Braving The English Channel; To England At Last!

2015 Sept 9-10, Camaret, France to Falmouth, England

I set off from Camaret to sail to Falmouth in the morning. It took awhile raising anchor, clearing the tenacious seaweed from the chain, so it doesn’t stink up the V-berth where I sleep. Heading across the bay toward the Pointe du Raz, a headland I had to clear before heading north, I found a helicopter in my way! He was hovering over a 40ft catamaran, that had just launched a dinghy.
It appeared they were training, so I turned to avoid them and got out the camera. Sure enough, the helicopter lowered a cable and as the dinghy motored along at about 4 knots, they picked up one of the dinghy crew and hauled them inside. It all seemed to go pretty smoothly, but it was not rough conditions.

French Coast Guard practicing helicopter rescue nr Camaret
French Coast Guard practicing helicopter rescue nr Camaret

 

 

 

 

After I got the anchor gear all stowed well, I set the mainsail and genoa, and the yankee jib on deck and ready to use. Nice broad reach to the Pointe du Raz. Gorgeous old building and ruins on the point. The current started to take me and speed was great. A nice sunny day, chilly, but very pretty, and beautiful headlands and islands.

Pointe du Raz, France
Pointe du Raz, France
Off the Pointe du Raz
Off the Pointe du Raz
Off the Pointe du Raz. Strong current helping!
Off the Pointe du Raz. Strong current helping!

 

After passing the headland the winds increased to about 20 knots apparent. The genoa was way too big, so in it came and up went the yankee jib and staysail. Mainsail was already double reefed. That gave me a good heel, nice speed, not too much sail, and was perfect for conditions.
To the NW of Ile d’Ouessant there is a traffic separation scheme. The big ships use it like a roadway and keep to their lane, to prevent collisions. The English Channel is pretty narrow and has a large amount of shipping traffic. Getting across in a small, slow boat like mine can be a nail-biting experience. My AIS (Automatic Identification System) is wonderful. I only have a receiver, but at least I can see where they are going.

The triangles are not Star Destroyers, they are all ships. The little black boaty-looking thing in the middle is Goldilocks in the English Channel
The triangles are not Star Destroyers, they are all ships. The little black boaty-looking thing in the middle is Goldilocks in the English Channel

The first one was a 120ft tug towing a 300 ft ship. Luckily they were fast enough so I passed behind and didn’t have to change course. I was on a close reach with the tidal current setting me W. If I went too far west I might have trouble making Falmouth with the E winds. I was expecting the current to take me back E when it changed after midnight, but didn’t want to count on it. A slight backing of the wind, more to the N could have kept me from getting there.

Two extremely large ships in front of me. English Channel
Two extremely large ships in front of me. English Channel

Over night I stayed in the cockpit and looked around every 15 minutes or so, catching what sleep I could. I’m really glad I made it through the shipping lanes before dark. It was biting cold, and hard to sleep. Not such a bad thing when you have to keep watch.
The distance is a little over 100nm, so roughly 24 hours, but with the currents giving me a boost I had to slow it down coming toward Falmouth harbour waiting for the sun to rise. I didn’t have to wait long, and anchored off Trefusis Point. A little rough, but the harbour is full and it’s the only place one can anchor without being charged. I made it in about 21 hrs. A very nice solo transit.

Paddy, just did around the world in this (the little one) and wrote a book! Falmouth Harbour
Paddy, just did around the world in this (the little one) and wrote a book! Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour
Workboat in Falmouth
Workboat in Falmouth
Workboat in Falmouth
Workboat in Falmouth

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