ATLANTIC FRANCE 2018
“HR36 Kasara does Atlantic France” – and what a year to do it!
by Pete Halliday
Our 2018 Sailing adventure to Biscay had been in the planning over the long winter months. Little did we know that the winter blues would be chased away by long summer days, blue skies, fair (if a little light) winds and kindly seas.
At least I had planned it. My darling wife Jan was totally absorbed in our daughter Katie’s wedding, a fabulous affair in the Scottish Highlands in March. However this was now behind us so our focus turned towards the sea.
My winter had been spent preparing Kasara, our 1994 HR36, which the previous year I had acquired in Bucklers Hard to replace our old but delightful Nicholson 32. Heating and hot water and the promise of greater comfort swung it! The green moss was scraped off the decks, the shaft was ground out due to electrolytic damage and Kasara was now almost to coded standard and looking gorgeous, ready to venture forth.
So it was with hope and confidence that I introduced Jan to my concept of escapism and energy regeneration, namely a 10-week sailing cruise from our home port on the Hamble, via the Isles of Scilly, around Brittany to Atlantic France and back. This adventure was very different from the weekend sailing in the Solent that we were used to and we had certainly never been to sea for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
We had attended numerous seminars on Biscay and The Isles of Scillly courtesy of the CA and others, but nothing prepares you totally for visiting a place you have never sailed to before….“beyond here there be dragons”!
Jan it is fair to say was a cautious sailor before our big trip, preferring F2 to F4 and certainly a port to enter after as short a journey as possible. So I had invited a series of pals to join us for parts of the trip and included a range of events to “look forward to” such as cycling in the Loire Valley.
We cast off from Hamble Point on 8thMay, bow pointed South West towards Portland.
The weather had changed, still a little chilly, but the sun was ever present, a friendly wind from the North East. This was a good start.
I had prepared a spreadsheet showing our return to Hamble on 21stJuly, which seemed light years away. In between was the delicious prospect of 33 ports, the idea being to sail a day, remain a day and then sail the next day, thus giving us time to explore new destinations, to catch up if we fell behind or rest a while more if we felt like it.
The format worked brilliantly and as I now look back over the trip, though there were changes, the plan was actually followed very closely, and sure enough we arrived back in Hamble on 21stJuly!
If my sailing dreams were to have a regular future I had twin goals for this trip. The first was to make sure Jan loved it, became confident, a willing and able participant, skilled in certain aspects from boat handling to weather to navigation and in her words move from “incompetent crew” to “competent” so that she could play a full part in the sailing part of our Journey.
This was accomplished by recruiting a series of friends to join the boat along the route. Not only was this very social, but those that were good sailors, helped to give Jan the confidence she needed whilst those who were novice joined the virtual school we set up going through the Competent Crew and Day Skipper syllabus’s and enjoying learning together.
The result was a resounding success, with Jan joining us on every leg of the journey, whereas she had planned to forego the channel crossings and longer passages. She now helms the boat on to her moorings, plots the courses, has become our weather girl and even since our return is often the one who suggests we go sailing again…. now!
The second aim was to enjoy “living aboard” Kasara, gaining confidence in her as a sailing vessel and a home. Though a sailor from a very young age I am not a technical guy. Electrics, engines, systems were new to me, but with time on my hands I was keen to learn and my skills have steadily developed.
Living in a small space, one has to be more organized than at home and we enjoyed the challenge of this. Kasara became our holiday cottage, a cosy retreat and after a few false starts everything had its place and we both knew where everything was.
The trip itself was awesome, spurred on by the fabulous weather and light breezes, only two mornings of drizzly rain in 10 weeks.
Some stats are as follows: 75 days, 1144 nautical miles, 240 engine hours, 33 ports where we anchored off, picked up buoys or entered marinas, 21 guests aboard (not all at the same time!)
Hamble, Yarmouth, Portland, Torquay, Dartmouth, Plymouth, Noss Mayo, Fowey, Newlyn, Isles of Scilly (9 onboard on crossing to Tresco Sound with NE, cruising chute up, boat stayed bobbing around gently on swinging mooring under Cromwell’s Castle for one week whilst we enjoyed a house party ashore on these magical islands). 120 mile crossing to Camaret – low viz in Channel du Four – exciting! St Marine, La Foret (via The Glenan), Concarneau, Sauzon (Belle I’lle), Piriac, L’Herbaudiere, Bourgenay, St Martin (I’lle de Re), Port Joinville (I’lle De Yeu – where we bumped in to Sir Robin Knox-Johnson on his way to the Golden Globe in Les Sables), Pornic, (where we moored up Kasara to pursue a weeks cycling in the Loire), Port Haliguen via Houat, La Trinite, Port Tudy (I’lle De Groix), Loctudy, St Evette, Brest Chateau, Brest Moulin Blanc, Camaret, L’AberW’rach, Roscoff, Treguier, St Peter Port (Guernsey), Braye (Alderney), Hamble.
I’m sure we saw it at it’s best, but the amazing sailing area in which we live should be extended (if you haven’t ventured there yet) to just around the corner in Atlantic France. It is so attainable and so beautiful. We didn’t see even one dragon! We shall be back …anyone coming too?