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Old 16 July 2006, 05:55   #1
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A passage to Brittany

Heading off today on the start of our passage down to La Turballe to meet up with the Jackeens’ and their entourage who are crossing the channel on Thursday and then trailing their boats down. Seems like a sensible plan, but I’ve always got to be different…….

It’s an area that I’ve always wanted to explore and my father used to regale me with stories of the Chenal du Four and the Raz du Seine

So the plan is : -

Sunday. Late start as we need to dog sit. Lunchtime launch and then Needles to Casquets and on to St Peter Port. LW at 17.36 means we will need to moor up outside Victoria Marina. We have a hotel booked, so we will enjoy a degree of comfort for the first night. I went out and bought a tent on Friday, in case we are not so fortunate elsewhere.

Monday. Fuel up and head SW towards L’Aber Wrach. Depending on progress and conditions, we may try and press on to Camaret that afternoon.

Tuesday. On to Concarneau, where we will be seeing Florence and Philippe, who some of you may have met at Ribex.

Wednesday. A day of possibilities, perhaps a lazy day in Concarneau, or on towards Ile de Grox or Belle Ile or ….

Thursday. La Turballe and an appointment with a launderette !
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Old 16 July 2006, 06:30   #2
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Good luck with the passage Brian.. Looking forward to seeing you when you make it..
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Old 16 July 2006, 14:53   #3
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Good Luck mate, Its the way I would have done it.
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Old 16 July 2006, 16:50   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteshoes
Heading off today on the start of our passage down to La Turballe to meet up with the Jackeens’ and their entourage who are crossing the channel on Thursday and then trailing their boats down.
Brian and family were waved off from Drivers' today with the inimitable Stuart (& Jasper) being ever helpful!

They have arrived safely in St. Peter Port and are ensconced in lodgings

K & P
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Old 19 July 2006, 10:55   #5
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Southampton – St Peter Port Sunday 16th July

Log

Fuel Used

Space was always going to be an issue with the limited locker capacity and the amount of stuff that we wanted to take. The kids were under instruction to take the smallest overnight bag that would accommodate their underwear requirements, 3 trousers, 5 tops plus a couple of fleeces and a sponge bag. I knew we were in trouble when Sophie insisted on bringing something that would have raised eyebrows at a longhaul airline check-in desk.

I had been out and purchased a tent and sleeping bags in case we were unable to find hotel accommodation along the way and we wanted to take the kites for recreation and an alternative emergency downwind power source and when I saw all the gear assembled on the driveway in Middlesex before we set off, I was reminded of Chief Brody in Jaws “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”

We had cases and cases of drinks purchased from the cash and carry on Friday that were specifically for the kids; Lucozade sport, 3 cases of water with all kinds of fruit permutations, Coke, Dr Pepper, OK some beer for me, and a blackcurrant and raspberry job that Sophie picked out for herself. Rewarding ourselves with a drink after the hot job of finally stowing all the supplies away on the boat, Sophie announced after just 2 mouthfuls that she didn’t like the blackcurrant and raspberry drink. Great. I’ve got a locker full of the stuff and enough to hydrate half of Hereford.

Everything had to be crammed into the confines of the lockers, which meant that to find anything, you then had the laborious job of taking everything out.

An uneventful crossing apart from an eerie feeling I experienced about the new prop producing too much vibration at certain engine speeds and the GPS wanted us to head East of Tautenhay on arrival, presumably due to the strong tide set and the waypoint that I had entered.

We moored alongside a very muscular 9m+ rib in St Peter Port, thinking that he looked as though he was going to be there for at least a couple of hours, while we waited for the tide to cross the sill into Victoria marina. We then set off in search of our hotel, with only a vague idea of it’s location. Within a couple of minutes Sophie was eager to swap her heavy bag and Michael was eager to hail a taxi. I was eager to find a pub along the route to confirm the hotel’s whereabouts but I was forced to abandon this strategy and ask a stranger for directions, who promptly pointed up the steepest hill he could see. Having ascended this with a load that would have tested Sherpa Tensing, we found the hotel and checked in.

After a swift beer in a local hostelry, we set off happily down the hill, walking 3 abreast in the middle of the road like a low budget remake of the Magnificent Seven. I was stopped in my tracks by a “thwack” noise very close to my right ear. “Keep walking” urged Michael in a low voice. I was confused. “Keep walking” he instructed, more determinedly. I started to move off again and questioned why. “Somebody’s throwing eggs at us” he explained and a closer inspection of the tarmac proved that he was correct. There was evidence of a previous barrage that had come from an open 4th floor window.. The shell that had whizzed past my head had found an alternative target in the windscreen of a parked Fiat.

Approaching the harbour, I was surprised to find that Caprisante was now moored directly alongside the pontoon and puzzled by the appearance of fluorescent yellow behind the consol. As we got closer, we saw that one of the seat lockers was now hanging open and the cause was an inflated lifejacket in a scene reminiscent of the autopilot sketch in Airplane. This must have been set off by somebody standing on our seat, when the rib inside us moved off. I suspect somebody got quite a surprise and subsequently a good laugh.

We moved the boat into Victoria marina and set off in search of an Indian as I suspected we would be deprived in the fortnight ahead. Curry and long passages in a small open boat the following day don’t really go together but it had to be done and we were duly served by a waitress we suspected was a Romanian powerlifter in training for Beijing 2008.

Back at the hotel, I fancied a cup of tea before turning in and although there was a tray with cups and an assortment of sachets, a thorough and exhaustive search of the room failed to reveal a kettle. I wondered if there was somebody else in another room with a kettle, desperately hunting for cups and the accompanying sachets !

I think you can tell a lot about a hotel by the assembled gene pool at breakfast. In this case it was found wanting. Toast at this hotel was a special order and when it arrived, it had only been toasted on one side. We didn’t complain. I had visions of Basil Fawlty saying “Oh I see. When you ordered toast, you meant you wanted it browning on both sides. It’s a local custom here to just toast it on one side, it keeps the freshness in the bread, but no problem…..” and then kicking open the kitchen door and yelling “Terry, table 4, want their toast cooked on both sides, bloody philistines”
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Old 19 July 2006, 11:00   #6
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That's Guernsey for you........
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Old 19 July 2006, 15:15   #7
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Great write up
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Old 19 July 2006, 16:07   #8
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Could've been worse... you could have stopped off in Jersey instead
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Old 19 July 2006, 19:04   #9
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Southampton – St Peter Port Sunday 16th July

Log 105.8

Fuel Used 119.9
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Old 19 July 2006, 19:45   #10
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St Peter Port - Camaret Monday 17th July

Log 134.1 Cumulative 239.9

Fuel Used 167-0 286.9


The lifejacket incident of the previous day was a pain because I wanted to carry a spare with us anyway. Michael had attempted to swap one of the gas cylinders across from one of the older lifejackets while I was paying the harbour dues and set it off as he couldn't get the firing pin to reset properly and we were therefore down to just 2. We tried a chandlers who didn’t have a 38 refill and we were directed to the place that services liferafts, which was closed for an hour as the proprietor was out on a job. We managed to pick up and fit a 33 refill into the older lifejacket as we took on fuel but the upshot was that we had wasted a precious hour.

Fully laden with 280 litres in the tanks and 100 litres on deck, we set off round St Martins. Caprisante resented the burden with which she was encumbered and was sluggish. We were plugging the tide and there was NE F4 over it, which made for an uncomfortable popple.She did not want to go over 22 knots and as soon as we went to 24, she would slam off a wave sending spray everywhere so progress was slow and we had a big day ahead. At some stages we were down to 19 knots.

We stopped for 10 minutes for a comfort break and a very quick lunch and I then urged her forward after lunch. The wind had abated a little and the speeds gradually increased. I used the fuel from the forward tank to stop the bow coming down so hard. We had a brief period running at 32 knots where we felt we were starting to make progress but then the breeze filled in again and we were back at 26. As we got closer to Ushant, so we also started to pick up a bit of swell.

It was then that we had the first “Oh shit” moment. I was stood up driving to read the waves ahead and therefore not looking down at the instruments. For a microsecond there was a massive deceleration and the engine then surged ahead as I applied more power. The engine was running fine and I dismissed it as a driver error and I must have dethrottled too hard as we came off the wave.

But 5 minutes later it happened again and this time everybody noticed. Now it had my undivided attention and although the motor continued to run, I started to go through all the nasty possible causes. Within a couple of minutes the engine was starting to run intermittently.

Time to take stock. We were 12 miles from the rocky coast, in a moderate sea, with 4 hours of daylight left.

Initially I was concerned it was the fuel supply, but we quickly identified it to be an electrical problem and mercifully it turned out to be nothing more than the control cable fracturing at the battery connection. After shorting a battery out mid-channel a couple of years ago, I am assiduous in ensuring that there is nothing stowed on top of the battery, the battery is kept clear and only soft things, in this case sleeping bags, anywhere in it’s vicinity,

Michael with his technical expertise, was soon able to come up with a secure bodge and we were under way again but with all the faffing about in lockers, we had lost almost another hour.

The sensible thing to have done now, would have been to head for L’Aber Wrach but we were all keen to press on to Cameret. The problem now was the tide would be foul in the Chenal du Four, just coming down from Springs and with a wind against tide situation. I explained to Sophie that it would be rough for a bit, we would probably get wet and that if it got too bad we would turn back. She confirmed that she was up for it.

We pased Le Four lighthouse a couple of miles off to port and saw the spray being hurled up into the air. We were getting a bit too close to Les Platresses when Michael performed a mini-stuff in a short breaking sea, which brought me to my senses in time to order a change of course. In total, we had 3 mini-stuffs but nothing seriously green coming over the bow and then the seas flattened out to nothing for the last 2 or 3 miles of the Chenal du Four.

We spanked across the Avant Goulet de Brest at 39 knots with Sophie at the helm and then we were into the beautiful haven of Cameret. There was a delightful girl at the Captainerie who was happy with where we had moored the boat and directed us to some prospective hotels. The first 2 places were full and the third and most expensive, did have rooms available. In truly pathetic French, I somehow managed to inform them that my 14 year old daughter was in fact my wife, and so they showed us to a double room with an additional single bed, without a raised eyebrow. When I explained that I really wanted a room with 3 beds, without attempting to explain away the rest of the misinformation, the patron was equally helpful and showed us to an annex, where we were offered an apartment that would sleep 8 with a view of the bay. When I baulked at the price, he reduced it by 30 Euros and once we had concluded the deal, he even offered to drive me to a garage for petrol. He could not have been more helpful and was the complete antithesis of the surly frog. We were slightly disconcerted when he didn’t know the code to get into his own annex and needed to ask somebody to let him in, but never mind..

We didn’t have time to shower as they stopped serving dinner at 9.30. We needn’t have rushed. We ordered from the 18.50 Euro menu and Sophie was offered a salad and cheese omelette as she is a vegetarian. We waited an hour and 10 minutes before the starter arrived and had 4 baskets of bread and copious amounts of beer while we were waiting. They were extremely apologetic and good natured about it and it wasn’t a problem for us, but every time the kitchen door swung open 3 expectant faces would look over, only to be disappointed as plates of food were taken to other tables. The restaurant didn’t seem that busy either. It was really weird. The main course took another 45 minutes to be served and when it finally came to dessert, we were the only table left in the entire restaurant and they were laying up for the following morning and it still took 25 minutes to show up. Made me wonder what on earth was going on in their kitchen. I blamed the vegetarian !

We were not put out at all, just baffled and we really enjoyed our dinner. Outside we met a couple of English guys sailing here, who had had an even more enjoyable evening than us. They were totally crocked but in a really goodnatured and happy way. This guy asked me the same question 4 times in 20 minutes. Normally you would judge such a person as dull and walk away but I was able to give him a more enthusiastic answer each time. We like Cameret very much.
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Old 20 July 2006, 02:07   #11
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Feck me that was an interesting leg of the trip

Surprised ya dad the energy to type it up.

Roll on the next


Paul
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Old 20 July 2006, 05:35   #12
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Very enjoyable read Brian. I look, ever so much to your continuing adventures and wish you good luck for the remaining legs of your voyage. Wish I had the time to come to Brittany for Grandes Vacances, next year perhaps .
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Old 20 July 2006, 07:53   #13
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Brian, excellent adventure and great write up, keep it coming and see you at the weekend,

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Old 20 July 2006, 08:02   #14
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Great write up

Leave some beer in Brittany for us, we arrive 10 August!

Good luck

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Old 20 July 2006, 13:58   #15
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Here is Raz de Sein on a very calm day. It wasn't the same on the way south.

Good luck Brian
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Old 20 July 2006, 14:41   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteshoes
St Peter Port - Camaret Monday 17th July

Log 134.1 Cumulative 239.9

Fuel Used 167-0 286.9

We were slightly disconcerted when he didn’t know the code to get into his own annex and needed to ask somebody to let him in, but never mind..

They were extremely apologetic and good natured about it and it wasn’t a problem for us, but every time the kitchen door swung open 3 expectant faces would look over, only to be disappointed as plates of food were taken to other tables. The restaurant didn’t seem that busy either. It was really weird. The main course took another 45 minutes to be served and when it finally came to dessert, we were the only table left in the entire restaurant and they were laying up for the following morning and it still took 25 minutes to show up. Made me wonder what on earth was going on in their kitchen. I blamed the vegetarian !
Fawlty Towers strikes again!!!

Obviously he didn't know the code - he was prob just the waiter pocketing the cash while the owner was away.

No doubt the chef was also away so they had to go to another resturaent to get the food - then the car broke down - it was the wrong food - car broke down again etc etc!!!
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Old 21 July 2006, 07:24   #17
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Hi Brian,

Great write up, enjoy the rest of your "Excellent Adventure". Say hi to all.


Best wishes
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Old 14 August 2006, 08:27   #18
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Camerert - Morgat - Camaret Tuesday 18th July

Log 47 miles Cumulative 286.9 miles

Fuel Used 60.5 litres 347.4 litres


After checking with Florence, that she had not booked a hotel for us that evening in Concarneau, we decided to have a lazy day in Cameret. By missing out L’Aber Wrach we were ahead of schedule and were pretty tired from the previous day’s exertions, so we extended the tenure of our fine apartment for another night.

We were too late for any kind of breakfast, so we wandered along the harbour in search of a creperie. There were 3 reasonable looking establishments within a stone’s throw but I insisted that we walk to the end to explore all the possibilities. Having gone the extra mile in the fierce heat, we found ourselves outside what was undoubtedly Camaret’s worst creperie by a distance but we were too hot to go back without sustenance. The crepes were so insubstantial that we were forced to visit the patisserie on the return journey.

We decided that Morgat would be a gentle cruise for the afternoon but chose not to leave ‘til after 3 to avoid the midday sun and we were cooled by the 30 knot apparent breeze on the way around. A couple of miles short of Morgat we were hit by the stifling heat again. I had already let some air out of the tubes and was reluctant to repeat this process, but they were drum tight. We moored up and made our way lethargically into town and absorbed a couple of beers along the way. We were too late for lunch and too early for dinner and the only thing that anyone would sell us were more bloody crepes. Eventually we found an establishment that would serve us moules and frites.and Sophie had to settle for the frites on their own.

There’s something about moules that doesn’t agree with me and I am reluctant to order them, but on this occasion the choice was moules, crepes or nothing and the moules won by a short head. Michael didn’t finish his and I duly obliged.

There had been a temporary stage set up opposite the beach and for a few minutes after the meal we watched a band warming up for their performance that night. They were giving it plenty but the alto sax was excruciating, so we sauntered back towards the harbour. At the top of the gangway down to the pontoon, I realised that I had a pressing engagement elsewhere and hastened to the marina facilities. Unfortunately I was without the crucial accessory that every yottie takes ashore with his spongebag in the morning. No matter, a check of my wallet revealed a veritable host of credit card receipts and these were pressed into unorthodox service. As luck would have it, I had stuck quite a lot on my card in the preceding days and there were just enough chits to see the job through. Otherwise I was down to 6 single pound notes, the currency of the Baileywick, which were my fall back position. Fortunately I didn’t need to use them as I’m sure I would have been committing an offence !

It was very low water on the trip back from Morgat and inshore ledges and rocks revealed themselves. We were a couple of miles offshore when I got really spooked by the appearance of a rock 70 metres ahead and fine on the starboard bow, where I was not expecting anything to be. So spooked was I, that we took a 4 mile detour out to the 10metre line, and came back into the bay in a massive arc. Upon subsequent inspection of the chart, there was a * sign with a dotted circumference and this rock even had it’s own name. Somehow through laziness, fatigue, ineptitude or my failing eyesight or possibly a combination of all 4, I had overlooked this. There was no cardinal mark attached to this rock and, looking for excuses, I wondered if there was not a clearer way of highlighting isolated offshore dangers on the charts. Fluorescent yellow or orange would certainly get your attention and would tell you “This is a f***ing rock. This will do untold damage to your pride and joy” In truth, I was happy to have escaped with the boat in tact and only my competence holed below the waterline.

Michael was feeling ill that night and I didn’t know if he was suffering from sunstroke or the mussels. He wasn’t hungry and just wanted to go back to the apartment, so I downed a large bottle of the excellent cider and ordered two pizzas a emporter for Soph and I. Michael’s condition turned out to be the mussels as he was fine next morning and ravenous, as usual.
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Old 14 August 2006, 08:31   #19
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Camerert – Concarneau Wednesday 19th July

Log 69.5 miles Cumulative 356.4 miles

Fuel Used 78.3 litres 426.7 litres


As I looked out through the skylight of the apartment at 6 a.m., I thought that I’d done a wrong ‘un as the wind was gusting across the water and there were ominous dark clouds.The wind eased slightly but the rain set in. I wanted us to leave at 9.45 to give us an hour to knock off the 20 miles down to the Raz du Seine, to be there for slack water at 10.45, but it wasn’t going to happen. It was persisting it down. We ordered breakfast at one of the three hotels and teased it out, hoping that the rain would stop. A baguette cut up into six pieces, 3 small glasses of orange juice, 4 cups of chocolat chaud and 2 teas came to Euros 24.50. Bloody expensive I thought and why can’t the French manage something a little bit more substantial and a bit more exciting, like an egg for example. Still, the weather was brightening.

We plodded down the catwalk and donned drysuits. It was 11.15 as we left Cameret and the raz would be 90 minutes into the southgoing flow. We gave Trepied a half mile berth before turning south and passed the Basses du Liss. The lighthouse on Tevennec is described thus in the pilot “from afar vaguely resembling a ship with a high superstructure and funnel”. It didn’t strike me that way at all, but I was happy to make the landmark. We passed within a half mile of La Plate and could see all the disturbed water inshore, with several fishing boats working the periphery. The swirls and eddies extended a mile to the south and I knew that we had got her at her gentle best. It was as though we had been graciously granted safe passage as there was awesome power lurking here, ready to be vented on another occasion. I silently thanked the Raz for her benevolence as we turned the corner and sped South east.

It’s almost 20 miles across the Baie D’Audierne and we stopped about a third of the way for a bit of lunch. Our supplies were now 4 days old and after the extreme heat of the previous day, items emerging from the food locker needed to be carefully inspected for mould prior to consumption. The sausage rolls would not feature any further in our diet as they were showing spectacular results at both ends (as possibly we might also) and were duly jettisoned into the well. This worked in the kids favour as they were able to convert an even higher proportion of their calorie intake to chocolate but for a savoury old git like myself, the choices were diminishing.

After my navigational shortcomings had been cruelly exposed the previous day, I had made a detailed passage plan and was happy to cross off the anticipated lighthouse at Eckmuhl and the subsequent cardinals.. Experienced locals would have taken a more northerly approach, but I was content to head for the landmark of Les Moutons, with it’s main channel and then up towards Le Cochon, the distinctive starboard hand mark for Concarneau. There is a starboard mark called Le Vache 3 miles north of Les Moutons and it seemed that Old MacDonald had been put in charge of cartography for a day.

Florence had texted me with a berth number which was brilliant and she had booked us into a hotel in town, bless her. It was delightful to see them all on the pontoon and I quickly showed Philippe, who is an electrician by trade, the bodge that was our battery box. He is an extremely practical bloke, having fitted out his own Ribtec 6.5 and he went home to fashion an appropriate new lead and renew the fittings. Everything then had to come out of the consol locker; the tent, the sleeping bags, the kites, our overnight bags and other assorted paraphernalia so that he could stick his head inside this claustrophobic space to give him room to work. He came up sweating profusely and I owed him a large beer !
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Old 14 August 2006, 08:33   #20
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Concarneau – Glenan Islands - Concarneau Wednesday 19th July

Log 21.7 miles Cumulative 378.1 miles

Fuel Used 28.6 litres 455.3 litres


Florence had been to buy a Brittany flag to dress Caprisante and we were grateful to wear it with pride. She had booked dinner at a seafood restaurant on St Nicolas, one of the Glenan Islands and after a couple of beers we set off with Valerie, one of her work colleagues, Florence, Philippe, their son Nicolas and daughter Delphine. It is only 8 miles out to the Glenans and I made sure that Nicolas and Delphine had a short drive while it was still light. I then gave the helm to Philippe for the final approach and this is when I became seriously anxious as we were headed straight for a string of four rocks and the GPS blinked our impending disaster.

“Are we absolutely sure about this ?” I enquired trying not to sound as nervous as I really was. “Don’t worry. We do this all the time” he explained. “if we pass this rock 4 feet to port, there is enough water”

I have immense respect for Philippe and his seamanship and whilst I did not believe for a minute that he would imperil my vessel with his family aboard, I have to confess that I felt distinctly uneasy. And of course, he was right and I was just worrying like an old tart. It was however, the kind of manoeuvre that I would have preferred to have done half a dozen times in somebody else’s boat before I risked my own.

They had built a massive seawater pen that was fed by the tides at the restaurant and you could see their lobsters roaming across the bottom, with their claws taped together. I had not seen lobsters of this size before. Of course, Sophie was horrified and I haven’t eaten lobster myself for many years.

Sophie had melon and Florence went off to order a steak and chips from the only other restaurant on the tiny island for Michael. She duly returned with it on the other restaurants crockery and plonked it in front of him, whilst everybody else had fish. Furthermore, she sneaked off at the end of the meal to pay the bill and whilst I caught her in time, neither she nor the restaurant would accept my money.

The tide had come in significantly during the evening and Philippe skilfully piloted us out but it was only after we had passed within touching distance of his rock that I was able to finally unclench my buttocks. They dropped us back at our hotel and we arranged to go to their house for lunch the following day.
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