First Sail on the Sea in 2014

At last, a day came when the wind was at a reasonable level (10 to 14 knots) and the temperature was tolerable (9°C). I took the boat to Saint Valéry en Caux, and here are some photos (commentaries under the images).

sail190214-01This is the outer port where transportable boats can be launched. Yachts and other powered vessels go to the inner port, not shown in this photo. The advantage of launching here is having smaller waves, but this port can be a so-and-so when the wind is from the north-west. The westerly wind, just off the axis of the channel, made life a little bit easier.

sail190214-02I was now out to sea, and the tide was still coming in, in the same direction as the tidal current, and gave a fairly smooth swell. The wind was quite unstable and gusty and the waves gave some quite exciting surfing as I ran to the east with the almost high tide. This view looks to the east with Veules les Roses. The headland in the furthest distance is Varangeville near Dieppe.

sail190214-03This is a rather dark one of Saint-Valéry en Caux, taken as I was hove-to. The starboard lighthouse can just be seen under the cliff.

sail190214-04We now look westwards towards the nuclear power station of Paluel (not seen from here) and Veulettes sur Mer. The weather is fairing up, but with the wind freshening as can be seen on the water.

sail190214-05Parry could have written Never Weather Beaten Hair, since my mainsail was doing just fine! You’ll “get” the corny jibe when you open the link. Parry was not only a composer and eminent music teacher, but was also a mariner. Sorry for my atrocious sense of humour!

sail190214-06In the centre of the photo is Veules les Roses, and Sotteville sur Mer is barely seen on the cliff top to the left of the photo. The tide is turning and the waves are getting quite choppy, often breaking.

sail190214-07This is practically the same view showing the waves beginning to build up as the wind freshens and the tide turns.

sail190214-08I was hove-to as I took the Varangeville headland just behind my mainsheet. The weather looks quite nasty over Dieppe.

sail190214-09This is almost the same view with heavy rain to the south-east.

sail190214-10This last one looks out to sea. England is over the horizon, and the camera is looking to the north-west.

As I began to return to port upwind, but in the direction of the ebbing tide, the chop started to get quite nasty. I needed to be well off the wind to maintain speed against the waves. The tide was in my favour, so that didn’t worry me. I was quite cold, having taken a few waves in my face in these unsheltered waters, and a couple of hours at sea was enough for this first time this year. I put into port a little earlier than I had intended, to avoid the mid-tide chop otherwise known as the wind against tide state, which can be quite dangerous. I was on my own, in a 10-foot boat, with only a fishing boat a couple of miles away. In that kind of situation, one is pretty careful even with a reasonable amount of experience.

Here is the extreme example of the kind of conditions I began to face at my own small scale. This is the Race of Alderney or the Raz Blanchard between the Cotentin peninsular (Cap de la Hague) and the Channel Islands. Many ships have gone down in those waters. Definitely not for dinghies! If you don’t respect the sea…

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2 Responses to First Sail on the Sea in 2014

  1. Those interesting pics are enough to induce sea sickness from merely looking at them! The sea is such a potentially dangerous and demanding environment. I’m happily back on Iceland Air next month which is so very safe and comfortable.

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