12 August 2022

The English Channel… yikes!

Tonight we are crossing the mouth of the English Channel, the busiest shipping area in the world, I think. Actually, the mouth of the channel is 150 miles to port, so it's not as crazy as it might be if we were closer, but there are a lot of ships! At the moment, there are 155 ships on our AIS. I had to filter out all except those that will approach within 5 miles of us to make any sense at all of the screen. That cuts the 155 down to a more comprehensible 4, but four ships converging on us at the same time is still a lot to deal with. It is going to be an interesting night!

Well, we are in the home stretch now. Just a couple days left on this passage. We are still on schedule to arrive in Brest Monday. That's good timing, because apparently this is the biggest travel weekend in France all year! The marinas are probably packed for the weekend, but we were able to make a reservation for Monday without any problem.

As usual, I'm a bit apprehensive about arriving in a new marina, but I have a lot of confidence in my boat handling skills at this point, so not as terrified as in the past. I'm sure we'll do fine.

Speaking of us, Helena and I patted ourselves on the back today for managing so well as just a two person team. We did just fine standing our four hour watches around the clock for a month and a half at sea, and (so far!) we're able to handle everything that King Neptune threw at us.

One thing that made that easier was the weather, once we cleared the truely awful weather that plagues the US east coast during the summer. Since then, we have had nothing but good to great weather. No afternoon thunderstorms, no cold fronts ripping off the coast, no tropical storms, and definitely no hurricanes. These are constant threats to coastal sailors in the US, and I can't say I've missed them. Maybe we've been exceptionally lucky, but if so, it's been a remarkably long stretch of luck! Well, we've got a couple more weeks in our season… I hope our luck lasts!

Yup, the summer is coming to an end quickly. We plan to be hauled out around September 1, and then will spend a week or two doing maintenance — mainly painting— and winterizing Petronella. She's in great shape, but after 2 months of non stop sailing, we need to touch up some rusty spots and recaulk her port lights. I also want to pull both masts so we can replace the halyard sheaves at the top of both masts. They've really deteriorated in the last couple years from UV exposure, I guess.

But, we still have a couple of weeks to explore the beautiful coast of Brittany, and plan to make the most of it, unfortunately without our young friends, who won't be able to join us this summer. But there's always next summer! Hang in there, les jeunes!

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