Anse de Ben-Hir

I'm anchored here in a beautiful bay, which looks like I'd imagine a bay in Brittany: Dramatic rock formations, rocky beaches; if it wasn't for the hotel at the end of the bay, it would be quite perfect. It took two attempts to anchor - on the first attempt, the anchor was slipping on what appeared to be rocks. It still took some convincing on the second attempt but ultimately, the anchor was in with 1350 rpms going backwards. In forward gear, that's good for 6.5 knots. Enough with a forecast of no wind for the next two days.

And there was no wind yesterday either. 50 miles of motoring with only 5 miles of sailing all day. It was the longest stretch without any harbors or anchorages suitable for Kincsem.

But we rounded two famous capes: Pointe de Penmar'h, with its EckmÁ¼hl lighthouse, named after Napoleon's heroic marshall, Prince de EckmÁ¼hl; and

the infamous Pointe du Raz - roughly translated that means "Cape of Race" - for tidal race. We had it timed well, though, only 1.5 knots of current, no race or overfalls in sight. We could get quite close to the "La Vielle" lighthouse.

EckmÁ¼hl lighthouse on the right

"La Vielle" lighthouse with its sidekick, La Plate, which delineates where the deep water starts

The next stop after Ille d'Houat was Trinite just some 15 miles away but it was a bit exciting nonetheless. I had just lifted the anchor and set the sails, heading upwind to Trinite, when the port side anchor winch started by itself and "lifted' the port anchor against its bow roller! The noise from the slipping clutch and the winch was deafening. It took me a while to take the genoa and mizzen in so we wouldn't crash into other boats while I was searching for a way to turn the winch off. After some time, I managed to do just that by flipping the fuse in the bow locker, but not until I had exhausted some other, unsuccessful avenues! All the while I was thinking how lucky I was that it hadn't been the starboard winch lifting the anchor in the middle of the night before or either winch lowering the anchor while we were sailing!

Trinite was definitely a highlight so far. When you enter the marina, you pass several 30 m trimarans and the marina is stuffed full with interesting boats. Minis, Open 40s, even a J105! The harbor staff had cleared the end of the visitor dock for Kincsem so tying up was no problem although with a good knot of current running (this is a tidal river after all), one had to watch out. And success the first day: I located the problem with the port anchor winch: water in the remote shortening out the on/off button and the "up" button of the port winch! That was quickly repaired with paper towel and Corrosion X but still, the remote needs replacing because it is no longer water tight. Luckily, I was able to order a replacement at a local chandlery for delivery the next day!

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Harbor front in Trinite

At the visitors' dock in Trinite

By contrast, Lorient, the next stop after Trinite, was less interesting. The marina (Kernevel) is quite aways outside the town and you can't tie up in the marina where all the race boats are. I could see several IMOCAs moored in the "race boat" harbor, but I didn't get to see them. Well, I'll be back for sure.

Lots of rocks with little lighthouses on them, lots of boats out sailing

Entering Lorient, Citadel on the right

Kincsem at the visitors dock in Kernevel marina, Lorient. In the background, the old submarine hangars where now all the race boats are moored.

When we were leaving Lorient, more excitement! I was just outside the harbor when I noticed that the autopilot was having difficulty which I attributed to the current running quite hard and our speed being low while I was clearing away the fenders and lines. So I took over: no helm. I could turn the helm either way, but there was no reaction at all! So first thing: down with the anchor. Second thing was to empty out the aft lazarette to get at the steering hydraulics. I was assuming I would be greeted by a sea of hydraulic oil - but no, everything looked fine. The hydraulic system has a "bypass" valve which can be set to let the oil bypass the steering ram, for example if the emergency tiller is being used. Well, the valve seemed set for steering rather than bypass but I wiggled it back and forth a few times - success, the helm again turned the rudder!

What happened? I had a small amount of hydraulic oil in the aft Lazarette after the passage from the Azores in August and I had a hydraulic specialist in La Rochelle tighten the connections. I also thought I had some air in the system so he bled the air out by opening the bypass valve and running the oil through the entire system by turning the wheel a lot of times. That fellow must have not put the valve back all the way into the correct position. Well, I will look at this some more but it's been working for 3 days now and all is good!

Maxi trimaran with its coach boat. Going 12 knots in 5 knots of wind on a deep reach!

Anchorage in Anse de Traz, River Odet. The next morning, I pulled up the anchor and something else!


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