, Chenal du Four and Pointe du Raz are done. They didn’t impress me a bit, despite high Coeff, which means actually a strong current. However, my plan was always to go through these passages towards the end of the current.
I was able to sailing out of L’Aber Wrach and film the Grand Phare in the middle of the rocks. Appropriately, there was a light haze, so that the rocks looked even more threatening. However, after an hour, there was no more wind for several days. So another trip under motor, because I had to be out of the Chenal before the current tipped. It almost worked, the last half hour I had counter-current at the Pointe de St.-Matthieu to Brest. Then the current returned with me to Camaret-sur-Mer.
Dolphins were my constant companions. It was too bad that I always drove under motor power. If they came very close to the boat, it was only for a short time. Obviously, they don’t like the noise. Too bad, I couldn’t take any good pictures.
There’s one jumping behind, but you have to have a big screen to see it.
I didn’t find Camaret-sur-Mer very inviting, very expensive, no special sanitary facilities. And yes, this is where the transients meet to cross the Bay of Biscay to Spain. So once again, here are represented all the sailing nations. Taking pictures I thought was a waste of time, so I left early in the morning.
Once again the high rocky coast, now it’s getting flatter.
Between the rocks to Pointe du Raz
Pointe du Raz is quite peaceful, and if you look closely, someone is sailing between the rocks. He must know this place very well.
This is what the Bay of Biscay looks like looking towards Spain. Certainly by wind, the water will be more agitated, but such a persistent calm is already an enormous amount.
In front of Audierne I have to take amica at a waiting buoy, the entrance is very shallow. But at half-tide you can sail in there. Berthing are a bit of a pain to get to, there’s current underneath and not a little. The place is certainly very nice, but now it’s too hot for me to go ashore. So it’s off again early the next morning. Early means between 7 and 8 a.m. You have to bear in mind that sunrise is almost an hour later than in Hamburg.
Unfortunately the morning breeze also only lasted an hour, but still, an hour of sailing on the way to Pointe de Penmarc’h. Now distances are not long, always less than 30 nm. So I can afford to sail at 3 knots. After high water, the current always goes south or east. So there was still a comfortable 1.5 knots of current to support us.
However, I soon wanted to say to the dolphins: Eh, leave me alone for once. Again and again there were short visits, unfortunately so short and so fast that I had no chance to turn on the camera.
If you are rounding the tip to Loctudy, the buoys have to notice very carefully and have to round at a distance. Shoals of 2 m generate respect, because you always have to consider swell. So don’t take any shortcuts, it could end badly.
The two sides of the entrance to Loctudy. Here, too, I did not venture ashore. The day of arrival was really too hot, 34 degrees, with pure sunshine to boot. The second day, after a thunderstorm night, continuous rain and drizzle. Fortunately, there were dry spells on the day of departure, and I was able to get petrol at the Carrefour with the help of a borrowed bicycle. Yes, many supermarkets often have petrol stations, and they are of course cheaper than filling up directly at the port.
I was able to cover half the distance to Concarneau under sail. Well, that were only 14 nautical miles. During the night, the thunderstorm low-pressure system over Brittany did what it was supposed to do. There was thunder, lightning and finally lots of rain. It forecasted to last for 3 days. Let’s see, because the wind and wave forecasts are often wrong. The announced 3-4 Bft mostly I had only a short time and 1.2 m of wave height were exaggerated, in reality it was 0.3 m at the most. Here in Concarneau all hell breaks loose. I haven’t seen so many (land) tourists in a long time. And I don’t think the town is so nice. In addition, the L’Amiral is a disappointment. Crime fans should know this restaurant – Commissar Dupin.
I always love the kind of buoys.
Friday, 26 August 22
The journey along southern coast of Brittany was very humid. The wind direction, if there was a breeze at all, always westerly. So there was fresh air from the Atlantic with a relative humidity of mostly 80%. Often it rained, but that never meant a fundamental change in the weather, despite the thunderstorms. In addition, there was so little wind, so, that there were only few wind seas and hardly any swell.
Since the last two ports, I am no longer in Brittany, but in the region of Pays de la Loire – Dèpartment Loire-Atlantique. I only noticed that by chance; scenically, this is similar to southern Brittany. Only not quite as high. Oh yes, they no longer fly the Breton flag at the stern or as a guest country flag under the spreader.
I told you about a lot of land tourism in Concarneau, this kind of tourism increased from place to place. Many ferries go to the islands and in many restaurants; you can hear English and German as well as French. Within this fantastically beautiful landscape, I’m not l surprised of it. Also, sailing tourism increased, but is lost on land; you only notice it on the sea. Sometimes it reminds me of high season in Denmark.
Last pictures of Concarneau – L’Amiral
Les Halles – The fish market
From Concarneau, I treated myself to a real rainy trip to the island of Groix, because a good wind from the southwest forecast. I even had to reef the sails at the beginning. After an hour it calmed down and the wind dropped to 3-4 Bft. Finally, I was able to experience a nice swell from slightly astern. The rain felt very warm, you could probably stand in it for hours. Under the oilskins it was also damp due to the heat.
Halfway to the Ile de Groix I had a very special experience, I was visiting a large group of dolphins. Yes, that’s the right way to put it: it wasn’t the dolphins who visited me, it was me who visited them. I passed them by without them taking any notice of me. They were busy. From a distance I could see a circle into which seagulls kept diving. As I got closer, I saw that many dolphins were swimming and jumping around the circle. Obviously, they herded together a shoal of small fish, where the gulls found enough to eat. Words can hardly convey how impressive this was. Sometimes I think you have to experience something like that yourself, you can’t convey it, not even pictorially. Or you are a professional animal filmmaker.
And then the Ile de Groix. Because of the low coeff, the actually larger inner harbour could not be entered. Outside the few berths at the pontoons of course already occupied and all those who still came in forced to moor to a buoy in the outer harbour (Avantport), in a packet of three or four boots. Well, whoever has a dinghy then, we’re able to go onshore. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with my small boat. I had nothing from the Ile de Groix.
The weekend was coming up; I set off early in the morning against the trend to a land port: Haliguen on the Quiberon peninsula. Once again with the help of the outboard motor. The original plan was to go to Belle Ile. But the situation in the harbour is similar to that on the Ile de Groix. I don’t want to lie at a buoy, even though there could certainly be a ride ashore. On the way back next year, I will visit the islands out of season.
The Ile de Groix in the early morning.
A castle by the sea, are we already at the Loire?
Shoal buoy north 5 metres north of the shoal.
Seamarks always fascinate me.
In Haliguen I regretted my poor knowledge of French. In the harbour, many people came by to take a closer look at my boat, obviously they wanted to know a lot. Unfortunately, they couldn’t speak English either, you can’t describe everything with your hands and feet. I only understood that they were excited about the wood, and they assumed that this boat was a traditional boat. The pendulum technique of the wind steering system remained a mystery, I just can’t explain it in French. So it remained with “jolie bateau” and also they understood my route from Hambourg to Espagne.
Always in the morning it was very fresh, mainly wet. Usually it took until noon to dry off, it is a sea climate. That’s why I couldn’t sail half the day in shorts and a T-Shirt. The wind should shift to east or north again. On the trip to La Turballe, there was a nice, albeit weak wind from …. west. So what, I covered 25 nautical miles in six and a half hours. Normally I manage 30 to 35 nautical miles. I have time and allow myself many days in port.
La Turballe is a lonely place, no land tourism and the few berths prevent the onslaught of visitors. During two days, there were a maximum of 20 guest yachts in the harbour. Nevertheless, this place has its charm. What was the saying: In the most beautiful places in the world, long-distance sailors repair their boats. For a few days now, I have been trying to get my log clean, inside and out. So far, not with much success, the displayed values are far away from reality. I always have my GPS data to check. Probably I can’t avoid a dive, because with my Gopro I saw that a whole meadow is growing around the paddle wheel. That has to go away.
amica in La Turballe
Again, the 14 miles to Pornichet there is no wind. I had still quite bravely put on the big genua, in the hope of a little breeze. It lasted 20 minutes, then I had to start the outboard engine. Folding the genua takes the same time, when you’re on your own. If I don’t have anything to report about sailing, I’ll let pictures of the area speak for themselves now.
Life at the Atlantic
Tourism like in the Mediterranean
The only big beach with the corresponding buildings
Always-beautiful corners – Penchatteau
The rough charm of the rocks, you always have to navigate well or you are a local.
Impressive thunderstorm cell, but it only grazed. Later that night, finally there was a lot of rain.
Castles built here too.
Absolutely, I had to sail the next 15 nautical miles to Pornic, the port where Barbara like to come aboard. The big genua used again by northeasterly winds of 2 to 4 Bft, so sometimes I was going fast and sometimes slow.
I allowed myself the fun of sailing close under land between rocks. It took me an hour to cross the Loire estuary. Sometimes the wind was just a bit too little.
Storm surges don’t happen here, but I wondered if big Atlantic swells break on the beach, whether they get a flushing into their rooms when the windows are open. Probably, I think, they will not open anything during a storm.
Shortly before Pornic, I introduced to come to a beautiful place. Tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the place. Barbara be here until the day after tomorrow, and then she’ll have to acclimatize. There will be quite a few port days here.
Tuesday, 13 September 22
I’m sitting here in more than 30 degrees and taking care of image editing and video editing! I’m already doing this halfway routinely, but writing doesn’t work so well with a muddy brain. I’m beginning to long for different weather. Almost sunshine all the time and temperatures up to 30 degrees, even when it rains, you lose touch with the weather. It can be quite different here.
The last two weeks were often too warm, only in the morning did I like to move. I was just thinking about the last time I had 20 degrees or less: not at this summer, if you don’t count the nights. We got used to it a bit, but Barbara also took note of the power of the sun.
On Sunday, suddenly Barbara appeared at the harbour after her last report from Hamburg airport. And of course right away in the glaring midday sun. Then we spent four days together in Pornic and at least I only dared to leave the shadows until 11 am. Therefore my pictures were all taken early in the morning. Barbara also took notice of the power of the sun.
The way to the centre of Pornic
The inner harbour at high water
At low water with relatively solid seabed
The land of castles and palaces
And many small alleys
On Thursday, we noticed the drop in petrol prices (from €2.20 to €1.80) and filled up the tanks before leaving the harbour. Low season begins at 1 September and harbour dues drop by a good 25 per cent, well, but what do the petrol prices have to do with it? No matter, after L’Herbaudiere at the northern tip of the Ile de Noirmoutier, we had to run the outboard.
Because of the light wind, we planned to stay two days in L’Herbaudiere, but it turned out to be ten. The wind shifted to a southerly direction, which is where we like to go, and at times there were thunderstorms and gusts. This was nothing to sail against. But this island is a dream, you can stay here for longer.
Beautiful walks and hikes around the northern tip and to Vieil didn’t leave us bored. We also visited the centre of the island, Noirmoutier en Ile, by free bus.
Port L’Herbaudiere in the morning
The road to the harbour
The harbour entrance
Northern tip with the Ile du Plier
Noirmoutier harbour entrance
North beach on the way to Le Grand Vieil
Le Grand Vieil
We decided to head back towards the land after 10 days against weak E to S and at the same time to come a bit south. Hence our destination Saint-Gilles-Croix-de Vie. Of course, the wind shifted exactly to the southeast and reached 3 Bft now and then. Under motor, it was doable, but still a bit agitated, and it took an hour longer than planned.
Now the heat wave is coming back, south of here it goes up to 36 degrees. The final cooling is predicted, but I won’t believe it until it actually happens. At least the orca problem seems to be coming to an end (https://www.orcaiberica.org/last-interactions). This is now a very serious story; they sank two boats this year.
Sunday, 24 September 22
The last 11 days marked by decisions. Barbara has already left Les Sable d’Olonne and headed home via Nantes. Due to the longer stay on the Ile de Noirmoutier, Bilbao or Santander were unfortunately out of the question. It was no longer possible. All other possibilities turned out to be too rote. Good, now I’m on my own again.
The whole coast from Saint-Gilles-Croix de Vie, via Les Sable d’Olonne to La Rochelle is mark by regatta sailing. You simply can’t overlook it. After all, Croix was the home of Mr Beneteau and it is still the site of the shipyard of the same name, which founded in 1884. Even though we are primarily only familiar with sailing boats of this brand, the big market is certainly fishing boats. Well, Mr Beneteau started out with fast fishing boats. Today, Beneteau has also landed in fast sailing boats.
For example the Figaros
Les Sable is the starting point of many big regattas, the Vendee Globe, the Minitransat with the Pogos and currently the Golden Globe Race. This is an all-round world regatta with the conditions of having no electronic devices on board, the only exception being radio. Other conditions are, it must be a long keeler with a length between 9.75m and 11m, built before 1988, so classic old yachts. This is how Sir Robin has decreed it. After all, 16 participants set out on the journey who mastered navigation with sextants. Respect!
The big Vendee Globe picture at the harbour
And there is Boris Herrmann from Hamburg.
In Les Sable we did some more exploring together. There is also a town and historical sights to see here.
A Pogo in the entrance
Harbour entrance Les Sable
A wide view of the glittering Atlantic at the long breakwater
The rippling Atlantic
Prieuré Saint-Nicolas – Eglise Artistique des Sables d’Olonne
Also used as a fortress
And I used the break in Les Sable to get my amica fit again. At the top of the list was a new echo sounder, or the central unit. For some time now, the depth display had been going bye-bye. I hoped that replacing the central unit would solve the problem, and it did. Suddenly the harbour was only half as deep as before and on the following trips, the new display proved its worth.
Since I now have to make the trip from Royan to Bayonne alone, I unceremoniously ordered an autopilot for the tiller. I’m planning to sail the route in a light wind, if possible, on a night trip. Mastering the entrance to Arcachon in autumnal Atlantic swell seems too risky to me. There are also no buoys shown on the charts because they are constantly relocated them. The sandbanks are constantly changing. Locals can probably navigate the passage without any problems. The same applies to Capbreton, where, according to the latest port information, an almost dry sandbank has shifted into the entrance. It recommended crossing this only at high tide and low swell. No, I’d rather sail 10 nautical miles further to Bayonne with a safe entrance.
The bridge to the Ile de Re shortly before La Rochelle
La Rochelle was not for me. Endless of boat shows, everything was a little too big. Moreover, no water at the pontoon. I went on to Royan the next morning.