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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Leg 19 – Sainte Marine to Camaret – 28 August 2013

Sunrise over Sainte Marine
click to enlarge

The Brest peninsula is the gateway twixt Brittany’s west and north coasts around which the Atlantic rushes in its desperate attempt to reach the North Sea before time is called for it to turn around and dash back some six hours later.

Pinch points

The peninsula has two pinch points through which it’s sensible, if not vital, to pass at just the right time to avoid meeting unpleasant seas – the Raz de Sein and Chenal du Four.

Get it right and both are as placid as can be. Get it wrong and there’s many a heart stirring video on You Tube to demonstrate just how nasty they can be.

The best plan is to take them during a period of neaps (least water volume flowing between high and low tide), slack tide (movement of the sea changing direction and is virtually stationary for a short time), and calm wind (so the sea isn’t whipped up).

The chart showing Play d’eau and the start of the route to Camaret
click to enlarge

The Raz de Sein (pronounced Ra de Senn) would be the pinch point in today’s planning.

The nav plan

It was only two days before neaps which ticked one box. Slack tide in the Raz would be at 0946 or 1601 and since it would take some seven hours to reach the Raz, we chose 1601. That ticked the second box.

Aided by the Admiralty Tidal Steam Atlas for the west coast of France (NP265), we worked backwards arriving at a departure time from Sainte Marine of 0902.

The weather

Sainte Marine was calm with clear skies and good visibility. The forecast wind for the Raz de Sein was N’ly F3 thereby ticking the third and last box.

We followed two small fishing boats as we left the estuary and motored into the bay
click to enlarge

‘Perfick,’ as Pop Larkin would say in the Darling Buds of May.

The journey

It started as one of those rare sunny days. Nil wind had encouraged the sea to look like silken glass. Not a ripple nor even a ‘riplet’, and with a distant haze it was hard to distinguish the horizon between sea and sky. Surreal.

We left the marina following some small fishing boats out of the estuary and into the bay.

After hours of glorious cruising the journey through the Raz presented Play d’eau with only a slight chop created from a N’ly F3 blowing over the slack tide.

However, as soon as we through, the wind obviously wanted to annoy us and increased to F5 and joined forces with the Atlantic swell on our port beam to create an uncomfy but not horrid, corkscrewing motion for the next hour. Hmmm.

A silken flat calm sea with the horizon barely distinguishable
click to enlarge

Engine overheat

As if to compound this movement, soon after we rounded the Raz de Sein, the port engine water temperature rose from its normal 160F to 210F.

Leaving the engine idling in neutral, Lin took control as I disappeared into the engine room armed with our ‘point and shoot’ thermometer to compare the main cooling elements of both engines. I could find no significant difference. The most likely cause was a faulty instrument, yet that might prove to be too easy an answer.

Playing it safe, we shut the engine down, only starting it as we entered Camaret to aid manoeuvring. It showed no signs of overheating.

Arriving

As we turned east around Pointe du Toulinguet on the final leg to Camaret, the sea quietened to its original flat calm and we arrived in Camaret in hot sunshine.

Entering the Raz de Sein keeping both La Plate (left) and La Vieille to starboard
click to enlarge

A hour later, Brian of yacht Morning Spirit, with whom we’d previously had such a great evening in Pornic, pulled into Camaret as well.

The tecky details

Departed Sainte Marine – 0902
Arrived Camaret – 1746
Time on passage – 8hr 44min
Total planned distance – 57.4nm
Tides: 2 days before Neaps
Longest leg – 22.4nm from Cap Caval WCM to Pointe La Plate WCM

Tech issues – port engine cooling overheat, cause unknown.

Navigational info: Take the Raz de Sein at neaps, slack water and a wind below F3.

Piers and Lin
From the Nav Table of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

The coast guard’s HQ on the Pointe-de-Toulinguet
click to enlarge

Question: Which Boulangerie will win the great Croissant Competition this cruise? Watch this space….

You can get in touch with us any time by using our Contact Form.

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