Anchoring in the bay of Stêr-Ouen of Belle île 7.6. - 8.6.
Belle-île-en-Mer or Beautiful Island is like its name is saying a beautiful island and a very popular holiday destination in South-Brittany. We had been waiting in Concarneau for better weather and the sea to get settled before continuing to the following anchorage. On Wednesday afternoon we let go the lines and departed to the next sea adventure, and what an adventure we got.
At first we had the mishap with the electric genoa winch like we wrote in the previous story. Then we continued the sailing with a little soft knees and were keeping our eyes on a swell, does it get smaller like forecasted? (It did not).
Everybody who has been sailing in this area has definitely recommended to us the anchorage on the north coast of Belle Île with an English name of Stêr-Wenn. The pilot book is telling that it is a surprisingly challenging but absolutely stunning place for anchoring. Its excitement comes from the anchorage which is like a small fjord. IT is so narrow that there is not enough space for swinging at the anchor. Instead in addition to the bow anchor, the stern lines must be taken ashore. It does not sound any more difficult than making fast to the shore rocks in the archipelago of Finland but the challenge is in the steep cliffs which can only be reached by swimming or dinghy. We read from the pilot book that there are rings on the cliffs for mooring lines. Ok, not too bad but because of the tide, the cliffs are mostly underwater and covered by super slippery water grass.
In addition the fjord was so narrow that we were wondering if we could leave Suwena alone for a moment for taking our first line ashore. With a crew of several people it would not be an issue but for us it creates a problem. It is not possible for me to go alone ashore by dinghy, searching for a landing location and if I somehow manage to get there then how an earth Andrus can guide me from the boat on where to climb. On the other hand if Andrus went by dinghy then who would drive the boat meanwhile as the steep cliffs are only a few metres afar.
Because the strait was so narrow we had to lower our anchor at almost the opposite side of the fjord for getting any scope on a chain. There was some wind along the fjord and Suwena settled in a wind nicely. Anyhow it was a little nerve wracking, as the north side was almost at a touching distance. We will be ok if the wind or current do not change.
Finally we made fast our 50 metre long mooring line and took the dinghy for fastening it ashore. We got lucky as the crew from another yacht was just leaving and they took our line and tied it to the mooring ring on a cliff. Then it got a way easier because she was now in a good position between the anchor and a shoreline. We got another long line and Andrus climbed to the cliff and made it fast around the rock while I was holding the dinghy. There was of course no second ring nearby us.
After the trouble with a winch and the whole mooring hassle we were wondering in the evening that now she is properly secured but how we are going to release her tomorrow :-)
It was like being anchored in the loch somewhere in Scotland as the tall cliffs were surrounding all around us. The fjord is about 50 metres wide and a few hundred metres deep. At the end of the fjord there were cables hung over the fjord where smaller boats can make fast their' stern lines. It must be a real hullabaloo during the high season when there are so many boats and the lines can get crossed.
We went paddling to the neighbouring caves and took a dinghy to the nearby beach. An amazing trekking path goes around the whole Belle Île. We climbed up for walking few kilometres with amazing scenery and taking some photos of Suwena.
After spending some time on a footpath we thought about moving Suwena to the harbour of Le Palais so it was time tor undoing the mooring lines.
It went well. We were departing during the high water so most of the slippery growth was hidden underwater. First we loosened one of the stern lines as much as possible and then untied another. I was coiling the line into dinghy as we were approaching the shore until Andrus climbed up and untied the line from the rock. The line tied to the ring was a bit more complicated as the wind was pushing Suwena away from us. If we had dropped the line into the sea it would have got stuck in underwater rocks. One the other hand there is no way to hold 20-ton Suwena and climb down the slippery cliff at the same time. Fortunately there was another rock a little lower where Andrus moved the line with a big loop. Then he swung the line from dinghy and we quickly pulled ourselves to Suwena while coiling the line at the same time.
We were also considering on putting the engine into reverse for holding her position while we get the lines. But what if the anchor lets go? Suwena would run to rocks alone in no time. In these situations we have to improvise how we manage because of my blindness. At least until now we have done all right. Maybe a little differently than a crew with full vision but it is the result that matters. Suwena was off and we sailed to the harbour of Le Palais.