Port Haliguen to Treac’h Goured, Ile Houat

Port Haliguen to Treac’h Goured, Ile Houat
Wind S4 backing W5-6

Friday 19 May 2017

In another nothing-happens-very-quickly start to the day, despite the threat of thunderstorms, flash floods and freak waves, we set our sights on an anchorage on Hoedic, the smaller island beyond Houat. At the time we we going to untie our lines, the heavy rain arrived. We waited for the worst of it to pass by, and cast off. We eventually left at 11:00, not exactly a lively start. Again, somehow I ended up on the wheel, but caused the skipper some anguish, as I’d forgotten that boat’s don’t drive like cars, and nearly re-fashioned the stern/pontoon. Some might say it was extreme skill to miss by centimetres, but in truth, I was worried about clearing the stern of the motorboat ahead, and had misplaced the fact that there is a pivot point on a boat at the keel in my mind. Whoops. Almost.

Helmswoman and first mate…

There wasn’t much chance to test the replacement fan, as there was a respectable sailing wind, just aft of the beam, meaning a gentle reach most of the way across the stretch of water between the mainland and the islands of Houat and Haliguen. It wasn’t champagne sailing, or even balmy holiday sailing. The wind was cold, and with the risk of those thundery showers, we were in full foulies – and glad of them! There is a strip of islands off the tip of the Quiberon Peninsula, from the west we could hear the roar of little engines, but multiple. Peeling through the islands and lumps of rocks was a flotilla of small recreational fishing boats. But dozens of them, all zoom-zooming around, bouncing on the waves. Like an advance of baddies in a James Bond movie, except they would been in black. It turns out these were boats heading to the semifinals of some fishing competition… Fascinating.  Nothing else of note except my self-test of sailing accuracy. I was determined to sail to the waypoint, with a minimum cross-track error. That was nearly scuppered by a ‘classic’ twin masted gaff-rigged boat on the windward side, sails up. I made a significant course change to show that I was taking avoiding action… But rather annoyingly, it seemed to be motoring! Naughty. The sails certainly weren’t set for downwind sailing (as it would have been). That cost us a great deal of cross-track error, but fortunately, by the time I hit the waypoint I had it to ZERO. A very satisfying sailing moment. A course change for the waypoint, and more of a beat into the anchorage, bypassing some very poorly marked mussel beds.

I’m not sure if it is Bessie’s confidence that increased, or ours, but she spent most of the passage unleashed. She pottered about on deck, but often either sat besides me, or just behind. She really was very good, and seemed to enjoy it. With the hour of lunch upon us, we decided to head to the ‘big bay’ on Houat. Sailing, after all, is about where the wind takes you. Both of us really fancied this bay, one that we think we sailed by last year with one too many boats at anchor. It’s hard to imagine 160 boats in the bay, which the book says happens in August. Today, we were one of 8. And still some little French boat, with six people on it, anchored on top of us. Go figure.

Bessie bounding merrily after rolling stones….

After lunch, sitting in the sun on deck, pretending the wind wasn’t cold, we launched the dog on the dinghy to take her ashore. She was certainly excited about being in the launch – hugging the tubes with her front legs, and seemingly keen to jump in. I certainly had to keep one hand very firmly on her doggie lifejacket. We’re not really sure if she would have jumped in, but perhaps we should see. She’s not much of a swimmer, but happily stands up to her belly. We surfed onto the beach on a large wave, much to my surprise. We weren’t really sure if dogs were allowed, but were prepared to feign ignorance. Relieved when we saw a lady walking her very well-behaved dog. We just had to navigate the odd small child, but fortunately for Bessie, the best thing is chasing rolling stones. After exhausting her yesterday, Pete was much more cautious about making her run. There was a beach to explore and walk along as well, but Bessie gambled along happily with us, chasing stones whenever Pete threw them for her. She likes to get them, but doesn’t exactly retrieve them back to you. On a beach where there were very few pebbles, it was a supply issue that would have made retrieving better. Another training regime for when we get home. We walked a couple of miles in total, turning before she launched herself in to a flock of chirruping sandpipers. We didn’t want her to cause any trouble, although the dog that we saw passed through them, sending them in a spectacular air display. A small murmuring, but the wing-to-wing formation flying was show-stopping. Bessie missed it all, but it was back to the boat. Getting Bessie back into the launch was easier than I’d expected – no diva strops. She was proper tired.

The sail back to Port Haliguen was a new challenge for our puppy. Beating into a stiff breeze! Bessie learned that her paws don’t grip the deck, and didn’t seem that thrilled by it. She was shattered by her play on the beach, and worked out that the best place was wedged behind me in the cockpit. It seems her legs fit neatly around my seated bum (with me perched/wedged) meaning that she just slept for much of the first long tack to port. Fortunately we weren’t short tacking!

Mooring. Oh my. A strong wind, by now, and one that meant we had to moor port-side-to (our preferred side), but with only one proper cleat, it would be a challenge. If there were doors to open and slam, it could have been a farce. I was immensely stressed throughout it all (particularly after Pete raised his voice at me), but Pete later said that I had done the hard work, getting ashore and tying a line. I had to make a massive leap off Whinchat, and in the absence of a proper cleat, looped the mid-ships through. Some bloke came to take the stern line at one point. Pete got off. Bessie was the only one on board. [SLAM of door.] I went on board for something. And then the boat was blown off, so that I was now on the wheel. [SLAM of door.] Man helping lets go of stern line. [SLAM.] Says we are too close. He walks off. [SLAM.] I am still on the helm. Bessie is whining. We cannot seem to get Whinchat alongside, although we have lines everywhere. There is nothing for it than to take your puppy ashore for a pee, and wish for a beer.

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