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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 2 (2015) – St Peter Port to Camaret

Looking aft as we descend into the trough of the 3m swell
click to enlarge

Date of departure: 4 June 2015

We couldn’t sleep.

By 1am we were up and dressed. The light of the full moon was reflecting off the glassy flat harbour sea untouched by any hint of a wind. Perfect.

Fragile weather window

Yet we also knew from the forecast that as soon as we rounded St Martin’s Point on the SE of Guernsey and started heading WSW, we’d meet a 3m Atlantic swell topped with 1m waves stirred up by a NE4 wind.

These conditions would stay with us until abeam L’Aber Wrac’h for some 15 hours before turning south for the Chenal du Four and Camaret.

We knew it would be uncomfy. But we also knew that if we didn’t take this fragile weather window and make Camaret we would lose at least a week whilst the fronts in the North Atlantic and their associated pressure gradients played havoc with the winds and seas.

The old saying that the boat could cope but the crew couldn’t, would soon ring in our ears.

The longest day

Having cast off at 0230 and transited the east coast of Guernsey, we turned WSW and came head to head with the 3m swell. But it was just a roller coaster; gently up to its peak and gently down into its trough. In a way, quite soothing, soporific, quite enjoyable.

Were there the forecast 1m waves? Yes, but annoyingly they created a nasty steep slop causing Play d’eau to wallow. It was that movement, hour after hour, which made us both feel unwell. Lin was. I just felt ill but wasn’t. I also began to develop a fierce headache.

The Mary Celeste?

After 14 hours we turned SSW for Camaret where the seas became glassy flat
click to enlarge

Some 20 miles past Guernsey a target appeared on the radar, fine on the starboard bow. AIS gave her details as the 14m long Mardrea, at anchor, yet making 6.7kts.

At 0401 she passed 1.4nm to the north of us. No navigation lights to be seen and even in the pre-dawn light she was invisible.

Un petit mystère, je pense.

Planned diversions

In case we didn’t want to continue, we’d planned our options to return to Guernsey or divert to Roscoff or l’Aber Wrac’h depending upon where we were along the route. At each point we made the decision to keep going.

Chenal du Four

By mid-afternoon, clear skies were replaced by a grey, overcast dullness.

After 14 hours of this endurance run, we turned SSW for the Chenal du Four. Thankfully, the wind soon abated to a gentle F2 and the wind whipped waves and swell subsided.

By the time we approached the Chenal du Four the sea had become glassy flat. The wind was a mere 2kts, and what could have been a difficult encounter was nothing of the sort. A complete non-event.

Camaret

Pointe de Sainte Mathieu – the end of the Chenal du Four
click to enlarge

Camaret was full, albeit because boats had moored inconsiderately by occupying far more room than necessary. With a flat sea and no wind, we were content to moor on the outside of the outer pontoon.

Wanting to set foot on terra firma, we took the short walk into the village and had the mandatory first pression of the trip.

Post-mortem

Was the trip dangerous? No. Was it unpleasant? Yes. Was it worth it? Without question. Why? We were now well positioned to round the peninsula and start enjoying the holiday before the pressure gradients whipped themselves up to unsociably strong winds.

Nav data

Times are BST.

Pinchpoint: Chenal du Four
Departed St Peter Port: 0230
Arrived Camaret: 1952
Time en route: 17hr 22min
Planned distance: 139nm
Sunrise: 0506

Tech issues: Vibration when synchronising the engines. Having 100rpm difference stopped the vibration. Must check in Camaret.

Piers and Lin
from the navigation table of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

3 comments to Leg 2 (2015) – St Peter Port to Camaret

  • Alan Richmond

    That was a long haul, but a good start, as next stop should be through the Raz de Seine, than you are in South Brittany, the Azores High, and all that.

    I usually stage it by stopping at Ploumenac’h and L’Aber Wrac’h, both interesting and well sheltered. But you don’t need shelter, in a great big boat like yours. Ho ho!

    Enjoy yourselves

    Tahitienne and crew

  • Richard & Andrea Kitson

    Good progress then Piers & Lin.
    On our return from Biscay last September we had weather good enough to enable us to call into Lampaul on Ile D’Ouessant for a few days which is an interesting visit.
    Always good to get past the Pointe de Penmarc’h. If you can do visit Chez Jacky in Port du Belon for first class seafood. You probably already have!
    “Whileaway” is on the north coast of France this year heading towards Holland.
    Enjoy the summer.

  • Hil

    O gosh- what a journey! You will have been exhausted afterwards. I can only think- congratulations for keeping going and very clever too. What a start, but calmer seas from now on? I suppose there is no hurry any more.

    I love reading it all. Thank you.

    Lol Hil x x

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