Saturday, 18 May 2013

Spring Cruise Report

After a rough and delayed start, we sailed off for our first big cruise on Spray on 3 May.  It was a cruise of firsts and of confidence building, which was sorely needed after a crushing winter and an endless string of repairs. 

Cruise Map
Total distance: 200 nautical miles, longest leg: 40 nM.  (Yes, we took our time…).

Down (red) and Back (blue) ... not the actual route but you get the idea.  Port stops in Houat Island, Piriac, Pornichet, Pornic, Noirmoutier Island, Yeu Island, Crouesty, and Berder Island.


Spent 13 days at sea, alone together. Happily !

Escaped the protected confines of the Quiberon Bay, visited some beautiful cruising areas and made it to our target destination of Ile d’Yeu.

Sailed an offshore passage > 15 nautical miles from land / harbour and out of sight of land  (okay, that’s happened before because of fog, but that doesn’t count.) 

Crossed the Loire River Estuary cargo channel, twice.  We scanned the horizon like two nervous meerkats, looking for cargo ships ready to barrel down on us. Thankfully, they were all at anchor in the waiting zone.

Got the AIS working (although it’s still quite finicky.)

Passing behind the cargos: reality to the left, AIS screen to the right (note: Red =  Spray and Blue = Cargos at anchor.  Not to scale !)
Entered 5 ports we’ve never visited with Spray, including one with a somewhat confusing swing gate.

The Piriac swing gate (a barrier to keep the water in the port at low tide.)  You can see the top of the gate just appearing.

Perfected our reefing techniques (because we had to with changing weather conditions).  One day of squalls, one half-day of dead calm, two days of gales.

Managed food and cooking on boat for 2 weeks successfully (only 3 restaurant stops). 

Tested our new folding bikes.  They take up a lot of space on the boat but we appreciated having them for shore visits.

Bikes and laundry drying under the pareo ... boat vacation !

Things that broke:

The refrigerator is dead.  It was on its last legs but we had hoped to keep poking it along for awhile longer. 

The wire cable of the boom vang jumped off its roller in the pulley attached to the boom and got wedged down between the roller and the side of the pulley.  It was easily put back in place but a few wires are now broken and bent.  The ship chandler told us that no one uses these wire cables anymore and suggested we replace it with textile (spectra). 

Boom vang pulley and cable ... to be replaced with spectra.

And we still have to resolve the stanchion and life line problem.


We were plagued this cruise by several mysterious “incivilities.”  Before we left home port, we filled the refrigerator and plugged into shore power for a couple of hours while we made our final trips back and forth between boat and house.  When we returned, someone had unplugged our shore power cable and thrown it in the water !  It’s hard to imagine how it could be an accident.  We rinsed the cable thoroughly with fresh water and dried it as best we could.

We noticed that a spinnaker pulley has been stolen sometime in the last few weeks. 

And the most bizarre:  in one of the ports we visited, someone unscrewed the metal cap to our heating system exhaust pipe and left the cap sitting on the deck.  ???  Did they think it was the gas tank ?  We’re just thankful the cap didn’t end up in the water. 

On the whole:

It was a great experience and we were in no hurry to get home.  The cruise also gave us confidence for heading off for 2-3 months this summer.  But Patrick has begun asking himself if the enjoyment he gets from the boat is enough to compensate the stress and costs.  (My answer is, of course, YES, but then again, I’m not paying the bills.)  Time will tell…