Brest

With Hans our final port together was Brest. I am confident that we sailed a good speed to Brest out of the canal, with can be a big hurdle with our often blowing south west wind.  But not for us. Mostly north east winds helps us sail in little over a week to Brest.

Now, Brest is a city I have been last year with Vanessa. We visited the fort with also is a museum. Brest is most of all a naval base. The city has a very purposeful atmosphere. Not very romantic. After Hans left I stayed another two days, strolling around in the big sober streets. I have to admid, the weather did not help. So much different from the people in Brest. There were ever so helpful.  Giving directions, trying to explain things without a word of English, let alone Dutch, taking letters for me to post and so on.

One thing I find interesting of cities, is getting a feel for the atmosphere. Brest certainly has a very practical feel about it with some failed tryouts for street art. Another thing speaking for Brest is the genuine  France shopping. Little or no tourism garbage, many hairdressers and many pharmacies among clouding stores which seems always a priority shopping!

Another thing special for sailors to keep in mind is the tide, around six meters between low and high water. Making shore lines and bays totally different. Rocks and islands which you did not see before or boats suddenly tilted dry on ground. One advantage for sure, you can use this tide differences for your benefit to clead the hull.

Communications

For long distance sailors probably not unfamiliar but perhaps interesting anyway for everybody else. How do you communicate from a sail boat? So far, along the coast, I had mobile phone coverage. Possibly we will once forget how it is when you have no coverage, but setting of to sea, we all know, about three miles from shore, the coverage drops significantly and even cease to exist. Let alone wifi. Even in yacht clubs providing wifi it is often impossible to get wifi from the place you are moored. However, in this yacht club, Marina Du Chateau in Brest it works reasonably.

But once on open sea, no wifi and no coverage, leave a sailor without all these ordinary pleasantries we all take for granted. Well, at a cost this can all be delivered on board of a sailing boat, possibly added up to 20.000 euro’s installation and 1.000 euro’s per month data fees.

But just have a look at the possibilities for less loaded sailors. Of cource, almost every sailing ship is equipped with VHF. Very High Frequency receiver and transmitter. You but these things already for just over 100 euro’s. However, the technology of the waves, I will not get into that, gives you the possibility to communicate with other stations equipped with a VHF, mostly other boats and harbor stations. The range is about 20 miles. But not for communication with home!

There are two often used possibilities, the SSB (long range transmitter and receiver) here on the picture and a Iridium device for communication via satellite. I my case a small box working as a hot spot for my normal smart phone, Tablet or Laptop. The SSB requires quite an installation as you can see. There is the SSB radio, a modem and I use a laptop the control the frequency. In this setup I can send and receive emails and receive weather forecast (so called grib files. However, everything needs to be small in data because the speed of data transmission is very low. An additional feature is that I can communicate with other sailors over long distances, sometimes 1000’s of miles. As long we tune in on the same frequency at the same time. That needs some arrangement. Enough reason for me to install my SSB.

 

The iridium device is much more compact. Just the small box provides  a wifi (great!) signal and you can use a normal smart phone, Tablet or laptop. A bit disappointing is that you can do not much more with this new technology as with the SSB. Sending emails, SMS, requesting weather forecast and of course the large difference, you can call people on their normal phone whenever you want.  The software component proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. I have been working on this for over a month. Nevertheless, it is less cumbersome to operate and being able to call my wife to tell her I love her, is enough reason to have this aboard as well.

 

 

On the move

Brest! In little over one week Hans Haverkort and I made it all the way to Brest, France. Hans offered to join me for the start of my journey. Hans has been sailing with me to the North Cape in Norway and he flew over the Spitsbergen to join me for my sail there. Now we were together again but in the very beginning of my adventure.  

Sunday 18 June we departed from Zaandam where I did my last preparations and sailed to Boulogne sur Mer where we arrived early in the morning of Tuesday 20 June. The sail was a bit uneventful and diesel consuming. The approach was a bit difficult in the night because the sector lights to guide you in are difficult to see with the city lights in the background.

We only spent the night to rest and left Boulogne as it was next morning to have a more lively sail to Cherbourg.  Another overnight sail. In Cherbourg we celebrated the longest day of the year among with many others in Cherbourg.

Next day we left to have a wonderful sail to Alderney and a day later to Guernsey, where we stayed three days, enjoying company of friends from Den Oever and a good walk. The weather however changed into more overcast and occasional drizzle. Noting to get excited about.

Right now we are in Brest where Hans will return to home and I will prepare for the Gulf of Biscay, now being flogged with strong to severe gale from NW. It looks like weekend, that the weather conditions will improve where I will sail my first three days and nights single handed over the Gulf of Biscay to La Coruna, Spain. I am looking forward to it and not, of course. Hopefully everything will go smoothly. It seems I will have enough wind for a great sail.

Last day at work

Wednesday  was my last day at work, apart from some errands on Thursday  and hugs and drinks during our company Friday drinks. 15 months! As written the preparation are almost finished, as far that is possible. Most headaches are the Iridium Go, not the device, but software which is badly supported. However, sms, calls, position updates and email works. Weather forecasts barely, but improving. Luckily the SSB radio works well, thanks to a friend sailor helping me.

Other great thing is the cover in front of my doghouse promising  keeping me dry in bad weather. My spare anchor chain arrived, anyway, as you can understand, last items before departure. Date isn’t set and will not be, but third  week of  June it will possible happen based on the right weather and state of mind.

Preparations

Preparations for the adventure are almost done. Little hassle with iridium GO, almost more difficult than SSB, but most of the work is done. Work? Almost done too. I am looking at a long term leave permission till 1st of September! Mind you, 2018!

Somewhere the coming weeks I will host the sails and steer due south. Keep in touch.

 

Hello world!

This site takes you with me on my sailing adventures. Right now I am enjoying a one year of sailing sabbatical. My original plan was to sail to Cape Horn, but I changed my plan to sail the Atlantic Islands and spend Christmas with my wife. Much nicer.

Information about my professional life as a IT consultant at Atos Consulting in The Netherlands you can find on LinkedIn. First of September this year I will be more that delighted to help you with organizational challenges implementing new technologies in your organization. For now, please enjoy my sailing adventures.

This site is a blog about my present journey around Atlantic Islands and also gives you via the menu information about previous sailing journeys in the Arctic seas and about my boats I own(ed).

Most of the site is written in English, however, some articles and videos are written in Dutch. As far as the art of video making I am still a novice, but I hope it brings some of my adventures to live. Please do not hesitate to comment on my stories. There is space for in this site.