“Anyone got any fuel?” (Cherbourg to l’Aber’wrach via Guernsey)

Pitstop in Guernsey to test crew’s sealegs and refuel before the long stretch motoring upwind to the NW tip of France.
We were just one of a good dozen vessels who vainly tied up on St Peter Port’s fuel pontoon to find out it was closed. Option to wait until 0700 the following morning and lose half a day or more or press on to Aber Wrac’h (and pay more).

Through the night across North Brittany we arrived in Aber Wrac’h to find that their 24-hour fuel pontoon was both broken and out of fuel. With our main fuel tank empty we still had just about enough fuel to get to Camaret, so we waited for the tide in the freezing sun (yes, we’re still in the English Channel) with TMS and then picked our way around the inshore, rocky route down to Le Four and rode the tide down to Camaret, picking up nothing on our diverse selection of lures.

Helming practice for less moussaillons.

   

Then like students seeing how far the reserve tank will last we pondered the risk of getting through the Raz de Sein on little more than fumes, but the risk of running out of fuel on one of the most exposed coastlines of Europe drove us to the fuel pontoon at Camaret, which Skipper had already rang to check “yes it’s working, yes it has lots of fuel, yes it’s open 24 hours and yes it takes foreign bank cards”!

Into the red …

Because we’d left Aber Wrac’h an hour early, we’d arrived in Camaret with 2.5 hours of the tide still to go, so a quick refuel with strengthening wind raised the possibility of sailing back out and taking the same tide down through to pass the Raz de Sein at slack water. 22 miles inn 2.5 hours, or wait for the next tide (= getting up in the middle of the night) and take still longer to round the corner. Doable but a definitely a stretch and not a calculation to get wrong.
Skipper pushed for a positive decision and was vindicated as the strengthening wind helped us make a steady 8.5-9 knot average SOG (speed over ground – the tidal stream adds to the boat’s speed) down past Trevennec mark, arriving in the Raz itself at slack water at 2310, such that if anything the Raz was calmer than the Chenal du Four (pretty calm), and as our watch rota kicked in he could switch off the engine as we broad reached down the Baie d’Audierne towards Penmarch in a NW breeze through the night.

Port La Foret – Skipper was keen to check out Le Suroit in Loctudy but closed Mon & Tue so some other time, perhaps – was pricey (€41 for nespresso & ipad charging – all showering on board and the internet ropey as, so might almost be anchor but for shore power) but restful for a weary crew, with a well-deserved visit to the pizzeria in the port (looks like a dive but the pizzas are very good indeed) plus churros in the evening market left crew replete and ready for sleep.

Provisioning followed before we got the show back on the road – les Glenans were calling!

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