We’d been recommended Cameret by Jamie over the more popular Brest which turned out to be great advice. Cameret is a very pretty little seaside town (which I imagine gets crazy busy during high season). A main street looking over the harbour (which has it’s own fishing boat graveyard), a few bars and restaurants, good coastal walks and not a lot else (I mean this in a good way).


The aforementioned Brest is the more popular stopping off point before attempting to cross the Bay of Biscay for sailors heading south but we were told it was more industrial and grubby plus it’s another three hours East.

The plan was to stop over in Cameret and wait for a good weather window to cross. Now I love it when a plan comes together as much as the next guy but plans don’t always work out we were to find.

The weather just wasn’t playing nice, which I’ll go into in another post, so we had some time to kill. This ‘time’ turned out to be over a week.

Luckily it’s a darn good place to kill time and we actually had a chance to relax for once. Cameret has some amazing coastal hikes. Helen and I both love walking so it was great to stretch our legs taking in the scenic views, we just needed to watch our back for the ramblers who were very serious about their walks and seemed to have very pressing agendas and large sticks!






The town also had some good bars which we frequented to the smiles of the owners (I don’t think most people hang around that long).

It was in one such bar we met one of ‘The Germans’. We were hanging out with our Almanac doing some planning and he came over to chat. Turns out he was having a pretty bad time getting from Croatia back to Germany with the owner of the boat he’d agreed to help. Sounded like a storm cloud had been hanging over these poor souls since upping anchor. Everything had gone wrong. The owner wanted to push on in bad weather. The boat wasn’t ‘bluewater’ (whatever that means). It had rained every day. The wind was in the wrong direction. You name it, they had it. They had started off as a crew of three but one other nameless individual had already quit the expedition. Was great fun chatting to him actually. Made me feel loads better about just being stuck waiting for the weather.

He did scare us a little though with his tale of crossing Biscay. He’d headed North three days before and said it was an incredibly bad trip. Five meter high waves crashing over the boat, rolling around all over the place. He kept looking past us with dead eyes into the distance and saying “Never again.”

Humm… Just what we needed to hear as we were about to take on this 350 mile crossing on our own.

The very next night we met the same guy who was now out with the owner. They joined us for some drinks and (as only alcohol can) the moaning turned to laughter. Was a very funny, slightly messy night!

For some reason the next few days consisted mainly of us meeting people in bars or in the marina and having really fun random nights. We some how got invited to an impromptu  beach party by some French people who were in Cameret for a wedding (none of them approved of the Groom). We helped a solo sailor (Andrew) dock who turned out to have just crossed Biscay north again and got invited on board for lunch and drinks. Stuff like that.. It’s such a lovely community in sailing world I’m finding. Everyone wants to share their story.

We met “The Germans’ again a few days later as they were pushing on North. The first guy didn’t think the weather was good enough. The owner did. The storm cloud was still hanging over them. They needed fuel. The fuel dock was out of order. They quickly headed over to Brest, but then missed the tidal window through the Channel du four and ended back in Cameret after a rough day at sea. From an outsiders viewpoint all funny stuff but I’m sure they weren’t laughing. Hopefully they get back to Germany safe and sound soon!

We also finally finished putting the name on poor Interlude, who has been sailing for weeks now with sticky tape on the back. The job was tricky and involved us hanging over the back of the swim platform for about an hour getting everything in place. The rush we got when it was done and stood up was amazing!

It was worth it though as she looked great. We christened her with a bottle of Champagne my parents had given us. A few splashes over the bow for her, a few glasses for us. While we’re not usually superstitious, Helen wanted to make sure she was Christened before heading out into the notorious Bay of Biscay.



L’Aber Wrac’h to Cameret, France

After my docking faux pas we hit some bars the same afternoon, did some shopping, and hit some more bars. This, in the sailing world, is called evaluation and provisioning.

Felt good to let off some steam. I think I’m way too hard on us sometimes. I lose perspective and beat myself up whenever any little thing doesn’t go our way. We’re going to make errors, we’re going to mess things up. So long as we learn and keep enjoying ourselves right? I have to keep reminding myself I’m very new to this strange world.

We didn’t want to hang around this small town as we needed to press on south if we wanted to see the Med during 2014. So one afternoon / night it was, and early the next morning we headed to Cameret.

Being our first overnighter (coming into a port one day, leaving for another the next) I felt a little underprepaired the next morning. Hyperaware of docking the night before, I was very focused on leaving cleanly and did just that thankfully. Before we knew it we were out of L’Aber Wrach’h and heading towards the notorious ‘Channel de four’.

This channel gets a lot of bad press due to its quickly running tidal streams (which if you time wrong mean you head backwards or worse sideways), rocks scattered around just under the surface just waiting to snag you, and sea fogs that can quickly reduce the visibility of the above to zero. We were told to respect this area of the coastline and after seeing all the wrecks of boats on our digital charts, we took the advice and researched it best we could.

Pete Green forwarded over a great website listing the major waypoints. As long as you stick to these closely things shouldn’t be too bad. You just have to time when you enter and make sure you exit before the currents push you out of the safe waters. Helen hit the books and worked out we’d have a slot pretty much bang on when we’d be close to the area which was pretty lucky. Many have to hang around for hours before entering or set off in darkness to get the timings right.

The channel turned out to be actually one of the best sails we’ve had so far. We had a great wind on the nose which meant some high speed close-hauled action. The Hanse 385 really flies at this angle, her massive (in relation to her size) main sail providing some serious force. With big smiles on our faces we navigated from waypoint to waypoint flying along at 8-9 knots- good times! Some navigation markers took us really close to the rocky coastline, while others were missing completely but apart from that the area was pretty easy going. We were at high tide though, so who knows how many rocks were hiding just under the surface for sailors veering away from safe routes.

Once through the channel it was easy going as we headed East towards Cameret and entered the small marina late afternoon. We safely docked up on one of the outer pontoons (which we learn’t didn’t have water or electric hook up so we’ll have to move again at some point- grrr!) then headed into town for some beers and pizza at the local Irish bar (don’t ask).

Roscoff to L’Aber Wrac’h

What a roll’a’coaster today was!

After our successful (lucky?) crossing over from Guernsey to France a few days before we were looking to back this up with our first solo coastal hop west over to L’Aber Wrac’h. We chose this stop as it provides a great starting point for the notorious Channel Du Four, the tides just weren’t right to go from  Roscoff all the way over to Camaret which is our stopping off point before trying to cross Biscay, and.. well.. we wanted to break the trip up into a more manageable six hours or so per day over two days- so there!

The day got off to a flying start. Interlude backed out of her berth with ease, Helen had the lines set perfectly, nice.

Outside of the safely of the harbour walls we were met with a crazy big (to us anyhow) sea which slammed, rolled, and pitched us about like a toy boat in a bath. At one point I think we were both starting to think turning back might be the safe option but things slowly calmed down and away we went. There was no real explanation for this sea. We’d checked our weather, tidal times, etc. I’m starting to think local effects just come into play and you have to roll with the punches. Luckily Interlude handled the waves well but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the sound of her bow slamming into an oncoming wall of water. Helen and I both scrunch our faces up in horror every time it happens as though the boat’s going to snap in two.

Once past this the trip along the French coast was wonderful. We had a great sunrise and raced some other yachts that had joined us out of Roscoff. Interlude more than held her own.

L Aber Wrach 2

The weather was good (too good for Helen who forgot her suncream and is now glowing in the dark in front of me as I type this on the sofa). It’s great slowly losing all the layers since those FREEZING days in northern Germany. Everything you do on the boat becomes easier. I’m sure we’ll be moaning in a few months how damn hot it is. 😉

Our passage planning has also come on in leaps and bounds, we nailed this trip which was a great confidence boaster just before tackling the Channel Du Four tomorrow. We have a great system now whereby we research online, feed this info into OpenCPN on the laptop, and then export this route onto the plotter. OpenCPN has a great feature in that it displays all the waypoints, distances, headings, etc. No more typing up passage plans! We add additional info into each waypoints description field and everything is formatted for us. Massive time saver and one I think we’ll continue to keep using. The adding benefit of this is that we also then cross reference the plotters Navonics charts (which are up to date) with the OpenCPN ones to make sure nothing nasty has been placed in the way during the last few years.

So, all was well with the world. The trip was going great. So why the roll’a’coaster reference? Sodding docking that’s why! After coming into the marina and mooring up safely alongside the breakwater wall we got a call on the radio to move for the MASSIVE catamaran pulling up. ‘Please go to berth B72’. Er, ok.

What I should have done is ask for more info. Get the exact location. But feeling rushed we left the wall and headed round to where we thought ‘B72’ was. At the exact moment Helen on the bow realised we were in the wrong berth I stupidly tried reversing Interlude back out. The nasty crosswind took the bow away from me and I lost control. BANG! I can’t really remember the rest but three minutes later we were over the other side of the dock safely in our correct berth. The ‘bang’ was the result of our bow getting pushed into the anchor of another boat. No damage was done to them but poor Interlude has a bit more battle damage to add to the hardcore fender smashing she took during that crazy swell in Guernsey. It’s not that bad, nothing a bit of buffering won’t get out. The hit to my confidence was worse. Docking can go wrong real quick and there’s no break on a boat like on a car. If you get it wrong you lose control and bad things happen. It’s a massive learning curve I still feel like I’m at the bottom of.

Still, once the nerves had settled, (a few beers at the local bar might have helped this), it was good to sum up the day up for what is was – a big positive. I just HATE that feeling when I turn to starboard and you see the bow blown to port. Maybe that bow thruster option might have been a good idea after all?

L Aber Wrach 1



Roscoff, France.

After a few days in Roscoff I think we’d sum up that it’s a nice enough little town but we both feel the need to press on now. It has some good places to eat / drink, and some amazing scenery due to the very tidal nature of the area but we’re both ready to get to Camaret. We just need to decide if we’re going to do this in one long hop or two shorter ones. It’ll come down to the tidal streams once again as we’ve read the Channel Du Four is not a stretch to mess with.

Roscoff has great food options, including creperies, bakeries (for the obligatory baguettes and croissants) and of course the seafood restaurants. There was no supermarket (the closest one was 10 mins by car and was closed due to the high winds they had here a few weeks back) which meant that we had to spend more euros than we would have liked on eating out. We soon learned the value of the special offers here and they did us proud.

Roscoff France

The opening times of the restaurants, shops and post office, however, were very haphazard, which is understandable given that it’s low season, but when they’re closed when they say they should be open and you’ve made a special trip from the marina it soon gets a little annoying.

The other main reason I want to get out of here is the Marina. Don’t get me wrong the marina is pretty much brand new but there lies the problem, during our stay there was lots of workmen around hammering the crap out of everything and nothing was quite finished. Also, no WIFI. I mean COME ON!

Even when it is all completed (they seem to be rushing to get everything finished in time for the summer season) it’s just too far out of the main town to really have appeal I would have thought. It’s next to a big ferry port, not the most idilic of settings. Sure they have a free bus shuttle into the more interesting bits but that’s not what people want from a marina. They want the good bits right on their doorsteps.



Guernsey to Roscoff

Ok I’ll admit it- our long stay in Guernsey was mostly due to us trying to get our heads around the fact we’d be sailing.. on our own.. over the channel.. to France!

It’s hard to put into words how intimidated we felt during the days leading up to our departure. I’d often through about the time when our great support network provided by Pete and his guys would be gone and it would be just the two of us. Sure we’d done the training, read all the books and blogs, etc, but let me put it this way.. neither of us got any sleep the night before we set off.

Our exit from Guernsey at daybreak the next morning was less than elegant. We thought everything was setup correctly but a few fumbles with lines as we motored out meant some quick blasts of power were needed to correct for a wildly swinging stern that hit the wind at just the wrong moment. I also needed to race from the wheel down to the bow at one point to yank poor Helen back up onto the boat via her life jacket after she hopped off to fix a snagged line (I thought she’d chickened out and abandoned ship for a brief moment!) We got out of it without any harm but still not a great boost for our confidence levels. The amazing sunrise almost made up for it. Almost.

Guernsey Sunrise Once out of the harbour things settled down quickly. We’d timed the tidal streams correctly so didn’t point south but head north (score!). We got the sails up and didn’t have any issues getting to the south of the island and then out into open water.

We didn’t really say much for the next few hours. I remember looking over my shoulder time and again to see Guernsey becoming smaller and smaller until it was lost in the morning sea fog.

Although we were still very tense, things started to become quite enjoyable from there onwards. We had a great sail in good weather, watching the miles tick down on the plotter.

The trip over to the French mainland took around nine hours. It was an amazing experience seeing the shoreline come into view, knowing we’d made it here ourselves was really was a moment I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m sure once we’ve done these voyages more we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about but I honestly did feel an amazing sense of pride and achievement in what we’d just done together.

Only thing left was the docking.. Ugh. Luckily though, after radioing the marina as we approached Roscoff, a guy quickly came powering out to greet us. He explained where we’d be heading once inside of the breakwater walls and to wait for him to get ashore so he could help with our lines. Not sure if this level of service will be the norm as we continue or if he just read the terror on my face and decided his pontoons would be safer if he lent a hand? Either way we headed in behind him then around to our berth (which even though was quite roomily felt like I was trying to park a yacht in a car park sized space). I remembered everything Jamie had taught us back in Hamble – checked the wind, didn’t turn too quickly and managed to line up Interlude pretty much bang on as we entered our space. Once my work was done (I just point the thing and hope really) I saw Helen and our very helpful marina hand quickly tie off lines in all directions until Interlude was secure.

The engine was turned off, sails bags zipped up and we gave each other a massive hug of relief before tiredness hit like us a sledgehammer and we collapsed into bed.

We’d made our first crossing together, solo.