A week later, on 26nd April 2021 we left England. This was the first time sailing Mistress on our own so we were cautious. Although the skipper had taught us some things and my dad knew some things from Dewdrop, we still didn’t feel prepared. For example I still hated big heeling and had an irrational fear of capsizing.
We left the marina in normal winds and a choppy channel then the winds went away but the waves didn’t because there were strong winds in the days prior. The choppy channel made me seasick again (Hurray!) therefore I didn’t eat anything until we reached France making me feel weak again.
That night I went on my first watch which I was afraid of. I would wake my dad every 4 or so minutes because a ship nine miles away was “too close” on the AIS (Automatic Identification System). By the end of first watch I don’t think my dad got even 5 minutes of rest. I discovered later on that the vessels normally try to avoid you because you are a sailing boat, which grants you priority.
The next day we saw the French coast. At first we were going at around 5 knots but that all changed very soon when we started going against the tide when the boat speed over ground was 1-2 knots and the hull speed was 5 knots. I never imagined the tide to have that much influence but 6 metres tide is a lot as well. We had to seek refuge in shallow waters and then I started screaming because the water became 7 metres deep, bearing in mind that are keel was 1.5 metres long, we still had a lot until hitting the yacht. It was an irrational fear again taking control of our mind again.
As well as this we bought Mistress with a new motor and new motors need to be used a bit to become more economical. We had used the motor all day so as you can imagine we were running out of fuel. We started looking for a marina with a fuel pump which was pretty hard on that side of the French coast. We had found a marina in Brest but we couldn’t reach it because the tide had slowed us down a couple of hours. We finally found a marina in Camaret-sur-Mer with a 24h pump, phoned and they told us to park wherever we wanted.
When we reached the marina, we tried to find the pump, which made us hit the boat once or twice – they were only a few scratches though. We finally found the pump. There were 2 pumps: one saying “essence” and another one saying “gazole”. We spent a couple of minutes getting our phone out to figure out which one’s diesel only to find that Mistress had it written on her diesel cap.
“She’s a French boat” after all.
We finally parked the boat at around 7 and we went in town where I found out I could not walk properly anymore on land for a few minutes.
There was nobody there. It was like a ghost town.