Just a quick update as to where we are and how we are doing, as Charlotte and I have both been neglecting this blog. We’re currently moored to a visitor’s mooring buoy just off a small village called Lanvéoc, in Brittany, France. We arrived here yesterday, and walked up into town at around 1pm to pick up some food, forgetting that many French shops close for lunch – which, here, lasts until 5pm. So, we had lunch in a café next to the beach and spent the afternoon there before hopping in the dinghy back to the boat and cobbling together a delicious meal from our canned/dry food. Today, knowing opening times, we made a morning trip to the village and then, after Arthur decreed it would be a good idea to play on the beach, did just that. We found some amazing crab/oyster/mussel shells, dug some holes, jumped off stairs onto the sand, ploughed/mowed/bailed a sand-field with some shell-tools – all the normal things we end up doing on a beach.
More widely, we are sheltering in the Rade de Brest while waiting for either a couple of days of nice sailing weather (to hop down to Audierne and then Loctudy) or a weather window to cross Biscay. We were just-about ready to go straight across Biscay, having fallen upon a perfect weather window when I got back from my last week at work, last Saturday – we untied from the pontoon at Mylor Yacht Harbour, ready to go, when we realised the starboard propeller wasn’t providing any thrust. Back to the pontoons to wait for the engineers to find and solve the problem. They did so, and very quickly – they had not come across the type of feathering propeller we have before, and had set the angle of one of the blades entirely wrong. But that still took us to Wednesday last week due to a weekend and bank holiday, and then waiting for the tide so we could beach Mistoffelees for the fix.
On Thursday the weather was fine for crossing the Channel, but there was not a long-enough period of settled weather forecast for us to attempt Biscay. So instead we stopped at Lampaul on the Isle d’Ouessant. The passage from Mylor (near Falmouth) to Lampaul was uneventful – far too much motor sailing for our liking, lots of shipping near the traffic separation zone which at 3am had me thinking “that’s a BIG ship, do I need to turn?” before realising it was two ships. But at least we now KNOW that the previous owner was correct in stating that with the engines on 2,400rpm we use 1.5 litres an hour for each engine and travel at around 5-6 knots depending on sea conditions. That kind of knowledge is important.
Lampaul was gorgeous – we wish we could have stayed longer. We moored on one of the free visitor’s moorings, spent an afternoon on the beach (you’ll notice a theme here) including some of the most adventurous scrambling / rock climbing I have done in a while… I was following Arthur. And popped into town to pick up some snacks (croissant and pain au chocolat, bien sûr) and do a little exploration. But, we had to leave on Saturday as the forecast for the weekend involved Westerly swell and winds, which would have made the moorings uncomfortable, if not unsafe.
We had a wonderful 35Nm passage into the Rade de Brest – enjoying having the wind on the beam rather than from ahead as was the case far too often on our way around England. As it was nearing the kid’s bedtime we anchored just off Roscanvel, near the entrance to the Rade and sheltered from the swell and the worst of the wind – but from late on Saturday night through to Sunday afternoon it was still a little choppy and we regularly saw 25-30 knots when the wind swung South. We were comfortable enough, although stuck on the boat, and the anchor alarm (an app on Charlotte’s phone) didn’t sound. In fact, I wish we had taken a picture of the track it shows as it confirmed, that when set properly, our anchor sets fast. As we could tell the next morning when we had to use some not-so-gentle engine power to get it out of the sand it was embedded in. Again, good to know.
On Monday, once the wind had died down, we motored over to where we are now, a few hundred meters away from the slipway near Lanvéoc. There are plenty of other places we can visit in the Rade de Brest if the weather forecast continues to say “don’t go sailing in Biscay” to us, but as it is Arthur’s birthday tomorrow we gave him decision-making powers. So, we are staying here for another night and spending tomorrow playing snakes and ladders and looking for shells on the beach.
Looking at the forecast, which I’m doing religiously at the moment using a combination of the NOAA, Windfinder, WeatherOnline and Buoyweather websites, we’ll likely be somewhere in the Rade through to next week. Although depending on the swell, we might make a couple of day sails round to Loctudy or Benodet and the river Odet – both of which offer plenty of shelter, an ever-so-slightly shorter passage across Biscay, and somewhere we would be happy to wait for a good enough forecast to set off.