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  • Writer's picturePeter

Dangerous Water – The Chenal Du Four

The objective for today was to sail through the Chenal Du Four and onto Brest. This section of water is reputed to be very dangerous and it is best to pass through with the tidal current behind us and light winds – anything else could be very difficult and even dangerous as a result of the large currents and the numerous rocks (multiple Needles) that seem to be scattered quite irregularly throughout this area.

After about 45 minutes of motoring, the wind picked up a little from 5 knots to 10 knots and so we thought that there may be a chance to sail. After another 30 minutes, the wind was a steady 13 – 15 knots and blowing from a SW direction, which was just perfect for us.

A pod of dolphins came by to say hello and we were able to watch them play around the boat until they got bored and decided that they had better things to do than to just entertain us. It is always a pleasure to see these intelligent animals and great excitement to be able to capture something reasonable on the camera.

As we approached the Chanel Du Four, the wind and weather could not have been better. The sun was warm, there was a small swell and the wind was just perfect to allow us to make a few tacks to get through this narrow channel. We switched from genoa to the self-tacking jib to make our lives even easier by allowing simple tacks with minimum time and effort. We saw the massive “buoys” and danger marks as a part of the rocks, telling us of the dangers and the areas and where to steer clear. We had the added benefit of almost no other traffic, no sail boats and only 1 powered vessel, so we were free to tack and make our way through these waters with such ease that it was hard to believe that it could be so difficult under different conditions.

On our last starboard tack past the last lighthouse in the channel, we needed to turn to port and head for Brest. We were so lucky that the tide also turned at this point and so we had tide with us down the channel and tide with us up towards Brest – we could not have timed this any better if we tried ! On the way towards Brest we had an escort from the French Navy to welcome our arrival, but I suspect their presence was just a coincidence as Ingrid was not yet onboard.

In Brest we moored in the Marina Moulin Blanc, 2 boats away from Charlie and Lasse, our Swedish friends who we met in Middleburg and Cherbourg. They have decided to winter here in Brest as the conditions for progressing further south were not good and the prices here are very reasonable.

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