Trip on Gweilo starting 2009-06-19 in BSAJuly09

Cross Channel from Plymouth 19-22 June 2009 – report by skipper Alan Howells

Crew: Jeff Birkin, Don Hirst, Mike Berry, Bob Hayes and Paul Johnson

Following Jeff’s request to Liberty we were able to pick up the yacht “Gwielo”, a Bavaria 37, at 10 in the morning enabling us to leave at just after 12Map. As had been well forecast we had a good North Westerly giving a very broad reach with good speed.

Apart from the link to the GMDSS VHF and to an SOG readout on the autohelm, the GPS was not displayed. I think that trad navigation adds to the pleasure and everyone was prepared to give it a try.

The log had to be cleared at the start but then appeared to be under reading. Visual fixes over two hours showed the under reading to be 20% so that correction was applied to measured distances thereafter. Shortly after that, identifiable features on land were lost in the haze so we continued to run a plot. The next position line is from Hurd Deep (a clearly defined valley in the Western Channel) which was spotted in the sounder precisely as I had plotted an EP on the 100m contour – fair element of luck in that! I was less confident of our East / West position as the yacht was yawing through about 15° on that point of sail and the helmsman was reporting an average. Eventually Sept Iles light was sighted giving a fix by bearing and distance off within five miles of the EP (error to the West). Continued sailing in for two hours to close the coast and then gybing when Les Heaux became visible. Getting light then so continued rapidly East helped by an Eastgoing tide so that Les Heaux would be visible as a tower when they switched it off. Gybed again and closed the coast until Les Heaux was on a bearing to put it in transit with Basse CrublentMap and gybed onto that course until Basse Crublent appeared.

The only ‘problem’ on the way across was a near collision with a large (but uncharted!) basking shark.

Then pilotage to Tréguier Maparriving at new waiting pontoon at 07:00. Went on to moor at marina at low water. Do not try waiting ‘til low water on that pontoon at springs as we only had 0.5m under keel there and part of the way to the marina from there. The berth was a tight squeeze, compressed fenders both sides, against a yacht from the Channel Isles. The owners surfaced sometime later and announced with surprise that they had not heard us arrive; adding darkly: “most unlike all the others!”null

Traditional coffee and eau de vie for breakfast, followed by a good lunch at a cafe on the right after taking a left turn from the square on the side opposite the cathedral. Excellent evening meal at a restaurant on the right at the top of the Rue Ernest Renan (approached from the right hand side of the cathedral if coming from the square).

The Almanac now says not to leave at any time other than at slack water but the marina boss did not seem to mind as he was on the pontoon watching as we left into the ebb as uneventfully as our arrival. Nice sail in light winds with a few tacks to Port Blanc for lunch at anchor. If anyone else ever gets around to going to Port Blanc here is an update. The vertical white smudge amongst the trees (which they may trim one day I suppose) is indeed Le Voleur. Depending on who you read you should be able to see the ruined mill on the horizon or at least the gap in the trees where it is: to which I reply “what gap?” Forget it and go in on a bearing on Le Voleur. The white pyramid to starboard is clear and can be seen from a long way off but the one to port can’t be seen from the approach line until you are almost inside.

Managed some tacking into shifting light airs on the way back but eventually had to motor. During this time the log had somehow started reading correctly so we were rather more than usually uncertain of our position. No matter, head roughly towards Plymouth and get an approx fix from the Westbound shipping lane and the loom of Start Point light (well beyond visible range). Shaping a course from there enabled us to arrive at Plymouth (Rame Head appearing from the mist on the nose) and to anchor at CawsandMap for breakfast before returning the yacht to Liberty.

Plymouth  50.3648,-4.1322
Weather at EGDB   9 kts from NW 18C, 1025mb Mostly Cloudy
Basse Crublent  48.8954,-3.1807
Weather at LFRO   6 kts from West 11.0C, 1027mb Overcast
Tréguier  48.7887,-3.2226
Weather at LFRO   7 kts from WNW 12.0C, 1027mb Mostly Cloudy
Cawsand  50.3319,-4.1894
Weather at EGDB   10 kts from NW 17C, 1027mb Scattered Clouds