Against wind and tide

Sailors used to say that if you can sail in the English channel than you can sail everywhere. Well, this is hopefully true but I also understand by now that they do not speak about the nice and smooth British coast but the absolutely treacherous French side. Rocks after rocks, overfalls, strong currents, unpredictable weather, all in the la manche side.
In the heart of it is Lezardrieux, I spent a whole week there, waiting for some proper weather, discovered the area and I have to admit I liked it a lot. It is a long river entrance, the marina is quite deep down, several hours of motoring away. Sort of has this makeshift look, small brokeaway pontoons, the mooring-bouys are sometimes just floating away in the current, which is not exactly a good sign if you are planning to tie your boat to it. At night they have a few stong lightbeams pointing to the boats, making almost daylight brightness around.  Still, the whole valley has a really magical look and feel. I used this whole week to wander around the hiking paths and agricultural areas… I was amazed. At a certain part, I found a mini-jungle, strange trees, massive leafs the ones with quite tropical rainforest feel in it. Spent around an hour sitting underneath the bushes waiting the heavy rain to stop. This whole experience made me smile. I suppose it was some private botanic garden of some sort.2
Trouble started when I tried to leave, after the week passed, weather improved (on paper) I was eager to sail forward, but my spirit did not lasted long, just outside of the river entrance, the wind turned, now it was against the tide, first time for me to meet this conditions myself, 6 meter waves, steady wind, around the rocks scary sized tube like breaking waves. What can you do? Normally you would turn back on the instant, and would try on an other day, but here with the tide already running, there is no way. You have to fight your way against waves and wind, all against the tide. 4-5 hours later, the breeze  turned to the direction it should be all day long according to the forecast, sea disappeared in a few minutes, even the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Unfortunately with all the trouble and complication I did not manage to progress acording to the plans, did not reached a small staight area with the currents, tide turned, nothing else left just to drop anchor not to float backwards. At least the scenery is really amazing around.4
Next day the sun disappeared entirely, fog and rain rolled in, really miserable conditions. By the time I arrived to Roscoff I had more water inside my waterproof gear than outside, it was a joy to moore the boat in this conditions especially someone tought to design a tidal pass-thru marina in this part of the world. Adventurous. At the entrance there is a small sign warning you about the strong tidal currents, but forgets to mention that it is around 5-7 knots, which again is more than our usual speed, it was rather suprising when I tried to stop at the pontoon, and instead I was still rocketing towards the wavebreaker. Last minut managed to turn, and with full engine power made a distance from the wall with a speed of a snail. Luckily the harbour-master saw my suffering and rushed for me on his high power dinghy. Without him I could never stop at the ponton there. Sort of saved my life 🙂3
Next day the drama continued, unfortunately again I could not reach L’Aber-Wrac’h in time, the tide turned against me and the wind 1 mile from the entrance, resulting scary breaking waves which was turning the boat with alarming speed. Rocks everywhere, no place to drop anchor at this time… luckily managed to cut the corners in a narrow 10m passage betwean sharp rocks and clifs, rolling waves everywhere, it is actually marked on the chart, as a passage not advised to take, but I did not had any other option. As lucky as always, I passed the hardcore part, but by the last few second the wind accidentally went up to storm force, heeling the boat prity much paralel to the water, I was a bit wiped-out..  when I arrived to the harbour, tied up the boat, and fall asleep on the spot, woke up next morning still wearing the waterproof gear. It was a rather challanging few days, I felt happy to be over with it.5
Here, sailors usually gather, to wait for proper conditions to round the dangerous straight at Urshant. For me, as I already learned that I need more time than the rest, I included one more stop, at the picturesque anchorage near Ilduit. Seemed to be a good solution, no drama anymore, in the middle of the tidal rush I even had some dolphin visitors, sun was up, little wind, and no breaking waves at this time. The legendary bay of biscay welcomed me with one of the most champagne sailing I had so far, even managed to pull up the nice colorful light-wind sail for a short while on the way to camaret sur mer. I was excited, by tomorrow I will be cruising along in the feared biscay region… fun goes on 🙂

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