Lots has happened, summer hit for most of us and nobody wants to sit in front of a screen and write or read about sailing, especially when you can sail for yourself. Nevertheless we want to write a little overview of what we have been up to since the Netherlands and Belgium.
Following a quick stop in Zeebrugge, Belgium, including a brief visit to the picturesque Brügge (more on this here). Equipped with a fresh covid-test we set sail to France. Our first stop, Boulogne-sur-Mer, a frequent entry point for many sailors coming from the North.
On the way we were trying to figure out the strong tidal currents of the English Channel, timing currents in one’s favour can be essential. We were often successful and making 9+kts, but also too often not so successful and just making 2 kts. To be fair currents switch every 6 hours, so 6-8 hourly hops are ideal for the area, anything longer will always result in adverse currents.
In Boulogne-sur-Mer we also discovered an oil leak, which despite our expectations did not stop by itself, neither did it fixed itself in some kind of magic healing process. It actually got worse, quelle surprise! In the next port Dieppe we tried to mend it, but did not have the necessary supplies and we decided to continue on as it did not yet seem too critical. But us naïve newbs came dangerously close to ruining the engine on the very next sail. Fortunately we realised in time the engine had gone from dripping oil to purring it out and we were able to stop it before it ran completely dry. Since the wind had also forsaken us, we spent a few hours just slowly drifting towards the harbour, and luckily by the end we got a little 2nm tow by a friendly French sailor into the city of Le Havre.
Leo then started a more thorough investigation resulting in dismantling heat exchangers and surrounding plumbing, finding that the engine had a hidden tiny oil cooler, which had blown beyond repair. At the time there were 2 logic alternatives, purchasing an expensive used replacement for around 1000 euros (as a new is no longer available) or ordering a more generic oil cooler and fitting it. Option 2, although much cheaper would have been time consuming and nearly impossible to complete in our tiny engine room, option 1 simply was to expensive for the old lady. So option 3 (born out of pure desperation and penny-pinching) was entertained – what about simply bypassing the cooler. Like in a bypass surgery, although you clearly need the cooler or the blocked vein you may do without if you just take it easy. Makes sense right? Not everyone agrees and many shaked their heads. But 30 euros later, equipped with a hydraulic pipe to replace the oil heater and the engine was running like a charm and still does (touch wood!). We now sail even more and safe fuel running on low load, win win win. It will probably not work for too long, but hopefully we can make it to Greece this way.
After that we sailed further staying mostly on lovely anchorages with amazing tidal ranges. Kind of mind blowing seeing a landscape change within hours and 8+m sea level rises/drops. The area after Le Havre and southwards surprised us very positively and provides many anchoring options with beautiful landscapes.
The most beautiful landscapes started around Brest and southwards, more on that later 🙂
Now we have made it across the Biscay and sailed to the Algarve coast om Portugal – and it’s been a wonderful journey. And hey we have sailed over 2000nm since April.