September return from Solent to the Pays Basque.

Mon 12 Sep 2011 10:58
47:52.537n 4:07.189w


Started from Hamble just after breakfast and tried to avoid the holiday madness of boats that is the Solent. It eased somewhat after I cleared the traffic zone and ‘Cowes Crossroads’. After exiting the Needles the wind got up to gust at 20 plus knots so I reefed the Genoa except that once again I got riding turns on the furling drum. I managed to clear this but decided to go into Weymouth to sort the problem out in the morning, particularly in that the furling line had chafed and the last thing that I needed was for that to snap in squally conditions.
Weymouth was busy and with a fair, rather noisy. I finished up as second boat in on a quadruple raft.
37 nm.


Andy, the local rigger from Portland, turned up at 10.00 and decided that the block on the stancion closest to the bow was too high. We moved this as far down as possible and also he, rightly, said that a tough of grease on the furling bearings would not go amiss. He also replaced the furling line and we wound the genoa in and out several times to check for riding turns – none and what is more the grease seems to have eased the effort needed to get the sail furled. We didn’t do the top end of the Furlex – that will have to wait until the genoa is next taken down. I won’t repeat the comments made by Andy regarding what he and many others from Weymouth consider the way in which the London Olympic committee have ridden rough shod over the local community. There seems to be a body of opinion in Weymouth that the Olympics would have been better if they hade been awarded to France with La Rochelle as the centre of the sailing events. They think that as much as anything the Olympics are for the glorification of the organisers rather than benefit of British and spectators.


Left Weymouth in a NW-4 at 10.00, leaving early and going around the outside of the Shamble and the Portland Race. As it happened I could have gone through the inside if I have left 45 minutes later, well several sailing yachts were doing that and didn’t seem to have any problems – maybe they know the waters better than I do. After clearing the Shambles we really belted along and because the wind had veered to E-4/5 I rolled in the Genoa (without problems this time – thank you, Andy!) and sprinted down wind towards Start Point.
By 1830 I was berthed in Darthaven’s marina.
47 nm.


I took another day off – it is more relaxing that way and also the next stage is a long one to north Brittany and L’Aber Wrac’h. What I did do was to buy some small blocks to put on the lazy lines running from the book up to the mast.


I fuelled up with 84.26l. £99.43 and left the Dartmouth estuary at 1030 with the wind W-3 but visibility not great a 2 nm. By 1440 this had diminished to 1 nm and I was rather pleased that as well as Radar I also had AIS transmit and receive. I was getting large ships diverting behind me when I had right of way which was gratifying although I would’nt like to think that the system is foolproof – it does depend on people on watch on other ships to spot you.
By 1900 the visibility was still 1nm but also with slight rain and the wind had dropped to N-1. BY This time I was going through the Eastbound channel traffic and again was grateful for the AIS and radar so that I could dodge the traffic, speak to it if necessary like the Independence of the Seas bound for Southampton. Had a dinner of M & S Chicken Kiev with tinned peas and carrots, the wind all over the place, the engine performing well. By 2100 it was dark with bad visibility, no stars, and no moon although this improved slightly an hour later. At 2300 the stars appeared but because I didn’t want to be a L’Aber Wrac’h early I reduced engine revs. I also worked out that I would be well placed for going straight to the Chenal du Four and going directly to Camaret. For the next 6 hours I catnapped until at 0600 it started to get light.
I had a slow slog up to abeam of Le Four with the sun coming out at 0822. The tide started to turn and then, Sod’s Law, the visibility dropped to 200 m. Cross Corsen asked if I needed radio/radar assistance through the Chenal but I told them I’d call if necessary. (Maybe they felt slightly guilty telling me earlier that the visibility was 2 miles). Certainly radar was the only way to do the Chenal – I only just spotted Valbelle but then visibility opened up to 1 nm.
The bottom half of the Chenal was fine with moderate visibility and wind SW-4.
At 1400 I was berthed in Camaret.
I met Najad 372 - Manic Moose, with John, Noel and Sheila and helped them berth – not easy.
121 nm. 28 h 15m.

I took another day off to sleep and relax. I did help John and his crew to get onto the diesel pontoon then they left for Brest. The wind was a real pig blowing them straight off before they could get their lines on. That is one problem with Camaret – the visitors pontoon is really exposed to wind and swell.

The weather forecast was not great so I thought I’d leave early and go to Douarnenez – it is more sheltered than Camaret and I haven’t been there before.
I left at 0550 with the wind wW-4 and a rough sea and several squalls going through to the North East. This calmed somewhat the closer I got into the south east corner and Douarnenez/Treboul
30 nm
4h 20m.

Spent day waiting for wind to dissipate – far more comfortable than Camaret.

Visited the Maritime Museum in Douarnenez comlete with a steam tug from Falmouth and a London barge – really interesting.
In the afternoon I moved to Treboul and filled up with fuel €69.00 49.50 l. Met some Dutch sailiors in Mini Transate – 6.50m. They are sailing to La Rochelle non stop then after a regatta on again non stop to San Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. Brave, yes, mad, maybe – these boats are only just over half the length of Loula!

Treboul to Sainte Marine
Wind SW-3
Left early (0420) in morning to get to Raz de Sein for tidal window.
Arrived in good time at 0800 and crossed the Raz with no trouble but again, like the Chenal du Four the visibility was 200/300 m.
By 10 the visibility had improved to about ¾ nm and the wind SW-4.
Had problems with fishing boats around Penmarc’h but managed to extricate myself. Wind gusting 20
Getting into the Benodet bay the visibility was varying and there were a whole load of racing boats ripping around – it would help to know their course.
Got into Ste. Marine and to relax. This September weather is pretty gross and am not at all sure I want to cruise the north coast of Spain from La Coruna
10h 30m.

Sainte Marine
Over to Benodet Penfoul marina to get some well needed laundry done. At least I should smell sweeter.
Speak to Robin and deduce with him that the weather is not great until Tuesday at the earliest, today being Friday.

Sainte Marine
Waiting for weather to clear

Sainte Marine
Ex hurricane Katia ia joining the Western Approaches weather systems. This means for me that the Bay of Biscay is likely to get Force 8 tonight (Sunday).
At present I plan to depart on Tuesday when things should have cleared.
I still have 3 options: La Coruna direct 320 nm, Gijon direct, slightly less distance or the Belle Isle, Isle d’Yeu and Hendaye route.

Modification carried out on Loula this summer.

I have put on a Brunton's Auto Prop with very significant performance improvement on power and economy. One slight problem is that on the Najad 380 the gear box is hydraulic and therefor is the engine is not on the gear box will allow the Prop to spin the shaft. Jeannie Socrates had the same problem some months ago. I have to experiment with a 'Spanish Windlass' which works on the same principle as a Spanish Garotte - put a couple of turns of rope around the prop shaft then twist it tight with a long screw driver. If I can get enough torque on the shaft I should be able to stop it spinning. If that works then I will have to find a way to secure the 'twisted rope.

Parker and Kay sails:
Have found a considerable difference in the way that Loula sails - in fact extraordinary. I do have two other sails which I have yet to try out, when I do I will comment on them.

AIS Transmit and Receive:
I have used AIS to receive transmissions from other vessels for 4 or 5 years. This was great because at least I could call other ships and advise them of my presence. Some did not answer, the most notable of which was a Royal Navy frigate which crossed my bow at close quarters when I was in a Stand On situation and who had also refused to answer my calls asking him what his intentions were. Normally I have respect for the Navy, on this occasion I did not! I have now installed a Transmit facility and am getting positive results when crossing shipping lanes and also but to a lesser extent ith fishing vessels. I am finding that more and more fishing vessels are being equipped with AIS although this doesn't necessarily help one guess what their next move will be.

Solar panels:
I have two large panels mounted on a stern gantry and these are 'throwing' in Amps at an extraordinary rate. I would think that for a long cruise and using the water maker and all navigation instruments I would need something like a Watt and Sea water generator to guarantee total independance. Certainly on Loula, where space is somewhat limited, the option of a generator is not feasible.

Water Maker.
This is a Spectra 200 and is quite adequate for 1 or 2 persons. It seems to consume about 7 to 8 Amps and is simple to use, so much so that I am using it rather than filling up from marina water supplies. It benefits from being used every couple of days because it stops the filters from going foul. I do a manual flush after I have used the water maker and this gets rid of any salt or other stuff on the filter and replaces the salt water in the system with fresh water. If I am going to leave Loula for any time I have to 'pickle' the system - that is something I have yet to do.

Diesel Bug.
When I sailed up in May the engine cut in mid Channel because the filter had blocked with sludge - this despite the fact that I have been treating the tank with Grotamar. The total cost of filtering the fuel in the tank, servicing the injectors (which were probably due for a service anyway) and servicing the injector pump was not cheap - in fact it was darned expensive. So I have fitted a double primary filter, each one with a transparent base. So now I can see if there is water in the filter or any sludge and also if I do get problem I can switch very quickly from one filter to the other. I do not like the idea if being without an engine when I might need powerto get me out of trouble.

LG Espace cooker.
I got fed up with the old cooker and repalced it with an LG Espace 2 ring with grill and oven - it is simple, smart and good. The grill is superb and it is far easier to keep clean than the old cooker. I did have to 'design' my own securing device to stop the oven gimble-ing because the system provided by LG is next to useless. However the change has been well worth it.

Gas bottle storage.
Najad for some extraordinary reason put the gas bottle in the Chain locker and so they go rusty and the regulators corrode. Likewise the Lazarette lockers in the stern had weird drainage system whereby any water around the Lazarette hatch drained first into the locker and then out of the base of the locker into a pipe system which exited at the stern. I have sealed the lockers lids with 1mm rubber draft excluder and now drain water from the surrounds of the lid into the stern drain system. I now have dry Lazarettes. I then got David Stoppard from Southampton to move the gas supply and electrical safety cut off into the port Lazarette. There is space enough in both Lazarettes to store 12 Camping gas bottles not that I intend in the immediate future but it possibly of interest to anyone who intends to go long distance sailing. However the Lazarettes on the 380 are not deep enough to take the small Calor gas bottles or US bottles. The main benefit is now that the gas installation is dry and the Lazarettes are no longer a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Najad 380 design problems.
- There is a dire shortage of access to put in extra clutches or other gear. It is a shame that such a good boat does not have adequate access points. The ability to feed lines back to the cockpit is a good safety feature. When you have 4 reefing lines (2 for the 3rd reef), an outhaul, a topping lift, perhaps a Cunningham, a Boom Brake (anti gybe device) where you need to secure a line on each side, you will need 9 clutches. And I could do with 2 more because I am not a fan of single line reefing. This means perhaps deck organisers for 6 lines on each side and three extra clutches on each side. I suppose many would consider this to be over the top but on the other hand why not design a boat where the installation possibilities are there.
- Leaking Lazarettes. I mentioned this above in conjunction with the gas bottle storage in the bow.
- In the case of a knock down there are two many cabin sole access points and various lids which can open or go flying. I have a Corian kitchen work surface. If I were hit over the head by the Corian dry locker lid, I'd be dead. I have fixed the Chain locker hatches and the Lazarette lids with locks but the internal lids/access points are still not secured. Relatively inexpensive hardware exists to secure all of these so why did Najad not offer these as an option at the very least.