Sunday, June 9, 2013


Guess what ! We are not there yet. After spending 3 hours in Grand Russell, we finally cleared Serk and headed for the infamous "Raz Blanchard" between Cape of La Hague and Alderney. We had to go motoring with head wind but tail current. We ended up in a very turbulent area with waves more than 12 feet high and seas throwing us all over the place. Since morning, I had been fearing that all this very brutal movements will stir up the fuel tank to the point that some algae of other solid material will block the intake of the fuel lines. And that's exactly what happened, and I was not going to go into the engine room and clean the filters with the way the boat was moving. So I switched on the pump that Mike had installed as an inboard fuel polishing system, but with the added advantage that the pump could help push the fuel to the engine.  And the engine restarted and was able to keep running at 1500 rpm. What happened next was of course that the wind would disappear to 4 knots from 20. At that point we had 6 miles to go the the entrance of Cherbourg, and we started watching nervously the distance left. As we were almost there, we heard on the VHF a strong wind advisory from the french Coast Guard.
We eventually made it to the fuel dock around midnight and the weather forecast made it obvious that we were not going to be able to leave on Saturday but only on Sunday.
On Saturday, I made a trip in the engine room to change the fuel filters, found out that the valve to the 1/2 inch line was half closed and the 1/4 inch line was blocked. We cleared all that and were able to move to a regular slip after fuelling.
At this point, we hope to leave today Sunday June 10th at 7:00 p.m., which is the earliest that the tide will allow us. It alo mean that we will be late going up the river Seine and will probably not arrive in Rouen before 7 or 8 p.m. on Monday.
Therefore there will be another blog.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Grand Finale

Papy Jovial wants to be certain that this crossing will remain a memorable one. Last night, we started with a severe thunderstorm that forced us to heave to under two reefs and genoa reduced to a working jib for more than two hours.
We resumed sailing under sail, until as usual the wind dropped and we had to start motoring. That is when the line between a fish trap and its floating marker got caught in the rudder. We fished the line with the anchor of the dinghy and then cut it with the big diving knofe that we keep on the steering wheel pedestal.
Then we reached St Peter of Guernsey at 11:30 and took more than 3 hours to cover the 4.5 miles of the Grand Russell channel. We got out of it around 4:30 and we are now waiting for the promised strong northward current of the "Raz Blanchard". We might make it to the Fuel Dock of Cherbourg before midnight, but our dreams of a nice dinner at the Yacht Club have evaporated and the best we can hope for will be a late drink at the bar, since it is Friday.After a good night sleep, it will be a day of cleaning, drying, shopping, before leaving for Rouen around 6:30 p.m.
At noon, we were by 49:26 N and 2:27 W, just outside St Peter. We still had 44 miles to go. Since we had already covered 1639 miles and there are 56 miles between Cherbourg and Le Havre, the total crossing will be a minimum of 1739 miles when the direct course was 1405 miles long. Papy Jovial loves adding miles.
Therer will be no blog tomorrow, but I wil try and conclude this voyage while we sail up the river Seine.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Land !

It is a tradition at sea that the first person to see land after an ocean csrossing is entitled double ration of rum. I already had that privilege reaching Horta, and once again, I was able to spot the light house of The Triagoz today AT 4:15 p.m. this afternoon. So, more rum coming my way.
At noon, we were by 49:02.1 N and 4:07.9 W with 160 miles left to get to Cherbourg.
That means that we won't get to Cherbourg before tomorrow late afternoon. Given the fact that it is very lilkely that there will be no or minimum service available in Rouen, such as laundry, Wifi, shore power, water, etc..., we are choosing to spend one day in Cherbourg to clean and dry the boat and get ourselves back in human shape.
This has been undoubtedly the most challenging crossing of my six ones, and we will be delighted once we can look forward to some normal time before`we embark on some more navigation in the`Baltic seas and beyond.
I know that there`are many people`who follow that blog on a daily basis and I want to thank them for being with us. It is always a great moral lift when you know that you are not alone. Tomorrow, we will reach Cherbourg and I will brib a last posting to this transatlantic crossing. But there will be more navigation to follow, starting with the Baltic sea, then IUreland and the British Isles.
Again, thank you for being with us.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Time out over . . ..

At 9 this morning, the wind dropped enough that we could motor on a direct course into the wind. We quickly opened hatches and portlights to try and dry the boat as best as possible and cleaned the floor and whatever we could clean. Lunch was set on the table in the main cabin, with silverware, plates and glasses for the wine. But at 3 p.m., the wind increased to 15 knots in the nose, and it was back in the washing, motor sailing as close to the wind as we can to save time.
At noon we were by 48:12 N and 5:46 W, very close to Ouessant and 194 miles from the fuel dock in Cherbourg. We thought we were there and started talking about laundry, showers, groceries and even lunch at the restaurant nearby. Now, it is back to late arrival, hurried fueling and back out to be at the mouth of the river Seine on the 9th morning and in Rouen in the 9th afternoon.
We are all three a little bit mentally tired but we have to accept that. It is called pleasure boating, remember !

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

UFO on Papy Jovial

UFO stands for Unexpected Flying Object. We are again tacking in a shorter seas as we have reached the continental shelf and the boat is slamming in the water like crazy. It even succeeded in launching upward the step down transformer which allows us to use 240 volts european current. This thing weighs a lot and was thrown upward from the top of a closet where it has lived without problem since Australia in March 2010. Once in the air, the boat moved quickly sideways and the transformer landed against the door to the forward toilet and then landed on the floor with a very loud bang. I am afraid that it might not work again as the landing was very hard. We will only know once we try to connect to shore power and we are not looking forward to spending time without shore power which we use for heating and hot water.
This morning, we sailed through a fishing ground off shore of south Britanny. The seas were alll green, almost bright green and beautiful. We are also beginning to cross the shipping lanes and the screen of the computer is covered of little icons produced by the AIS (Automatic Identification System), showing all the different boats in our area,with their name, destination, speed, how far they wil be from us at the closest point, etc . . . It is a fantastic and very useful device, especially since all commercial boats of more than 300 tons have to have an AIS transmitter so that we can see them on our AIS receiver. At 5 p.m. today, we just crossed the 100 miles to Aber Wrach on the north coast of Britanny. But this tacking progression is agonizingly slow.
There is still a possibility that we would reaxh the mouth of the river on the 8th and therefore be in Rouen on the 9th. It will be tight and we only have the 10 hours up the river to clean and dry the boat. We have guests coming on the 10 and on the 11th, and right now, the boat is hardly liveable, even for us. It is wet everywhere, water showing up on the side in the galley and forward. We do our best to clear it, but the boat is so flat that it is almost impossible. Obviously,charlie Morgan designed the boat with the assumption that it would neverr heel and always sail upright. Like motoring in the Bahamas or sailing downwind with less than 14 knots of wind.
At noon today, we were by 47:54 N and 7:22 W. The direct distance to Le havre was 322 miles. All this tacking only got us 69 miles closer than yesterday, but in the same time, we covered 134 miles over the ground. As I was saying yesterday, we had to cover more than twice what we gain towards the destination.
We are hoping that when we get into the protection from shore, life on board will become a little less miserable with less jerky movements, a little less cold and even maybe we will be able to take advantage of the spring sun.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

back and forth

To use a more specifically maritime language, it is called tacking. In fact it is not obvious for everybody that a sailboat cannot progress directly into the wind. So, to reach a destination which is directly upwind, sailors use a techniue called tacking. The boat has to create an angle between the lead side of the sails and the wind, that creates a lift effect, just as th method used by aircrafts to make heavier than air fly. That angle, ideally should be around 20 degrees. To that, you have to add the angle between the lead portion of the sail and the axis of the boat. The addition of those two angles are the angle of the wind to the axis of the boat. It means that to cover the distance between A and B directly upwind, you have to cover a greater distance. For example, when Papy Jovial is set up the way it used to be, with the genoa sheets going from the bow to the cockpit outside the shrouds, That angle was around 60 degrees. The cosinus of 60 degrees being 0.5, the progreesion towards the target was half of the distance covered through the water. To go 1000 miles directly upwind, Papy Jovial would have to sail 2000 miles. The pace of the progression towards the target is called the VMG (for Velocity made Good), and the smaller the angle between the course of the boat through the water and the angle of the wind, the closer the VMG gets to the speed through the water.
My dear friend Jean-Paul, who is helping us sail to Rouen and is a racer, has redirected the genoa sheets to go inside the shrouds and outside the lower shrouds. This in turn improved the angle between tacks, which went from 120 degrees to 100 degrees. That then converts into an improvement of 29 % of the VMG. Very significant. I think it means that cruisers could learn a thing or two from the racers and I am graterful that Jean-Paul is with us.
Last night was miserable, Temperature in the 50s, the boat again slamming and throwing us all over the place, and sleep becomes very problematic. Fortunately today, blue sky, sunshine, calmer seas.
At noon, we were by 47:49 N and 9:13 W. The distance to Rouen on a direct course is 389 miles, but we will probably cover a great deal more miles as we are expecting the wind to remain on an easterly direction, i.e. against us. We are now hoping that we could get to Le Havre, at the mouth of the river Seine on the 8th afternoon and in Rouen on the 9th.
No guarantees of course.
We are still doing good in terms of provisions and drinks.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

time and tide . . . . .

Every time we think we have it licked, everything changes. The hight pressure that set up camp at the entrance of the english channel is blocking our way into it with too much wind to motor and too much in the nose to avoid tacking. We have reset the genoa and redirected the sheets to have them going inside the shroud and outside the lower shrouds. This allowed us to gain almost 15 degrees towards the wind. We don't know yet for sure, we have to wait until we tack and see what is the angle between tacks on the course over the ground.
When the rigging is set up the way it is suppossed to be, with the sheets outside the rigging, and because Papy Jovial only has one set of spreaders which limits he angle that you can sheet it in, and in open seas with some chop, it used to be around 110 t0 120 over the ground. It looks much better over the water, but with very little draught (5'4") to anchor the keel into the water, the boat drifts sideways almost 11 degrees each side. The result is that if you want to cover 50 miles towards your target, you have to sail twice at much through the water. There is an old say among french sailors which says takcing means twice the distance, three times the pain.
Looking at the weather chart today, the temptation to go north and pick up a wind that would allow us to sail directly to the next fuel dock is great. However, by the time we get up there, the forecast shows that we would encounter a head wind of about 15 knots, too strong to motor and forcing us to tack.
The only option that seems possible is to continue on our present course of 110 (42 degrees away from the target), wait for the wind to veer tp 070 late afternoon and go about in a wind which should be improving in direction on the other tack. If this works, that would get us to Camaret, 250 miles away by noon on the 5th. What is next is a northerly course through rhe Channel du Four, where the current starts flowing northward 4 hours before the high tide in Brest, which is at 4 p.m. TU+2. If we miss that train, then we have to wait for the next tide, 11 hours 30 minutes later. From Camaret to Le Havre, the direct distance is 240 miles, but we know that a sailboat seldom goes direct, especially if you plan to go eastward and the forecast calls for north east wind throughout the period.
At this point, we estimate that we could arrive in Rouen between 9 to 11 june.
Besides, the weather here is beautiful. The best possible sailing conditions if you don't plan to go anywhere specific. Blue sky, calm seas, light wind.
All we can do is be patient and understand that mother Nature is in command, not us.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

It is getting more and more challenging !

I have stored away my calculator, and instead, Jean-Paul and myself are spending a lot of time discussing the various possible strategies, looking at the various weather forecast models that are available to us. We finally settled down on the GFS one, which seems to us to make more sense.
We finally decided to start the engine and run it at 1800 rpm. We are following a course some 15 degrees north of the direct course to the island of Ushant. We are expecting to be pushed further north within 24 hours, and agiain pushed north again the next day. Then on the 4th, we should be able to sail or motor sail on a port tack down to either Aber Wrach or Camaret. At this point, we are no longer thinking Rouen, which remains our final destination, but we are just trying to extricate ourselves from the set up in which we are trapped, with light wind and then strong winds in the nose and we try to remain in a situation where we can make some progress towards east, noth of Britanny.
I have marked our plan on the electronic chart so that we can check and see if the GFS model was reliable and our plan correct.
Today was Jean-Paul birthday. We have ran out of Chamagne, so we will celebrate with cookies and Ricard.
The weather is beautiful, excellent day to go sailing. The sky has a lot of blue and the seas are gentle. We have not seen a lot of sea life lately, actually, we have seen none but as we get nearer shore, we should begin to see some birds and maybe some fish.
Nights are getting colder and colder, like 60 last night, which for us feels very close to freezing. Karen is feeling better which is wonderful. For someone who is doing her first transatlantic crossing in the most challenging conditions that I have seen in 6 of them, she is proving to be a very good soldier. I hope that once this is over, she will ask for some more.

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