Fifteen Nautical Miles

I made a day of it yesterday and sailed from Veules les Roses to just short short of Varangeville sur Mer, slightly to the west of Dieppe. Google Earth gave me a distance measurement of 7 and a half nautical miles each way. The return trip would have been a little more due to the fact I was tacking upwind. I set sail just before midday and beached a little after 4.30 pm, which gives me an average speed of about 3 and a half knots.

veules-st-margueriteHigh tide was at 14.41 and the coefficient was 86, and I turned back at about 13.45 to allow a reasonable amount of time for getting back up wind. For about an hour either side of the high and low tides, there’s hardly any current, but there is still some turbulence in the water to watch out for. The outward trip was pleasant apart from some nasty chop in the rip tide currents, but I was running before the wind. The return was mostly on a starboard tack with some short port tacks to get away from the turbulence caused by the wind hitting the high cliffs.

The wind averaged about 8 to 10 knots with a few 12-knot gusts. As the tide turned, the chop was very nasty, looking like a ploughed field, on the way back – due to the opposition between the wind and the tidal current. The starboard tack was not too bad, as I was well off the waves, but I had to take the port tack in a broad reach to be off the waves and keep good steerage. The tidal current was in my favour, so I had no worries. I would get back home even if my mast came down!

On that subject, I was slightly inshore from most of the yachts sailing along the coast from Le Havre, Fécamp and Saint Valéry en Caux to Dieppe and beyond. Some sported huge colourful spinnakers. One in particular drew my attention: he was jury rigged with a temporary mast (perhaps his boom) on the forepeak with his storm jib. The man sailing this vessel seemed to have been able to recover the mast which was lashed to the top of his cabin, and I imagine the boom, mainsail and genoa were stowed away below. He was almost certainly also using his engine. When your car breaks down on the road, you just phone the number you get from your insurer, and you’ll get a tow to the nearest garage within an hour or so. At sea in a boat, you can call Mayday on the radio and get rescued – and pay a fortune to have your boat salvaged. Alternatively you just have to cope with what you have. I have done it myself – using the jib to get back to the shore, on condition that the land is to lee. In this case, I unrigged everything and stowed it in the bottom of the boat. You then tie the peak of your jib to its halyard, run it through the mast pulley and hold up the mast with your left hand, also holding the jib sheet. You then have a mini spinnaker. Steer with the other hand. You won’t win any races, but it saves others the bother of coming to get you without dire necessity. Like the boy scouts, we learn to work out a solution for every problem. But, yesterday, my rig performed perfectly and there were no problems.

That is also my approach to my life as a priest.

The weather was beautiful and fresh, and the sunlight was slightly veiled, just as I like it. I love August!

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