Friday, 15 June 2012

Foreign lands at last!

Bonjour Matelots and others!

Wednesday 13th June.

Arrived lunchtime in L'Aberwrach, Brittany after a 25hour passage from Dartmouth. Alongside on the visitors pontoon in the Marina. It is an interesting marina with a rock stategically situated near the wave break to catch the unwary! Our friends on 'Sandpiper' we there to welcome us in. They having travelled from Plymouth and arrived the day before.

Sailed most of the way, winds started light at a South Easterly F2 so we motored. Eventually we got a fair WSW F3-4 so we were able to sail. 'Arry coping nicely with the 2m swells and breaking waves we eventually got as we closed the French coast.

Used the AIS for the first time, absolutely brilliant. We picked up most large vessels at around 7-8 miles away, the fishing vessels seemed to have AIS transmitters as well. These we saw about 3 miles away. Really needed it as there was as much traffic as the M25! The real bonus with the AIS is that even those ships we thought would pass close were about a mile away and posed no threat. It was reassuring to note that they do alter course occasionally (not sure if it was to miss us or a fishing boat).

For the uninitiated, AIS is a system that ships use to broadcast their position, their destination, their course and other informstion about the cargo and their size. We have a display that receives these signals and with our position input into it can tell if we are going to collide or how close we will pass. This is shown like a radar picture with us in the middle. A great bonus in keeping safe among shipping.

On arrival we saw l'ile Vierge lighthouse, which at 77 metres is one of the tallest in the world. Not lit as it was daytime but a pretty impressive landmark. The off lying lumps of granite are pretty impressive too and would easily tear apart any ship that strayed.

The entrance to L'aberwrach was made fairly easy by the buoys and leading marks which are clearly visible marking the channel through the rocky entrance.

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