Camaret Monday 4th August 2008 48:16.769 N004:35.343W

Paul Huntley
Mon 4 Aug 2008 11:24

Monday morning in the office

We finally departed Falmouth on Saturday afternoon at 1600 hrs. The first part of the voyage has been a testing time for skipper and crew with some truly atrocious weather. The injury to our first mates Bob's wrist is I am pleased to report, feeling a great deal better after x-rays and a plaster cast, Bob is still at home recuperating and will be joining us as soon as he is fit or before if he has his way. Unfortunately my mate from Auckland, Martin suffered chest pains while walking around Falmouth and was taken by police car to the Falmouth hospital and later transferred to Trelisk near Truro for more extensive tests, after a night in hospital I picked him up to took him to Falmouth train station to return to his wife Wendy in Reading. Hope you are feeling better now Martin. 

It was now down to Jake and I to take Libertad on to the Canaries with Nick joining us in Spain.

Thursday morning saw us pouring over the Met forecast for Plymouth and Biscay with a SW 4/5 gusting 6 we thought we had better take this opportunity and prepared the boat for sea. As we cleared Pendenis Castle, Falmouth coast guard came on VHF with a weather report forecasting SW6/7 with gale 8 later,

After a quick recalculation of our course we headed for the Helford River to sit this one out. We picked up a visitors mooring opposite Helford, pumped up the dinghy and motored up to Gweek and Frenchmans creek. By this time the wind was increasing and we returned to Libertad to batten down the hatches, that night, the gale hit us with winds in excess of forty knots. Good call! Jake decided to pass the time fishing and after a 4 hours, most of which was in the rain he was rewarded with two Mackerel. My son Tim called to say that he would like to join us on Libertad for a couple of weeks; He would be driving to Falmouth after work on Friday arriving in the early hours of Saturday morning. We need all the hands we can get. Thank you Tim.

Our spirits lifted with the extra crew, we follow the Met forecast with renewed vigor, looking for that weather window to get to the Chenal du Four, Camaret and the Raz de Sein. 

We are rafted next to a very fine Beneteau 46 called "Ula" owned and crewed by John and Jackie Richards and their daughter Laura. They, like us have signed up for the A.R.C and are heading for Spain and Portugal before going to Las Palmas on October. John and I discuss the weather forecasts and routings to Camaret. We hope to sail in company on the next tide, Saturday 1600 hrs .The forecast is SW4/5  possibly backing W 4/5 occasionally 6.. I think this is the best we are going to get so we prepare for sea and a twenty four hour passage to Camaret.

To be leaving Falmouth after more than a week is great, we are still missing Bob our first mate, his advice and seamanship are greatly missed, Jake has learned so much in the last couple of weeks he has become a very competent crew member and a good companion, joined now by Tim who has sailed with me in the U.K. and the Caribbean, we are feeling very confident for the voyage across Biscay. 

We let the lines go and set course south to France, the expected wind shift to the west does not materialise and find ourselves heading into a lumpy two metre sea right on the nose. Libertad, with her long keel will only point to 40 degrees. Ula bunkers some fuel in Falmouth but soon joins us and speeds ahead showing us her wake. A long wet and windy night follows crossing first the west bound shipping lane before midnight. For Jake and Tim this is their first experience of night sailing, visibility in the rain is no more than four cables. Ships emerge from the mist and Jake is reading the lights to determine the course, speed and direction of each vessel spotting a cruise liner in a mass of light and a cable boat showing mast lights red white red and a fishing trawler. John on Ula calls regularly on VHF to report progress (over and out!) 

Tim is on watch a calls down the hatch "land in sight" as dawn breaks the visibility worsens to cable or less, I am not looking forward to negotiating the Chenel du Four in thick fog after twenty hours at sea.

The radar and plotter are turned on and tuned in and detailed course plotted. We spot the Le Four light two cables off our port beam, with a three knot tide under our stern our speed over the ground increases to nine knots, following the channel south, large rocks topped with red port hand markers emerge from the mist ahead and quickly disappear behind .Conning the boat from below I tick off our progress south reaching the Les Vieux Moines beacon we change course to cross the main Brest channel to Camaret.

Visibility is still less than one cable but the south to south west wind is howling a force 5/6 ,entering the inner harbour a yacht in front comes to a sudden halt downwind leaving Libertad with little room to manoeuvre, with my agile crew we avoid disaster and look for a soft landing Hi John! We arrived rather than docked, rafted alongside a fellow ARC competitor flying the German flag.

Weather permitting we hope to sail on the tide at about 08:00 Tue to Benodet with the plan to cross Biscay to La Coruna on Thursday and Friday. Watch this space.

Bye for now Paul