So why are we in Brest.....?

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Tue 28 Jul 2009 14:06
Fair winds, warm sunshine, smooth calm seas and the horizon clear of large ships and other hazards........well we had none of that on the crossing from Torquay, We had winds ok and they were of a good strength but the seas were somewhat bumpy and there were quite a number of large ships on the channel and the Traffic Seperation Zone around Ushant.
So what happended after we left Torquay and why are we in Brest then? We left Torquay on Friday morning and headed over to Brixham to get the diesel tanks topped up - we had to sail around Tor Bay for a while until 11 when we were originally told we could fuel up. Once the tanks were topped up and after a slightly strange exit from the fuel dock we headed out passed Berry Head and Start Point heading south south west. The seas were quite bumpy so after a while mal de mer set in for a few folks. We carried on across the channel heading for the French Coast to take full advantage of the west wind before it was due to swing to the south west which is not where we wanted it to be. The early hours of the morning found us off Roscoff and we headed out towards the TSS to get a good westing for the course for La Coruna.
Unfortunately around this time a strange smell was permeating the saloon making it unpleasant for folks to come below and putting everyone off eating and drinking and of course sickness soon followed. Putting my head into the bilge I found that some deisel had got into the bilges and mixed with a bit of sea water was sloshing all around the saloon bilges. This was the cause of making everyone, welll most anyway, distinctly green and lathargic. I got as much of the deisel out and things calmed down a bit but apart from my self and Paul, who was ill after coming below to make a cup of tea, no one was hungry or keen on doing anything. 
We sailed into the dark having transited the TSS and headed south by hour long tacks. Everyone by now was getting their sea legs and beginning to eat and drink and enjoy the jouney. All of a sudden an alarm sounded - ear piercing and loud it got the adrenaline going for all concerned. It was the gas alarm, triggered by the fumes from the diesel still in the water in the bilges I had been unable to empty perviously. Susan and Sue were going greener and it was a super human 2 hour stint on the wheel by Paul in F5 while I had another go at emptying the bilges and silencing the alarm that kept us going through the night and dodging very large ships - we were heading back towards France and were south of the TSS. We didn't hit anything nor did anyone hit us but we came within 1/2 mile of some of them before tacking away.
By now everyone was getting very tired and I took the decision to head for port to sort out the boat as there was no way we could continue with fumes in the bilges making the saloon uninhabitable and three people sleeping in the cockpit made it very difficult to do anything but steer the boat. We headed for Brest - we were at the time some 40 miles into the North Atlantic and on the edge of the Bay of Biscay.
So late afternoon on Sunrday we headed into the marina in Brest to get things sorted out. Which is why we are in Brest!
So we have now cleaned out the bilges of water and diesel, changed the engine oil and fitted a new filter and the boat is almost tidy; however we now appear to have a leak in at least one water tank - so thats the next job. The weather forecast is not helpful for us to get to La Coruna for a while yet so we may head down to La Trinite at the end of the week and wait for another weather window. This is making Sue and Paul's travel home a bit of a challenge!
We have bumped into - not literally you understand - Peter Snow and have been enjoying the Europe dinghy World Championships. There is another boat from the Biscay fleet in the marina with us - they had a similarly bumpy crossing and lost their instruments leading to some close encounters with large ships on their crossing. They are leaving their boat here for a few weeks before heading south so we will likely see them again as they are heading to Gibralter for the Wrold ARC in October.
In terms of wildlife we have seen the following so far - plus the inevitable plastic bags and bottles.......sad really.
Great Black Backed Gull
Herring Gull
Little Tern
1 Dolphin - glimpsed really but Paul was adamant it swam across our bows.
So thats it for now, more in due course. 
Andrew & Susan
S/V Andromeda