Two years of learning, reflection and work come to fruition. My last month-long test on the waters between Belle-Île and the Gulf of Morbihan is over, now it’s time to leave for good, heading south!
A look back at a month without going ashore
Before I left to travel, I spent a month on the water testing this way of life. A life-size game in an easy perimeter and close to my harbour where I have my habits. Do not touch the land and work, these are the two main axes of the test. It went just very well.
Life on the water
First of all, time passes no less quickly at sea than ashore, the days pass quickly. The pace is strong because you always have to know the weather for the next three days. A shelter is only good for a given wind area, so you should always anticipate and identify other shelters in case of conditions change. If it was the holidays, that would be Ok… But I’m also working!
Secondly, even though my whole life is on board and I don’t have to travel to work, I don’t have all the small services that we use to benefit on dry land. I am employed in telework, baker, cook, dishwasher, mechanic, vacuum cleaner, diver etc. Therefore, we quickly let ourselves go level food. I turned 5kg of flour into bread. The waste is also quickly cumbersome even if I had removed everything useless before the departure… The days are busy without having accomplished great things in the end.
Beyond that, the really important things to do or to settle have become obvious on the water. Haul down the front sail at every anchorage because it has no UV protection will quickly become painful. The maintenance of the engine goes up a notch first because I need it to lift the anchor up almost daily. Maintaining the sails becomes essential because I use them all the time and letting go would be like losing hundreds of euros in a very short time. At the same time, some things that seemed crucial to me might wait a bit like my foldable dinghy. Everyone notices it because it is different but in fact it does its job very well, at least for now! So in the end, the budget went into preventive maintenance of the sails. I would use my dinghy to the end, preserving my precious sails.
Cutting with earthly life, dropping the moorings allows me to refocus on the essentials of the project and return to the main guidelines that are the six rules. I actually feel good on the water! I miss friends and family, but if I lived on the ground it wouldn’t make much difference. In the evening I get some great sunsets while observing the local wildlife and if I want, I can go snorkeling the rocks after work. It’s still not bad!
A starry night
As time passes quickly, we must already return to Lorient for the arrival of my friends on June 27th. The weather forecasts very few winds for the week, so I have to hurry up.
After a little hour of snorkeling and a good nap I decide to lift the anchor from the island of Houât and make my way to Groix isle. It will be a night sailing, so the first one will be done!
The wind is actually weak and it is almost facing me which does not make things easier. I chose this time windoe because it’s anyhow windy, but also because the current is blowing me towards my destination, it counts!
I witness a beautiful sunset passing Quiberon. The sky is clear and the stars are slow to twinkle. The show is beautiful but something bothers me. I hear up there a Mirage 2000 or a Rafale that runs in the area all lights off. It comes and goes, I also hear in the background another aircraft that has to tow a target and from time to time I see like flashes and sparks in the distance but not that far just in front of me. I can clearly hear the thud of the gun of the aircraft training close to me. Have I consulted the navigation warnings? Not of course, and it’s too late anyway.
I’m very close if not inside the Gâvres shooting polygon. It is a training area where the french armies have been doing exercises for almost two centuries. I’m not particularly afraid of losing a touch-and-flow game but I’d just like to avoid getting noticed. The military has seen me on their radar screens for a long time, that is a certainty. A fisherman is called to order on channel 16 of the radio, I hope it will not be my turn because I my radio does not work since just now! It lasts about two hours, funny atmosphere anyway… War!
I change tack to get as far south as I can from the firing area, and I continue my route. Dolphins come to play with Øya for about forty minutes, they don’t care about war, they. They are very well distinguished at night because their wake is illuminated by bioluminescent phytoplankton. It’s kind of magical as a show. When the wind falls, Øya almost stops as well as the dolphins, when the wind picks up they accelerate and if I knock the hull they get a little closer. In short, we have fun under the heavenly vault!
This one serves me quite good. The compass of Øya is not working, so I spot myself to the polar star to hold my course. It would be really great if I had a compass that works …
I join the cloud of the small mooring lights of the boats already present in the anchorage of the island of Groix, I drop the anchor and close my eyes around 4:30. That was good.
The end of the lock down, the real one
I had the pleasure of having my cousin on board for a day and then the friends for almost a week. It feels good to see faces I haven’t seen in months.
As usual Laure ensures an impeccable organization and we finally meet all on board for a first evening. The atmosphere is great! Unfortunately the weather promises to be grey and the wind variable… We leave the harbour the day after, and as soon as we leave it we lose two crew members, Laure feels good only when she is not moving while Dorian has all the symptoms of Cholera. Joris, he who is afraid of cruising is jumping everywhere and I exploit him to the maximum.
We’ll go to Groix, then we’ll anchor, to finally finish the week partying at the harbour. Even if we meet, we might as well be in good form rather than persisting in navigating in grey weather. The fondue de fromage at the end of June is still not bad!
Goodbye Lorient, heading south
It’s Saturday, July 4th, the prices of the harbour have passed in high season, ie 30 euros a night against 16 before. The buddies are gone, I’m dying to leave but the sky is covered in a thick fog and it blows 6 Beauforts outside. I pay my 30€ and I fix something don’t remember.
From island to island
I leave Lorient the next day in a slightly less thick fog and 4-5 Beaufort towards Belle-Île. The navigation is going flawlessly, I’m getting to know this one… I’m breaking my speed record with 7 knots on surface. For a steel shell it’s not bad at all! I go around the island from the north and anchor at Locmaria. In the evening people make a fireworks display on the beach, what a welcome! I’d stay there for a few days. I meet soon after the friends of Incognito, aperitifs, damage, collision with the English neighbor and good atmosphere are at the rendezvous!
I continue my route to the island of Yeu where I anchor close enough to the beach to be the most sheltered. I’m a little skeptical about my positioning but in theory everything coincides: the map does not indicate any rocks nearby and 2m deep at low tide. I have rechecked my calculation since I arrived at high tide, taken into account the wind shift to the northeast during the night. Everything sticks so I stay, but I still set an alarm clock for 3am, before low tide “just in case”.
I wake up spontaneously around 2:30, the sound of the waves breaking on the beach gradually changes for a few minutes and I go out to check. A strip of rocks parallel to the boat pokes out about 50cm out of the water and are standing 3m from Øya. Well, it’s not far! So I lift the anchor and go further to the bottom to finish sleeping. I return to the place the next day with the dinghy, and indeed this rocky strip does not stands on the map, it is yet in the middle, and it’s a big one! I should have followed my instincts from the start and anchor far away for the first night and then see what it looks like during the day at low tide. This is probably called experience.
Trip in the Bay of Biscay
The rest of the program consists of going down to Capbreton to spend a week with my family. I made the crossing in three days and three nights. Finally the open sea! I missed it. I sleep all the time and never. After three days I feel that my body has already become well accustomed to polyphasic sleep. To ensure the watch I get up to observe the 360 degrees of the horizon every 30 minutes at least and this 24 hours a day. You get used to it. As it’s summer, the conditions are very easy and I don’t have a tiring maneuver to do. I spent a lot of time learning how to adjust my course regulator. He’s the one holding the steering gear while I’m doing something else. By the way, as I start my wake hasn’t been really straight!
During a summer calm, I had the opportunity to fish a tuna albacore of 80cm whose weight I estimate between 10 and 12kg. Too bad my fish scale stops at 6kg… A beautiful beast made up of 90% muscle. The family will enjoy it! I offer the tail to my godson, much to his mother’s delight!
It is a relief to leave the Groix-Belle-Ile area. I haven’t left the area since January so I had to head north in March.
This departure marks the culmination of almost two years of preparation. I had the idea to live like this in July 2018 when Joris and Cléa had come to visit me on my boat in Oslo. Two years… It sounds long and sometimes it has been.
Today all the boxes are checked, everything is in place.
Even if everything is far from being perfect I just have to plot my path, repair normal wear, improve what is improveable and live simply.
In fact, with regard to the 6 rules that are on the home page:
- Living on my sailboat 👉 since January 3 ✔️
- Working 👉 since April 13 ✔️
- Travel… ⬜️
- Experience everything and anything 👉 ✔️
- Don’t become marginal 👉 festive confinement ✔️
- Having fun and being happy 👉 obviously ✔️
All I have to do is travel… And it’s happening now!