Port Haliguen to Port An Doro, Belle Isle

Port Haliguen to Port An Doro, Belle Isle
Winds W-SW 4ish

Saturday 20th May 2017

Pirates off the stern!

Quel surprise! Another morning of nothing-happening-very-quickly. It was 11:00 when we slipped our mooring, again with me on the helm. I wasn’t at all confident about moving off, not because of the whole hitting the stern thing (so over that) but because I was worried that the wind would take the bow, and I would end up leaving Pete on the pontoon. As it was, the wind was kind and had a coffee break, leaving me to gently ease us off, all present and correct. The destination today was to Belle Isle, to make sure that we try and complete the set of nearby islands before we head home. The wind was perfect for this (no coincidence, of course), once we’d settled in a little flukiness when we left Port Haliguen, and had to gybe onto starboard tack, that was it for the passage, a lovely broad reach. Just adjustments of the sails when we altered course. It was glorious sailing, although chilly. I ended up with my hoodie and Pete’s windproof fleece, although I was in shorts and barefoot. It was only when my hands started going numb (the old Raynaud’s phenomenon) that I thought it was time to hand over the wheel. I’d done most of the tricky bits, as we had to negotiate a slim passage through hidden and visible rocks, a series of buoys and cardinals marking the channel.

On Pete’s helm, the wind shifted, of course, to add a bit of south into the mix. Not helpful when you plan to anchor on the southern most tip of Belle Isle… As we approached, Pete was having second thoughts about whether to about and head for the long beach on Houat. We decided to press in as there was no one else anchored there. Always an advantage! It was a stunning spot. A sandy cove, framed by majestic cliffs, and a sparkly sea… albeit a bit rolly. We dithered about what to do, and in the end decided to go for it, despite us being on a lee shore – the cliffs on the eastern side would have ‘cushioned’ us. The beach wasn’t vast, so it didn’t offer a very good opportunity for a Bessie-dog play, but was enough. I cooked up the galettes for lunch, and we thawed out with a cup-a-soup. Hardly champagne sailing!

More dithering as we decided whether to both go ashore, or Pete ferry Bessie and I, or Pete take Bessie. We ended up all going ashore, with Pete waiting by the dinghy. The falling tide on this steeply shelving beach meant that the waves were breaking more than looked from the deck, so once again we surfed in, the wave breaking over the stern soaking all of us. The only one who didn’t mind was Bessie. Once again, she clung to the tubes, and was super excited to get ashore. I ran with her up to the back of the beach, past a family having a substantial picnic, and couples sunbathing (it was warm out of the wind). We scrambled up some stone steps, past a large sign clearly indicating PAS DE CHIENS. Whoops. I took Bessie up the road to the clifftop, not even managing the coastal path, as I had flip flops on. Gah. I wished I’d had my iPhone in my pocket (although it probably would have got soaked, so perhaps not so bad really), as it was a picture perfect image of Whinchat at anchor, in the arc of the cove, her blue hull, the paler sapphire of the sea… Ah. A very proud moment, particularly when walkers were stopping to photograph her. I’ll console myself that we hadn’t tidied the mainsail, so that would have spoiled the effect….

Bessie pulled like mad to get back onto the sand, and was very disappointed that the stone-thrower wasn’t engaging. I ran a little bit in the shallows with her, with Bessie bounding through the breaking waves. Neither Pete nor I trusted her not to invite herself for the picnic, and we were feeling a bit guilty that she was on the beach at all… and then two women with a bouncy dog appeared, the hound completely ignoring Bessie, much to her annoyance that she didn’t have a partner in crime.  We returned to Whinchat, promising her some stone-chasing in the scrappy beach at the marina.

Bessie’s beach, Port Haliguen

Perhaps the sail back was even better, a single port tack, with me on the helm for the first leg, and Pete swapping in to do the remainder. We had both sailed the same stretches of water, albeit with different conditions. For the last long tack home, Pete was sailing ‘full and by’, and was registering speeds of 9knots on the speedo – less over the ground, but a cracking sail. Bessie’s approach to being at 30degrees was to lie in the companionway and mostly sleep. She did look out every now and then, and used me to wedge against. Ingenious!

Mooring was much less farce than previously. Pete had a clever idea to make the most of the one available proper cleat, and the effect was much better. It still involved me leaping off the foredeck, and running a line forwards, but then him reversing against that. With our kick to port astern, it meant that we weren’t fighting to get Whinchat alongside. SLAM of doors, none. Although a lot of sweat and strength to hold the line around a cleat.

There was a spectacular tall ship moored alongside the visitor’s pontoon. A Russian (I won the flag geek award) frigate. We had to google it, but it’s a replica of a 1703 ship, and is a proper pirate ship. We had the best view of her in the whole marina, with plenty of snappers coming to take a photo from our hammerhead – with our stern in photobombing it…

Boating with Bessie has been a delight, and her kind of sailing is mine. I’m not sure the skipper is all in favour of that, with a bladder/bowel range of about four hours (the dog, not me), but that she is a salty-sea-dog is a gift. She makes no fuss, provided she is with her pack, and that someone will roll a stone for her. I keep on telling her that she’s a very lucky puppy.

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