Trip on Ocean Whisper starting 2014-08-22 in BSASep14
Plymouth - St Malo – St Helier – Treguier, August 22 – 29, report by skipper Alan Howells
Skipper Alan Howells and crew Don Hirst, Naomi Gillingham, Neil Webber and Richard Trim in Ocean Whisper, a Jeanneau Sunfast 37, departed Plymouth Friday afternoon August 22nd in a northwesterly en route to St Malo to pick up Jeff Woolmer who was to join us on Sunday following a trip from Paris on the TGV after attending a wedding on Saturday. We were sailing our best downwind course and went south for a few miles to clear the land then gybed to clear Start Point by about 8 – 10 miles prior to gybing south again. I say about as we did the whole trip on traditional nav rendered slightly more complex by having to correct for an under-reading log. The bearing and rising and dipping distance of Start Point gave a good fix and others were provided by the shipping lanes (approx), where we had to alter course to keep clear of an ocean tug towing a rig, and Hurd Deep. The sky had been crystal clear with stars down to the horizon, but had clouded over by dawn. Some time later what appeared to be very low black cloud on the horizon, which did not move, turned out to be Guernsey which refined the EP. A few other fixes were obtained from Guernsey, Roche d’Ouvres and Jersey during our various reaches as the wind grew rather more fickle. Eventually we decided to motor. NW Minquier buoy appeared close to where we expected and after rounding the SW Minquier we were on course for St Malo. Vieux Banc is marked by a North cardinal and positively identified from its bearing from Cap Frehel. It is on the entrance transit which is marked by a leading light (astonishing for France on in daylight) and Grand Jardin Lighthouse. The lower light came into view following a little jink towards an East cardinal and was followed to Bas Sablon marina where we moored.
A few notes on St Servan -where Bas Sablon Marina is. Boulangeries – all open Sunday morning and a few all day. Charcutiers – several open Sunday morning. There is a superb sort of mini mart right at the top of the town when it looks like you have gone too far, which amongst all its other stuff has a stunning display of fruit and veg –open Sunday morn. Anyone who wanted to buy clothes or touristy things only had to walk to St Malo. For the evening we found an amazing tiny restaurant La Mouette, 6 Rue Dauphine where not only was the food excellent, but the price unbelievable at 14.5 euros for three courses. My first course was 6 oysters and my second confit of lamb shank with haricot beans in a great sauce to give you an idea. Not a clue how they do it.
Left there in grey skies but with a decent Southerly sailing out on the Chenal de la Grande Conchee or a variation thereof as we could not sail the official series of courses, but had to gybe between the various rocks. Continuing on trad nav a series of reaches took us around the East of the Minquier plateau with the buoys comfortably appearing where expected in decreasing visibility. We were looking for the marks on the South East of Jersey to appear when suddenly the steering jammed solid dead centre. We were unable to trace the cause of the problem despite diving into the lazarette but managed to get all sail off. Still drifting at over four knots towards the rocks it was time for a Pan Pan which resulted in a call out of the lifeboat. We had rigged for tow when they arrived but initially this proved unsatisfactory so they supplied us with a drogue which we rigged from the starboard aft cleat. It had somehow led itself the other side of the rudder and when the load came on suddenly freed the steering. Neither they nor we wished to mess about at that point so we were towed to the waiting pontoon and were later able to enter the marina with all OK.
The following day was a beat out into a very lumpy sea following the West passage until we were able to tack away from the land and the sea flattened quite a bit. Long tacks were making limited progress into the stiff Westerly until it suddenly died during the afternoon and we motored. The tides for that trip are not favourable and we punched the eastgoing between Barnouic and the mainland until it slackened and we were able to identify La Jument and beyond it Basse Crublent. The entry and trip up the river to Tréguier required very careful pilotage due to low water springs and we had 0.6m under the keel at one point. More worrying were the rocks and unlit fish farms that extend into the channel in places. Moored on waiting pontoon, which they seem to have dredged as it has plenty of water, and moored in the marina at high water with the assistance of the very friendly harbourmaster. The marina now has hoses on all the water taps! Fuel is available at high water and during the first part of the ebb during office opening hours – the harbourmaster will let you know the precise times. It was market day and the market is everything you could want and very busy.
The passage back to Plymouth was a magnificent reach in a brisk WSW wind with seas and the occasional big swell only becoming really apparent during the last quarter of the passage. Measuring the distance from Basse Crublent to Hurd Deep allowed an accurate log correction and when we finally were able to get a fix from Eddystone and Start Point we were about five miles from our EP. We hove-to twice to eat. The preparation of the final meal bordered on the heroic – trying to wedge myself in place and grab various items as they flew about. The night was again brilliantly clear and we saw an exploding meteor while approaching Plymouth. The wind and sea got up on the final approach so we gybed for Cawsand to lower the sails in comfort. Mooring to mooring was 18 hours even with our two stops for food – a record I think.