Brittany and the CI '16

Suwena's Sailing Plan for the summer of 2016

  • Posted on: 3 June 2016
  • By: Eve

We’ve now been sailing for eight seasons and over 9200 nautical miles in 17 different countries. Our basic philosophy is still the same: sailing forward each season looking for a new sailing areas.

Our original summer plan was to keep sailing in Brittany and then sail around the northwest corner of Brittany called Finistère. We were thinking to continue hugging the coast of Biskay and leave her wintering in Europe’s biggest marina in La Rochelle. To our surprise there was a 15 month waiting time for the berth and the price was one and a half times higher than Roscoff, so we remade our summer plans.

Actually it started to feel that we’d like to have a different summer. There are still a lot to see in Brittany and many local sailors have given us very good sailing tips. Maybe we should explore the coast of Brittany in more detail.

Last summer we liked the Channel Islands a lot and due to lack of time we missed Alderney, Sark and Herm completely.

Suwena also has a good berth in Roscoff so she will spend another winter in familiar environment.

Usually we make quite a detailed plan for supporting our schedule. This summer we let the wind and feelings decide our sailing direction in Brittany and the Channel Islands.

You can again follow Suwena’s adventures in the blog and we can together sail on the waves of the sea.

Preparing Suwena for the Summer in Roscoff

  • Posted on: 8 June 2016
  • By: Eve

We were quite an exited on how Suwena has taken the winter when we finally arrived onboard in May. We had intent to visit her every second month for checking that all is ok during the winter but unfortunately we only made one journey at the end of January. During this time the rain was coming down horizontally and there was a lot of it. Luckily we visited because one of the mooring lines was almost broken. Over the winter, Jean-Pierre from the neighbour yacht has also looked after Suwena and we had received a few photos and a hello knowing that all seemed to be fine with her.
Roscoff marina
We had booked the haul-out for Suwena in May. Living on hard in a boat is always a funny experience. Most of the equipment must be shut off including the water-cooled refrigerator. Suwena is like a warm room for sleeping but cooking, showering etc we had to do somewhere else. The weather was cooperating and hull cleaning, changing the anodes and polishing the hull sides were done in schedule and were on land only from Monday to Friday.

Everything went smoothly until one time, as we were just about to leave the boat. "Where is the ladder?" We had borrowed the only available ladder from the marina and the workman there had borrowed it for a moment and forgot to bring them back. Fortunately we were leaving the boat during the working hours. Otherwise we might have been waiting for some time before somebody had come to the fenced boat service area. Of course I could have lowered Andrus with a spare halyard :-)

In addition to regular spring maintenance we found some breakdowns as well. When Andrus opened the aft cabin roof hatch for the first time he got only a window on his hand. Fortunately it was not raining. The frame of the Lewmar hatch is a painted aluminium and that paint had now come off from the frame together with silicone seal. Actually Andrus had only the hatch with silicone on his hand. The latter was by the way stuck to the hatch cover really stiff as we found out by trying to clean off the silicone for reattaching the cover with Sikaflex.
The broken aft cabin hatch in Roscoff
When Andrus dismantled the back of the main cabin cupboard for checking the connections to swimming platform’s shower he found some moisture on the cupboard wall. The faucet connections were dry but there was missing the seal where the stern light wire is passing the hull and water was pouring in from there, again some work for Sikaflex.

The list of broken equipment was growing when we found out that the generator battery was dead as the wind transducer was as well. We can see the wind speed but the directional indication is not working any more. For generator we purchased a new service free battery but the wind transducer was not so easy. Andrus cleaned the connectors from both at the top and the bottom of the mast. The harbour was full of Finnish language as Andrus shouted the type number of the transducer from the top of the mast and I echoed it back trying to memorize it. The number did not help us in either of the local chandleries. Neither of them could give us a price for a new transducer. It means some googling and online shopping for Andrus.

Andrus sometimes complains that there are too many screws to tighten and connections to check. On the other hand it is good to be very accurate during the spring maintenance. Again there were some critical nuts and bolts loose. The generator oil filter was about to drop off and the bolts on starboard side davit were completely loose as well. What would have happened if either of them broke loose at sea? The paint on furlex was coming off again and the dinghy outboard did not start, the list goes on but at the end of May she was ready for cruising.
Green teak deck before spring cleaning with Patio Magic in Roscoff
We also had one miracle onboard. Our Navtex has never worked well. Only in an exceptional conditions we have received a few messages. Andrus have tried everything including the new antenna, checking all the cables, connections and grounding. Something has happened as now we get daily notices to mariners from Norway to Spain. For the first time he had to use the area filtering on the unit.

In May the most interesting Navtex warnings were about two war time bombs being found. The most funny was however a warning about a floating refrigerator. Who would throw a fridge into sea?

In the middle of boat chores it was nice to visit another boat from our yacht club Oulun Merenkävijät. S/Y Hippo is wintering in a nearby town Morlaix. She is a Catalan catamaran that Ilya and Irina have been sailing from Germany to Brittany. We had a really nice evening onboard Hippo. We shall see if our routes meet again during the summer and we could have a picture of our boats of the same yacht club together faraway from the home port of Oulu.
Eve, Irina and Ilya onboard Hippo in Morlaix
There is a tropical garden next to the Roscoff marina and we took time to visit there. By looking at the tropical plants we got a good feeling that the voyage begins soon, indeed.
Tropical garden in Roscoff

Morlaix 4.6. - 7.6.

  • Posted on: 12 June 2016
  • By: Eve

In May the nights were still rather cold and Webasto was humming silently and warming Suwena’s interior and consuming diesel. We have never had so little fuel left. We even pondered if we’ve enough for reaching the fuel berth in the marina :-)

We were just about to cast off the lines for the summer voyage when we heard a brisk Finnish hello “terve” next to Suwena. There is an another Finnish yacht, S/Y Xenja, in the marina and we had waited for its crew to arrive but the boat stayed empty. It was really nice to even shortly meet the HSK yacht club’s skipper Markus.

Quick stop at the fuel berth of Roscoff quenched Suwena’s thirst by 600 litres of diesel and we were off.

What a feeling to be at sea again. After a few cloudy days we could see the glimpses of the Sun and our smiles were grinning widely. We motored to the north side of the first rocks and hoisted the sails immediately. The north wind pushed us quietly forward on the broad reach towards the Bay of Morlaix. It was so peaceful with water quietly squashing pass and Suwena silently moving forward. This was definitely worth waiting, after working countless hours making her seaworthy again after the winter.
Suwena sailing on the bay of Morlaix in Brittany
The marina of Morlaix is situated behind the lock that is opened only three times every high water, at high water and -1.5 h and +1 h on both sides. We planned for first opening that on this Saturday was at 16:58. The river dries completely so it is better not to rush. Even if the wind started to die we kept sailing as long as there was any forward motion of a boat. During the approach to the river entrance there were other sailing boats as well on a way to Morlaix with everybody trying to get something out from the last breath of the wind.
The river Morlaix at low water in Brittany
Already from the year 1544 the Bay of Morlaix is guarded by the Château du Taureau fearsome-looking fort that is standing proudly on its own island. Nowadays the castle can be visited by boat trips from Carantec. We were intending to anchor on a return trip and visit the fort by our own dinghy. Now however it was time for the lockage.
The Château du Taureau on the bay of Morlaix in Brittany
When arriving to the river the wind finally died completely and we used engine for driving up to the lock. Our timing was so perfect that already after a few minutes we could enter the lock. The lock of Morlaix is really easy. The ascent was half a metre only. There are also fixed vertical mooring lines on the walls of the lock. Our own line is passed under the lock line and it slides up and down together with the water level. The harbourmaster brought harbour paperwork to the lock and told at the same time where we can moor. He pointed out a few places for bigger boats.
The River Morlaix in Brittany
The lock of Morlaix in Brittany
Our assigned berth was rather small. The length of the berth was only 7 metres, that is about the half of Suwena’s length. We’re used to mooring her in tight places so we backed in and made her fast with bow and stern lines while adjusting her exact position with springs.
The marina of Morlaix in Brittany
This was the first marina of the summer and we immediately could put our Passeport Escales card into a good use. The card has some perks in over 100 marinas in France, Spain and the UK. The perks depend on the issuing marina. Our annual berth contract in Roscoff includes eight free nights in any of the Passeport Escales marinas.

We received also Transeurope Marinas card as the annual berth owners of Roscoff. Roscoff is one of about 70 marinas on the coast of Western Europe from Scotland and the Netherlands until the Canary Islands. The card entitles 50% reduction of visitor’s berthing fees.

The river Morlaix rises towards the town and the marina is right after the lock on the river. Then the river continues through the centre but its covered. From the marina there is a short walk to the heart of Morlaix and its medieval winding streets. The old houses made from stone and timber are overhanging the cobblestone alleys. One of the best preserved the 16th century’s buildings is the Duchess Anne’s House. Or la Maison dite de la Duchesse Anne in French.
The old town of Morlaix
Eve having a sorbet in Morlaix
Duchess Anne’s House in Morlaix
Our visit to Morlaix took place on Sunday and Monday so like usual in France the most of the shops and the restaurants were closed. The weather however was warm, over 20 degrees and the Sun was shining beautifully. The walk on the narrow streets up and down the hills was pretty relaxing.
Tractor parade in Morlaix in Brittany
Of course we wanted to climb up to the viaduct that is the biggest sight of Morlaix. It must have been quite a construction project in 1863 when this massive bridge was built. It is 292 metres long and 58 metres tall viaduct built for gaining a train service between Paris and Brest.
The viaduct of Morlaix in Brittany
The middle level of the bridge is open to visitors at about 30 metres height. For us the viaduct adventure can be considered as a decent exercise. We went searching for the way up on the eastern side. We climbed up on the twisting alleys and found the path to viaduct. After arriving to the eastern gate, to our surprise it was closed even if there were some happy people just passing us to another direction.

We could not open the gate, so we descended and circled to the western side. There were clear signs up to the bridge and after climbing the 30 metres up again we were on the viaduct with other people taking photographs of the sights. For satisfying our curiosity we walked to the eastern gate again, this time from inside and there was a button for opening the electric lock and the gate was now open after the previous visitors.
Andrus at the viaduct of Morlaix
Morlaix

Ploumanac'h 7.6. - 10.6.

  • Posted on: 16 June 2016
  • By: Eve

Here on the coast of North Brittany there are several places that can be reached only during the high tide. Both, our departure port Morlaix and our destination Ploumanac'h, are such a harbours. So we had to make a plan how to spend 12 hours on 27 mile voyage.

Our idea was to depart at high water and sail to the Bay of Morlaix. We could drop anchor and take our dinghy for exploring the Château du Taureau fort. However there was a thick fog and the weather was not inspiring at all with a damp feeling. On the other hand the wind should start blowing from north in the afternoon. So we put the engine into idle and slowly floated northbound onto the sea, and then in the afternoon we could raise the sails with the northerly wind and sail towards east to the lagoon of Plounanac'h. Now in the early summer the hull of the boat is still clean and with the engine idling we made 3.6 knots :-)

As the wind was starting to blow we immediately hoisted the sails. The tide was still from east against us so we moved forward with the gusts and backward with the tide for rest of the time. This was fine with us as we had plenty of time and we enjoyed being at sea as Suwena was going back and forth.

The weather forecast showed sunshine for the afternoon but the Sun was unable to penetrate through the thick fog. Instead the fog got thicker while time was passing. Also the wind never came despite of numerous puffs. Finally we gave up and started Perkins for motoring towards Ploumanac'h. We had to be there in 12 hours - funny :-)

When we were closing to Ploumanac'h we got a company for half an hour. Suddenly there was a vessel approaching us fast from stern on port side that did not have an AIS transmitter. Andrus was already worrying as the other vessel did not reduce speed or alter the course. It only continued on a collision course with Suwena. About half a mile from us it matched our speed and set a parallel course. Even with binoculars we could not see with whom we were sailing in a thick fog. After half an hour our companion made a u-turn and disappeared as fast as it arrived. We think it was French coastguard but it remains a mystery.

Near Ploumana'h the current increased to three knots and the water was making whirls between the rocks. The fog was still thickening and visibility was only a mere 200 metres. Ploumanac'h is a lagoon in the middle of cliffs and a sill separates it from the tidal sea. The entrance channel is winding between the rocks and cliffs and it dries at the low water.

Ploumana'h can be entered about +-3 hours of high tide and we were arriving about two hours before it. The pilot book also told that there is a tidal gauge next to the sill for checking the water depth.

Additional challenge was that the current from rising tide pushed us forward with quite a speed. Andrus had to drive faster than current for keeping the boat under control. Near the harbour the visibility got still worse. The fog is really deceptive as the distances are blurred. Once the lateral boys come visible it feels like the boat is already on top of them. And then there was a fishing boat meeting us in the narrow entrance channel in the middle of thickest fog.
Suwena arriving in fog at Ploumanac'h in Brittany
It was really exciting to drive by radar in the middle of rocks listening to the echo of our voices from the nearby cliffs. We did not see the tidal gauge at the sill and we were approaching the sill dead slow. Finally there was again more water and we had arrived to the lagoon.

Tom Cunliffe wrote in his book, the Shell Channel Pilot that,
"The buoys consist of two fenders joined by aluminium rods. They are ahead as you enter. Pick one up by its pick-up line and secure alongside it."

Sounds simple but there were no pick-up lines for catching the buoys. The lagoon is filled with strings of buoys. The boats are made fast from both the bow and the stern so called fore-and-aft mooring. Each of these mooring buys are actually combined from four to five separate buoys. And from those the two or three middle buoys are floating as fenders between two boats allowing the usage of mooring from both sides.
Fore-and-aft mooring in Ploumanac'h in Brittany
The buoys of the lagoon are meant for boats with the maximum length of 12 metres and draft of 1.5 metres. Tom Cunliffe wrote that he have been in Ploumanac'h just fine with his boat that is larger and have a depth of 2 meters. The keel would nicely be sucked into the muddy sea bottom.

Suwena’s draft is 1.85 m. The neighbour boat gave us an advice where the water might be deeper. We slept through the night not noticing that Suwena was standing on her keel at the low water. Next day we could see ourselves that it’s true. She will be on her keel when there is no more water to float her.
Suwena standing on her keel at Ploumanac'h in Brittany
We went ashore for the first time during the low water. The water level was so low that we could not reach the slip with the dinghy. There was one meter of mud between Pikku Suwena and the slip. Fortunately I was wearing the rubber flats which are good for stepping into water. It was more than stepping this time as there was no bottom. My foot sank deeper and deeper into the mud. If I had come with wellies like I thought at first, for sure they would have been permanently sucked in :-) The mud was like a glue but I managed to get my shoe up. Fortunately a local guy arrived to the slip with his dinghy waiting for the higher water. We gave our painter to him and he pulled us forward for the final missing meter. Soon Pikku Suwena was firmly on the terra firma.
Ploumanac'h of Brittany during the low tide
Ploumanac'h of Brittany during the high tide
Now we are really convinced with that we do not have to worry about Suwena during the low tide, as the mud will suck the keel of a 20-ton boat as firmly as my foot.

When returning from the centre of Ploumanac'h it was a high tide. Fortunately we earlier changed her place by pulling her few meters higher up on the slip for making sure she is fine at high tide. Anyhow she was happily floating about a metre from the shore. If we had left her to original place where we made her fast we should have swam for a dinghy. Our return trip started funnily as we drove on the slip that was underwater towards Suwena. For the following visits we planned landing time better with the tide. We can really see that we’re from the Baltic Sea and the tide can still surprise us.
Fog from the sea arriving at Ploumanac'h lagoon in Brittany
Plounac'h is really a beautiful area of rose granite. There are a lot of walkers and climbers on paths and cliffs. During the low tide it was nice to walk on a dried seabed and try to solve the labyrinth for having as much dry land under feet as possible. There were patches of thin sand and coarse gravel. Then we reached massive granite boulders full of deep grooves made by flowing water. We were climbing up and down while hopping from stone to stone – this was fun! Some people were sunbathing on the rocks while others were driving cars next to the boats that were now on a ground for easy maintenance. No wonder why the pilot book warns for looking out for the rising tide, otherwise the dinner could be missed while waiting for the next low tide to get off the rocks.
Eve on the walk at dried seabed of Ploumanac'h in Brittany
Tidewater pouring into the lagoon of Ploumanac'h in Brittany
Yachts waiting for hight tide at the Ploumanac'h entrance
Coastal path of Ploumanac'h in Brittany
Andrus making a donation for sea rescue of Ploumanac'h in Brittany

Tréguier 10.6. - 15.6.

  • Posted on: 20 June 2016
  • By: Eve

Last summer we stayed at the anchorage on the river Jaudy near Tréguier. However many sailors from both France and the UK have recommended to visit the town of Tréguier to us. Thus we headed there.

We departed from Ploumanac'h as soon as there was enough water over the sill, about mid-tide. On the coast of Brittany the tidal current flows east on rising tide helping us forward and as the wind was busy somewhere else we motored to Tréguier arriving just at high tide.

All pilot books have strong warnings that Tréguier marina must only be entered at slack water. The pontoons are at the river bend and the current passes them diagonally. We heard that even the experienced skippers get confused then the strong diagonal current plays with the boat in a narrow gap between the berths. Making a boat fast securely can be tricky there!
Tréguier, Brittany
Tréguier marina in Brittany
The harbourmaster welcomed us on the pontoon and took our lines. At the same time he proposed a berth that is better suited for Suwena from inside the hammerhead. We were glad to notice that during our stay in Tréguier he welcomed all arriving boats. Also the overall atmosphere of the marina was very relaxed. BTW, it was the first French marina with English signs as well. +1 to Tréguier.
Suwena in the marina of Tréguier in Brittany
Tréguier is really a nice place to relax and take long walks. It is located about 10 km inlands, away from the coast and this warmed up the air nicely. Even if every morning we woke up with the clouds and had some showers, the afternoon were just beautiful, The Sun was shining and we took the opportunity for having walks in the alleys and streets of the old town of Tréguier. The town’s surroundings are lush French countryside with more opportunities for listening the birds singing. There were a plenty of caravans, motorcyclists, cyclists and of course us, the boaters, there and everybody was enjoying the tranquillity of the nature.
The river Jaudy in Brittany
The river scenery in Tréguier in Brittany
Scenery of the river Jaudy in Brittany
The heart of Tréguier, the old town is located on the hill. There are two major sights, the cathedral and monastery of St Tudwal. There are of course several cafés, brasseries and restaurants surrounding the central square. We tasted an amazing seafood platter with lobster, crab and many other wonders of the sea. The restaurant of Poissonnerie Dégustation Moulinet Jean-Pierre was recommended to us already a year ago and we can pass the recommendation forward with full heart.
St Tudwal cathedral in Tréguier in Brittany
When on Saturday evening we descended the hill, back to the marina, we decided to sample the beverage offerings in the restaurant Le Ponton that is located only a few steps from the visitor’s pontoon. Despite of being just consumed an enormous seafood platter we were looking at the mouthwatering dishes which the cook was grilling. He grilled all main courses from fish to fillets on the vast open fire coal barbecue. It was just a perfect invitation to return here in another evening.

Guernsey 15.6. - 17.6.

  • Posted on: 23 June 2016
  • By: Eve

Our mind was desiring for the Channel Islands as last summer we only visited there shortly. We were waiting like most of the other crowd on the pontoons of Tréguier for the wind to ease. Finally the forecast showed 15 to 20 knots from the west and it was time for departure.
Suwena sailing to Guernsey on the Bay of St Malo
The crossing was the first rollercoaster of the year. There was still quite a swell from strong winds on a previous day. This itself wouldn’t be a problem but the wind was much lighter than forecasted, only 10 knots from a port quarter. When the big wave was passing under Suwena, she made quite a roll, the drive from the sails was lost, the sails flapped and speed slowed down. When the rolling finally ceased the wind pushed her back to five knots speed. Definitely shis was not the fastest crossing we’ve made but the weather was nice and we were not in a hurry if not considering that during the boat rolls we had a queasy tummy :-)

Already in the beginning we put a preventer for the mainsail. A few solid bangs from the boom and we quickly set the preventer. We should have also put out a whisker pole for supporting a genoa nearer to a shore. Further out at sea the rolling was just so uncomfortable that it was not done. The weather was really clear with sunshine and the favourable tidal current helped us from Tréguier to Guernsey. We sailed for 40 miles out of 46 and noticed once again that in rolling conditions it is important to eat something small and drink water regularly for keeping the internals happy.

The timing was perfect. We arrived to Guernsey just at high water and could enter the marina sill right away. Once the lines were made fast we were laughing that it is the curse of a sailor. There is always too much or too little a wind. For motorboaters this is much easier, there is always too much wind :-)

It felt good to be back in a familiar marina. During this visit to Guernsey we went for a ride by Le Petit Train that is a touristic road train. Half an hour passed quickly as we were driving around the harbour area of St Peter Port, entering the small streets of the centre and returning to the harbour by passing the business area.
Le Petit Train in St Peter Port, Guernsey
Without a sightseeing tour we would have missed an important fact about Guernsey. There is a pub, at arms length from a church. In other words from the pub of Albion is the closest pub to the church in the whole British Isles because the gargoyle reaches out almost to the pub. - It is fast for reaching the pint for sure!
The Albion House pub next to a church in Guernsey
Pub at arms length from a church in Guernsey
Our day in Guernsey was relaxed with mundane chores by washing laundry and refilling the fridge. We were eagerly waiting for the departure to the island of Alderney that we missed last year.
St Peter Port, Guernsey
Eve and Suwena in St Peter Port, Guernsey

Alderney, the Channel Islands 17.6. - 19.6.

  • Posted on: 28 June 2016
  • By: Eve

On Friday we departed from Guernsey as soon as there was enough water over the sill and sailed to our weekend destination, the island of Alderney. The wind was just perfect 10 knots and we were beam reaching in a beautiful weather while enjoying the sunshine in a cockpit.
Suwena sailing to the island of Alderney
Our calculations about the current and wind were just right. The island of Burhou is located on the northwestern side of Alderney and the current can be immense in Swinge strait. At best we had a downhill current of 5.3 knots in addition with a wind from behind when we were passing the strait. Even at this benign weather there were standing waves rolling Suwena heavily. For sure we do not want to be there on strong wind against the tide conditions. It would be quite a washing machine then.

To our surprise the harbour of Braye was quite a full despite its still mid-June. There were only a few free yellow vissitors' buoys near the outer edge of the harbour and we caught one. When I was coiling the mooring warp it looked like that the harbour master was speeding to greet us by dinghy but it was cheery young woman promoting a water taxi services. She told that its two pounds per person for going ashore and after 9.30 pm it is three pounds. There was also a tip in a pilot book that the water taxi in Alderney is convenient way for reaching the various establishments ashore during the civilised hours.
Suwena in the Braye harbour of Alderney
We thought that after mooring her we could put the dinghy down and go for a dinner ashore into some of the numerous restaurants of Alderney. The harbour of Braye is open to northern and easterly winds and in addition it looks like the northwestern wind also can push some swell around the end of the breakwater. The boats were rolling that happily in a swell so Pikku Suwena stayed firmly in the davits waiting for the next day while we were hailing a water taxi for a dinner trip.

To our surprise we heard from the water taxi driver that in Braye only two restaurants are open after 8.30 pm for a dinner and the rest would be already closed for the evening. We had a choice between pizza and seafood, and for sure we ended up in a right place. We have never ever got such an abundant amount of scallops like in the First and Last restaurant‘s dish which was brought to the hungry seamen – Yam yam.

Saturday downed into the most lovely summer day. The swell however was our companion for the whole night. When we were sipping morning coffee many yachts prepared for the departure. When the buoys were vacated more deeper in the harbour, we quickly untied our mooring line and moved Suwena deeper into the harbour. There are over 70 mooring buoys in the harbour of Braye and the more deep we drove the smaller the swell became. Pro tip: The swell is bigger next to the breakwater wall as it reflects the waves back.

We eagerly lowered Pikku Suwena into water for going ashore. First we checked the offerings in the Braye village. The bike rentals had ads about tandem’s being for hire and yes, they had a tandem which was already rented out.

We also found two decent food supermarkets from Braye. Our fridge was full of groceries and thus we started a long climb uphill to the island’s only town called St Anne.

We were rather surprised on how busy small town was St Anne with all the small shops. There are about 2000 people living in Alderney and the basic services were well available. Also overall Alderney looked like a big doll’s house. All the yards were well kept and buildings were in good order. You could really feel that Alderney people are caring about their island.
The town of St Anne in Alderney
Alderney, the Channel Islands
The anchorage of Longy Bay in Alderney
Alderney, the Channel Islands
After enjoying quite a huge and delicious crab salad in the sunny terrace of the Jack’s Brasserie it was time to puton our backpacks and continue the island tour.

First we walked across the island to southeast shore and then continued to the northern tip of the island and then back to the harbour. In total we had a 12-kilometre walk while the Sun was burning my crown, while my sun hat was of course onboard Suwena.

There are quite a lot of lush leaf trees in the middle of Alderney while the trees turn into conifer trees closer to the coast. Especially in the north we could see that the terrain on any slope without shelter was rugged and barren from the beating of northern gales. On the other hand any sheltered area, especially if southern faced, were grown full of bushes and trees. The Sun worshippers were enjoying the summer in sheltered beaches while the windy side of the island was completely empty.

Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands and the only one that is actually located in the English Channel, only 8 nautical miles from the cape of La Hague in Normandy. The rest of the Channel Islands are actually located in the Bay of St Malo.

We were quite charmed by the feeling and nature of Alderney. Fortunately we held our plans to visit there and returned to the Channel Islands. Last summer we planned Alderney to be the first port of call in the Channel Islands but due to bad weather we had to skip it.

Something from the slow pace of life in Alderney tells that while onboard on Friday evening we heard from the local radio station the eager host announcing: “the plane has just managed to land and the mail have has arrived and maybe even the newspapers”.

Unfortunately for Sunday evening and a few next days there was again a forecast of strong winds, rain and thunder. On Sunday morning we departed back towards Guernsey for holding the weather. On Sunday there would have been a market, a tour of the lighthouse and the only train in the Channel Islands would transport the tourists around the island. There is always something for the next time!
The Braye harbour of Alderney
Suwena in the Braye harbour of Alderney

Guernsey, the Channel Islands 19.6. - 24.6.

  • Posted on: 7 July 2016
  • By: Eve

After returning from a successful Alderney voyage we thought about keeping the rain for a few next days in Guernsey. Again we wanted to stay at the inner harbour because we planned for staying several days and also water and electricity is only available there. This time we were second in a raft with British Hallberg-Rassy at the hammerhead.

We spent a good part of the week onboard while the rain was flushing down the decks. It wasn’t too bad, the marina had wifi and we had some books to read. We also had time to catch up our sailing blog with the blog stories.
The castle Cornet in St Peter Port, Guernsey
We also managed to find the hardware store B&Q. This was important as in the spring Andrus used the last bottle of Patio Magic, an amazing liquid, for cleaning the teak deck from green growth which had appeared during the winter. We tried unsuccessfully to find a similar liquid from France but the B&Q in Guernsey really helped us out. Now we’re well stocked for the few upcoming years.

Of course we must visit a local pub scene as well. A dark pint was coupling nicely with some folk music in the pub of Cock & Bull. The group of 10 musicians put up quite a session. They played traditional Irish songs that made everybody cheerful and singing along. Depending on a song the performers changed and even some from the audiance joined the jam as well. Fife, fiddle and guitars were all joined into one happy performance. Wow! How good is that?
The session in the Cock & Bull pub in St Peter Port, Guernsey
The Guernsey Yacht Club has premises at the waterfront of St Peter Port. The clubhouse consists of meeting rooms and a restaurant with a vast terrace. We joined the relaxing sailors on the terrace as visiting yachtsmen and got some insights into local life. At the same time there was also a club race at sea.
A sailing race in front of the Guernsey Yacht Club
There is a seawater pool in front of the clubhouse that is about 100 x 50 metres. Actually there were several dinghies ready to go on the pool and we heard that the RC sailboats are raced there as well.
The sea water pool of dinghy sailors in St Peter Port, Guernsey
Our plan was to continue on Wednesday but the fog was persisting with occasional thunderstorm. The smaller islands and anchorages are inviting in fair weather thus we stayed in Guernsey. Finally the wind gave up and the sunshine was forecast for Friday, so then it was time to sail to the tiny island of Herm.
St Peter Port Guernsey, the Channel Islands

Herm, the Treasure of the Channel Islands 24.6.

  • Posted on: 12 July 2016
  • By: Eve

The Port de Herm harbour is located just opposite to the harbour of St Peter Port. The distance from Guernsey to Herm is a staggering three nautical miles and this makes it a popular trip destination all year round. The high season is during the summer with up to 100 thousand tourists in total visiting Herm on a day trips. A day tripping is convenient as there is a good ferry connection between Herm and Guernsey.
 St Peter Port of Guernsey from the island of Herm
The western wind was blowing when we arrived to Herm. Despite of this we first wanted to try if the harbour of Herm on the western coast would be sheltered by Guernsey. On our arrival the buoys at the bay were bobbling happily in waves and we decided to continue around the island to the eastern coast and the Shell Beach Bay in a search of calmer waters.
Suwena approaching the island of Herm from the south
The anchorage on the western coast of Herm
There are several anchorages on the east side of Herm. All of them are unsheltered and anchoring is possible only in very settled weather. Our plan was to have a walk around Herm and then for the night to continue to neighbour island Sark.

The tide was 8 metres and we carefully calculated the amount of the cable we need for keeping her floating until we’re back onboard from the island tour. As soon as the anchor was well set we put Pikku Suwena into water and went ashore. Looking from the dinghy it looked like and felt that the swell on the bay was not too bad and there is no surf on the beach. The truth was different. When the bow of the dinghy hit the beach we were immediately struck by a surf wave from behind, turning the dinghy sideways. And then there were two rather wet sailors pulling the dinghy above the high water line so it would still be there waiting for our return.
Pikku Suwena at the sandy beach of Shell Beach Bay in Herm
Herm is a tiny island with only 60 permanent residents living there. The island is 2.4 kilometres long and 0.8 kilometres wide with several footpaths around and across it. At first we walked to the northern coast, circling the island counter clockwise.
The north coast of the island of Herm
The terrain of the northern side of Herm consists of low hills and sandy beaches. The path was easy to walk and soon we were on the western side where the few houses of Herm like a school, a chapel, a hotel and few restaurants are located as well. There is also a campsite for tents that was swarming with happy campers.

We enjoyed a quick lunch at the Mermaid restaurant and continued our island tour. After passing the Herm harbour started the more challenging part as the island’s southern coast has taller hills and rocky cliffs.
Herm, the Channel Islands
The port of Herm in the Channel Islands
Hotel White House in the island of Herm
The granite cliffs of the southern coast rise up to the height of 40 metres and the hills are spread over the whole width of the island. The footpath ascended up the cliffs for passing the capes and descended back to the next bay just continuing on to the cliffs of the next cape; up and down with a hill at a time. At times the path was very narrow and following the edge of the cliff with a steep slope and then in turn it dived across a lush forest into the next cape. We really had to be careful on the rocky footpath as there were some loose stones and steep drop next to us.
The south coast of the island of Herm
The south coast of the island of Herm
After closing the island tour next to Pikku Suwena on the Shell Beach our legs were feeling like spaghetti. But there was still one more chore left. The tide had pulled back and now there were 100 metres of soft sand between Pikku Suwena and the sea.
The anchorages of Shell Beach Bay and Belvoir Bay on the island of Herm
The anchorages of Shell Beach Bay and Belvoir Bay on the island of Herm
And then we were navigating around shoals and rocks that are revealed during the low water. Suwena however was waiting for us, floating peacefully. We lifted Pikku Suwena to the davits and after weighing the anchor set course towards the island of Sark that could be seen in southeast.
Suwena anchored at the Shell Beach Bay on the island of Herm
The day trip to Herm was cool. Herm is very well kept. Despite of so many visitors there was no littering and the rubbish cans are readily available along all the paths. This may sound self-evident but by visiting in many islands it is definitely not the norm.

The peace and tranquillity of Herm is further enhanced by the ban of cars and bicycles. Only quad bikes and tractors that are necessary for transporting the visitor’s luggage is allowed.

We left Herm with beaming smiles and totally happy!

Sark, the Channel Islands 24.6. - 25.6.

  • Posted on: 27 July 2016
  • By: Eve

After a successful trekking day in Herm we weighed the anchor on Shell Beach Bay and set course to the neighbour island. We were rounding Sark from the north and while passing the bay of La Grève de la Ville it looked like all the buoys were already taken there. This was not a concern for us as we were sailing towards the bay of Dixcart in southeast corner of the island and when the anchor had dug into the bottom of the bay the log showed that we had sailed for 8 miles.

It would have been half a distance if we went into the bay of Havre Gosselin. However we were recommended the bays in southeast corner of the island. In addition of being better sheltered from the western winds it is also easier to get ashore as there is no need to climb up the 150 very steep steps on the cliffs Havre Gosselin.
Suwena anchored on Dixcart Bay of Sark
Suwena anchored on Dixcart Bay of Sark
The Dixcart Bay should have been well sheltered in the forecast winds from SW to NW but from somewhere the annoying swell reached the bay. We spent a restless night while Suwena was swaying with the waves. First thing in the morning the other four boats weighed their anchors and soon disappeared over the horizon. The whole bay was only for us and Sark was still waiting.

We left Pikku Suwena next to a small waterfall on the beach and went towards the centre of the island. The paths were very different compared to Herm with roots and stubs. The paths that were partly in bad shape are passing though the valley forest. We also passed a couple of streams that could be crossed by a narrow bridges made from a couple of wood planks. Just after 20 minutes the footpath widened into a road that could be driven with a quad bike.
Pikku Suwena ashore at Dixcart Bay on the island of Sark
Footpath on the island of Sark
At first we headed to the central village that is simply called the Village and its main street is called tersely the Avenue. There is actually a handful of streets with a few hotels and restaurants in the centre. The hey day of Sark seemed to be clearly behind and many properties were in poor condition or just empty. Of course the population of Sark has decreased as well. Currently there are only 450 year-round residents on Great Sark and 40 on Little Sark.
The Avenue street on the island of Sark
We picked a restaurant for lunch and had sandwiches filled with Sark crab. Andrus downloaded the latest weather forecast and to our annoyance the next low pressure was coming earlier than in a previous estimate. The wind would pick up during the wee hours of next day and keep blowing for several days. We need to visit Finland and we have to reach the coast of France for getting into the train to Paris. Day’s agenda was quickly changed. We’ll stay in Sark for a few hours and then depart towards France.

We had got a recommendation about having a tour of the island by horse-drawn carriage. With a horse we could see more of the island compared to walking. After a short search we hired a Lucy horse with a charming gentleman driving it for a 90 minutes tour.
Eve and Lucy on the island of Sark
Touring with horse and carriage on the island of Sark
Horse tours are a major part of the tourism in Sark and currently there are 11 horses in total giving presentations of the island to tourists. The driver described both the history of Sark and its current status. Including the various affairs in many places we passed. We stopped at the Pilcher Monument above the anchorage of Havre Gosselin. The masts of the boats were swinging happily and there was definitely some swell on this bay as well.
The anchorage of Havre Gosselin on the island of Sark
Lucy also took us to the isthmus of La Coupée that is joining Great Sark and Little Sark together. We walked to Little Sark. Nowadays it’s easy and the isthmus that is three metres wide and 90 metres long is protected by railings. Back in the 19th century it was less than a meter wide and no railings with the drop of 80 metres on either side. Many did not dare to cross it and children had to crawl or otherwise the wind could take them.
La Coupée isthmus of the island of Little Sark
La Coupée isthmus of the island of Little Sark
The coast of the island of Sark
Eve in the cave at Dixcart Bay during the low water on Sark
After the sunny tour of Sark we returned to the boat. We weighed the anchor and set course to Saint Quay Portrieux. After sailing for an hour we started the engine. The current was pushing us east towards St Malo and the wind was from west. We decided to pass the tacking and used engine for motorsailing instead. This way we’d arrive in early morning hours.

The passage was comfortable and we passed the breakwater at two in the morning. To our big surprise we were greeted by harbour staff in a dinghy, who showed us a berth for mooring even at these small hours. In the morning we would never have guessed that we spend the next night in France.

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