#1 2011-09-25 14:42:28

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TESSERA's Summer Cruise 2004 (V34)

Summer Cruise 2004
by Ken and Elizabeth Sizer

The annual Summer trip of Ken and Elizabeth Sizer on our 34 foot Victoria Yacht Tessera started on 10th June with a four hour bash to windward from Marchwood Yacht Club to Yarmouth in the Western Solent. The wind blew from the South- West and at times reached 30 knots. We planned to join the MYC rally/race to Cherbourg due to start at Black Rock at 0600 the following morning. The crews had arranged to meet in a local hostelry to discuss arrangements and it was decided that we would start and see how the weather developed - W f 4-5 forecast. If conditions were too uncomfortable then we
would divert to Poole.

Friday 11 th June dawned and the wind whistled through the rigging under a dull early morning sky. Six boats were on the start line and proceeded at varying speeds through the Needles Channel. We emerged from the Channel at 0700 to settle on the Southerly course towards Cherbourg with a Westerly wind that varied during the crossing bewteen 12 and 20k. Tessera was moored in Cherbourg at 18.10 after sailing 73 miles. The crossing was uneventful and the six vessels had stretched out in a straight line from horizon to horizon just adjusting to cope with the tide when approaching harbour. We had to return home for a few days so we left Tessera in Chantereyne harbour.

We eventually left Cherbourg and headed for Cap de la Hague. We decided later that we could have given this headland more clearance having had quite a bumpy ride. The tide however did not disappoint us and we sailed on a beam reach towards Jersey entering the North Channel for the first time. We were both excited and pleased to be entering, what was for us, a brand new harbour. The weather closed in and we were trapped for six days while fierce winds blew both over Britain and the Continent. We walked, ate, swam in the local pool, ate, socialised, ate, slept, ate, and were itching to continue with our holiday. We heard that a vessel returning from the Azores was overdue. This was
sobering and we waited until we could safely continue. Leaving Jersey we headed for Northern France. We visited a couple of Ports having a chance meeting with John Cade (Cadenza) in Lesardrieux who with his crew had sailed to La Rochelle and back in four weeks.

We continued and leaving L' Aber wrac'h tried to pass through the Chenal de Four and the Raz de Seine without stopping. We sat out the foul tide before the Raz with 10knots of wind trying to slow Tessera down so we would not arrive too soon at the Raz. We were, however, too early and for a while although heading South, motor-sailing to the best of our ability, the GPS told us that our track over the ground was in fact due North and our speed was about 1.5 knots. We decided to lay a-hull until the tide turned. There were a couple of other boats in the same situation. One turned back and the other one was trying to creep close inshore but he too turned back to wait for the tide. After about half
an hour the tide did turn and we were soon on our way again. We had been one of three vessels that were too early but it seemed that the World and his wife were there (and in front of us!) as soon as the tide had turned. Where do all these boats suddenly come from?

We headed for Audierne and picked up a buoy for the night. The following morning we left port under motor and arrived in the River Odet having briefly experienced dolphins riding our bow wave after Pointe de Penmarche. There was a gale warning, the barometer read 996 and was falling. We spent one night at anchor in the River Odet and then using the anchor chum stayed another two nights with two anchors set. It was wet and very windy. Friday 9th July and clear skies were above us as we headed down the river to Benodet marina to re-fuel. We arrived at slack water as the stream runs fast in the river and it was just after springs. We tied up and went ashore to replenish our supplies. When we returned our new neighbour in a Nauticat 44 paid us a visit to apologise for his vessel hitting us amidships as the tide brought him down onto us. He had lost power and been unable to prevent the collision. He was apologetic as we examined the damage together. The port toe-rail was cracked, the gel coat damaged and the mainsail cover was ripped. No damage was apparent to starboard. Ken taped the toe rail and we hoped to continue without rain ingress. The following morning we left Benodet, at slack water, and headed for the Isles of Glennan. This was our first visit and we did not posess a Shorn chart, however the entrance was well described in the pilot book and almanac and they saw us safely in and attached to a buoy just off the beach. We went ashore to explore and found that the storm that had kept us in the river at Benodet had left two, forty foot plus yachts stranded on the rocks of the Glennan Islands. The storm had happened at springs and the owners of these yachts would have to wait for a while until the water came that high again. They had put fenders under the sides that were laying against the rocks for some protection. The pilot book states that these islands should only be visited in calm conditions and we could see the results when this advice was not adhered to.

For the next few weeks we continued heading South, without incident, and without much wind, as far as the Morbihan. Our best sail was into La Trinite sur Mer on a beam reach with 20 -22 knots of wind and Tessera charging along, miserable weather but some good wind at last. The wind was not to re-appear and we decided to head back to avoid long passages under motor. Our eldest son and his girlfriend joined us at Brest and we motor-sailed through the Chenal de Four. We were too early to take the channel between the Isle de Batz and Roscoff so we headed out past the Island to clear the rocky point to the North of the island. We saw a boat not making headway and trying to sail - very strange. As we neared Ken thought he heard someone calling and we went to investigate. As we approached we saw a figure on the foredeck waving his arms up and down. The Dutch Delher 34 had lost a quantity of fuel and requested a tow. We agreed and told them we were going to Morlaix so that our crew could return home. We took their tow line on board and Ken made a bridle around our cleats to spread the load. The line was about 20 - 25 metres long but the Delher constantly sailed down the swell and approached our vessel. Ken asked the captain to take down his mainsail and we proceeded jerkily on our way. Our crew had been taking a nap and when they woke we said we had a surprise for them. 'Dolphins?' Natalie asked expectantly and was disappointed to learn that our new neighbours were human.

Morlaix is at the top of a shallow river and arrival has to be at high water when the lock opens to admit visitors. Without our attachment we would have taken the last of the flood to the lock but with the extra weight we were slowed and we arrived to find the lock keeper had retired for the night. He came along on his bike and directed us to where the water was 'assez'. There were two other boats waiting for the
next morning lock and we manouvred the Delher alongside some helpful British sailors where the water was deep enough. We moored behind the Delher alongside an Ovni. We dried out completely and at two in the morning we were bolt upright, the Delher was still floating. The following morning we collected our load alongside, and went into the lock. We released him and we moored independently in the lock. However the lock keeper decided it would be preferable for us to take the Delher into the basin where he would find a double berth for us. We tied him on again and with some trepidation headed into the basin looking for the lock keeper. It was not easy to turn into the berths but luckily we
managed without damage. The grateful couple from the Delher took us out for a meal that evening and reiterated what they had said when we told them we would tow their boat, 'That's twice you have saved us, first from the Germans and again now'!

Our crew said goodbye in Morlaix and on Monday 8th August we decided to head for Gurnsey. Tom Cunliffe was in the outgoing lock in Westerman and was concerned that he might go aground in the river. We followed him and he negotiated the twisting route slowly and carefully without any problems. We made Guernsey at 0530 the following morning and when in the marina introduced ourselves to the very smart Firecrest - V34 cutter with Jenny and Chris on board. We socialised and then after a couple of days on Guernsey went home via Cherbourg.

We have owned Tessera for two years and our two summer cruises to South Brittany have been eventful. We look forward to next year and more adventures.

We are currently occupied with repairs and must comment that GJW are most helpful and courteous in our dealings with them. We will keep you posted and hope to meet you soon on the high seas.

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