An atypical summer cruise day..... Bikinis (misprint, or ironic? - Ed) are to keep off the strong sun and vertical rain in the tropics aren't they? Read on!
It was a simple plan, just leave Sauzon, a lovely small island harbour on Belle Isle at 11am in order to sail or motor across to the Golfe du Morbihan through the Passage de Teignnouse and arrive at slack low water in order to not be affected by the strong tidal flows too much.
All shopping done etc in the morning, dinghy tied up and then about 10am the visibility dropped from 1 mile plus to ~300m and stayed at that for the next couple of hours. So since it had previously cleared later in the morning as the sun burnt off the mist, we waited. OK a minor change of plan we would be going into the Morbihan with some flood tide if we got to the entrance later.
By 12:30 the scene cleared beautifully and we happily set of with 2+ miles visibility and sunshine. Thundery showers were forecast for later.
About a third of the way over to the mainland we heard some very distant thunder and started watching out for any lightning from the heavy clouds gathering behind us. Since the thunder was behind us carrying on was the best bet. Timing the delay from lightning to thunder of course, using 5s per mile, it was 20miles away. No wind so we were motoring with the main up to keep us stable in the low level swell rolling in our direction.
As the storm distance got less than 5 miles it started to come from both stern quarters and the rain arrived.
Rain! That is drops about 2 inches in diameter when they hit the dry deck. Judith stayed on 'watch' on deck with the fog horn in hand, that is watching the rain drops hit the boat and sea with visibility about 100m. Mike was plotting fixes on the paper chart every 15 minutes and Richard gathered all portable electronic devices (3 phones, 2 iPads and one laptop and the handheld VHF radio) switched them all off and put them in the oven. Not wrapped in aluminium foil first because that would be being paranoid. This is to use the Faraday cage effect to protect these 6 back up GPSs and expensive toys.
The storm got to a mile from us, a bit too close for comfort.
As we approached my way-point just before the rocky Passage de Teigneuse there was a shout from below of "two vessels to port on AIS can you see them", not at first but eventually 2 yachts appeared from the weather, which was fog as well as rain now. The blue foghorn is loud!, and although you can tell other people to cover their ears you can not cover your own at the same time.
We passed the southerly cardinal Goue Vas Sud within 100m according to the plotter but never saw it. But we saw the starboard hand first mark of the Passage so about 100m visibility and it improved enough to just see both sides of the passage by the second set of marks so now visibility was 200m, as we approached the coastline.
The decision of whether to go to the Golfe de Morbihan was now easy, rock hopping with a spring flood tide and fog, totally reliant on instruments in a thunderstorm?. No way! So we turned hard to port past La Teignnouse lighthouse and went into the big modern marina of Port Haliguen instead. We fancied lying next to many yachts with much taller masts. But by the time we got in the weather was bright and sunny again. Mooching around the streets around the vieux port I spotted why we could not get onto the visitors pontoon there were ~70 racing yachts finishing their race just by the marina entrance. We were very grateful that we had not met the racing fleet in the rainstorm since although they probably all had AIS it may have been switched off and we were the give way boat since we were under engine. The wind was never above 6 knots all day.
So back to a typical day on the summer cruise, the essentials: book the evening meal QUICK before the racing fleet got in.
And biminis?, they are for vertical heavy rain in France too, as well as the sunshine that we have had as well.