Roy's Sailing Blog 2012 / b

Saturday, 28 July 2012

PART TWO (Camaret to Concarneau - 71NM 08:15-21:10 Friday 27 July)

I arrived in Sauzon on Sunday 29 July and found Belle-Île to truly live up to its name - just fantastic!!
I moored just off the harbour on PB23 so had to take the dinghy in to the harbour and village. I cycled out along some of the incredible coastal paths (there’s 102km if you have time!) and to the terribly crowded harbour at Le Palais. But the most stunning discovery was Ster Wenn (Ster-Ouen) - a dog-leg small fjord where about three yachts can anchor with stern warps attached to the rocks! I cycled and walked around there on Monday (doing a recce) but the following day had the audacity to make the 10nm return trip past the lighthouse and round the northern headlands in my dinghy! OK I took my handheld Geonav 3S (GPS plotter) and waterproof iCom VHF for safety, but it was still quite an adventure. I slowly explored this magical place and then beached on the small sandy area at the end - took some more photos and had the most wonderful day!!

Well I had some bad luck before I could leave Camaret - two more ‘serious’ problems occurred, but after an enforced week there (mostly at anchor) I had realised what a lovely & safe place it is: everything you need for the boat, body & soul! Easy fuel and water on the outside marina pontoon; easy floating pontoon for the dinghy, with immediate access to shops and Super U; and a fabulous 270 degrees of rugged coastline and headlands within an hour on the Brompton!!

The first problem was when I tried to set off at 06:15 on Tuesday 24 July - first of all my neighbours boat was lying directly over my anchor buoy and it took some manoeuvring and patience before I was free; then after a mere 500 metres my engine overheating warning light came on, and I had to switch off immediately. Fortunately the wind and tide were light and I gently just drifted back the way I had come, until I was forced to drop the anchor. I got the dinghy back into the water with the outboard (it takes at least 30 minutes) and made up about 100 metres of line to tie on to my previous mooring buoy. Next came the unenviable task of lifting the anchor into the dinghy in order to tow Credeau back to the buoy. It was already full sunshine, but too early for me to attract an audience (usually if any problem arises you are the immediate entertainment!). It turned out that in my conscientious prep that morning (simply checking the water strainer, oil level etc) I had caused an airlock in the engine cooling system. So, I closed the engine inlet sea-cock and topped up the strainer compartment and lo & behold the engine started fine...until I noticed a really serious leak out of one the thickest hoses!! It was on the exhaust outlet into the water reservoir, and I hoped I might be able to get a spare (Volvo-Penta). But just on the point of taking the hose off, I suddenly thought to actually try tightening the two large circlips - and sure enough it stemmed the leak - YIPPEE!! Problem over. Unfortunately, it had all taken a couple of hours, by which time I had missed the critical tidal gate for getting through the infamous Raz de Sein - it would have to be another day. Here are two amazing postcards of the Raz on bad days!! 

Too much fun (!) so I decided to have a nice rest day and tried again at 07:30 on Thursday 26 July. All promised well - the engine started immediately and exhaust water flow seemed fine. But lo & behold - this time absolutely NO STEERAGE. I could turn the wheel hard to starboard and hard to port, but it was running completely free and offered no response!! Fortunately, as previously, I hadn’t gone far, and as it was a bit later, my neighbour was up and aware, put out his dinghy and helped me backed to the mooring buoy. How could this happen?? I knew about the rack & pinion steering linkages and drag-links from when the new auto-pilot was fitted, so I took down the lining in my starboard aft cabin (where I sleep!) and found that the tiller arm at the bottom of the helm pedestal had completely separated from the drag-link to the rudder stock (see picture below!!) Of course I feared that it had sheered off, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the 3cm bolt had unwound itself (presumably over quite a period of time?) and after an email exchange with the great Danish JEFA steering guys (who were actually on holiday and responded - cheers!) it transpired that I could safely screw it all back together, and was lucky that all went smoothly and it was back to normal!! So, finally, third time lucky! I set off with the tide at 08:15 on Friday 27 July, raced through the Raz (see top picure!) and had a great sail (71nm in just over 12hrs) to anchor in Concarneau at 21:10. The final hour was rather fraught because the marina was completely full and turned me away (a ‘first’ for me) so I was tucked into the Ainse de Kersos just outside the harbour with one other yacht for my first night. I usually leave my little Lowrance 5M plotter on at anchor (with the backlight almost turned off) because it gives a brilliant close up any position change. I check it for safety once in the middle of the night, and also admire my B&Q garden LED which substitutes for an anchor light!