Mainsail Reefing

We have a slab reefing with 3 reefs in our mainsail, which is great as it allows us to shorten the sail right down when the wind picks up so we can keep sailing up to about Force 7/8.

All lines lead to the mast and the whole operation is done from there.


However we only have space in our boom for 3 lines.

  • Main outhaul
  • Reef 1 outhaul
  • Reef 2 outhaul

This leaves the 3rd reef outhaul without a dedicated line.


So we end up trying to thread the 1st reefing line through the mainsail when putting the 3rd reef in, normally just as its getting really bumpy and dark. Not the time to balancing stretched upwards from the edge of the cockpit be trying to tread a rope through a flapping sail.

We weren’t even able to pre-thread the 3rd reef instead of one of the others as the reefing lines weren’t long enough to use the sail with no reefs in.


So we have now changed our reefing lines for longer ones so we can pre-rig our to our choice before raising the main.

We now normally leave the 2nd and 3rd reef in as we rarely used the 1st reef and if we want to conditions are more likely to be benign enough so that we can rig it safely.


Maybe at some point we will come up with an inspirational moment of an easy way to rig a 3rd line (more likely see on someone else’s boat). At the moment all our ideas involve attaching blocks and clutches to one side of the boom which would work but feel very inelegant.


Have a great solution for this? Please email us or leave a comment.


Heading for the Algarve

 We had a great sail down the coast.

Light tail winds to start with and a bit slow but then the winds filled in to 11 knots and a broad reach.

Ghosting along with almost no swell at about 5 knots.

The wind gradually came forward leaving us close hauled but still going the right direction.

It built briefly so we put a couple of reefs in for a while then shook them out when it dropped again.

Then it switched changing direction by about 30 degrees forcing us to tack just as we had got far enough south to clear Cabo de Sao Vicente as we sailed SW.


Normally the wind seams to change against you so this was a lovely change.


We pulled into the harbour at Sagress which looked like it should be really sheltered.

We snuggled in as close as we could get to anchor amongst the buoys (took 2 goes to get the spot just right so we didn’t swing into anything).

We could have picked up one of the free buoys but after our Peniche experience we preferred to put the anchor down.

It was surprisingly lumpy with a win swell coming in past the harbour wall. However the wind had already shifted and we hoped that this would be short lived. One lumpy night and it was much quieter in the morning.

Fuel Fun

We’ve were plagued with diesel bug when we came back from the scillies and although we had drained the bottom of the tank we still seemed to have a problem.

We were almost out of fuel and this seemed like a good opportunity to fully drain the tanks and try and get rid of the last residue.

How I love grovelling in the cockpit locker trying to reach the fuel drain on the bottom of the tank emptying it one small tupperware pot at a time and still getting diesel everywhere.


  • Drained the tank

(there is no access hatch on the tank to actually reach in and wipe it out and even if there was one on the top you would need and arm with 3 elbow joints to actually reach in).

  • Changed the primary fuel filter and bled the fuel system
  • Put 6 litres of fuel back in with a heavy dose of bug killer and left overnight.
  • Took the boat for a motor with some sharp turns to try and flush the sides of the tank a bit.

(Don’t know what the Portuguese crew of the nearby anchored boat must have thought that we were doing)

  • Drained the tank again.
  • Refilled with fresh diesel.
  • Bled the fuel system again.

We will change the filter again after a few more hours of engine use.

Don’t trust the Buoys

That was exciting. Not in a good way.

It’s a little bit windy here in Peniche harbour at the moment.

We are about level with where Portugal is written.

The buoy that we were securely tied to just started dragging.

Engine on.

Ditch the buoy leaving one of the lines behind on it.

Engine on Max to motor back up the harbour.

Drop the anchor.

We are now safe and secure.

Turns out we are now right in the middle of the harbour fairway. Will move again when its a bit calmer and daylight.

Did I mention its dark and raining.

Fortunately we are sheltered from the waves breaking over the harbour wall.

Ile Gavrinis and up the river to Auray

We had a quick stop at Gavrinis. The site of one of the largest megalithic tombs in Brittany.

Turns out you are supposed to book this in advance. So we just snuck in.


We had a French family in a small motor boat stop by asking for directions back to Arradon. Not sure they knew how to read a chart as even when we pointed out exactly where they were they still wanted us to point to them which way they needed to go.


We sailed on to head up the river to Auray.

Got the tides right this time catching the last of the ebb out then the flood as we turned up the river.

We Tacked up the channel until we ran out of wind and it started to get really shallow, so we dropped sail and motored the last mile.

We were kept passing then being passed by a beautiful wooden Smack, the Unity of Lynn. We found out later that this had been built in Essex in 1906. We could sail faster than them but we couldn’t cut the shallow corners.

A Smack is a traditional sailing fishing boat used off the coast of Britain.

Houat to the Gulf of Morbihan

The Gulf of Morbihan is like a mini inland sea full of islands with 2 rivers flowing into it and only a narrow channel connecting it to the ocean.

With the big tidal range in this area there is a really strong tidal flow flowing into and out of the Morbihan. This is fine as long as you time it right.


We were lazy and just looked at the flow arrows on Navionics (our electronic charts). Turns out they are wrong. When we checked in 2 separate almanacs (Reference books showing ports, tides, tidal flows and other useful information for sailing) and showed the correct information.

Still it was pretty interesting sailing up the channels at about 7 knots through the water and 1 knot over the ground. There were several other boats sailing in as well so it felt like a very slow speed race.


We anchored off of Ile Aux Moine (Monk Island). Then moved to a buoy when a boat left as the tidal flows are pretty strong.

The next day we spent exploring the island visiting the dolmen of Penhap and the Cromlech of Kergonan which date back to about 3500 B.C.


A small island with no cars and just a small village.

We spent the day walking round the coast path.


When we left the following morning had a go at sailing off the anchor.

This is where you go from being anchored to sailing without using the engine.

Its good to practice this while we have space and its easy in case we have to do it for real.

It all went well with a slight delay while we extracted a starfish from the anchor chain.

Next one to try is dropping anchor under sail.

Groix to Houat

A relatively short hop, should be 3-4 hours.

We had almost no wind. Our speed was down to 1.5-2 knots for ages. But we sailed the whole way and arrived before dark.

Diving off the front of the boat as we sailed along and swimming out to try and get a good photo.

Swimming for a photo. Cerise ghosting along in almost no wind

There was a long rope dangling off the boat to grab onto as the boat went past.

It certainly helps your swimming speed and keeps your heart rate up watching the boat sail past when you are miles from land.

Mel took a great video but I haven’t worked out the best way to include them here yet.

Anchor lights look like a village


We dropped anchor off Port Lay on the North coast, Sheltered from the SW winds.

The following morning we rowed ashore into the tiny harbour of Port Lay.

Port Lay – Groix

From here we set off to walk across the Island then round the south eastern end.

There are cars on the islands but in general you can walk down the middle of the narrow country lanes with no fear of being run over.


On the walk we spotted a few other potentially good anchorages.

Returning to Cerise in the evening we discovered that the swell had picked up and the wind shifted enough that she was bouncing around all over the place.

It is pretty interesting trying to get out of a small dingy onto the the back when you are surging up and down by a several feet.

The anchor was holding fine but it would have been very uncomfortable to stay where we were. (we were moving around more than when we crossed the channel in the force 7.

We upped the anchor and motored down the coast to Porth Koustik.

It was starting to get dark and the anchorage was pretty busy.


First drop of the anchor outside the main field of boats. It didn’t catch (1st time our rochna hasn’t set first time, I think the bottom may have been a mix of sand rock and weed and a bit to dark to see where we were dropping.

Spotted a dolphin hanging about one of the other boats anchored up.

We wondered if the bottom was better further across where the other boats were so moved into a likely spot. Anchor set but a little close to a lovely wooden boat behind us. Decided it was close but far enough (maybe 20m) distances always look closer from the deck anyway.

Haven’t really got the hang of picking a good spot amongst other boats when its busy yet.

Woke up in the morning about half a boat length from the other boat!

It was very sociable as we could chat directly to the other boat which you can’t normally do when anchored up but I did apologise for ending up so close and we moved into a space when a few of the other boats left. Their engine had packed up on their cruise so they were continuing with just sail for the next week.

But before we could move, there was the dolphin we had spotted the night before right there next to the 2 boats.

Some of the guys from the other boat were in the water swimming with it.

It was a sunny day but still a bit morning fresh but I wasn’t going to miss out on a chance to swim with a dolphin.

Dolphin and Mel – Groix

The Dolphin it seems lives in that area and plays with all the boats. It comes and greats all the new boats coming in, swims around with anyone who wants to swim and set off with any boats that leave to say goodbye.

More seagulls using our tender as a roost/toilet

When we left the next morning the dolphin came out with us. Swimming right under our bow so close that we could hear its tail knocking on our hull as it swam. It stayed with us for about 5 minutes until it turned on its side, looked right up at us, nodded its head twice as we waved down to it then it turned around and headed back to the other boats still anchored up.

dolphin under the Groix

It is pretty hard to explain the magic of being so close to a dolphin. It feels way more than just experiencing being close to a beautiful intelligent wild animal. It lifts your whole mood and fills you with a feeling of joy.

Glénan Islands

This is a small group of islands about 10 nautical miles south of la Foret Fouesnant and Concarneau. It is home to the famous french sailing school Les Glénans, which started up after the 2nd world war to help young people learn to enjoy life again. It is now the largest sailing school in France (and Europe?)

It is a beautiful archipelago that gets pretty busy with tourists coming across on ferrys from the mainland, yachts and motorboats, all visiting the pristine sandy beaches within the shelter of the surrounding islands.


Ile Gigogne, with old fortification.
Rowing between islands, forgot to fill up the outboard
Ile St Nicholas. This sand spit disappears at high tide on springs
Track sailing in.

We sailed all the way to the anchorage, ok the engine was running just incase we needed it as it was pretty tight and there were millions of dinghys everywhere. And we didn’t drop anchor under sail as it was busy and we want space to mess it up in private when we try doing this for the first time.

It was also low tide and we had about 20cm under the keel at times, when our intermittent depth display was showing or when I ducked below to check the repeater downstairs.

It is all pretty flat once you are in there and I kept a look out from the bow when it got really shallow. It looked only about a meter deep through the super clear water but we didn’t touch.

It makes the sailing much more interesting when there are islands, boats and shallow bits to constrain where you choose your route. The early Les Glénans boats  sailed round here and across the channel with no engine (maybe they had a smaller draft though). It was nice to follow this tradition rather than motoring.



First test of the new BBQ