Day 1, Guernsey to Lanzarote

Stravaig'n the Blue
Fri 9 Oct 2020 10:52
Friday 9 October 2020 11:00 BST (UTC+1)
Position: 48.52.79N 4.28.68W (English Channel)
Distance travelled: 89 NM
Average speed: 6.35 knots
Distance to destination (Arrecife): 1283 NM

It was a good night and it’s a fine day. The sun is out and we can just see the north coast of Brittany fifteen miles to the south.

After getting permission from Guernsey VTS to leave the harbour and confirming to them our passage plan, we slipped our berth at 20:45 and headed out to sea. Fellow Ocean Cruising Club member Nicky Barker had very kindly come down to bid us farewell and gave us a Guernsey Gache (pronounced Gosh), a loaf like fruit teacake and local delicacy. Thank you Nicky, it’s delicious.

The all important weather has been exactly as forecast and perfect for the 120 mile stretch down the English Channel to Île d’Ouessant (Ushant to the British), the western most tip of France where we will alter course to the south to start crossing the Bay of Biscay. The winds were a little on the light side to start with and we motor-sailed until 02:00. Since then we’ve had mostly F4 (11-16 knots) just ahead of the starboard beam. We put one reef in the main at 05:00 when the wind got a bit lively for a short while and we've left it in to make sleeping more comfortable and in anticipation of the wind getting up later.

We are both fairly tired because we started the night watches at 22:00 rather than 20:00 due to our late departure and we shortened the first two watches to only 2 hours but didn’t sleep very well because, with the engine on, we were using the forward cabin which was loud and bumpy as we slammed into the occasional big wave. So Linda is grabbing an extra four hours this morning and I’ll do likewise this afternoon.

We’ve seen one other yacht, at about 04:00, heading in the opposite direction, and a lot of French fishing vessels. In fact, just before midnight we had five of them all converging on us from different directions and had to take evasive action when one of them altered course 20 degrees to head straight for us when we were less than 5 minutes from our closest point of approach. Alarming!

For the last six hours the tide has been against us. This has reduced our speed over the ground to between 5 and 6 knots. However, it is on the turn and, with only 32 miles to go, we will have 1.5 knots of tide with us as we pass Île d’Ouessant. More luck than judgement I have to confess.

All is well.