A ride through the Ushant overfalls.....


I set sail on my own as Victoria had left that morning, in the mist, bound for Ushant on 7th May. The day started well and I made my way into Baie du Stiff for a lunch stop on the north coast of the island. As the tide was against me for going to Lampaul using the normal route of the Passage du Fromveur, I decided to take the route which goes North and West about. All went well until I reached the Nividic lighthouse. Nividic from a distance looks like three lighthouses as there are two additional towers, difficult to see on the chart, which were built to help with resupply by some sort of wire configuration.

I thought I might be able to skirt round these navigational hazards, which themselves warn of many rocks, particularly as the weather was benign with a Force 4 and good visibility. Somebody else however had other ideas, as I soon found myself fighting my way through unpleasant overfalls, and going forwards through the water at 6 knots but in reality going backwards at 3 knots! Modern instrumentation is all very well as the Speed Over Ground (SOG) was displaying 3 knots. What it did not tell me was that I was going backwards 3 knots and i did not spot this until I looked at the chartplotter. On the third attempt, I managed to sneak round into a benign Baie de Lampaul. I have not found any of the pilot books recommending that route and I now know why. In this day of GPS, I am unable to hide my embarrassing track, as it is recorded for posterity on such websites which specialise in AIS (automatic indentification system). I learned a few lessons and the dinghy certainly did not enjoy its roller coaster ride from Hell!