Friday, 21 December 2012

Out with a Bang

It was only meant to be a short out-and-back trip to the Port of Crouesty to replace the heating system.  Three days and one call-for-help later, we made our way back to our mooring in the Auray river with a new heating system and a burning desire for a long quiet holiday.

The new heating system (Webasto) was supposed to arrive at the electronics shop on Friday -  Monday at the latest.  Tuesday morning, we sailed the one hour down to Crouesty for the installation, with plans to return to the gulf on Wednesday morning with the last of the incoming tide.  There were special weather bulletins warning of near-gales (Beaufort 7 with gusts) but our gulf, protected by a larger bay, doesn’t usually see the full force of such gales and we knew we could manage a little “rodeo” if we had to.

The system never showed up.  The electricians went ahead and removed the old system on Tuesday afternoon and confirmed that the system would arrive early Wednesday morning.  We decided we could put off our return until Wednesday afternoon with the 2nd incoming tide.

Wednesday morning came and went with no deliveries.  After delaying as long as we could, we decided to leave and make an appointment to install the new heating system in early January.  Patrick informed the electricians, who apologized for the delays and wished us happy holidays.

We cast off and headed into the channel with a 17-knot headwind.  The channel is rather narrow, with shoals and rocks on either side (see image below).  We decided to motor out of the channel and then, turning north to head into the gulf, we would have a tailwind that would give us a smooth sail home with just the genoa headsail.

As we reached the penultimate channel marker, the engine sputtered and died. What the !*%$?  We tried to restart it twice, pulling out all the tricks we’ve learned over the last 4 months without success.  After the 2nd try, I told Patrick we needed to get the sails up fast.  We were already drifting outside the channel towards the rocks.  He went below to try one more trick to restart the motor while I prepared the mainsail.  After flailing around to unzip the lazybag and get the halyard ready to run, I realized we were no longer facing the wind but had been blown onto a broad reach … impossible to hoist our heavy mainsail at 90 degrees to the wind.  I didn’t know if we could point into the wind sufficiently with the genoa alone, but we didn’t have much choice.  With a loud snap, the genoa unfurled rapidly in the stiff wind.  I winched it in flat and Spray responded immediately.  The answer is YES, we can point into the wind (rather well, in fact) with just the genoa, although it’s not particularly stable or comfortable.

The Crouesty Channel - site of our first "incident".
With the boat now manoeuvrable and headed back into the channel, we were out of immediate danger but were still “in a pickle”, as we say back home.  Patrick called the Harbour Master on the VHF radio to tell them we were coming back into port under sail.  They responded immediately and told us they would have a boat meet us at the breakwater to help tow us into a slip.

As we headed into the port, it dawned on me what had happened.  The electricians had removed the heating system the night before, which runs off the main diesel fuel reservoir.  They had opened up the fuel line that feeds the heating system and didn’t close it off, thinking they would be installing the new system before we left. Oops. As soon as we got the boat tied up, we looked at the reservoir, and sure enough, the diesel valve was closed and the intake tube to the absent heating system was open to the air. 

The culprit.
Patrick went to express his strong disappointment and returned with a very pale electrician and his manager.  They re-attached the old pump to close the fuel circuit, allowing us to use the engine while waiting for the new heating system to arrive.  But it was too little, too late, and we’d missed the ingoing tide to the gulf.  We decided to sit it out another night in port and head back into the gulf the next morning

But later that afternoon, the electrician showed up proudly displaying the new heating system that had just arrived.  He was willing to work late and start again very early the next morning and assured us everything would be installed by 10:45 am, allowing us to catch the last of the tide.  At noon, they finally finished.  I calculated that we would have about 2 knots of current in the nose, but with 21 knots of wind on a broad reach, we decided we could push our way through.  It was a bumpy ride, but we made it back to our mooring just as a squall arrived.  We prepared the boat and waited for a break in the weather. 

When the dinghy was loaded and ready to go, I looked around at the sky and saw a steel-grey front headed our way.  I wanted to wait it out, Patrick wanted to try to outrun it.  I lost the battle but won the war in the form of a moral victory, which, truth be told, is only of minor comfort.  It was, by far, the STUPIDIST thing we’ve ever done. (Patrick, too, now admits this.)  As soon as we were in the middle of the river, still 5 minutes from shore, the grain overtook us.  The waves built up behind us and we were surfing, fighting to keep the dinghy at an angle to the waves so that we wouldn’t be flipped sideways or swamped from the waves breaking behind us. Pelted by wind-driven hail, visibility was nil and the only thing we could do was to follow the waves.  There was no way to aim the boat where we needed to go without turning over.  After several long minutes of white-knuckle petrifaction, we made it to an anchorage area where several large boats provided enough of a wind shield that we could redress the direction of the boat to head to the dock. 

I felt sick.  Patrick said “Woo Hoo !  We made it !” 

Later that night, we both realized that every muscle in our bodies ached from the stress.  We agreed that this whole adventure was an important learning experience, not to be repeated if at all possible.  And thus ends 2012 sailing with Spray.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cold Weather, Warm Camaraderie

This week’s outing was our first winter-weather trip on Spray, complete with watery eyes, heavy frost and icy mornings.  It was also the trip where we discovered that our on-board heating system is dead.

Spray with frost on her boom and ice on the docks.
In port, we have two different heaters we can use running off of shore power:  a fan heater that heats up fast and chases away the humidity, and an oil-bath radiator that gives off a steady (and quiet) heat for the night.  When we’re at anchor, however, we have to rely on the boat’s heating system, which runs off the diesel fuel for the boat.  It worked well a month ago (when we didn’t need it), but stopped working now that it’s really cold.

Alone on Hoedic Island ... with shore power !
But when you have neither shore power nor on-board heating on a cold night, the next best thing is to be rafted up in between two big friendly boats with warm saloons and crews.  We met up with two boats from our local sailing club (Aldiana, an Oceanis 323, and Argo, a Romanee) and spent a lovely evening moored at Belle Ile, bouncing between the three boats:  drinks and munchies on Argo, back to Spray for dinner where we could heat the boat with our own cooking, then over to Aldiana for desert, and a quick jump into our winter-weight sleeping bags back on Spray.

Sailing with other boats means photos of yours under sail !  Thanks, Argo crew !
In between the cold weather and warm camaraderie, we actually managed to fix a few things.  Since the weather has turned cool, we noticed that the GPS takes almost 20-30 minutes to home-in on 3 satellites necessary for a position fix.  I suspected condensation and a bad contact, and after heating, drying, and insulating the connection to the antenna, things work brilliantly.I’ve been complaining for some time about our schizophrenic auto pilot, and after moving a 12 kg anchor that was just below the flux gate compass and re-doing the entire sea trial calibration (swinging the compass, auto-learn process), things work very well.  Having a reliable auto-pilot is a huge relief when sailing short-handed.  Patrick bravely fixed the toilet for a second time.  He replaced the pump assembly a couple of weeks ago and everything worked well for 3-4 days before seizing up again.  (For the more curious among you, the answer is NO, we do not put anything down the toilet that has not first passed through our own bodies.)  After reading some helpful hints on sailing forums, he dumped a bottle of cooking oil down the pump assembly and that seems to have done the trick.

Our 5:25 pm sunset and a late arrival into port this week also gave us the opportunity to realize that none of our running lights were working.  They had been working well a few weeks ago. When the electricians came to check out the heating system, they found some very unorthodox mingling of wires between our AIS system and the running lights, including one completely melted wire. Once the wiring got straightened out, we had to change the bulbs that had been fried during some mystery power-surge.  That, of course, meant climbing the mast and changing 2 bulbs.  Long story short:  wrong bulbs and stuck light-cover casings meant FOUR trips up the mast in very cold weather.   

Winter not only brings cooler temperatures and shorter days but also storms, and Spray’s mooring lines suffered severe chaffing over the last 2 weeks during several gales that had her tugging and bobbing on her mooring ball.  If we hadn’t had the protective garden hose on the mooring line, it would have been cut in two.  Of course, we always have 2 mooring lines attached, just in case…  We’ll be very glad to move Spray into the port of Vannes at the end of the month !

Winter storm chaffing.

Today the high temperature is 2 C (35) and we’re enjoying a cozy day at home…getting price estimates for boat heater replacement.  They don’t make replacement parts for our 20 year old heater anymore, so it looks like we’re in for a new system.

Just think, starting in 2013, we’ll have a boat docked a comfortable 15 minute walk from home and all her systems and sails will have been recently repaired !  Glass half full, glass half full, glass half full…   

*note:  this issue was resolved several months later when I discovered the notion of TTFF:  time to first fix.  The fact that the GPS was taking forever to get a fix when we first fired it up in cold weather had nothing to do with the cold weather or condensation, but the fact that we weren't sailing as much in the cold, and thus, had not turned the GPS on regularly.  When you turn on the GPS, it has to download a lot of information.  If you've turned it on recently, those updates are relatively fresh and take less time.  If you don't turn it on for a week or more, you'll have to wait. (Some sources say up to 15 minutes... we waited 30-40 after leaving it off for a month.)  

For more articles on winter sailing, visit The Monkey's Fist !

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Quarterly Report

Having spent most of my career as an international civil servant, I can still write quarterly reports in my sleep. (Some of my best work was done that way.)  In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to drag out my U.N. reporting language and results-based management training to give you this update on our first 3 months of sailing Spray.

Title:                                              The Spray Project
FUND CENTER:                              Him

Expected Results:  World peace promoted through travel-induced education and culture at the individual level.

Implementation strategy:  Buy a boat and sail it around the world.

I.  Identification of needs:  Education and cultural awareness promoted through travel is a proven method for facilitating world peace.  Implemented at the individual level, this process is a cost-effective way of building community networks that can foster synergies at national and global levels.

II.  Modalities of action:  Buy a boat, learn how to maintain it, learn how to sail it short-handed, gain experience in a protected environment, gradually expand range and conditions of sailing, sail around Europe and the Mediterranean, begin world tour.

Performance indicators: (method of verification = self-reporting):
  1. Days at sea this quarter:  28 days out of 92 = 30% 
  2. Miles logged:  difficult to determine as speedo was not calibrated until early October and only discovered later that this information could be obtained from the main GPS unit (which also sometimes doesn’t work). 
  3. Short-handed sailing manoeuvres mastered :
    • Hoisting and furling sails (10/10)
    • Tacking (9/10):  Genoa lines get snagged on railings, shrouds, etc.  Rollers not yet in place.
    • Jibing (9/10): Not 100% smooth on all occasions with only 1 person handling both the main and headsails.
    • Reefing the main (8/10): Sticky automatic reefing system not fully mastered yet.
    • Changing the headsails (10/10).
    • Hoisting the Spinnaker (0/10, see knowledge gaps). 
    • Port manoeuvres (7/10):  Needs improvement, taking into account wind conditions and best order for fixing lines in given conditions and port configurations.
    • Mooring buoy manoeuvres (10/10).
    • Anchoring (9/10):  More experience needed for choosing the most comfortable site given wind and swell conditions, horizontal area and water depth available, and length of chain.
  4. Environmental Conditions Encountered:  dead calm on several occasions, several moderate squalls of up to 25 knot gusts with heavy rain and 2 meter swells, one major squall with 37 knot gusts, heavy rain and 3 meter swells.  Several occasions of fog, one in total white-out conditions for several hours while sailing close to a labyrinth of rocks.
  5. Navigation Range / Places visited:  Hoedic Island (Port), Houat Island, Belle Ile (Ports and Moorings), Groix (Port), Port Haliguen, Port Crouesty, Auray River.  Ports = 55%, Moorings and Anchorages = 45%. Longest sail = 8 days.
  6. Maintenance techniques mastered (9/10):  see Annex 1 (Maintenance Log).  Most maintenance, repairs and installations performed without outside professional help.

Knowledge gaps
  1. The auto-pilot, very important for short-handed sailing, is still temperamental and thoroughly untrustworthy.  I recently removed the spare 12 kg anchor from the cockpit locker that was perhaps too close to the auto-pilot compass flux-gate, which seems to have reduced its schizophrenic tendencies.  We need to put the pilot through the “automatic learning procedure” described in the manual, and then manually set various features to optimize performance.  We also need to replace the 2nd ball joint under the steering column to reduce play in the tiller, which should also improve pilot performance.
  2. Hoisting the spinnaker has been put on hold until the auto-pilot is able to assist.
Next quarter goals
  1. Repairs and Upgrades for next quarter:  fix the lazy-bag support on the boom, replace plexiglass on portholes, investigate leak in the exhaust system waterlock, add waste water holding tank, change 2nd ball joint under steering column, fix rollers on lifelines to facilitate passage of Genoa, add coconut fiber / latex mattress support to aft cabin to reduce humidity, figure out why AIS system is not recognized by MaxSea navigation software.
  2. Winter training, sailing in colder / wetter / rougher conditions.  Expand range of navigation if weather permits.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Back to Basics

Less than 6 hours after leaving our mooring buoy in the Auray river, we were back to basic sailing:  no GPS, no computer with navigation software, and no toilet. 

The GPS has been having difficulties for a few weeks.  I suspect a bad connection that seems to be curiously affected by the cold and/or humidity.  We managed to get it operational after opening the back panel and blindly jiggling some wires, but it still takes about 20 minutes for it to warm up (?) and get a satellite fix. The computer we took out this week was a back-up computer that, we discovered, didn’t have an appropriate driver for the small mobile GPS.  And the toilet had been showing some early signs of a leaking seal in the hand pump and finally decided the time was right to break down completely.  Fortunately, we could still evacuate the toilet, so we just had to keep a bucket of seawater handy for flushing.

But the good news about getting back to basics is remembering how to navigate without gadgets.  In an area we knew fairly well, with reasonable visibility, and with good charts, a compass, and plotting tools, I had great fun navigating the old-fashioned way.  After a day in port with an internet connection, we managed to download the driver for the computer GPS, but I found that I actually preferred to use the main GPS and charts instead.

The rest of the week was full of lessons and adventures as follows:

We pulled into the lock basin at the port of Le Palais on Belle Ile (a first for us) and were promptly greeted by Gerard, our sailing friend from Vannes introduced in last week’s blog, who was out for a few days with another Vannes sailor, Gilles, a retired French Army colonel. 

Spray double-parked in the lock basin of Le Palais, Belle Ile en Mer.

We spent a lovely evening on board Gerard’s motor cruiser, dining on “French individual reheatable combat rations” provided by Colonel Gilles.  Gilles said our boat was a jewel and he appreciates good Kentucky Bourbon - I liked him immediately.

We rented bikes and toured Belle Ile with Gerard and Gilles, including Port Goulphar with its light house, Port Coton with its famous Needle Rocks immortalized by numerous impressionist painters, and Port Donnant with its large sand beach.

Goulphar Lighthouse, Belle Ile.

Gerard points out the good mooring spots to Patrick at Goulphar.

The Needle Rocks, Port Coton, Belle Ile en Mer.

Patrick: "I want to moor Spray HERE."

The beach at Port Donnant.

Turquoise water amongst the rocks on Donnat Beach.

We got a useful lesson in boat heating and humidity control (not to mention comfort) from Gerard and as a consequence we will soon be purchasing both a small electric fan heater and an electric oil-bath radiator for use in ports during the winter.  

We left the port at Le Palais to head to the island of Groix but light winds inspired us to spend another night on Belle Ile at the port of Sauzon in hopes of better winds the following day.

Our wish was granted to excess:  we left Sauzon for Groix with lovely force 4 (15 knot winds), growing to a bracing force 5 on a close reach (i.e, 20 knots in the nose), strengthening to 6 with gusts to 8 (37 knots) and 3 meter seas underneath the 3 successive squalls that hit us.  A crossing to remember.

Double rainbow after passage of one of the squalls.  Small compensation...

We learned that we need to close the cabin and head doors when faced with 3 meter swells.  The hinges suffered badly.

We rented bikes and visited the island of Groix and its wild south coast.

South coast of Groix.

We learned that we need to revise our estimates of boat speed for a given wind speed.  Spray is much faster than we’re used to and we can get 6-7 knots out of 10-12 knots of wind (especially if we calculate the currents just right…).

Our only companion on the water that day:  a Sinagot, the traditional fishing vessel of the Gulf.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Foggy Memories

This week’s episode of the Spray Logs reminds us that Halloween will soon be upon us.  As we approached the island of Houat, the wind died and a wall of cold fog moved in from the east, blending the horizon and the water into one seamless smoke screen and reducing our world to the size of a… well, a 10 meter Dehler 34, to be precise. 

Visibility < 100 meters
We reduced speed and strained our eyes, searching for any feature that might assure us that the world beyond the bow was still there.  Trying to keep a compass heading when there is no horizon to indicate motion became difficult and we began helplessly weaving back and forth.  In the heightened tension, I fully expected to glimpse the Mary Celeste come drifting dead ahead at any minute.   

We turned to our autopilot and navigation software for comfort.  Patrick told me to duck below and get the fog horn.  This is a small plastic trumpet used to signal one’s existence to other ships in such cases, and we dutifully gave a couple of blasts every few minutes.  A rather ridiculous sound resembling that of a cheap party horn served to reduce the tension, which, truth-be-told, is probably the horn’s most useful feature. 

The fog horn.
Our navigation program told us that the island was only ½ mile ahead and yet we still had no indication of the high rocks that should be rapidly approaching.  Our plan had been to head to a mooring area on the south side of the island to shelter us from the northern winds predicted for the evening.  But that route involves wiggling one’s way through a maze of rocks and sand bars.  We juggled our options.  We could change course and head towards the port of Houat where we could grab a mooring buoy at the entrance to the port.  But the buoys aren’t marked on the navigation software or charts, and neither are other boats.  The lack of visibility would make this option more dangerous than confronting the labyrinth of rocks that were at least clearly marked on the charts.  It was also a route we’d taken many times and we knew there was a large flat beach just after the first set of obstacles where we could always drop anchor if things got too hairy.

Our track, blindfolded.

With me down below calling out course changes and Patrick manning the auto-pilot controls, we made our way slowly along, passing first Er Yoc’h, the 23 meter high rock (never saw it), sliding around the only-slightly-submerged rocks Bonen ar Rade and the isolated danger buoy Men er Houteliguet, which we managed to vaguely identify at 150 meters.  We made a wide slow swing around the Begs (Tost, Creiz, Pell), not forgetting Er Gadoerec a Vez along the way, and lined up to pull up to our mooring ground.  As we did, the wind picked up and slowly pushed the fog to the south east, giving us reasonably good visibility as we set the anchor.  By the time the motor was cut, the sun was out, birds were zooming around merrily and fish were jumping (mullet, we were later told).  All of nature seemed to be saying “trick or treat !”.  We promptly treated ourselves to a bottle of rosé.

Treat after trick.
After this harrowing beginning, the next 3 days were, literally, smooth sailing.  We tried to squeeze in to the port of Hoedic to take on water (after last week’s gaffe with the watercow) but found 4 boats waiting for 5 places already occupied.  As the weather and wind were perfect, we decided to head over to the Quiberon peninsula to the port of Haliguen, not known for anything more enticing than a large visitors’ dock with water and electricity.  After tying up, we bumped into a friend from Vannes who was there alone in his 9 meter motor yacht.  He has sailed in this area for over 30 years, and we spent a lovely evening grilling him about favourite mooring spots in the bay and gulf. 

The next day, a moderate gale was predicted for the evening so we decided to go together to our friend’s favourite mooring spot in the gulf, which he assured us was sheltered from winds from any direction.  We had passed this idyllic spot before with other people’s boats, but didn’t dare take Spray this far up into the river because of the narrow and shallow channels all around.  Having a guide lead us through and up to deep-water mooring buoys was an opportunity not to be missed.  It was, quite simply, the calmest mooring location we have ever experienced in almost 10 years of sailing in this area.  And one of the most beautiful.  The wind was, so they say, blowing about 45 km/hr (25-30 mph), but our wind turbine didn’t even budge.  The water was oily smooth and we slept in complete silence.  

Our new favorite mooring spot in the gulf.

And of course I have absolutely no intention of telling anyone where it is.  Foggy memory, indeed. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

O La Vache !

The French phrase “O La Vache !” (literally “Oh, the cow”) is a popular expression of surprise similar to the English expressions “Oh my God” or “Holy Cow”.  During this week’s cruise, we applied the phrase liberally to another French cow:  the “Water Cow” (vache a eau) is what the French call the water tank on a boat.  We managed to have a wee accident with our Water Cow, eliciting not just “O La Vache !” but also another favourite and useful French phrase, “Putain !”  (…and if you haven’t yet seen the “Learn French in One Word” video that has gone viral on the internet, here’s the link: 

Form 1: Function 0
The problem was one of form-vs-function and fault should properly be attributed to the faucet and not the water tank itself.  When we bought the boat, we were attracted to the double sinks and lovely faucet that the previous owners installed in the Caribbean (see Bricolage Update for tales of earlier difficulties with Caribbean plumbing).  We have now learned why such faucets are not standard on boats.  It’s too bloody easy for them to open accidentally.   

I took the wheel and Patrick went below to try to activate the AIS setting on our MaxSea software (…still not working).  While he was down there, I asked him to make a log entry, as one is supposed to do every hour or so at sea.  He claims this is where all our problems began.  Somehow in the process of climbing from the nav station to the table where the logbook was (boat heeled over about 15-20 degrees), his foul weather gear or life vest managed to snag the water faucet handle and open it.  He was not alerted to the sound of running water because, inside the hull of a boat charging through waves at 7 knots, this is not an unusual sound.

As the tank emptied into the sink, the boat became progressively lighter – by 90 kilograms ! –  on the port side.  As we were on a port tack, the boat heeled over further and the water pouring out of the faucet finally skipped over the sink altogether and started splashing directly on the floor.  This is when I noticed the unusual noise and saw that the faucet was open.  By this time, it was coughing up its last, spitting and sputtering a mixture of water and air from the tank.  It was at this point where the two phrases Putain and La Vache were liberally applied.

It all seems so simple in retrospect:  switch off the power to the water pump when underway.  The positive side of the story is that I was starting to feel guilty about our making such simple trips from the Gulf out to one of the islands and back, but after this latest incident, we decided that as long as we’re still learning important lessons like these, it’s not a bad idea to be close to home.

And we really can’t complain because our home sailing ground is truly beautiful.  (For other photos and stories of Hoedic, Houat and Belle Ile islands, see First Duet and Fall Season Opener with their associated trip photo links at the end).
Beautiful Hoedic.
We pulled into small Port Argol on Hoedic Island in the early afternoon on a Friday and were stupefied to find that we had the dock to ourselves. This is quite astonishing since Hoedic is (a) on a “migration” route for sailors navigating along the southern coast of Brittany, (b) there was a special weather bulletin announcing a gale for the next 24 hours, chasing sailors off the water and into the ports, and (c) Port Argol only has 5 visitors’ slips and fills up very quickly even in mid-week and off-season.        

Snuggled into Port Argol, Hoedic (Spray is the 2nd mast from the left).
The theme of this week’s outing was seafood.  Like the local seagulls, Patrick has learned that the Hoedic fishermen come back into port around 2pm, and has taken to poking around their boats when they arrive to see if they will sell him anything directly.   

What's for dinner ?

Last week it was a dorade (sea beam) and this week it was torteau (rock crabs).   

Rock crabs and pliers.
The next day, we went oyster hunting on a rocky plateau on the southeast side of Hoedic.  “Wild” oysters are difficult to open but they are wonderful to eat, even for someone like me who isn’t generally crazy about raw oysters.  We didn’t have the proper seafood tools one generally uses for opening and eating crabs and oysters, but with all the fix-it jobs we do on the boat, we were by no means defenceless and simply pulled out the pliers and screwdrivers to get the job done.

A lot of work to open but worth it...
We headed home in between squalls, which seems to be our stable weather pattern for the fall.  They hit, last for about 15-20 minutes, and then the sky becomes lighter for an hour or so before the next one hits.   

Our typical fall weather pattern: squall, blue patch, squall, repeat.

We’ve taken to using the smaller headsails quite a bit and we installed a bungee cord system to keep them in order on the deck when furled.  Now if I could just figure out how to get them dry in between squalls before stowing them below…

Yankee bungeed to the lines.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fall Season Opener

It’s October.  We’ve finally been forced to accept the fact that we will not be making a major summer trip this year.  The “good weather windows” are getting narrower and we still have much to learn (and repair) on board Spray.  But each local outing offers important lessons and this week’s voyage was no exception.

Au Revoir Gwenva

We headed out on Saturday to say goodbye to Gwenva, an 8 meter Kelt sailboat that has carried us far and taught us much over the last 2 years. Guru Bob sold her to a couple of young sailors who dream of sailing her to Turkey next spring.  We’re sad to see her go, but glad she’s in the hands of owners who intend to keep her sailing.

Here’s the summary of the week and a link to photos below:
  • Five days, three islands (Belle Ile, Houat, Hoedic).
  • One day with dead calm; one day with a squall: gusts to 27 knots and zero visibility.
  • One day of tourism around Le Palais while waiting for the winds to pick up.
  • New speed record during the squall: 12.7 knots, obtained with 2 reefs in the main and the jib sheet (solent) up front.  Sorry – no picture-proof this time. (The squall wasn’t the best time to dash down to get my camera !)
  • Realized that we need a mooring line of at least 30 meters to tie up comfortably to the stone way quay in Le Palais of Belle Ile.
  • Confirmed that October is still too early to get a good spot in the harbour of Le Palais. (We were rafted up 4 deep in the outer harbour).  Note to self: need to re-inflate the fenders. 
  • First outing with MaxSea Time Zero Navigation Software.  Mixed results.  Will take some time to get used to.
  • Thousands and thousands of jellyfish along the shores of Belle Ile; probably Pelagia noctiluca (bad stings); probably pushed our way by the recent southwest winds.
  • One Portuguese Man-o-War cruising by Spray one evening at anchor in Belle Ile.  Filed a sighting report with the Mer-et-Littoral “Operation Jellyfish” project.
  • Climbed the mast while in port on the island of Hoedic (pronounced head-ick) to fix the anemometer (much better but not perfect).
  • Reconfirmed that Hoedic can be just as beautiful as her more flashy sister, Houat, across the Sisters Passage.
  • Sailed at slack tide (no current) to compare the speedo speed reading with the GPS reading.  Needs adjustment, but didn’t have the documentation with me.  Top of the to-do list.
  • Tested the Wichard Gybe-Easy boom brake.  Needs refinement (our installation and technique), and probably a couple of dedicated cam mini-cleats.