48 00.49N 004 33.03W

Sun 5 Jul 2015 20:50

Date:                Sunday 5ht July 2015


Position:          Audierne, French coast



At long last I am away.  After a twelve day enforced layup in Cameret I have finally got some sea under my feet.  As any sailor will tell you it is all very well being laid up in port for awhile but there comes a time when your feet get itchy and the desire to move on becomes overwhelming.  The engineer in Camerert finished his work on Friday morning but the autopilot and the new drive unit did not seem to be communicating.   I spoke to the chap who installed the autopilot and we agreed that I needed to re-programme the autopilot and after I completed reseting the Autopilot the system seems to be working fine, I hope?  Rather than waste another 25€ on mooring fees for the night I elected to anchor in the bay ready for the off the next morning.  I may not have actually been going anywhere but after twelve days alongside it gave me a sense that at long last I was underway.  It was a lovely evening the wind was very light and there was just enough swell to give a wonderful rocking sensation as I was sleeping which was kind of comforting.  But, nothing is ever that simple on a boat.  When the wind is up and the boat is riding at anchor and the rigging is clanking on the mast there is so much noise and motion that any one noise just merges into the general disorder of things.  There is nothing you do about the situation so eventually, you just accept the noise and fall asleep.  But in peaceful conditions like the one I found myself in that night the slightest noise becomes irritating.  Somewhere in the boat there is always a can or some other object that refuses to stay still.  Knock, knock, knock, knock, it goes continuously hitting against a locker side.  I decided to ignore it but there it was in the background continuously, knock, knock, knock, knock, and always coinciding with each passing swell.  This set up a double whammy in my mind because now not only do I hear the noise but I am also anticipating it as well.  Ah! but then it will fool me.  Suddenly it stops and I think thank God for that.  But it has only been leading me into a false sense of security; it stays quiet, patiently waiting for an opportune moment.  Then, just as I am on the verge of falling asleep it strikes again, knock, knock, knock, knock as if to say, “I’m sill here matey boy” as it callously mocks me.  No, I say to myself, I am not going to rise to the bait and I stay in bed, but it keeps on taunting me until I can stand it any longer.   Launching myself out of bed I start frantically searching the boat like a man possessed looking for the source of the noise.  I go through locker after locker and finally with a note of triumph in my voice I declare, “I’ve got you, you little bugger, you couldn’t fool me”, as I hold aloft a can of deodorant.  I shove the can of deodorant back into the locker making sure it is well wedged in so it cannot move again and returned to my bed pleased with myself for having triumph over a can of deodorant.  I start to fall into a lovely sleep aided by the gentle rocking of the swell unaware that throughout this fiasco, that old can of baked beans I brought the first season I owned the boat which has been sitting in the bilge locker ever since, its label falling off and signs of rust appearing on it’s bottom, has been taking note. “So you think you can just stick me in a locker and forget all about me do you?  Well get a load of this sonny boy!” BANG, BANG, BANG.  I pull the pillow over my head and try to drown out the noise.


I weighed anchor and left Camerert and 2.30 pm making for Audierne.  I had to make my tidal gate at the Raz de Sain which was about four hours away.  The best time to pass through the Raz is at slack water, just as the tide would be turning in my favour and this was around 6.30 pm.  I had a lovely sail out of Camerert but as I changed course for the Raz I was head to wind so on went the engine and I ended up motoring all the way the Audierne.  The Raz de Sain was the second big obstacle to overcome after the Chanel du Four and this would be my first time through it.  At first I was little concerned because I could not see any other boats going my way, but half way across the bay I noticed about a dozen other boats, all motor sailing and heading for the Raz.  I felt a sense of relief that I was in the company of other sailors.  Conditions were perfect but once I entered the Raz I could see why it had such a fearsome reputation.  The currents and eddies all around me were very strange.  The only comparison I can make is St Catherine’s Deep, on the southerly most point of the Isle of Wight.  Here, a big trough in the ocean bed sends up swells from beneath to make for a very unpleasant and turbulent area.  The Raz was similar although even in these relatively calm conditions there was a menacing feel to the whole place.  I knew I would not like to be going through there in bad conditions having got my passage plan wrong.  With the Raz well behind me I bore away to port to make for Audierne.  I set the sails once again but I was still to close to hauled to make any progress so reluctantly dropped the sails and restarted the engine.  It was getting late so I decided that rather than go into Audierne itself I would pick up a buoy at Ste-Eventte just outside the entrance.  As it happens this was rather a good call not only because it was cheaper, 10€ a night, but the next day when I cycled into Audierne I saw first and just how difficult the entrance is.  Also there was very little room at the marina so I was very happy with my choice the night before.  There is not much at Ste-Eventte or Audierne mostly a holiday resort I would say.  Anyway I am not intending to spend much time here, as I have to make up some ground. I have decided to leave tomorrow morning and face the final obstacle of this part of the journey, the Bay of Biscay.  Whichever way you cut it at some stage it was always going to come to this.  My original intention was to port hop along the inside of the Bay of Biscay but my conversation with Francois, remember him from L’Aberwrac’h, gave me pause to reconsider.  His advice was that after La Rochelle there were no more safe ports of entry in bad weather until you got to the Spanish coast.  Many boats had been caught out on a lee shore in this area with nowhere to run except out to sea.  He also said that from all the safe ports on the north side of La Rochelle the distance to La Caruna was about the same, three hundred miles.  So my choice was to leave from here tomorrow, or go onto Belle Ile, and leave from there, or go onto La Rochelle and leave from there.  But whatever I decided there was no getting away from the fact that I had a three hundred miles trip ahead of me.  Having a long layup in Cameret did not help but it has made the decision simpler, I leave for La Coruna tomorrow.  I am not going to say that this is not daunting for me because it is.  The longest I have been at sea in one trip before now was when I went from Poole to Penzance some years ago.  It was around one hundred and eighty miles and took thirty-nine hours to complete and I remember being exhausted at the end.  So this will be the longest trip I have undertaken to date.  Another first for me is that at some stage on the trip I will leave the continental shelf behind and head into open water or blue water sailing as yachtsmen call it.   The seas are very different here and can be intimidating but although the swells may be bigger, the gap between them is longer so it does make things a little easier.  Anyway, I have no choice so it is bon voyage Audierne and hello La Coruna, I hope!


Bye for now.


Signing off Ted.