Sugar 'n' Spice – Diary April 2008

Saturday 19th April

Finished loading, topped up the diesel, dumped cars at home & returned to Sugar 'n' Spice ready for departure tomorrow.

Fell among thieves with champers, not good for an early start on the morrow.

Sunday 20th April

 6.30am departure with rather murky weather, but a decent wind from the E or NE. Needed the radar & nav lights most for the day, as buoys appeared at about 2 boat lengths distance. The murk was enlivened by 2 enchanting visitors, the first a very brightly coloured redstart & then a pipit – less gaudy, but with a cheeky expression.  Neither stopped long when they realised we were going in the opposite direction, although the redstart popped down below to check his position on the chart!  Across the Thames estuary we spotted a few guillemots & then TSS Royalist appeared out of Ramsgate & we watched as the CG spotter plane came to take photos.  16.30 & 64nm saw us tied up in Dover’s tidal basin having sailed the whole way. Very nice view of the Castle from the basin. Early night!

Monday 21st April

Chores then a midday start, to suit the tide, still fairly misty.  Just the genny out until we got to Dungeness, as the wind was dead downhill, then we hoisted the main & hardened up. 15mins later we needed a reef & the wind continued to play with us as we continued down Channel, past Royal Soverign & Beachy Head, & we took reefs in & out, out & in, but with lovely fast sailing conditions.  As night progressed we had to run the engine to charge the batteries, but were still sailing fast with 2 reefs.

Tuesday 22nd April

In the early hours the tide kicked in against us, & later the wind went light, so the iron topsail went on. We are seeing more gannets. Finally as we approached Alderney the mist cleared & at about1400 we picked up a mooring in Braye harbour.  168nm.

Tidied boat, inflated dinghy & rowed ashore.  A leisurely stroll around Braye town, looking lovely in the sunshine, then we opted for a cheap & cheerful meal at The Divers pub – very good beef stew on a Yorkshire pud base – just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday 23rd April

Another trip ashore to pay our dues, then another midday start, on the tide, through the Swinge (under motor as wind on the nose)  past “Gannet” Rock then full sail on to Guernsey.  Gannets heading towards their “rock” are carrying seaweed, presumably for nests.  Teatime & 20nm we tie up at a waiting pontoon in St Peter Port. When tide made we moved into Inner Harbour.

Thursday 24th April

A day off in Guernsey! Amongst strolling & stores shopping we did indulge in some very extravagant lifejackets in the hope that they will be comfortable enough to stop the debates about when & if we should be wearing them.

Friday 25th April

A prompt departure from St Peter Port & full sail, initially close hauled, then a broad reach & finally motoring as the wind went light & fluky before we picked up a mooring in Port Blanc. A very pleasant sail -52nm - & a very pleasant location. Also switch to French Time & relax in evening sunshine.  Doug is delighted to see the terns again.



Sat 26th April

Left Port Blanc in virtually no wind & motored along the coast.  Mid morning off Tregastel (real ‘Pink Granite’ coast) wind switched on (0-15knts) in the space of 2-3 minutes.  So we sailed – for 20mins when it dropped again, & so it continued on & off until late afternoon.  We were glad we were not racing, as the engine went on & off, the genny furled & unfurled & we lost count of the number of times the motoring cone went up & down!  To my surprise we saw 2 puffin off Ile de Batz , but they were not sporting the summer season bright orange bills.

At about 7 in the evening we wound our way into the river at L’Aberach & picked up a mooring for the night.  61nm.

Sun 27th April

Prompt start motoring, no wind & a very wet murk.  The wind stayed light & on the nose, bending round the coast with us for most of the day.  Small French motor boats fishing loomed out of the mist & yachts heading the opposite way passed like ghosts.  Le Four lighthouse at the start of the channel between mainland France & Ushant was heard long before we could see it.  Finally the wind freed & mist cleared as we turned into the Rade de Brest & sailed for Camaret & the visitors marina, near Vauban’s Tower & the pretty little Chapelle of Notre Dame de Rocamadour. 36nm.  The Captainerie was shut, but the Town & Port was busy with Sunday visitors promenading.  We joined in walking the sea wall  & harbour front, & peeped in the tiny Chapel to discover that it had several model sailing fishing boats hanging from its ceiling.  A nice  reminder of the prettiness of the town even on a dull grey day.

Mon 28th April

It rained stair rods & blew most of the night. Late morning we finally dodged the rain & celebrated with a gallette for lunch.  Still dodging rain we stocked up at the supermarket & ended up eating the supplies to avoid going out in the stair rods yet again!

Tues 29th April

A repeat of yesterday wind & rain wise.

We took advantage of a bright spell to walk along the up & down Coast path, with some lovely views back over the harbour, & past spectacular rock formations & silver sand beaches.  At Pen Hat dunes we were lured inland by the towers of an old manor (St Pol Roux) rising over the slope.  It was fairly tumbledown & looked better from a distance, but beyond were the Menhirs of Lagatjar. A  lovely find with a horseshoe of standing stones plus more.  Rather less than the original 600, & surprising as they are only a stone’s throw from the centre of Camaret. More rain dodging got us back to the boat.

Wed 30th April

A repeat performance of wind & rain overnight. Then we had a day of boat & domestic chores, & Doug did an oil change as convenient to do. Out in the evening for a ‘menu’ in one of the local resturants.