Sunday, 18 August 2013

Rounding Lands End

After our surprise storm from last week, we were a bit nervous about tackling the two major passes around Lands End (Finisterre) heading from northern Brittany to southern Brittany, the Four Channel and the Raz de Sein.  These passages are rather mythic, described in the pilot guides as areas having violent currents and dangerous waves if the channels are not crossed at the right time and with the right conditions.  Fortunately, luck was with us this time (we deserved that…) and we had light winds and currents pushing us gently along.  You can’t pass both channels in the same day because each is about 12 miles long and when you get the currents in the right direction for one, they’ll be in the wrong direction by the time you reach the other.  

The St Mathieu Semaphore built around the ruins of an abbey, marking the end of the Four Channel.

The alignment of Vielle Lighthouse and the Plate West Cardinal tower, marking the end of the Raz de Sein channel; and the traditional toast of rhum on making it out.  Patrick didn't want anyone to see him drinking and driving...

We decided to treat ourselves to a beautiful little anchorage called St Hernot in between the two channels in the Douarnanez Bay near the port of Morgat.  My photos were sadly incapable of capturing the beauty of the spot.  It is often used in tourist brochures to suggest similarities between Brittany and the French Riviera.  It was also one of the calmest anchorages we’ve ever had.

St Hernot in the Douarnenez Bay.  Very difficult to do the site justice with my little camera.

This is what a real photograph of the area looks like.

Our next little discovery was the beautiful port of St Marine in the Odet river. 

And finally, we spent two days in the Glenan archipelago, just 10 miles offshore.  This area, too, is often used in tourist brochures and is just as difficult to photograph as St Hernot.  We took advantage of the good weather to dive under the boat to scrub off the algae starting to grow along the water line. 

The archipel photographed by Philip Plisson.

Cleaning duty...again.
Our punishment for these last few days of beautiful weather and sites is that we are now stuck in Port Louis with motor problems.  On leaving the archipelago yesterday morning, the motor died.  We had light winds and were in open water away from the rocks, so I got the genoa up while Patrick tried chasing an air bubble out of the fuel line.  We don’t, in fact, know that the problem was an air bubble, but when it comes to emergency motor repairs, we’re one-trick ponies…. That’s the only one we know how to fix.  After a couple of attempts, the motor managed to stay with us long enough to convince us that the problem was resolved and we sailed to Port Louis, near Lorient.  This morning as we were leaving port, the motor died again, just as we pulled out of the port.  (No, of course, it couldn’t just conveniently die before we cast off…).   We had the mainsail up already, but with boats moored all around and a stiff head wind, we didn’t waste too much time with the motor before calling the harbor office and asking for a tow.  The cherry on the cake is that it’s Sunday and we can’t get a mechanic until tomorrow.   But Port Louis is charming and there are worse places to be stuck for another day.  As Jimmy Cornell always says, the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar.  As we have very few constraints, we can take our time.