Trip on Enigma of Tamar starting 2012-06-29 in BSA2July12

Helford - L’Aber Wrac’h Race Trip – report by skipper Alan Howells

An intrepid Alan, Bob Hayes, Don Hirst, Jeff Birkin and Mike Berry set out to fight the elements in the Western Channel. The yacht Enigma of Tamar, a Sigma 362, was in generally good condition but clearly an owner’s yacht set up for long distance cruising complete with a huge stainless steel structure on the stern with radar and a wind generator. The fixed part of a windvane steering and small accessories like a spare anchor in the anchor locker served to keep us well in contact with the water. A trip to the top of the mast sorted out the tricolour and anchor light but we were unable to persuade the log to work in place though it operated fine when removed.

The trip had originally been arranged for six, but we were all very grateful for there being only five. Even then there was the solving the Chinese puzzle from the inside character about things.

A bit of practice sailing on the Thursday and pasty purchase etc finished in the Helford Club where we entered the race and indulged in the usual drinking and festivities.

Our start time of 15:15Map seemed a bit late for a windward race. Against the completion we needed a gamble so we held on to the starboard tack hoping that the expected wind shift would carry us to L’Aber Wrac’hMap and for a while it appeared that it would, but then it backed forcing us to tack. An exciting duel and a close pass of the Libenter buoy put us in 13th place out of the 24 entries and 23 starters and the next festivities etc began. The trip was notable for no less than three of the five gaining an understanding of W S Gilbert’s distinction between ‘never’ and ‘hardly ever’.

The plan of going to Molene would have required starting at 03:00 and was unanimously abandoned so we left in the afternoon for Camaret. We managed to sail almost to the bottom on the Chenal du Four but the turn of the tide forced as to motor the last bit. At that point the chart plotter developed a curious fault in that it continued numerically to indicate our SOG and position but refused to update the picture. A bit of conventional nav solved that until, as Jeff had predicted, the problem solved itself just as soon as we did not need it. Once clear of the Chanel we were able to sail to CamaretMap with two reefs at a speed of 8 knots. At least the meal included Molene sausages (highly recommended).

If it had not been for the vast amounts of drizzle and intermittent poor visibility the return trip to Falmouth in 23 hours would have been fantastic. A series of fast broad reaches almost all of the way.

Helford River  50.0972,-5.1332
Weather at EGDR   18 kts from SW 15.0C, 1003mb Haze
L’Aber Wrac’h  48.5982,-4.5619
Weather at LFRB   20 kts from SSW 16.0C, 1006mb Mostly Cloudy
Camaret  48.2771,-4.5908
Weather at LFRL   18 kts from SSW 16.0C, 1007mb Overcast