Hoy, solo. It’s a good weather window to leave Cork Harbour, Ireland, so off we go. Not too early a start as the ebb isn’t until about 10:00. Motor out through the many boats in the river. Sailing is popular here if the density of the moorings is any indication. It is a pretty prime spot for keeping a boat and the Royal Cork Yacht Club is a nice place to start from. Huge harbour, so plenty of protected waters, and the ocean close by for offshore endeavors. I filled up diesel at the Yacht Club. About 90eurocents/Liter. Quite good. Turned out about 1.45/L in Brest.
I had to motor to get out of the ship traffic area first, and there was hardly any wind to start, but not long after leaving the harbour my sails were set and drawing. SE toward Isles of Scilly, about 135nm.
Sky is clear with some clouds. Cool, about 10C and light winds. Occasionally wing and wing, but sometimes motorsailing. Dolphins came to play!! In fact they came several times. They are smaller than I see in the western Atlantic, and grey with white underside. Nicer looking than the “Brownfish” of the North Sea, as the Dutch call them. Some of these were very playful and were slapping the water and sometimes each other with their tails. They don’t seem as organized at sharing my bow-wake as some I’ve seen, and I couldn’t detect a pattern to their movement, but it’s always good to see them. Sometimes 7 or 8, and sometimes pods of about 20. One pod plays, then another pod joins and the first fades away.
Winds increased to nearly 20 kts, after dark of course. Full mainsail (which is small for this boat), staysail and 70% or less of genoa. Near midnight wind veered NNE to NE and increased to over 20. The waves were big enough to kick off the autopilot so I had to roll up the genoa completely.
Around the Scillys are two TSS, Traffic Separation Schemes, one to south and one on the E. I elected to pass N of the island and pass down on the east side betwixt Isles and TSS. I called Coast Guard to confirm this and they simply acknowledged it was legal according to COLREGS (Collision Regulations). Surprisingly terse. I guess they were busy with the big ships. Luckily there was not much traffic, as it was pitch dark, but at least clear with good visibility.
After the Scillys I turned a little more south toward Ouessant (called Ushant by the Brits), a set of islands just West of Pointe du Kermorvan and Pointe du St Mathieu, on mainland France. Before Ouessant is a huge TSS with busy traffic. It is about 30nm wide so takes roughly 6 hours to cross. There are three major lanes so there is an opportunity to nap in between. Very short naps. My alarm was set anywhere between 4 minutes and 10 minutes. I slept down below to try to avoid hypothermia. It’s chilly out there. It has me dreaming of a pilothouse.
After the TSS it’s best to enter the channel between Ouessant and the mainland from the NW and pass SE from there. Many small islands and shoals, so keeping to the twisting channel is paramount. All this was also in complete darkness, but soon the sun began to rise and I could better appreciate the scene. I couldn’t find a way to contact Douane (Customs) so decided to simply go into the marina in Brest where I could clear in. I was tied up by 0930 and got my Schengen Visa just before lunchtime. She didn’t speak much English so I didn’t get many questions answered, but she was very friendly and it all went smoothly.
260nm Cork to Brest in 48 hrs.