So we’ve now been liveaboards for two weeks. Harvey’s friend Ben kindly gave us a speaker for our trip and it has been playing pretty much everyday since we left….unfortunately Harvey only has about 8 songs on his phone (from Avril to 21 Pilots) so despite the variety, we’ve heard each song so many times. Two lines in these songs have stood out to me: ‘I’m on top of the world’ and ‘welcome to the panic room’. I feel the whole of the trip so far can be summed up in these two lines. I sort of yo-yo between them on an hourly (and occasionally minute by minute) basis, for example:
Welcome to the panic room scene:
– Leaving Guernsey – so we’ve just quit our jobs, left our friends and family, packed up our things (well Harvey did, my bedroom is still it’s usual state ready for me to return as I’m still in denial about leaving home despite being 25) and most worryingly, untied the lines to a very stable pontoon that is attached to a beautiful Island that doesn’t move….now we’re floating along aiming vaguely at France with the hope of finding some brie and French bread. This all seems very haphazard if you ask me but Harvey is grinning like a Cheshire cat so I’m trying to roll with it.
I’m on top of the world scene:
– Arriving in Tréguier – we made it to France! All 3 members of the crew are still present on the boat and remained that way for the entire crossing which is obviously a massive bonus. An equal relief is that we haven’t hit anything or anyone yet. And to top it off I can practically smell the brie.
Anyway back to the trip. In two weeks we’ve visited 5 places in France on the boat and 2 by car thanks to the unimaginable kindness of a lovely Irish family who are also liveaboards on their boat called Faoin Speir. We’ve travelled 188 nautical miles, the majority of which have been in the right direction.
Our first stop was Tréguier, a few miles up a river on the North coast of France. We decided to anchor rather than stay in the marina (day one and the budget is going well!) We walked to the town which took about an hour and instantly regretted saving themoney on the marina which is in the town. We decided to buy a meal to celebrate our first success but sadly there was only one place open. Cue me having a pile of lettuce because ‘pizza sans gluten’ was not an option and the boys having a pizza each – great French cuisine. After trekking back along the river bank rather than the road because obviously that’s the best option, we reached the dingy which was surrounded by knee deep clay/mud and a good 10m from the water. Being the lady (and more relevantly the biggest moaner who had been desperate for he toilet since leaving the town after Harvey managed to permanently lock the self cleaning toilet from the outside) I was put in the dingy which slid down the mud while the boys attempted to run alongside. Back on board and a leg wash later, we all went to bed completely exhausted. Tréguier is lovely, a typical French town with French looking buildings and a huge Church in the middle, completely out of proportion given the size of the town. We spent a few days here getting used to living on the boat without many more incidences – apart from a trek of about 45 minutes to the nearest Super-U to buy a pillow for Harvey who had forgotten his. As our Irish friends once said, every shop is uphill from living on a boat because if it was downhill it would be underwater….this is so true and all the hills seem so steep.
Port Blanc was our second stop. This pretty little town would be lovely in the summer, assuming that’s when all the things open. There was really nothing there, so we went for lots of rainy walks and ate foliage as the boys became Bear Grylls on land because their fishing was yet to be successful.
At Perros Guirec we decided to go in the marina due to the strong winds. It was nice to have a proper shower rather than our usual coat in shower gel and jump in the sea. We did some exploring, skate boarding, surfing and food shopping (again up a large hill).
The Passage: Perros Guirec – Brest
Next was our big passage that lasted 30 hours and was about 108nm. We hadn’t originally planned on going the long way but as an instructor John once told us, if it’s good weather then keep going, so we did. Harvey had to go up the mast to untangle the topping lift from around the radar reflector (the tangle was essentially his fault so it made us feel less bad about him doing the task in a 4m swell). We saw the most beautiful sunset and the night sky was so clear, the stars looked beautiful and we all saw a shooting star. We took turns doing 2hr watches throughout the night and had the rule of clip on at all times and only leave the cockpit after waking someone else up. During Harvey’s shift, a huge boat running silent came very close then all of a sudden did a 180 degree turn and left, during my shift we sailed about an hour in one direction before coming too close to the shipping lanes(this is still under debate but I could pretty much see the lanes despite it being pitch black with no moon….) so I tacked, unfortunately the only way we could go was back in exactly the same direction….for another hour….it was a great little detour. Matt had an amazing sunrise on his shift and we all saw a huge pod of 100 or more common dolphins during a very rough section in the second day. Matt had never really been sailing before coming on the trip with us but seems to have learnt insanely fast, that or our knowledge is so small it wouldn’t take anyone long to learn….probably the latter. I’d not really spoken to Matt much before the trip but he had joined us on one or two short trips around home, but I feel I know him quite well now. He has a very positive outlook on life and this was tested yet proved on the passage. Poor guy was quite seasick but despite this, still seemed upbeat, even when leaning over the edge of the boat. His phrase of the passage was ‘yer but it’s so worth it’. I on the other hand was regretting pretty much every life decision that had led me to this situation (a definite ‘welcome to the panic room’ scene) and conjuring up plans to radio over the closest container ship to take me anywhere that wasn’t constantly rolling from side to side and slamming on the waves. Ironically when we finally arrived on land, I feltmore sick standing on something still.
Le Fret is tucked away in the river opposite Brest so we decided to stay here for a few nights. This was Matt’s last night so we played our millionth game of monopoly. This was the place we also met up with the Irish family who drove us to Port Launay and Brest city to have a BBQ with them ad their friends as well as explore.
We’re now sat waiting for the tide to move around the corner to somewhere new while waiting for a weather window to cross Biscay.
So, things we’ve learnt from our first two weeks: always buy double brie and get some more songs.