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Saltimbanque and the Celts
-- 2nd to 20th July 2012--
We are again hopping from an island to another, but the weather has slightly changed… After sailing around the Atlantic islands, we go on with the ones on the Channel! At the western end of Europe, we explore the hidden corners of this nice landing track on the continent: Fields, sheep – and pubs :o) Nothing better to get slowly used to the shore than the Celtic lands, always turned towards the sea.

More green and grey, followed by yellow and blue: here.

627 milles sailed
13 134 M from the start
Our stops :Cornwall : Penzance (wet dock) ; Ireland: Crosshaven (marina), Kinsale (marina), Glandore (mooring buoy), Crookhaven (mooring buoy), Schull (mooring buoy), Sherkin (mooring buoy), Baltimore (pontoon) ; Isles of Scilly : Saint-Mary’s (mooring buoy), Tresco (mooring buoy), Brittany: Audierne (Sainte Evette – mooring buoy), Glénan (mooring buoy), Concarneau (marina)
2nd to 4th July : Penzance
Early in the morning, at 11, as we struggle to open our eyes after such a good night on a flat bunk, we walk deeper into the town to realize that we have indeed landed in England. We start with… a traditional “Cornish Cream Tea” for breakfast: tea (with a cloud of milk), scones, jam and clotted cream – and a wifi hotspot :o)

Wet dock of Penzance
Then we can walk the city: cars drive on the left hand side, we recognize the road signs. Penzance looks like all these small British towns. A few ancient buildings, well known shops signs on the main street, walked along by white cream faces, sometimes framed by pink hair and often mounted over a micro-skirt. At the top of the usual excitement of the first steps on shore, we have a warm feeling of being back home…
… but “look, isn’t it a dragon tree here?” “Not exactly but very similar indeed!” “And here, agapanthus flowers!”. But there are plenty of palm trees in this town! Thanks to the Gulf Stream the south westerly end of Great Britain has a mild and humid climate, and we can find the same plants as in the Azores. The same sheep also… But the small cottages “soo British” now replace the colorful “imperios” in the misty rain.
A house in Penzance, with it's local palmtree
Enough of wandering, our to do list is quite long: laundry of course (all our clothes are wet), and groceries, as well as a few items onboard (changing – again- the gaz cooker, repairing the main sail slider, checking the rigging, tidying up the boat…). And obviously, sleeping, sleeping !!

On the foreshore : a cormorant in front of the Saint-Michel mounts
After a second good night we feel a bit better, and this is good news as the weather has a new trick for us today: within 3 days a new low will arrive and then the wind will come from the North. If we want to make it to Ireland, we must leave with the next tide… So we finish the most urgent items, we have our oilies drying in a miraculous ray of sun and we get prepare to go back at sea. We still have time to walk the tidal foreshore that we enjoy much after a year without tides – to the outmost despair of the local winkle colony which was so far enjoying peaceful days on the rocks…
At 6pm, off we go again, heading to Kinsale in Ireland, 160 NM to the North West. Not even time to sit and eat the compulsory Cornish Pasty – too bad, that’ll make a delicious first dinner at sea!
4th - 6th July : Penzance – Crosshaven (167M)
The departure, though a bit rushed, is quite nice. Under the pale English sun, we discover the Mounts Bay for the first time. The wind is blowing gently from the South and we sail towards the SW end of England, Land’s End. The sea is very rough because of the strong tidal currents there.

The commercial traffic is organized in a rail between Land’s End and the Scilly. But it’s not as busy as the one in the Channel and it’s very direct to cross it despite the heavy rain. Then the wind dies as we sailed north of the isles of Scilly and we call Nestor for a few hours.

Approching Land’s End

Beware, gannet taking off
The sun rises on a clear sky and a nice blue sea, many gannets and a gently breeze from the side… Perfect! Camille goes to bed relaxed as the engine is off and Saltimbanque sails quietly with a good weather forecast. When she wakes up, Laure is bent over the electric panel. “Any problem?” – “The solar panel does not charge anymore.”… We change the regulator, test and re-test, nothing… It’s so unfair, we can never enjoy life for 5 minutes without a problem these days !!
Facing this big issue we alter our course to head for Crosshaven, a big sailing center in the Cork Bay. And we do not really enjoy this nice sunny day with a force 3 wind on a flat sea :o(

As planned, the wind dies around 10pm as we get close to the oil rig of Kinsale. We have to motor for the all night on a lake-flat sea, at least it charges up the battery … We reach Crosshaven at dawn in the misty rain. Eventually we managed to make it to Ireland :o)

Arriving in Ireland
6th July : Crosshaven
The huge bay of Cork is shared between a refinery, a city, many coves and rivers, one of which shelters not less than 3 marinas. It’s the first turn left as we enter the bay, and we park at the first free spot of the first pontoon, called Crosshaven Boatyard. We take time for a second breakfast (that´s the good thing of the night shifts: no problem eating at 9 when the last toast dates back to 3!), and we go checking in at the opening of the marina. 17 euros, shower and fresh water included, as well as a wifi access. There is no ship chandler closer than Cork downtown (30 min by bus), but we are said to be lucky: tomorrow the famous “Cork week” race will start and there must be many professional working on the nearby marina. So we go and visit the “Royal Yacht Club”, the oldest yacht club in the world if you please! Many racing boats all in carbon, but no solar panel.

Crosshaven bay
The technician in charge of the lighthouses leaves just next door and come to help. He spends 4 hours onboard, testing and testing again, even bringing a small solar panel and a new battery… without understanding what happens… His first failure in 20 years, we are damned lucky indeed! We keep testing as he left. Even though the tension is good (19V), we cannot measure any current and the panel in direct does not lit a small bulb. We think that the panel is indeed dead… a few days later there is no doubt any more, we have no tension either – our dear solar panel is nothing more than a roost for over-daring seagulls :o( Then we have to rely on the engine generator to charge the battery, or the plugs at the pontoon, and we decide that it can wait Concarneau …
7th July :Crosshaven - Kinsale (19M)
We leave with the morning tide (yes, in these odd countries, there are strong currents that must be taken into account…). The bright sun makes the surrounding hills sparkling of green and orange. As we exit the channel, we check the wind (from the back, not too strong), the room on the lea side (plenty): it smells like spinnaker !! What a nice colorful big balloon! Saltimbanque flies over a flat sea – perfect sailing time! And moreover the fishing line gets tight… it’s… a mackerel ! Welcome back :o)

In Irlande sailing the spinnaker, first time since Marie-Galante

Is that a mackerel ? there is not much to eat...
Kinsale harbor is hidden deep in a small river, wide enough though winding to be entered under sails (more elegant isn’t it?). A big marina lies along the historic (and very touristic) city. 26 euros, everything included, welcome back .oS. On the pontoons, some Irish flags of course, but also a few Brits, many Frenchies… and a Danish, leaving for a loop around the Atlantic!

Kinsale bay
The sun makes the walk in the colorful small street very nice. Camille walks from a square to another chasing her memories: she already came here 12 years ago, one of her first high sea cruise with the Glenans sailing club… A little shopping, a nice meal at the traditional pub of the town ( we recommend the sea food chowder). And the day after, off we go for further adventures !

Colorful streets...

...and nice flowers and houses
8th July : Kinsale - Glandore (30M)
Clouds are back this morning… Whatever, it’s so nice to sail on a flat sea along such a nice coast! The wind is very faire, 3-4b and Saltimbanque slides with the wind from the side. We pass between the “Old Head of Kinsale” lighthouse and the wreck of the Lusitania (British passenger ship sunk by a German U-Boat during the First World War).
Old Head of Kinsale

Adam island, at the entrance of Glandore river
Then the aspect of the shore changes dramatically: less hilly fields green and yellow, more rocks, more moor, no tree. We guess the highlands in the horizon under the grey clouds. It´s very green and grey!

We approach the entrance of the Glandore river motoring as the wind has gone totally. The entrance is narrow: the wild moor on starboard, the sharply cut Adam island on portside. The rocks here are striated (may be schist?), always in the same direction which gives Ireland it shape so typical. The gannets are flying madly around this square grey block, topped by a dark green cap. Here and there lichen adds a yellow touch to the painting.
We keep entering, quite dramatic at low tide. Saltimbanque sneaks in the rocks, then between small dinghies with dark red sails and colorful spinnakers. The Irish are fond of dinghy sailing and in every natural cove you can find a yacht club and many laser or topaz boats. In this Sunday afternoon we arrive in the middle of a race, supervised from the yacht club terrace onshore!
Be careful, after they tack, they will be heading right on us!

Laure, I can see bigger ones just a bit further on your right !
We moor to a visitor’s buoy, 2m of water, between 2 Frenchies, an English and an American. Apparently it’s free, or at least it’s not written where you have to pay. We have a nice walk onshore… and managed to pick up our food in the nature again as Laure climbs – not for coconuts – but for wild strawberries at the top of a wall !
9th July : Glandore - Crookhaven (39M)
After a long and good night (after all it’s been hardly a week that we landed from the Azores), we leave again to the West. Narrow passage between the shore and Adam island to start with, then we beat against the wind to the Stags rocks. The wind is very feeble, and then suddenly strengthens right in our face. We swap the genoa for the gib to make better progress against the choppy sea due to the running current.
The shore becomes more and more unwelcoming. We tack in front of Baltimore’s entry, the Sherkin island looks very unappealing. Second tack alongside the south coast of Cape Clear Island. Striated cliffs, caves, looks like the winter storms beat hard these grey rocks… Third tack, towards South West, we get closer to a big rock topped with a lighthouse. The mythical Fastnet is just ahead!! Saltimbanque is at the end of Ireland, at this mythical beacon that so many great sailors went tacking… It’s time for us to tack also, heading to Long Island Bay where we will be better sheltered!
The Fastnet, such a mythical lighthouse

Saltimbanque at Crookhaven
A few more tacks and we enter the fjord of Crookhaven. At the very end of the South-West of Ireland, a few miles before Mizen Head, a split in the rock shelters a tiny harbor. The landscape is dramatic, just moor, no tree, only mineral grows here. We are in the wild Ireland, the one that -we imagine - spreads on the western coast (that we won’t have time to explore this time unfortunately).
We moor on a yellow buoy for visitors (10 euros a night, to pay at the O’Sullivans pub, who’s got a wifi also), more comfortable than anchoring on these unknown grounds and with strong gusts which are accelerated by the cliffs, and we go onshore. The small village and its pubs are very typical though a bit touristic. We enjoy a Guiness in a wooden atmosphere, studying the weather forecasts. Just wonderful to be sailing in Ireland…

Our little slice of wild Ireland !
10th July : Crookhaven – Skull (10M)
Easy sailing today in the Long Island Bay, we leave with the wind and the current and sail along many small islands, all well aligned to the WSW as all the rock s in the area. The light makes the color bright…

At the end of Long Island, a small white lighthouse. We gybe and sail deep in the Skull bay. The shelter is good and the place is covered by moored boats, and of course a dinghy race on starboard. The wind is still stable so we keep going under sails. We spot the visitors moorings (deep in the eastern part of the bay). We even do not start the engine (which is just waiting for a few hours as we’ll have to charge the battery anyway) and finish the arrival under pure sailing, not disturbing the gulls’ noises :o)

Skull 's lighthouse
Still rowing (outboard engine being another useless seagulls-roost on the stern) we make for the beach. The walk is a bit disappointing, and we quickly come back on the tidal foreshore. Laure spots some clams shells, uhm would it be a clue? We quickly get back to the boat to pick up boots, forks and buckets and start crumbling the sand. Just a short hour of fishing and we got 36 clams, enough for a wonderful dinner!
11th July : Skull - Baltimore (10M)

We actually are in the channel, and so is the other boat !
Today we will sail close to the rocks ! The ideal way to enjoy the thousands of rocks and islands which scatter at the end of long island bay.

We start to sail in between two rows of islands towards Roaring Waters Bay, then we head to the South on Cape Clear Island. Amazing, whereas the island seemed wild and austere from the South, its Northern side is totally domesticated and offers a landscape of hilly fields between cute little white cottages.
We gybe again, going eastwards to pass north of Sherkin island. The sun is shining today and a fresh westerly breeze pushes us under genoa only along the rocks. It’s marvelous, a bit stressful to sail over 5 knots on these deep but narrow channels. We leave the Women Rocks on our port and the Sherkin rocks on starboard. Then suddenly we have to turn to the South between to small islands. The depth increases as we are now in a small river, and two rocks later we are in the middle of the bay of Baltimore. That was a nice piece of navigation, I say!
Our track on the navigation program Open CPN

Sherkin, shared between rocks, flowers and white sand
The bay is covered with dinghies sliding on a flat water swept by a fresh westerly breeze under a nice – rather than warm- sun. Not in a hurry to go to Baltimore itself, we pick up a mooring on the lea of Sherkin island on the western part of the bay. To our outmost surprise there is also a small pontoon where to moor.

We have a very nice walk onshore, between an abandoned abbey, fuchsia hays and white sand beaches. We wander in the thick grass and the wild flowers… and then sneeze for hours because of all this pollen :oS
Back onboard and we leave for Baltimore, 1 mile navigation with only the genoa, what a performance ! The wind gets stronger and stronger as we leave the excellent shelter from Sherkin island. The seasonal pontoon of Baltimore is a sort of concrete barge with a few wooden planks. But offering water, power (5 eur/day), and wifi! 20 euros a night for a boat under 30 feet. But the westerly wind creates a choppy sea and we only stay here as the wind should veers to SE and get strong during the night, otherwise it’s much better at Sherkin. The public toilets on the harbor are perfect, as good as the British ones. But for a shower… the sailing club and one of the pubs on the sea front offers a possibility, but for 3 euros a shower we think it’s a bit exaggerated. And we still have water in the solar shower… we add a few litters from the kitten to help and we have our shower onboard, like in the Antilles… Well it’s not the same feeling…
The odd summer pontoon of Baltimore
12th July : Baltimore and Sherkin

Nice seal, staying by just long enough for us to take a picture !
The village of Baltimore is very small. There are 3 pubs on the sea front, a small supermarket, and a huge dinghy sailing club. This is mostly a technical stop for us: we get some fresh water, groceries (as much as the shop has to offer us, i.e. not much), get the latest forecast, and we quickly get back to the lea of Sherkin island !

The weather is gusty and misty, perfect to get some rest before our next navigation to the isles of Scilly. The spot is charming though and a seal then a sea otter come and say hello along the boat!
We really loved our week sailing in Ireland. And we still have the western coast to explore. We will come back for sure - but in summer this time ;o)
13th July : Sherkin – Scilly (Saint Mary) (158M) Wind NNW4-5, sea moderate, few clouds
Sails are hoisted early in the morning and the course is set to the 130 soon after exiting Baltimore Harbour. A nice little breeze is pushing us from the quarter, with only one reef in the mail sail. Bob is steering, the sun is shining – everything is right in the world. Yet as the wind veers further north we resolve to steer manually to keep on the exact course. After all, this is only a thirty-odd miles’ rides – no point in losing ground to spare ourselves…

The hours pass by slowly. No reportable incident other than a fishing line pulled away by a stupid seagull (first time a bird has been interested in our lures). The wind is straight in our backs now and we take down the main sail. Some fatigue is creeping up towards the end of the day, at the same time as a dark bar of clouds… the wind fades away and veers two points. No rain until later though, but a thin and humid rain: so much about the exact course, Bob will do just fine – and we leave him getting soaked on his own. Then the mast-lights blink and die: another item to fix at our next stop…

What a nice squall line !
At dawn the wind is still weak enough for us to pole up the genua – whether we happen to sail right in the middle of the Scilly traffic separation scheme is not relevant, there’s no one in sight anyways. The wind keeps on dying (where are the 4 to 5 bft announced by the MetOffice and MeteoFrance): it’s a struggle to keep both sails filled while butterfly-sailing… when the flapping becomes too annoying we turn on the engine – we have a battery to charge, and land is growing fast ahead of us anyways. Land Ho, the Isles of Scilly! A massive mineral mess, a maze of rocks and channels with a few green dots in the middle. We enter in the archipelago through the western pass, keeping our bearing to the 130. After the second cardinal beacon, turn left, the road is clear and deep to Saint Mary’s Harbour.

Evening lights upon Hugh Town
Hugh Town is the main town of the archipelago, the landing port of the Scillonian ferry (our neighbor in the dock at Penzance :o) ). The outstanding number of visitors moorings is a good indication of the popularity of that charming little touristic town - rather than of the quality of this shelter (anchorage is restricted to the open part of the bay, swept by winds from west to north and quite rolly). Today most of the moorings-field is empty though: bad weather has deterred the usual flow of summer visitors. We pick up a buoy as sheltered as possible and go to pay the fee to the Harbor Office (£18 – gloops!). The Harbor Master is very friendly and hands out leaflets and printed weather forecast, along with the wifi key. The showers are big and clean – and deliciously hot!!!
It's ok, we shall find an available mooring buoy !
14th July: visiting Saint Mary’s
Aaaah the Scilly… it’s been years we’ve been trying to sail there during our holidays from Brittany and always we had to give up because of a persisting contrary weather: too much wind, too little… but this time we have a full year and we made sure to tackle the problem from a different angle – coming wiiiiiiiide from the west – and we made it!

The shore at Hugh Town, tidal seas defintively have something special...
The little harbor is gleaming in the sun with its old stone houses with flowers-filled gardens. Grey walls, tall round chimneys – and some persisting fish and chips smell – no doubt possible: we are back in England! Hugh Town is a pleasant (touristic) little town with every convenience and shops and pubs. It’s tucked on a kind of isthmus between the main harbor in the North and a sandy cove (good anchorage) called Porth Cressa in the South. The white sand seems shines bright in the sun..
We start walking on the coastal path towards the North and up to the Telegraph (set on the highest point of the island, a good 50m above sea level – not too hard on the legs). Then we reach the eastern shore through some swampy forest and hay fields. What nice little creeks! All paved with big round granite stones, very pale indeed, almost pink… are we already back amongst our beloved pink hide-aways of northern Brittany? The coastal path crosses the track of the airport – duly marked by a traffic light planted in the moor. Then it reaches Old Town very small wooden crafts hide behind a tiny breakwater, next to the historical church with a colorful cemetery.
Along the sea, nice houses with exotic gardens

Saint-Mary's bays remind us that we are slowly coming closer and closer to Brittany
Back to town via Porth Cressa where a few visitors moorings are said to be better sheltered from westerlies and northerlies than the main harbor. Swinging on her anchor at the open of the bay lies a big beautiful grey two-master, the famous French polar boat Tara :o) not far from her we see the German Pogo 40 which laid next to us in Sherkin the day before. That’s nice to recognize a familiar hull! Since the Atlantic loop we haven’t lost the habit of screening every new anchorage for known fellow ships – and every time we are a bit disappointed to recognize no one and remember than our buddies have all gotten back home, or are still under the sun! We feel a bit out of place amongst the summer cruisers with their clean and shiny boats without even a windmill or a solar panel – and whose cockpits seldom welcome the other crews for long drinks and chit chats under the stars ;o)
Back in town we celebrate our arrival to the Scilly with a good diner at the “Mermaid Inn”, THE sailors’ pub around, before rowing back to a good long night’s sleep!
15th-16th July : Tresco and Bryher (3M)
After a (short) morning spent in many small repairs (largely based on silicone, to make everything watertight - again) we go on exploring the islands. At high tide there’s enough water to play-and-seek between the rocks. First make for one rock, then for the green beacon, then the red – then right in the middle keeping the western tip of Saint Mary’s behind between the green and the red… through the clear water shades of green and brown show the depth of the sand or rock bottom – almost like in the Caribbean (… almost! The thermometer doesn’t show more than 13° in the water however). Gliding between the rocks we enjoy the chaotic landscape :o) This pass takes us from the south to the New Grimsby Sound, a shelter of deep water tucked between the isles of Tresco and Bryher. Reasonably calm in every condition but for northerly swell. Red and yellow buoys await the visitors.
Sailing along the rocks to the anchorage at Tresco

The vegetation in Tresco: agapanthus and behind our favorate tree from the Azores !
After a (short) morning spent in many small repairs (largely based on silicone, to make everything watertight - again) we go on exploring the islands. At high tide there’s enough water to play-and-seek between the rocks. First make for one rock, then for the green beacon, then the red – then right in the middle keeping the western tip of Saint Mary’s behind between the green and the red… through the clear water shades of green and brown show the depth of the sand or rock bottom – almost like in the Caribbean (… almost! The thermometer doesn’t show more than 13° in the water however). Gliding between the rocks we enjoy the chaotic landscape :o) This pass takes us from the south to the New Grimsby Sound, a shelter of deep water tucked between the isles of Tresco and Bryher. Reasonably calm in every condition but for northerly swell. Red and yellow buoys await the visitors.
Beautiful white sand beaches stretch under the sun on the eastern shore. Nobody around – only the waves and the shells on the beach. We pick our daily share of our favorite “piglets” (=cowries) and walk on to the north. The historic town of Old Grimsby lays there in a bay closed by a small jetty. Many small wooden crafts are anchored in what used to be the main port of the island – well protected from the west, not at all from the east. Some visitors buoys are swinging outside of the bay. Probably a very pleasant and quiet little anchorage… just like the tens of other little anchorages hidden between the rocks in the small creeks of this archipelago… we wish we could beach Saltimbanque to explore them all!

Eastern coast of Tresco, a maze of rocks and white beaches
But what are those big grey clouds in the sky? And what is this cold humidity on our face all of a sudden? As we left under the sun we made the very non-British mistake to forget our umbrella… This drizzle comes as a surprise but suits very well the last part of our walk through very Scottish-looking hills covered with moor. Ruins of King Charles Castle and Cromwell Tower complete this picture of a desolate landscape… no need to go far, you have it all on the Isle of Tresco: Madeira in South, Scotland in the North!

Saltimbanque is waiting for us down the cliffs, offering a dry shelter against the rain. And a warm bed, safe from the westerlies due to blow up to 25-30kts tonight.

An abandonned castle at the top of the heather moor: landscapes from the Great North... of Tresco !

New Grimsby anchorage, very nice AND sheltered !

One of the self-service stalls, unfortunately we did not have the exact change, and could not leave with the nice salad :o(
Another day, another island: on the morrow we find ourselves exploring the little Bryher. Smaller, less touristic, less green, the global setting is yet the similar: fields and gardens in the south, wind-swept moor in the north. The sun is shy today, yielding way at times to a thin drizzle. Along the coastal path we can’t stop watching the waves breaking on the maze of rocks and broken cliffs of the western shore. On the island no real village, just a group of houses here and there, and, sometimes, next to the dust road a green wooden stall displaying a few fruit and vegetables locally grown. Nobody to attend to it, “please put the money in the jar”.
Tonight onboard we make a point in having a beer outside in the cockpit, taking advantage of the last of the sun to celebrate the end of the holidays…
17th – 18th July : Tresco – Audierne (148M), wind WSW5 then 3, sea moderate, thick fog then clear sky
There is no mistake in our calculation of the tide, no point in trying and twist the time difference to the UTC: to reach Ushant with the current we have to get up at 4.30am :o( As the alarm goes off we get up but the sun refuse to leave its comfortable fog blanket. With less than 100m visibility we have the electronic charts plugged on the GPS to thank for making our way safe to the south of Saint Mary’s and into the open sea.
A gentle breeze abeam, a moderate sea: Saltimbanque eels to his best position and flies south south south to home! In a couple of fog patches there is nothing to be seen at all, but luckily they don’t last long enough to cause a collision with one of the other yachts crossing our route. Towards the end of the afternoon at last the sun starts shining on the traffic scheme at the entrance of the Channel. Just like obedient pedestrians on a busy road we look left, then right before proceeding carefully.

And on sails Saltimbanque, flying at 5 to 6 kts in the ideal breeze. So much so that we find ourselves just north from the Four channel at dusk, 4 hours before the reversal of the tide. The 100 miles wide Channel has been crossed in less than 18 hours, not bad! But that means that 1-we could have slept longer!! 2- we have to beat against the tide for another 4 hours. Well, let’s try nonetheless. We have gained enough ground to windwards and start on the western side of the pass, next to Ushant. Sideways current in the Fromveur push us to the east and we end up in the Four. Saltimbanque is still flying on a now pitch dark sea, under the stars… and between the lights. A real Christmas decoration this channel, flashing from everywhere! Lit alignments, AND sector lights, AND lit beacons – no way to get lost! As we are making a small 2kts on the ground we have ample time to enjoy the show… On our left a couple of lights mark the entrance to the Aber Ildut. Here we cross our own path again: one year ago, on the 14th June 2011, we were heading south…

For the last time we hoist up a new courtesy flag: we are entering the French territory !

The isle of Sein shines on starboard as we sail the famous passage for the second time of the trip, always heading South !
At last the tide reverses as we are weathering Saint Mathieu Point. Calling the semaphore for the latest weather forecast we wake the officer up – who then requires us to spell our name in international alphabet (Sierra Alpha Lime Tango India Mike etc… that’s a long name!). As for us it’s siesta time – a couple of hours’ rest before tackling the second tricky passage, the Raz de Sein. This latter goes by much quicker – 3kts current with us, it helps ;o) The rising sun strikes the gleaming white houses on the isle of Sein, while Tevennec and the Plate lighthouse are beautiful, silhouetted against the sky. Only a couple of miles to go before reaching the 48°N, south of which tidal currents weaken… and here we are, out of the Raz! It goes to show: cross the Channel and round the Four and the Raz de Sein on one tide, it’s possible!
It’s 9am now and the tide has just reversed, a flock of yachts suddenly appear from everywhere, all the little corners where they have been hiding to wait for the right current. Riding against the flow on the highway, Saltimbanque is making his way in a dying breeze to the nearest harbor, Audierne. A big mackerel jumps onboard (with a little help :o) ). At the entrance of the bay of Audierne stands the jetty of Sainte Evette, sheltering a wide area from everything but easterlies. It can be reached at any time, any tide, and is equipped with many buoys. Mooring line tied, engine off… phew, it’s over! Tired but happy, it’s been a great (and quick) trip. A young guy coming along to collect the mooring fee (10eur) and show the showers is slightly surprised by our insisting inquiry about a good “creperie”. “Please understand, it’s been more than a year since we had a decent Breton crepe… no crepe to be found in the Caribbeans…”. Eyes are opened even wider and we smile, yes we’re a little proud...
Saint-Evette, well, for a last time, « where is Saltimbanque ? »
19th July : Audierne – isles of Glénan (33M)
Not too much wind today. If we want to spend our last night in the isles of Glenans, 30 miles south from here, we’ll have to get up early enough. The alarm is set… but the clock was still in English time – that’s one hour less to sail – but one hour more to sleep.

In the Audierne Bay we start with a little breeze abeam. Perfect weather to hoist our asymmetric spinnaker! It’s been a long time since we’ve used it last (off the Portuguese coasts…): where do we tie all the pullies again? Then the white balloon is blown open and Saltimbanque set flying at 6.5kts until the next cape. At Penmarch we slow down for lunch, but as soon as Eckmuhl rocks are safely weathered, another spinnaker is up: the big bright balloon of our symmetrical spinnaker. Some thermal breeze comes up to help the little wind and we gybe to reach the Glenan at more than 7kts. Two dolphins are jumping along for a while, like a little gift of the sea to great us back home…

Yummy, looks like a perfect suprise dinner for our last evening onboard !
3pm, we round the rocks and enter the anchorage of la Pie. See, there was no point in getting up early in the end! A great many yachts are already swinging on their buoys or anchors everywhere around, it’s a warm sunny day of mid-July… but the water is clear and beautiful and the sand white like we remembered it. For old times’ sake Laure jumps (cautiously…) in the water with flippers and mask “to check the mooring”. Some spider crab was leisurely strolling in the tall seaweeds… well well, this looks like our diner there! And to cook it, easy: just like lobsters ;o)
In the evening we row to Saint Nicolas for the traditional walk around the island. We were just here last year, remember… only one year ago, some many places seen in-between!
20th July : back home to Concarneau (9M)
Summer has come to Europe at last, the Azores’ high has left Cabo Verde to return to its righteous home. It’s hot and sunny on the anchorage this morning, the sea flat as a mirror.

The colors of the island are just stunning. The sun is hot: our warm north European sailing clothes are quickly stripped off to a tropical tshirt and short. Nearly an hour is spent preparing our great bulwark: tying the 20 national flags of the countries we’ve been to and the flag we painted during the crossing back makes a quite handsome backstay high as the mast!

Saltimbanque enjoys the quiet Glenan islands before he heads back to real life in Concarneau
Then it’s time to head for Concarneau where our families and friends must be waiting already. The engine runs for the first miles, then a little termic breeze lets us sail. Arriving to Concarneau channel with the wind quarter back then full astern, we take the main sail down and keep on our favorite Trade Wind canvas: genua only, simple and efficient! Camille steers and Laure hoists the great bulwark up. There’s a little group on the jetty, some unusual busy crowd… a foghorn, a big white board… mmm that must be for us!

At 2pm, with the sails up (it’s more elegant!), we enter into the harbor and celebrate our coming back home with our families and friends. This is the end of Saltimbanque’s trip around the Atlantic…

Right now we’re enjoying a stationary land and spending quality time with our relatives, while taking care of our Saltimbanque who deserves a good rest and cleaning! Slowly images piled up are being transformed into memories – soon we’ll be able to put some words together as a conclusion to our great adventure.
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Francois - 12/08/2012 10:49:38
Bravo pour votre voyage et ce site super bien présenté! Vous avez mené Saltimbanque de mains de maitresses, prouvant qu'on peut aller loin avec un petit bateau. J'ai vu il y a 3 semaines votre macaron sur le quai à Horta, il se reconnait de loin! Pour le retour sur Brest, j'ai suivi vos conseils: GV affalée et génois+trinquette en voiles jumelles, ça marche super,
Bise a vous deux,


Hans en Remco - 31/07/2012 16:36:05
Welkom thuis, wel lief zijn voor je moeder he, ze heeft je vast gemist

Georges - 30/07/2012 11:02:12
C'est super ce récit. J'ai fait le voyage avec Saltimbanque .J'ai ressentit parfois quelques frissons. Encore BRAVO et MERCI pour ce superbe partage.

Kariine - 28/07/2012 01:33:28
Et on y était !! tout au long de l'aventure en pensée et aussi sur le quai, très heureux de vous retrouver.
Merci pour ce bout de rêve devenu (votre) réalité, pour votre aventure lyriquement partagée à travers des récits passionants et ce ton pétillant qui se lit "comme si on y était nous aussi", pouvant nous faire lever la tête de l'ordinateur pour vérifier s'il n'y a pas un palmier, des embruns, une vache, un phoque, un cachalot, un palétuvier, une langouste, des mètres de chaine à relever ou je ne sais quelle dépression qui se forme dans le salon.
Quatorze mois à le vivre et quatorze mois à le lire: les cures de désintox respectives vont être dures :oS.

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