Casa Marisss, a catamaran which hasn’t lost her bearings (especially north)!

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After spending comfortable vacations on some very nice cats, I wanted to find the sensations of pure, fast sailing and go to original destinations within the time limited by my professional obligations. This is how I came to choose Casa Marisss, a Petter 50 by Erik Lerouge; a beautiful epoxy sandwich construction, with Kevlar and carbon reinforcement where needed: very powerful beams, boom and wing mast held by 3 wires (a forestay and two capshrouds).  Add 2 daggerboards for upwind work and a pair of Volvos for the doldrums and you get a very efficient cruising boat. The only problem was that this wonderful boat was not designed to be single-handed. But some modifications to the deck hardware did the trick!  In July, hanging a right after leaving the Golfe de Morbihan on France’s west coast is a common enough choice, but keep heading north and go where the nights are short, that’s where the adventure begins! Between the tip of Brittany and the Shetland Islands, there is an area where even in summer, depressions mean you’ll be left with memories of being wet and seeing some impressive lighting over the sea.  But my summer goal was even farther north: the Faroe Islands! 

Morbihan - Newlyn/Penzance: war and peace


And we’re off!  July 8th under 2 reefs and 50% jib, in 25 knots from the northwest (great for a northwesterly heading!).  After beating to windward for 18 hours, came the pleasure of being able to throw up in international waters.  It's upwind at 10 knots and I'm going to miss the Scilly Isles by 10° which puts me at Penzance.  So on July 10th, I anchored in the middle of the night close to the port.  Calm returns and brings sleep, finally!  This charming town is quite different from where I’d hoped to end up.  I crossed paths with Newlyn fishermen (and some fisherwomen), but can’t hang about, as the tide is on the way in and we have to go north.

Newlyn - Strangford: the route north…

It would have been difficult to get in, so I decided to leave quickly because the stubborn wind is coming at me from the NW.  Luck was on my side, for when I arrived at Land's End, a light westerly wind of 10 knots filled in, allowing me to reach under full sail: 180 m².  I’m hoping for a longer and less nauseating leg to reach the Irish “Golfe de Morbihan”:  Strangford Lough.  I quickly pick up to 12 knots, at least for the moment, and mustn’t slacken off because tomorrow, it’ll be back on the nose again!

Stangford Lough

We made a discreet entry into Strangford Lough on the 11th around midnight. The tide was a big help (with the 2 Volvos on tickover, the log was displaying 11.5 knots). It reminded me of the entrance to the Golfe de Morbihan in Brittany: "you're either on time or you don’t get in"!  Not the ideal moment for the Navtex to welcome me with Gale Warnings.  An hour later saw us tied up to a Killileigh YC buoy.  Need to be careful, we are in Ulster here, and must avoid hoisting the Irish flag in the starboard spreaders.  Here ...

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