This is a bit of a recap, and behind where we are at the present day, but it includes a nice map of the whole journey in the first month as well as some thoughts on what it may have been nice to change.
Today we counted and we were sailing for 16 of 30 days in the first month, and that included spending ~4-5 days at a wedding in London!
We originally considered crossing straight from the English mainland to Brest but decided to head to the Isles of Scilly on day 20, a decision we are still happy with as the Isles of Scilly are beautiful. If anything we wish we could have spent more time there.
After our little morning wake up we set off around 8 am. The plan was for the whole route to take a little over 24 hours, so an 8am start meant we would arrive during the day to Brest.
The whole track was around 140 nautical miles, took 1 day 5 hours with an average speed of 4.7 knots.
It’s always hard to put across what sailing out to sea is like in words, so here are two short clips from different points in time during the crossing.
As we left the Isles of Scilly the sea was extremely flat, as the isles were protecting us from the swell.
As we gained distance from the Isles the swell started to pick up a bit. Here is a video from 14:30 on day 24, 6 hours in.
As we got further into the channel the swell continued to build slightly, and in this clip from 22:44 on day 24, you can see some more rolly larger swells.
Crossing the shipping lanes is always a little bit of fun, especially in the channel where they can be quite busy. You can actually see a large container ship in the background on the video above.
AIS is invaluable here, as all the large ships are required to transmit their location (lots of small boats including Hannah do too). AIS data is displayed within the Navionics app that we use for navigation. Below you can see 2 ships in the channel, their track for the next 20 minutes, as well as where we are.
As we approached France, we put our courtesy flag up (thanks Syliva for hand sewing them all) as the coastline was lit up with lighthouses (very hard to take a picture of). For anyone that doesn’t know, the courtesy flags are a small flag for each country for use when you are in their waters saying that you agree to abide by their laws.
We had to navigate through a rather tidal channel called “Chenal Du Four” which is around 14 nautical miles long and narrows down to roughly 2 nautical miles.
As planned the tide was in our favour, whisking us toward Brest adding around 4 knots to our speed. The top speed on the crossing as a whole was 11 knots over land.
The final part of the passage took us into the entrance to Brest where we tacked all the way up to the rather larger harbour, within which sits Marina du Château.
Initially, our call over VHF to the marina told us there was no room on the visitor pontoons as there was a big event going on that day. We needed to enter the country and the EU so we negotiated a short stop on the fuel pontoon for us to visit the immigration office that is only a 4 minute walk away.
Upon returning the staff had found a place for us within the marina using the spot of another boat that was away for the month, so time to relocate. Our marina track ended up looking a little like this.
Once moored up, we started to relax in the midst of the heatwave, making use of the new handmade wind scoop for the forward hatch (thanks Sylvia).
As mentioned above, we arrived amidst a festival, it also happened to be Bastille day, but we will write about that in the next post! 🙂
We started day 24 at approximately 5 am in an anchorage off Porthcressa Beach, St Marys.
This anchorage is on the southwest side of the island (pictured below). The anchorage is highlighted in green, and roughly where we were anchored is marked with a red dot.
We heard a loud thud and scraping on our chain. Looking out of the skylight from bed, we saw another mast oddly close by.
At first, we didn’t know what was going on, had we dragged? No! Our anchor alarm had not gone off. Also, we were on the outside of the anchorage. It must be someone else!
Leaping out of bed and onto deck we discovered that another boat had dragged anchor from further inshore into us!
These hungover French sailors on a Doufort 24ft sailboat didn’t notice themselves dragging and hitting us, and didn’t surface until after we loudly knocked on their hull and already had our fenders out. If they didn’t hit us they would have been taken straight onto the rocks or out to sea.
Initially, they hit the bow roller, chain and snubber before gradually turning to come alongside us.
Once up they also got some fenders out to put between the hulls, engine on and tried pulling up their chain with the electric windlass to find it didn’t work. They pulled it up by hand (something we are used to on Hannah!) with some help from us getting the anchor over the bow.
Judging by how quickly they pulled up the chain they probably only had 10 meters or so of chain out, and we were in 10 meters of depth at high tide. They would have been in 8-10 meters of depth where they were anchored.
Minimal damage, just some light paint scratches on Hannahs’s bow as the metalwork, chain and snubber took most of the hit on the nose and we were on deck before anything else could happen, holding the other boat away from Hannahs’s hull.
No pictures or videos of the actual event, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen again…
On Day 22 we were exploring Tresco island, but as August drew closer, we needed to try and get across the channel and Biscay with some good weather. Tomorrow (day 24) looked good for a channel crossing, so we wanted to prepare by getting as far south and east in the Isles of Scilly as possible.
Our anchorage of choice was on St Marys south side, and the route we chose took us through the Isles.
We arrived at our anchorage fairly late and it was quite busy so we anchored on the outside which lead to a slightly rolly night.
Heading to shore, we landed the dinghy on the northeastern side at Old Grimsby.
The first thing on our minds was a spot of lunch, and the closest place (also quite expensive) was Ruin Beach Cafe, very yummy. We ended up having a full 3-course meal for lunch, see our deserts to the right.
We started exploring and headed for a big walk counter-clockwise around the island without much planning about what to see, except for some greenery and the open ocean on the far side.
There is lots of green space on the northern side, with great views of the open ocean, and views of the other Isles.
As you make your way around to the western side you find a couple of castles / forts providing a little history lesson and some more good views, such as New Grimsby.
We stopped off at the supermarket in the middle of the island for some icecreams and drinks because it was around 28 degrees C.
Continuing south, we planned on visiting Tresco Gardens, but unfortunately due to our late planning, they were closed. Nonetheless, our adventure to the south let us relax while watching lots of rabbits and pheasants frolick in the grass.
It was low tide when we got back to Old Grimsby where we had left the dinghy.
We spent a little time in Ruin Beach Cafe once again making full use of their WiFi to download the latest Stranger Things season, as well as updates to our navigational charts.
Finally, it was time to carry the dinghy, engine and all, back down to the water (now quite the trek).
Keen to explore more of the Isles of Scilly before needing to carry on the with the journey to Porto we switched anchorages to St Helens pool, and anchorage that should be protected from all directions of swell.
Our current anchorage of the Eastern Isles also didn’t look great for the coming days.
Our little hop took us out, and counter clockwise (west) along the top of the Isles. There wasn’t much wind, and the sails were quite flappy, but we needed to move!
This anchorage was quite beautiful, as you can see the open ocean to the north, east and west, yet the swell doesn’t reach you due to the shallows.
On Day 20 we arrived in the Isles of Scilly, amidst the Eastern Isles, right next to Great Ganilly.
We were only a short distance from Great Ganilly Island, so figured we had better replace our outboard engine oil (a job we had been putting off), and explore the island!
We took the dinghy a short distance to shore and carried it over a bit of rocky ground so it wouldn’t drift away as the tide rose.
Heading counter-clockwise around the island we first found ourselves on a little beach with a webcam (we guess for seals).
There was quite a bit of fishing tackle, ropes and things caught in rocks and on the beach, including this box that said Lowestoft! It’s a small world, as Lowestoft is Kathryn’s mums home town.
The island had a few paths carved out from where people had visited before. But the main inhabitants seemed to be hundreds of sea birds, all of which were flying around keeping an eye on what we were doing…
As we came back around to the western side of the island we got the opportunity to take some nice pictures of Hannah from the shore.
We weren’t ready to head back to the boat, so we relaxed on the beach until sunset.
From the beach, we could see a rock that looked a lot like what Grace described as a giant slug, but we were thinking of a crocodile. So of course, I (Adam) had to go and see what it would look like if I tried to ride it.
Meanwhile, Kathryn was once again getting artsy in the sand.
On the way back to the boat, we could mostly have the dinghy engine off and drift downwind, which was perfect as the seals were out and about.
There were points where we were considering not heading the Isles of Scilly, as we are on a schedule to reach Porto, Portugal at the start of August. We thought it would be a shame to miss out though, and the long-range forecast looked good for a hop to the Scillies, follows by a crossing of Biscay or to Brest, France.
We once again used Fast Seas weather routing for this crossing, and we included the details of this in our Nic 38 owners forum reply.
The route was all on a single tack out along the cornish coast, past lands end and straight to the Isles. Our track matched this rather nicely.
We did lose the wind for a little bit as we approached Lands End. We could see the wind on the sea in the distance so motored up to it, and that gave us the opportunity to grab this picture of Lands End from the sea.
We headed into the Isles of Scilly at the closest point to us, the Eastern Isles.
The sea continued to look like the picture above (nice and flat) just with short rolling ocean swell.
There was a lovely little anchorage which we shared with 3 other boats, and a family of seals.
We trekked around the nearest island and on our way back from land in the dinghy the seals were all relaxing in the seaweed close to shore and we snapped this great picture.
We had a long list of jobs still to do back on 2022 splash day, one of which was the dinghy engine oil change.
So before exploring anywhere, it was time to tick off another job. Dinghy engine oil change.
Speifically, Hannah’s dinghy is a Zodiac with a 3.3 HP 2-stroke Mariner outboard engine.
How to replace the gear oil
I imagine outboards are normally serviced on land. But we had no easy option to do that.
All of the guides that we found also said that you are meant to use a special gear oil pump of sorts, but we didn’t have one of those to hand.
You can get an overview of what this process is meant to look like in this video.
Mounting the engine
We didn’t really want to replace the oil in the engines normal positions, hanging over the side of the boat, or ashore, in case of spills.
So we rigged the engine in the cockpit with numerous ropes to suspend it in mid air with the floor covered in plastic beneath.
We used one rope heading out from each side of the engine at least to keep it stable.
Conveniently we were in a very flat anchorage.
Replacing the oil
As was mentioned in the video, there are 2 screws that you need to locate.
Here are the screws on our Mariner 3.3 HP.
Undoing the bottom screw allows a little oil to start trickeling out into a container we had prepared. The top one released the flood gates and we waited a few minuites for the flow to slow.
We found a random site online that said that the gear oil capacity for an engine like this was around 140ml, so this is what we were aiming for.
To get the new oil into the outboard we used a syringe whoose nozzle happened to just fit inside the hole opened up by the screw. Pouring oil from our new container into a small bowl, then sucking it up with the syringe and shooting it into the hole, covering the hole with our fingers between synringes (as we needed multiple to reach 140ml).
You can see the syringe we used and difference in our oil colour below. Grey / blue being the oil coming out, and yellow being the oil going in.
We won’t talk about the time we accidently fired oil across the cockpit using the syringe, thats better left in the past.
Doing the screws up, and cleaning the engine off, we were all set for our next dinghy trip!