You realize that it is important to check tide tables
and tidal stream atlas while in the English Channel travelling
south, when you're trying to sail against the tide. If not before.
There are up to 7-8 knots of tide in some places, so the right
timing is crucial. You either get a lot of "free" mileage or the
worst nightmare of your life. The Alderney Race along the Channel
Islands is highly recommended, but keep in mind that timing is
all-important. (When you have experienced the difference between
high and low tide in a harbour by up to 11 metres, you will have a
better understanding of the force and the sheer power, and how much
water is actually being moved back and forth).
As the temperature is rising, so is the concentration of fog. The
worst fog I experienced was en route to Aber Wrac'h, France. In the
evening I passed the Channel Island of Alderney, and right away in
the morning there was a heavy fog. At times so thick I could hardly
see my foresail. Before too long I didn't need to, as the wind died
down to almost nothing. Then I went by engine. And since it is an
outboard engine, I could no longer be listening for other ships.
Sometimes though, I did stop the engine to listen. All of the time I
was thinking, if only the sun really gains power then it would
disappear. But no. After sailing for 10 hours, during which I passed
a ferry at half a mile's distance and numerous fishing boats, I had
had enough. It's very exhausting sailing in fog, since you're always
tense and have to use all of your senses.
The nearest port was Aber Wrac'h. The approach looked
a little tricky on the map, so I decided to use the Mark mode on my
GPS. When pressing the Mark button, the GPS saves your position.
Later on, you can then go back to your last known "safe" position. I
had to go back two times. The first time the depth dropped to two
metres and the second time fishing nets were suddenly in my way,
where the approach was supposed to be. It's really hard navigating
by compass and at the same time sailing (that) slowly.
Sleeping is a calculated risk (especially if your
wind steering is "unstable"). In accordance with international
navigation regulations (COLREG) you always need to keep a proper
lookout for ships. But when you are by yourself you need to sleep at
some point, whether it's legal or not. While sailing of course. I
always used to sleep for 30 minutes at a time, go up for a quick
check and then down to bed again. Down through the English Channel I
had to revise my tactics after seeing how fast the ferries are
travelling. It takes them less than 15 minutes to pass (by) after
seeing them on the horizon. When I'm travelling through busy
shipping lanes(/waters) now, I only sleep 15 minutes at a time.
(When I'm a passenger on the other hand, I sleep until I wake up).
And so far I have survived. I know that while I'm sleeping, ships
are passing. But to tell the truth, I'm betting and relying on them
to look out for me. At night when it gets dark and I go to bed, I
undress so that when I'm up to check, I can hurry back to my warm
bed and sleep straight away. I know from experience that when I only
sleep for 30 minutes at a time for several days, I can no longer
wake up by an ordinary alarm clock. Because of this, I installed a
two hour movement from a tumble drier to a horn. Funny thing is that
in the morning I can't really remember much about the times I have
been in the cockpit. It feels as if I have been sleeping
During all crossings I sleep through the night, although I know it
is based on a false sense of security. Just because I have never
collided with anyone... I actually read somewhere that in theory you
would have to cross the Atlantic Ocean continuously for 80 years
before colliding with someone, so if only the first five
Hooray! I have realized that by putting up two 30
litre containers beside the cabin port side, it is now possibly for
me to gybe(/jibe) on starboard and still be able to sleep or simply
lie on my bed.