About this site

Piers and Lin du Pré bought their new Fleming 55 / 129, Play d'eau, in 2003.

She was berthed in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350 until she was sold in October 2021.

This site charts the thrilling adventures they had in her.

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Leg 20 – Camaret to L’Aber Wrac’h – 29 August 2013

We left Camaret in thick fog on weapons
click to enlarge

Yes, yes, yes! Fog – and lots of it. Maybe 100m maximum.

So today we’d be on full weapons using our new radar seriously after all these hours of practising. And let’s not forget the Kahlenbergs and their auto-signaller for those four second blasts every two minutes.

One point to remember from yesterday’s passage was the port engine overheat. How would she (it? Non!) behave today? I had been into the engine room, talked kindly to her, stroked her and told her how much we valued and relied on her. In true HR style, I had no doubt she would behave itself.

The nav plan

Today’s pinch point would be the Chenal du Four as we made passage around the second part of the Brest peninsula. Needing to take this at slack tide meant being off Le Conquet at HW Brest +¼ or -5¾.

Last time in L’Aber Wrac’H we drank biere. Now it’s Breton Cidre
click to enlarge

Not wanting to leave at silly’o’clock in the morning, we opted for the -5¾ point even though it meant we would be punching into a S’ly tide after Le Conquet. Mind you, it shouldn’t be too bad since it was neaps.

Our planned track from the Chenal would take us outside the coastal reefs, but if the seas were kind we could always cut corners and arrive significantly ahead of plan.

The weather

As we breakfasted, the gentlest of zephyrs was feeling its way around the marina, the fog creating an unreal silence, and over a coffee, we had a refresher of COLREG 19b. We felt prepared, nervous, yet excited.

The forecasts showed a maximum of a N’ly F2. With tides only a day away from neaps, the passage should be really smooth, even in the Chenal du Four.

Hollamby Portable Radar units

Whilst making a final check of the forecasts, three yachts with no radar and showing no lights left the marina. Not even one of those new Hollamby Portable Radar (HPR) units was in sight. Here, we’ll refrain from making further comment.

The journey

Easing off the pontoon we felt our way out of the marina and soon lost sight of land. Activating the Kahlenberg auto-signaller, I reminded Lin the horns were just about to fire.

A beautiful sky and sunset displayed itself as we bade farewell to the west coast of Brittany
click to enlarge

They did, and despite the warning, we both jumped. In fact, even though we knew they’d keep firing every two minutes, we couldn’t stop ourselves from jumping every time. But the glorious rich and loud sound they gave made every jump well worth it.

The radar was simply brilliant. Seagulls, whether swimming or flying, and pots, were all identifiable. Boats from small Merry Fishers to high speed Vedettes could all be tracked and it was so useful to see their relative, as well as true, vectors.

The Chenal was flat calm. Trusting our radar, chart plotter and its back up, we passed close to the Le Four lighthouse specifically to take some photos through the fog.

Targets in the fog

Interestingly, although there was little traffic on the water, we didn’t have to alter course for any boats, only pots. Boats seemed to change direction and move out of our way.

The Le Four lighthouse hiding in the fog
click to enlarge

We wondered if it had anything to do with the Kahlenbergs….


With an hour and a half to run, the fog lifted revealing blue skies and perfect visibility. Taking as many short cuts as we could and arrived at L’Aber Wrac’h some 50 minutes ahead of plan.

Did the port engine behave herself? Admirably.

The tecky details

Departed Camaret – 0902
Arrived L’Aber Wrac’h – 1454
Time on passage – 5hr 19min
Total planned distance – 36.05nm
Tides: 1 day before Neaps
Longest leg – 7.4nm from Pointe de Grand Goven to Roche de La Dorade
Tech issues – nil

Incidents – nil

Navigational info: As in the previous leg, be at the Chenal du Four at neaps, slack tide, and a wind less than F3

The Petit Pot de Beurre ECM in the estuary to L’Aber Wrac’h
click to enlarge

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

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

3 comments to Leg 20 – Camaret to L’Aber Wrac’h – 29 August 2013

  • Pip

    I remember when we were on the earlier version of Play d’eau and had to navigate back through fog. You and Lin were busy on deck whilst I played games with the kids down below without a care in the world, knowing that you would keep us safe. That was before you had all the extra “gizmos”.
    So much easier – and safer – now but I still trusted you with my life without any hesitation!

  • Ah yes, the portable radar.

    You are of course referring to the (in)famous Motor Boats Monthly April Fool joke of (I think) 1988.

    To put this in context you have to remember this was the time when the very first GPS handhelds were emerging. Like mobile phones of the same era they were large by modern standards but had everyone very excited about portable electronics. I had a Sony GPS that looked like it had a small satellite dish at the top and a Vodafone lead acid cell handbag mobile that fully developed the arm muscles.

    Which was probably why we decided to ‘create’ the PLIRA radar – a handheld radar. What followed was a whole page of elaborate explanation about the technologies involved including (from rusty memory) a plasma display which was pretty forward thinking on our part.

    In reality it was one of the very early LCD televisions that we ‘connected’ to an inverted enamel dog bowl by means of a redundant curly phone cable. The word PLIRA was very professionally letrosetted around the dog bowl and the illusion was complete.

    The PLIRA was mostly the invention of the magazine’e then Technical Editor Mik Chinery but with some finessing at the subbing stage by yours truly.

    By the time the whole article was ready for press I was slightly alarmed at how convincing the thing was, despite its name PLIRA offering a clue.

    So I printed my office number at the foot in case we had a load of readers randomly calling all and sundry to place an order.

    Which was a major personal mistake of close on biblical proportions.

    What I discovered, within hours of publication, is there is clearly nothing so dangerous as the damaged ego of a boat owner who has been thoroughly taken in. Of which there were quite a high number.

    The only pleasant conversation I recall was from the Deputy Harbourmaster at St Peter Port. He had gathered quite a crowd of boat owners at the dock head who were variously sceptical and taken in and wanted to know who was right. Perhaps they were even running a side bet or two. Anyhow when I imparted the news I could hear much jollity on the other end of the line so perhaps the good folk of Guernsey simply have a better sense of humour than mainlanders.

    We really stayed well away from April Fools after that. Once bitten…

    Given my Honda CR-V has a radar hidden under its radiator grill badge I’m sure a handheld radar would be possible now – except of course Elf ‘n Safety wouldn’t allow it.

    Happy days.

    ps it’s all a bit of a shame in a way as we secretly hoped the PLIRA would climb in the charts to be seen as being as notorious as the polyestermite (a worm that attacks GRP) – a creation of Bill Beauvis that caused widespread genuine panic when it appeared in Motor Boat and Yachting a few years before.

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