Sunday, 28 April 2013

Into the Morbihan

I should think so, too
Salt gardens of the Guerande peninsula

We made a reasonably early start from Turballe yesterday, fully watered, fuelled and provisioned. The forecast suggested favourable winds in the morning, becoming a bit wild in the afternoon, with the possibility of squalls.

Conditions were pretty fair to begin with, though the quite shallow waters were still fairly agitated from the previous day's strong winds, which had left a punishing short, steep chop to batter into.

After a couple of hours, though, the wind became erratic, leaving us under-powered in the lulls but unwilling to make more sail due to the frequent gusts. Progress slowed to the point where we would be hard-pressed to make our appointment with the tide at the other end.

The Gulf of Morbihan (pronounced Morbeeyawn) has wide renown as a cruising ground and also for its strong tidal streams, beginning at the narrow entrance and washing through the channels between the islands inside. The universal advice is, 'time your first visit to avoid spring tide'.

4 miles from the entrance:
Let's see here... get out the checklist.
Spring tide... *check*
Slightly too late to catch the start of the flood (HW-4, oddly)... *check*
Vicious looking squall approaching... *check*
OK, let's do it!

Squall to starboard
Squall to port

Moments later the squall struck with full force. Winds over 30kts with the full mainsail up made swiftly heaving to the only option to keep everything in one piece. No sooner done than on came the hail, which pelted down for a good 10 minutes, covering everything liberally with ice. In the midst of this a flash and an almighty clap of thunder, which left the wind instrument temporarily disabled.

Ice on deck not off the Horn

Ten minutes later, it was past and we were pegging it for the entrance. It was about half an hour later than planned, but a current of between 3 and 5 knots was already running, sweeping us in against the freshening wind. Still, with a careful eye on the transits, a pre-planned list of courses and distances, the chart in the cockpit and an occasional glance at the plot on the laptop down below, it was no big deal. The water was very agitated in places, with massive upwellings, eddies and rips, but it was actually rather fun.

We were slightly disappointed to fid that the anchorages marked on the chart have all been stuffed with moorings, but it is still beautiful and well sheltered and we were very happy to get the anchor down off the Ile d'Arz. Tired though, and as the wind howled impotently at us, we ate and then slept 10 or 11 hours.

View from Ile d'Arz towards Ile aux Moines

Much nicer today. We're taking it fairly easy. May get ashore in the canoe later.

The church on Arz

1 comment:

Penny said...

Well thank goodness you had your checklist! Glad you made it through safely, if tired, and have been taking it a bit easier. Lots of love, Mum