Guernsey, Brittany, A Quandary

I sit here, in a quaint little pub in L'Aber Wrac'h, France by the sea. This area of France is absolutely beautiful. I could live here, in a little white-washed hut on a stone island perhaps. Tending to the bees or working as a fisherman. But alas, it will not be so, for I have itchy feet and live on a boat.

The trip from Cherbourg has been mostly good. I sailed through the infamous Race of Alderney. I was hesitant as always about areas people warn me about. I was however somewhat disappointed when I didn't sink or get washed up on rocks (not really), as the Race was a piece of cake, and I sailed through at 7knots. I was an hour early, being silly and forgetting about the summer time addition (or was it subtraction...?).

I continued on to the island of Guernsey.

I stayed a night in the marina, just to refuel and spend some time in the town. The marina was expensive... 14pounds for my little boat - Luckily I still had some change left over from my stop in Dover. I moved at the next tide to Havelet Bay to anchor. I saw a bunch of private buoys, and seeing no one was using them, I used one for the night, bouncing about all night like mad. I always get nervous using the anchor, my dreams permeated with waking up beached like a whale, local conservation groups standing around and patting me down with wet towels, ushering me back to the sea.

I moved on the morning, deciding to sail to Lezardrieux instead of direct to L'Aber Wrac'h which was the initial plan. There was no wind, and I just didn't feel like motoring for however many hours it was going to be. I made the decision to change course probably a little late in the tide, so I ended up entering Lezardrieux in the dark. So this is where the bad part of the last week started - My GPS has been playing up - It just turns itself off all the time. I kept smacking it back to life, but it's the only one I have, and I was pretty nervous about it not coming back online when I needed it. So as the fog decended, what vital piece of equipment decided to fail? The GPS. I'd already taken it apart to look for loose connections, but all I could see was a complicated circuit board. It was stupid only having one GPS onboard, but it was really the last thing I thought would stop working, and I don't have the money to have spares.

The entrance into Lezardrieux is not really difficult in the day, because you can see all the rocks, and it's well marked. Remember, this part of France is Brittany - You know, the area where all the lighthouse photos come from - The lighthouses with the giant 1000ft waves crashing over the top, and a quote underneath saying 'Follow your own lighthouse' or something equally stupid. Or sometimes you seen these lighthouse posters in the offices of accountants. Anyway, you get the point - It's dangerous to navigate in, there are many obstacles (rocks) and boats don't like hard surfaces.

So the GPS turns off, and I hit it to bring it back. Nothing. Then I hit it again, and screamed at it. Nothing. Then I curse it, remove the batteries, replace them with new ones, put it back together, and it still doesn't work. So I smack it again, hove-to at the entrance (stall the boat) and dismantle it again. Put it back together. Still not working. The fog is still there, and the sun hasn't come up (9hours to go). Furious, I regretfully (only regretfully because it's polluting) I hurl the thing into the sea... That GPS was a 21st birthday present from a good friend, and now it is at the bottom of the entrance of Lezardrieux, and I'm still stuck. So I navigate under compass bearings from my last known position. Somehow, I manage to get up the entrance into the river and find a private mooring buoy for the night. I was really angry, but the area was so still and quiet. As soon as I turned the engine off, my worries dissipated, and I wondered what the area was like I had just found myself in. The incessant movement of the ocean can be really grating, and all of a sudden, everything was utterly still.

Waking in the morning, I was still surrounded by fog. I waited for a few hours, and slowly the wind and sun sent it away to another port. I wasn't disappointed by where I'd landed. Lezardrieux is really nice.

It was a Sunday, and the port capitaine was away, so I moored up for the day and met some incredibly nice French sailors, who gave me their boat food supplies as presents, fed me pizza, wine and Apple liqueur. I was a little wary of the French after being in Calais and Cherbourg, but things have changed dramatically since getting to Brittany. I now only have praise.

I spent the afternoon walking around and eating Oysters. I recommend future sailors to take a bottle of champagne, a knife and a lemon down to the waters edge. I didn't have the champagne or a lemon, but I was quite content.

When dusk came, I decided to move while there was still light and find another buoy for the night. The tide was ripping, but I really wanted light. I pushed off and put a new scratch in my paintwork along the side of Constellation. Poor boat, having to put up with me. After another quiet night, I woke up to catch the tide, and motored out.

Or, as was my plan. That's when I found a dead battery. How was it possible, I thought? I have two batteries, so it wasn't too much of a problem, but it begs some questions. Why was it not charged? Maybe my $5,000 solar array wasn't functioning (I don't have one.)? Oh, I know, the alternator is broken! How wonderful! I started up and sailed to Trebeurden without a working alternator or a GPS. I replaced the GPS at some ridiculous local price, and left the alternator for another day.

I moved onto L'Aber Wrac'h, and along the way, there was a great choppy swell. It was the worst leg of my journey so far. Even worse than my North Sea adventures. I was absolutely sick, throwing up over the side, not able to eat the entire day. I don't quite know why I was so sick (and don't say it was the Oysters) but I was, and my sea sickness medication was useless. I just sat in the cockpit and let the windvane steer, trying to think happy thoughts. The forecast did not indicate such swell, but there were breaking waves and deep caverns for Constellation to contend with. Weird.

The GPS and alternator were at such great expense, I don't know how to continue this season, or whether I should right now. The Bay of Biscay scares me, it's the wrong time of year, and what's on the other side? Let's be realistic, there is not going to be a heroic Atlantic crossing this season. It's just not going to happen, I've missed it. I left Holland under the pretense that maybe something would crop up along the way (like, I might win the lottery, even though I don't buy tickets) or a particular sponsor might see I was 'for real' and cough up. Ha!

So I'm just going to hang out here for a few days and think about my options. If I do cross, what are my realistic work opportunities? If any? Maybe I should sail back to Guernsey and get a suit and tie job for the winter? Get cashed up and give Constellation gilded bow? Or maybe I should buy a lottery ticket and continue on anyway? It seems pretty disappointing to 'winter' already. But this so called 'reality' is catching up with me, fast.

Back to my hut, to tend to the bees,