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Sailing Letter June 2014, Kiel Canal – Spain

July 7, 2014

Yet another month has gone. We have taken it slow, but still we are now in Spain. How did we get here….

From the Kiel Canal we managed, via Cuxhafen, to go to Helgoland. This island has been on our list in order to see all Gannets ( sw. Sula). It is one of the major bird cliffs south of Scotland / Norway. The island is divided into two parts. A “lower” and an “upper” part. The down part is occupied by all hotels and condominiums. The ferries from Hamburg comes every day for shopping and leaves in the evening. This gives the island s strange feeling of party at daytime and slow almost autumn like in the evening when the ferries have departured. On the “upper part” you have a nice footpath to the bird cliffs. You get as close as 2-5 meters from the big birds.   Peter made a nice video clip that is linked to our main blog. Rather cold weather, windy.

As always we were not in the mood for bunkering stuff even if we have the possibility, so some beer and lot of pictures in our heads and we were off again.

185 nM to Texel in Holland. An uncomplicated night sail.  We are still in well-known waters, so we spent less time sightseeing than last time. Instead we took some easy strolls in the village. Texel has a very nice sailor’s shop, where Peter managed to get some good boots/wellies for a decent price. Last time we were here we bought the biggest electricity contact (red 3 Phase 400 Volts) that you could buy. (Good to have). We also bought some nice spits with shrimps to grill and first test with Endives (see gastronomy).

From Texel we went further south to Ijmuiden (close to Amsterdam). Half motor half sailing as normal this summer.  Good harbor with a very nice yacht club: old leather chairs (worn out) and cozy atmosphere. We took the bus in to Amsterdam, a rainy day, and strolled around the flower market etc. A beer here and there and then home again.

Next stop Oostende. We managed to arrange a visit from Eva’s colleagues from Ghent. So nice to have an opportunity to say goodbye also to Belgian friends. A pleasant afternoon with a lot of talk. Mercator Marina in Oostende is a favorite of ours. You have to use a lock, but then you end up in the middle of the town with supermarkets, restaurants etc. on elbow distance. We got our first “mole e frit” (and the second…). Weather here was warm but with thunder and plenty of rain in the evenings. Ghent had a hail storm with  hail as big as Ping-Pong balls.

Next stop was Boulogne Sur Mer. First French harbor (Now Eva has archived the flags for Germany, Holland and Belgium). We have been here before and was pleasantly surprised with a harbour master catching our lines. We got a nice berth in the small marina. Here we have 9 meter tidal water, which means that entering from the marina sometimes is like climbing a ladder. Met a small dog that used all his claws to get to the shore J. Don´t try to get down with full wagons of food at low tide J.

Sunny and warm weather. Did some sightseeing to the castle (old city).  One day spent looking for a 220V fuse – which we did not find.

Wednesday in Boulogne was market day so we bought some nice scallops for dinner. We also managed to get a new type of beer in the marina pub (that was officially closed).  A Grimberger red which we never tried before. Turend out to be a nice choice in this warm weather.

Next stop Dieppe. Mix of sail and motor again. Saw some Porpoises ( sw. Tumlare). We now understand that if you use VHF to call the harbor and they don’t answer, it might have to do with language problems. We were met by a “harbour master”, that showed us to our place and helped with lines. So don’t mistrust if you don’t get answers. They will be there.

We have been in Dieppe before so we found our way back to the fish shop/market and bought a Sea Bass for dinner. The next day we tested  mussels for dinner. This time Roquefort and curry. Very nice indeed!

Peter took the opportunity to install our last solar cells so as from now we have plenty of power.

After2 days we took a night sailing to Alderney. We managed to see an Ocean Sun Fish / Mola Mola ( sw. Klumpfisk). We have seen them in the aquarium in Hirtshals so we were able to confirm what we saw. It is round as a disc and swims on the side, so what you see is one fin and one big eye. Lovely to see one of those!!

Entering Alderney at 5 o`clock in the morning we saw the difference to Swedish summer mornings and light. Here it is dark until 5- 5.30. 8 meter tidal water made some calculations necessary before catching a mooring, in order not to stand “dried” when the water disappears. Small village uphill from the harbour. It felt rather remote. Was supposed to be a ferry terminal but we did not see one during our 24 hour stay. Maybe not in use every day. Northerly wind is not very comfortable the anchorage, so we departed the next day, via the Swing, to Guernsey. The Swing is one of those scary areas where you have to calculate the time for safe passage.

We passed one of the biggest colonies of Gannets (sw. Havssula) that we have seen. 2% of all Gannets are supposed to be here. And 1 Puffin  (sw. Lunnefågel). A couple of hours later we ended up in south Guernsey ( Petite Port), in an anchorage which was beautiful. Different sceneries at high and low tide. We stayed there for 2 nights and did some walks. Also a short dip in the sea. + 17 degrees. HUH!!

From Guernsay we did a night sailing/engine to France, Bretagne. The cost was very different from expected. Very white and shiny. Chalk cliffs? We passed the Chenal du Four early in the morning with 4 knots against at some point, otherwise OK and entered Camaret Sur Mer, a beautiful harbour in the village center, in the morning. Weather was still warm and sunny. Water crystal clear but still a bit cold for swimming. We did some nice walks on the fantastic cliffs instead. A new Mussels dish was tried. This time Breton style ( cidre, mushrooms, cream). Tasted very nice indeed. We also tried to follow the Football championship on TV but difficult to get good signals.

Day two, while having a nice beer in the shadows, we ended up in the middle of a wedding. First we saw the bride and groom at the Mayor’s office for registration and later at the harbour going for the church ceremony. You can clearly see the connection to all Celtic. Bagpipes for instance.

Further to the east of Bretagne. We aimed for Benodet river, but first we had to pass the Raz de Sein ( 5-6 knot). +/- 15 minutes passage slot at high tide. Interesting. As Peter had done the calculation correct we passed on almost slack water. 1 knot against. In Benodet river we took the advice to stay at Sainte-Marine on the left side. A very picturesque place!  As suggested in Reeds, we took a mooring for the night. Next day we were advised to move to the pontoon. We are a bit too big for the mooring. People are helpful and we are positively surprised by the way we are received even though we don’t know any French. Benodet is a river with 2 villages one on each side. The one to the right is more touristic than Saint-Marine. We checked out both and also had time for a dip in the sea. Now the temperature was close to 21 degrees. Crystal clear water.

Dinner the first day: oysters and fish in a fantastic environment close to the harbour, overlooking our boat.

We also had a nice evening with 4 English gentlemen ( see Peter’s blog and link). Singing and bagpiping….the day after…..

After the bagpipe night went further up the river to try to anchor. First time for us to anchor in a river with 4 knots of tide every 6-th hour, but the anchor held OK. Nice sceneries with a Little Egret Heron ( sw. Silkeshäger) strolling around at low tide. Perfect having food 2 times per day at low tide. We also had a nice wiew of a small castle from 1800 (?). Looked like something from the fairytales. Also a remaining thermal bath from the Roman era(?).

Further to the east we tied up at Port Tudy on Ile de Groix. Ypu are supposed to catch a mooring stern and aft. Interesting to try to catch a mooring from Tina’s  bow. Pretty high!! After two tries we backed up to the one against the wind and took the dingy for the next. In the evening we were 3 boats side by side on the same two mooring.  Now the weather was a bit more rainy so we did less touristing and more in-house reading etc. We had a nice dinner at a small pub in the harbour. Oysters and fish.

After two days we got fair winds and let go for crossing the Biscay. We got a fairly good crossing. Nice winds 7-12 m/s, NW, but the swell was disturbing. We used some seasickness–plasters which was fortunate. But still it was difficult to move around in the boat, mot to mention to try to sleep. However, after 40 hours and 245 nM we entered  Gijon in Spain. We had made it!.

All in all this has been a nice month. Not too difficult with customs in France. They came onboard in Camaret checking all our papers and pass ports. Most likely we are lacking some papers  (boat passport) which we have ordered from the Swedish authority.

Nature

  • A lot of Gannets: we did not think that they would be more than the seagulls, but they were everywhere.
  • The Ocean Sunfish of course!
  • Some common dolphins in Bay of Biscay. Not very social. They did not stay and play.
  • The small Egret heron in the Odet river.
  • Everything is so green: Ivy ( sw. Murgröna) and Holly ( sw. Järnek) everywhere. Looks like somebody have polished them. Honeysuckle ( sw. Kaprifol) is also seen here and there in Bretagne. The most important garden flower seems to be the Hydrangea(?) (sw. Hortencia) which is a mix of pink and blue at the same time. Thought the color had to do with the chalk in the soil, but apparently not.
  • Water temperature: except for the river Odet has been between 17-19 degrees.

Gastronomy

  • Mussels and mussels and oysters: the Breton style mussels with cider and mushrooms was a new experience and very tasty.
  • We tried Endives on the grill and cooked. Not the last time. They taste like asparagus!
  • Breton crepe: a dark dough not common to us with all sorts of filling. Also a nice experience.

Next letter will be for July. Have a nice summer.

BR Eva, Peter

3 Comments
  1. Jonas Svensson permalink

    Hej på er, även vi i kalla norden har fått smaka på värmen, just nu runt 30 grader och svensk sommar när den är som bäst. Semestern dunkar in och allt lugnar sig. Ser att ni snart närmar er Gibraltar och medelhavet. Ha det bäst, soliga hälsningar från Svedala

    Like

  2. Hejsan,

    Vi börjar undra om den spanska värmen är en myt, visserligen ca 25-30 i luften men bara 14-15 i vattnet. Frågan är vem man ska klaga hos. Dock trevligt att vädret i Sve är bra.
    Ska bli spännande med VM finalen i kväll!!

    Eva & Peter

    Like

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