August 12, 2017 – D-Day
The big day finally arrived and 3 of us, Jimmy Courtney, Joe Timbs and myself loaded our gear onboard. Jimmy also stowed his diving gear of which I’m sure he’ll make plenty of use.
We set off in the afternoon with a selection of family, friends, the Commodore of the club and some staff there to wish us bon voyage.
Outside the harbor we passed close to the Dublin Bay race committee boat which gave us a great send off.
The wind was light and from astern and we motored with just the mainsail set. Initially we had tide against us but we got to Wicklow Head just after the turn and carried a fair tide all the way past Rosslare and out into the open sea.
Our first night’s dinner was an excellent beef casserole made by Helen Timbs which was washed down with a nice red wine. I must say that I’ve never before had wine with a meal while sailing.
The wind disappeared altogether and we motored through the night making 7kts over the ground cruising at 1,500rpm.
On Sunday morning, cloud increased from the South West and we continued motorsailing leaving the 7 Stones to Port and the Scilly Isles to starboard. The swell became moderate but our progress was good.
We motored all day without anything dramatic happening and in the evening finished off Helen’s casserole with another bottle of red.
On Monday morning, the 14th. we stayed well clear of the Traffic Separation Zone off Ushant on Starboard tack which meant motorsailing hard on the wind.
There was plenty of traffic about but the AIS system (it’s a traffic identification system giving details of the vessel, her speed and course) gave us a lot of comfort and we only occasionally had to alter course to avoid ships. The swell was from the North West which caused the seas to be confused and as the day progressed it increased to about 4 metres. Although we had sail up, we were rolling heavily and this exascerbated the pain in my back. I found it impossible to lie in my bunk so I took to resting on the main saloon settee. Getting up was slow and painful but I found a comfortable spot sitting in the nav. seat and I spent as much time as possible there.
The watch system operated from 8pm to 8am and we did a 2 hour on and 4 hour off system.
During the daytime, we all rested when we had the opportunity and at night we rotated the watches so that no one person got stuck with the same watch 2 nights in a row.
At night Jimmy, being an airline pilot, worked the boat around some heavy rain squalls which were visible on the radar,but when he couldn’t avoid one, he found that the wind didn’t really increase. I guess his pilot good practice came automatically into play. However, after that, he ignored them.
On Monday evening the wind died and the sea state became calm with good visibility.
By 4am on Tuesday a light breeze picked up from dead astern, so we continued to motor.
The engine behaved impeccably and every 10 hours or so, I ran it at 2,200 rpm’s for 10 minutes, to work the turbo and clear out the system. This is very important to ensure that the diesel engine continues to run smoothly.
As the day progressed the wind remained astern and increased in strength with a moderate swell.
At 13.45, having sailed 427 nm (nautical miles), we had Isle de Yeu on our bow 4 miles ahead. We gybed onto Starboard to clear it and our speed over the ground was 8 kts.
At 20.00 we gybed onto Port heading towards a waypoint off Ile de Re at a distance of 14 nm, which is just outside La Rochelle.
We entered the channel leading into the port and at 01.00 on Wednesday the 16th. we entered the Minimes marina, having radioed ahead beforehand. Inside we were told that they had no room for us and a rib was called up to escort us up to the town basin. This is behind a lock gate and the guys in the rib quickly and efficiently opened the gate and escorted us to a snug berth in the centre of the town. They wished us a good night and welcomed us to France with a smile. I was impressed with this efficient and friendly service, seeing as it was by now 01.30 am. How many places would this happen in, I wonder.
After tying up we settled down to a drink and chat in the cockpit before retiring for the night.
Distance logged: 553nm
Engine hours under way: 83. We stayed for 3 nights and spent the days relaxing and walking around the town in lovely early Autumn weather.
After a sufficient time recharging our batteries, we were ready to hit the high seas again.