a travel log
From France to Scotland by sea.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Departed Newlyn yesterday at 10:45 AM. Arrived in Camaret today at 1:30 PM. Distance: 125 NM. Conditions: perfect. Esterly wind 12-18 knots all the way, moderate seas at first, becoming slight; cloudy and misty sky clearing just in time for the moon rise, and it has been clear skies ever since.

Here is picture taken the night before our departure; it is the view from the cockpit, looking aft. You can see the fishing boats, moored 6 deep. On this night we were the middle of 5 boats.

Around midnight, the night before our departure, we heard the deep rumbling of the lifeboat pull into the harbour. Lying down on my berth I could hear they were coming our way, so I climbed on deck. They were towing in a 6.5 meter sail boat, a small racing machine which had had a problem at sea.... the skipper had been at sea for 4 days, presumably training for an upcoming race. He took a nap, and was hit by a container vessel... As one of the life boat's crew and I agreed, the skipper has someone watching over him... Apparently his sail caught something on the container ship, and pushed his sailboat around so it didn't hit with full force.

Here is the sight in the morning...

After our first attempt, we anxiously surveyed the sky before leaving; the clouds were still moving pretty fast, but as we sailed out of the harbour conditions looked better: Winds did reach 20 knots at times, but the average was closer to 15, which is manageable. The seas had also calmed somewhat, and so we were on our way, heading almost due south.

Having someone on board for such a crossing certainly eases the stress level, although it does imply more organization in terms of managing what needs to happen when (who sleeps when, dinner, keeping track of progress, where the snacks are, etc...). The crossing was very smooth; the first main event was the moon rise... full moon, and the clouds just cleared in time. It was like we had a spot light on us for the entire crossing. Our shadows were quite clear on the white fiberglass hull, and the moonlight gave the sea a dimension it did not have in my previous crossing.

Moonshine on the deck

The other events, we must of had about 10-12, was watching out for huge fast moving tankers and commercial vessels motoring up or down the lanes of the TSS (Traffic Seperation Scheme). The TSS is composed of several lanes around the tip of Brittany (near Ouessant - Ushant in English), and serves to organize the traffic. Each lane has a direction, and all vessels must stick to it. It helped us as we knew which side to look when crossing each lane. The only difficult thing to ascertain is their speed. Some take a while to get closer; some lights barely discernable one minute will be 1/2 mile of us within 10 minutes. (which feels very close, given their size). Only once did we have to tack our boat around and move away a little while a tanker steamed accross our bow.

Had another pasta dinner (cannned tuna+garlic+olive oil+grated cheese...), and snacks throughout the night. Dad took the first watch until about 2:30 while I managed to get about 1 hour of sleep. I took over until about 6:30, as the sky started to get brighter.

First sighted land at about 8:30 (The "Four" lighthouse); sailed around the St Matthieu point at about 10:45, and slowly made it accross the bay to Camaret under slight head winds (engine on).

St Matthieu Point

Arrived in Camaret under a hot hot sun, managed to get the boat cleaned up a little, get the papers, and then both napped for a good few hours...

Tomorrow will be the last leg of the trip. Our plan is to leave early, around 7:30, to catch the tides going our way. Should arrive in Loctudy at some point in the afternoon...

Will certainly be strange to turn the engine off that last time. It's now been more than 3 months since I've left, and I've sure gotten used to this lifestyle! A few books, a good irish whiskey, some good and varied company - what else does one need!
6:25:40 PM    
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© Copyright 2003 Thomas Degremont.

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