Wednesday 24 August 2022, at 49°36 N and 07°57 W, 70 miles to the west of the Scillies.
It’s 03:00 hours and I’ve just come off watch. Outside, there’s 14 knots of breeze, the gennaker’s hoisted and we’ve set a course for Brittany.
Two days ago we left our port of registry of La Trinité-sur-Mer for a training session around Ireland.
I don’t know what the weather’s been like in France, but since we left we’ve been on the hunt for sunshine! Indeed, on Monday, offshore of Brittany, we spent the afternoon slicing our way through some very thick fog, scrutinising the radar and AIS as visibility was down to 300 m. We could barely make out Belle-Île, we didn’t see the island of Groix and we tacked close to the Basse Jaune shallows at Glénan without even a glimpse of a rock. Suffice to say that the cruise didn’t get off to a great start, with no opportunity to see the local curiosities promised by the tour operator. As a result, we headed offshore, out west, bound for the U.S.A. After a pitch-black night, the day kicked off with some refreshing drizzle and then the rain remained with us the whole day.
With the passing hours, the front closed in on us and the wind picked up, giving us a lift in the process, which enabled us to make a few headsail changes. Furling in the J1; unfurling the J2; dumping the J1 and stowing it; hoisting the J0; unfurling the J0… Encouraging signs for revising how to go through the gears. Further down the track, the wind reached 25 knots, so we were able to hoist the gennaker. Sails of Change then stretched her legs to reach her cruising speed, stabilising at around 32 knots, with peaks of speed at 39 knots. The boat was making good headway. We reckoned the time was ripe to launch onto some 10-minute test phases: rudder rake at 0 then 1.5; foil rake at 0; then 1; then 2… We went through multiple combinations, which were all interesting to analyse.
In the meantime, an alarm began to sound! There was water in the galley locker: around twenty litres of hot freshwater. I then discovered Benjamin Schwartz, our navigator, bailing it out. I wondered whether he’d simply wanted to run himself a bath… He informed me that the shut-off valve on the water heater was faulty. The problem was quickly resolved!
By the way, is there a pilot aboard Sails of Change whilst everyone’s enjoying the cruise? Why yes there is, it’s ‘Popol 2’, son of ‘Popol’, and much sturdier. Benjamin, once again, explained to us that this new pilot had a ram that was twice as quick. In fact, whilst ‘Popol’, the first in this line, had some flaws in upwards of 38 knots, ‘Popol 2’ seems quite capable of withstanding the pressure. He’s a little noisier but he’s efficient, learns quickly and helms very well.
The centre of the small depression we’d been making our way along then closed on us and as we made headway towards England, the wind gradually backed. We went with it and ended up making a 270 degree turn without tacking or gybing, the bows pointing towards Brittany. Even though the wind wasn’t exactly within the sail’s normal range of use, it was a great opportunity to furl in the J0, trial the small gennaker and continue to work on our manoeuvring.
It’s time for me to go and get a bit of sleep now. In three hours’ time, a fellow cruiser will want to hot bunk and he’s not going to let me continue sleeping! So, goodnight and see you soon.