Friday, 28 June 2013

What a difference a week makes

SUN !  For 3 straight days !!  In BRITTANY !!!   And with enough wind to sail, too.  Tears of joy welling up... 

Sunny cockpit lunch on Dumet Island (the pole of the continental hemisphere !)
Unfortunately, by the time the weather changed, we had abandoned the idea of heading north to Groix Island and the Glenans archipelago and instead headed south to the Guerande region, known for its salt marshes and sardine fisheries.  This has never been my favourite region, but having bikes on board changes everything.  We stayed a couple of days in ports that I had always considered to be quite dull, but with the bikes, we were able to ride along some spectacular coastal trails and really enjoyed our visit.  (But in my excitement over a sunny day of biking, I forgot my camera.)  We met up with friends also sailing in the area and spent some fun evenings together.  The recent appearance of the sun has even persuaded us to perhaps head north to the Channel Islands in July, following in the reassuring wake of a more experienced friend who has proposed forming a small flotilla.  But he also says that if the weather isn’t to our liking, we’ll put on the left-hand turn signal and head south instead.  Time (and the weather) will tell…

Now it’s home for three days of repairs (pilot, anemometer, new foot pump for the inflatable annex) and a quick crew change.  Patrick’s daughter will make her sailing debut with us next week, so we’re hoping the good weather continues.  

Sun also means laundry and drying out boat cushions.

Traffic jam:  Two in front, one along side, and 3 perpendicular to the one along side !  Good natured chaos.

Manoeuvering around a regatta.

Ever wonder what the inside of a foot pump looks like ?  Wonder no further...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

One week later...

The first week of our "summer" cruise was spent island hopping between cold raindrops, and now we're hunkered down waiting for a gale to pass over.  It's supposed to clear out by tomorrow morning, leaving cool temperatures behind (it was cool already).  The wind is screeching through the masts here in Port Haliguen with gusts up to 35 knots and 3-4 meter seas on the exposed side of the isthmus.  But we've got a great boat slip close to the port office, good internet and radio reception, great bike paths, a charming town with lots of restaurants, DVDs, two fully loaded kindles, and piping hot showers close by.  As we say, it's better than being at home (but only just).  We're comforting each other with fantasies of selling the boat and moving to Morocco...

Houat Island with visitor.

Low tide on Hoedic Island

Queen of the Citadelle, Belle Isle

Solstice moon, 11pm, still light enough to read outside.

No swimming, indeed...
Lovely bike path along the wild coast (if you remember to head downwind...).
Scene seen along the bike path.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Count-down to Summer (?) Cruising

With 7 days left before we head off for 3 months (albeit with pit stops back home from time to time), we still have to rescue the ailing anemometer on top of the mast (and then put it back up again if it can be fixed), replace an awol radar reflector, pick up our life raft from its revision and reinstall it, replace the wire boom vang with a new spectra textile one, replace the lower port-side lifeline and stanchion, and load the boat with provisions and gear.  No sweat. 

Because it’s too friggin cold to sweat here !  (Today’s high 15 C / 59 F). Sheesh.

We’ll be sailing French nautical map 6990, from the Pointe de Penmarc’h to La Gironde, which is essentially the Atlantic coast of France, baba cool.  

French nautical chart 6990: Atlantic coast of France from Penmarch point to the Gironde river.

We may spill over the edges of the map a bit if we have good weather and feel motivated, but good ole 6990 is definitely our comfort zone.  We’ll hit all the islands (nine of the ten anyway) and hope for calm weather so we can spend most of our time in quiet moorings at anchor (free !). 

Are we excited?  Nope.  We’re exhausted.  And we’ve sailed the Atlantic coast of France before so the  voyage of discovery will be testing our own seamanship skills, and as always, testing our boat-repairing skills  (Gee, that sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?)  My goal is simply to finish the summer with more things fixed than broken, including ourselves.  I’m sure we’ll see things differently once we’ve tucked Spray away behind one of the islands and had a sunny, calm, relaxing few days.  Okay… it was probably too much throwing the “sunny” bit in to the mix, but one can dream.  Next report from the islands !  (or rather, the next port with an internet connection).