Further West and a little bit to the South

Our next leg from Saint-Germain-des-Vaux was to Guernsey. We were accompanied by the Tuulis (check out their website). We motored the whole way through the so-called “Race of Alderney”. It’s called like this because of the very strong currents that can occur due to the tide. But we arrived a little bit early and so the Race was not as exciting as we expected.

Shortly before we approached St. Peter-Port which is the main harbour of Guernsey we had a small thunderstorm coming along our way. Wind speeds increased from zero to nearly 40 knots in minutes and decreased shortly after we finished berthing, which went surprisingly well for those conditions.

The marina has a very motivated harbour master. We arrived in the middle of the night at about 3:30 and he instantly came over in his small dinghy and pointed us to the right berth.

Guernsey was the first “country” where we had to clear customs, but it’s a quite easy procedure. You simply have to fill out a form with all your personal and ship data (and list all alcoholic beverages and all vegetables and meat onboard) and then put the form into a postbox when leaving your boat for the first time.

 

Guernsey
Guernsey

The yacht harbour has a sill to keep the water inside at low tide. Tidal differences are quite high.

The Sill at St.Peter-Port (Guernsey) at high tide
The Sill at St.Peter-Port (Guernsey) at high tide
The sill of St.Peter-Port on Guernsey at low tide
The sill of St.Peter-Port on Guernsey at low tide

 

Guernsey jetty
Guernsey jetty
Guernsey with the old fort in the background
Guernsey with the old fort in the background

Guernsey was nice to visit but at least St. Peter-Port was not as interesting as we would have liked it to be. For me, the most remarkable thing was the extraordinarily good Burger Menu i ate.

 

That's how home-grade "stainless" steel is looking after some weeks in a marine environment
That’s how home-grade “stainless” steel is looking after some weeks in a marine environment

We should have stayed for another night to explore the other parts of the island. Instead, we decided to continue Southwest and went back to France to Roscoff due to a very good weather forecast which turned out to be wrong, we had to use the engine most of the way.

We've been escorted by Dolphins while sailing to Roscoff
We were escorted by Dolphins while sailing to Roscoff

Roscoff is a nice little city with stores that have a quite long lunch break, and when we decide to walk to the next supermarket we usually arrive five minutes after the beginning of this. So instead of cooking we went to a creperie and had some crepes and coffee. Afterwards, we went to a marine chandler and got some emergency parachute rockets. We would have liked to buy them before we started our journey, but in Germany you are not allowed to buy these without a special license. In France (and probably everywhere else on the world except Germany) you simply go to the store and buy the stuff.

Roscoff
Roscoff

We stayed in Roscoff for two days and went to the beach both days. The first day it was a nice relaxing stay, the second day it wasn’t, because we arrived at high tide and there was no beach any more.

Roscoff harbour at low tide
Roscoff harbour at low tide
Roscoff beach
Roscoff beach

 

From Roscoff, we had a nice relaxing sail to L’Aber Wrac’h. We had to sail close-hauled again and made really good progress due to the wave patterns. While our french boat that has been built in La Rochelle in the middle of the bay of biscay really struggles to go upwind in the short and steep waves of the baltic sea or the english channel, it works like a charm in those long and even Atlantic waves. We’ve had waves of probably two to three meters and it was a lot more relaxing than sailing against waves of less than one meter on the baltic sea.

The next leg was through the Chanel du Four to the Rade du Brest (Bay of Brest) where we’re at anchor now about four miles south of the city. We went there by dinghy today and explored the city center.

The next step will be crossing the bay of Biscay, and we hope to get nice weather for the whole passage (about 350 miles) in about a week.  It gets quite cold here now at night so we hope to be in the warmer south soon.

From Dover to Isle of Wight and back to France

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Our track since Dunkerque

In Dover we stayed in the Tidal Harbour, which was with 30.80 pound the most expensive harbour on our trip so far. Unfortunately we were stuck there for 3 days, due to weak wind and fog. But during our stay we met the crew from sailing boat Milan. The skipper participated in the Tall Ship Race the year before and now also wants to cross the Atlantic. We could have seen them in Aalborg last year when we came back from our first vacation with Mila on the North Sea. We had a little bit too much Jägermeister from Helgoland with them.
We liked the promenade, with its yellow to orange stones on the beach and smooth pavement, perfect for longboarding. We didn’t like that you couldn’t even look down from the hill with the castle without paying the overpriced fee.

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Dover Tidal Harbour at high tide
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Dover beach

After some foggy days in Britain we were happy to get wind force 3 from South West on Tuesday, planning to sail to a wild anchorage in France and hopefully find the summer again.

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On Friday midday we had to use the engine as the wind faded. After some hours one of the seals in our motor started leaking, so we searched for a Vetus Service nearby and it turned out one was on the Isle of Wight. Lukas was a little bit happy that he got to see this sailor’s mecca even though we wanted to skip it in order to get to the Bay of Biscay earlier.

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Racing sailing boats on the Solent

We moored at Cowes Yacht Haven. A mechanic came aboard the next day and fixed the problem and also did the next engine service as it was due again.

The people from the marina wanted us to leave as soon as possible because the whole harbour was booked for the participants of a race. So we went to Osborne Bay just West of Cowes to anchor there. We had quite a bit of swell there but we were happy not to spend any money for some time after having to pay for the engine service. Over the phone payment, by the way, if someone from payleven is reading this 🙂 The bay is private property of the Queen, so we were not able to take the dinghy to land. We spend two relaxing days in the bay as the wind was too strong to continue our trip. Lukas tried to catch a fish and failed. I got the guitar out of the rear bunk and practiced a bit.

As soon as the wind decreased a little bit we pulled the anchor and drove to the western end of the Solent and out in the Needles Channel. The sea can be quite rough there when you don’t pass it in high tide, it was not too bad when we went through.

Driving trough the Needles Channel
Driving trough the Needles Channel
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We were out of beer and wine since Osborne Bay, so we had to drink this strange beverage
Our navigation table at night
Our navigation table at night

After about 16 hours we arrived at 8 in the morning in a cosy little bay in Saint-Germain-des-Vaux. We slept for some hours and then took the dinghy to shore in order to explore the area. I went running for about 30 km on a beautiful track on the coast. Lukas bought some fish from one of the fishers, I stole some corn from the fields and we had a barbecue on the beach. Yesterday we visited the closest supermarket, which was 8 km away. Luckily the longboard carried the heavy stuff for us again, hill up and hill down and through tiny old villages.

Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux
Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux, Mila in the back, anchoring next to the small fisher boats
Getting ready for the Berlin Marathon in this beautiful landscape is easy
Getting ready for the Berlin Marathon in this beautiful landscape is easy

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New accessory on our outboard engine
New accessory on our outboard engine

From Stad aan Het Haringvliet to Dover

We’ve been to Netherlands – France – Great Britain in the last days. While Belgium would have been nice to visit too, we decided to go to France directly and ended up in Dunkerque as the wind died and our fuel tank was nearly empty.

Dunkerque
Dunkerque
Dunkerque harbor, probably mullets
Dunkerque harbor, probably mullets

As we liked the beach we stayed for two days. Teresa took the opportunity to run 28km to Belgium and back. There are a lot of marine hardware stores and so we stocked up on fuel filters and oil filters. Unfortunately, Henning had to get back home from Dunkerque so now we’re on our own again.

Dunkerque beach
Dunkerque beach
Dunkerque beach
Dunkerque beach

Initially, we planned to go from Dunkerque to Isle Of Wight, but as the wind increased again we decided to stop at Calais. We arrived late at night and opposed to what we expected, there was nearly no ferry traffic. As the harbor only opens at high tide, we weren’t able to get in and stayed on a mooring buoy for the night. There was quite a lot of swell in the harbor but as the buoy was for free that was okay. At some times, it was impossible to have a can of beer standing on the table without holding it securely.

Calais
Calais

As the weather forecast predicted southwesterly winds with force 3 (about 10 knots), we decided to cross the english channel and then continue to sail west to Isle of Wight. But about half way of the crossing wind speeds increased and soon we found ourselves sailing close-hauled against force 8, we measured some wind gusts over 40 knots. So still no Isle of Wight for us, we’re in Dover now. And we’re having to eat massive amounts of eggs before they go bad. Very delicious!

Somewhere near Dover
Somewhere near Dover

So far, everything works great, except that we are wishing for more winds from the north or east. But considering the pilot charts for this area, those strong westerly winds seem to be normal.

We’ve sailed nearly 900 miles now and Mila works as we expect her to, except for a small leak (or leaks, who knows…) we haven’t found until now. When sailing close-hauled at force 5 or more our bilge pump removes about a small cup of water every hour. Nothing dramatic, but we would like to have a dry bilge.

Lukas