6 weeks have gone since my arrival in Le Havre and they are flown.
Despite being virtually all the time alone, the time, this time has flown.
It 's a great feeling. Feeling busy, laboriously, emotionally, happily occupied.
The list of work to do growing day by day together with the pleasure of doing them, the list of projects growing together with the desire to achieve them.
Feelings I have lived at the beginning of each cruising vacation, but the difference lies in the knowledge that this time it is not something will finish with the "holiday" time, it has not an expiration date.
This time I have all the time I want.
The Dagger Boards
On April 29, after nine days of intense preparations I sat my sails to Lisbon.
Sea conditions were not the best, but that weather would have last for several days, so the decision was to take to the sea anyway. The wind direction was favorable and my crew had just few days available to reach Lisbon.
We started around noon time with sea force 7 and winds around 30 knots.
We decided for a conservative sail setting: 2 reefing on the Main and 50% Genoa. The wind in a brood reach allowed us a speed around 14 knots.
After about 30 miles, though, I realized that both Dagger Boards were broken.
The resistance opposed to water made them stand out and looked like the fins of a whale that proceeded seeds emerged on its side.
Without the resistance exerted by dagger boards in that position, I dread to think what speed we could have developed.
Back to the port all comments, including the expert of my insurance, agreed that the failure was due to a collision with the seabed.
But none of us on board had felt any collision which is not the case when when bumping into something at 14 knots, especially the seabed.
In addition, the route taken by boat from the port until the time of our return, was recorded by the onboard navigation system and a careful review revealed that we did not navigate in any zone of shallow water.
A few days later, removed the boards, the report prepared by the insurance concluded that the break was certainly not due to a collision.
Unfortunately, the same report could not give any explanation on the nature of the failure.
My guess is that sea conditions, wind and our course would have required a very limited use of Dagger Boards. Probably I should have used only the leeward one and only 20% of it. Instead I used both and 100%. So, in my opinion, they suffered a structural failure (at the moment when I realized the damage, the true wind was around 35 knots and sea state 8).
But the manufacturer exclude the possibility of a structural failure, for which we stay with the mystery.
In the following days the rmanufacturer informed me that it would take about 3 weeks for the production of the new Dagger Boards.
I could only wait.
The new Dagger Boards will arrive tomorrow, about 4 weeks from order!
Le Havre is a city of about 250,000 inhabitants, which was founded in early 1500. Unfortunately little evidence of that era is still visible. In fact, during the Normandy invasion by Allied forces about 80% of the city was destroyed by bombing.
It has taken twenty years for Le Havre to find a new lease of life. The lower part of the town is now the largest post-war unitary reconstruction site, with a surface area of 150 hectares. The unusual architecture made of concrete, created by Auguste Perret, offering antique columns and screen walls of oriental inspiration, opens Le Havre up on the sea.
In July 2005, UNESCO has named the city center (the one rebuilt by Auguste Perret) World Heritage Site.
Frankly I was not able to capture elements of great architectural taste. It should probably be placed in the post war, with the need of having to rebuild a city with limited resources.
Except for the church of Saint-Joseph.
A lighthouse at the heart of the city, Saint-Joseph Church is special because of its octagonal lantern-tower reaching a height of 110 meters, joined to the square base of the building, sheltering the nave and the choir.
The building started in 1951 and was completed in 1957, after the death of Auguste Perret, by architects of his workshop.
Inside the church, 6500 pieces of colored glass light up the concrete. Colors are different depending on the place of the sun.
Dedicated to the memory of the victims of the bombings, emblem building of the reconstruction period in Europe, Saint-Joseph Church stands out as one of the architectural masterpieces of the 20th century.
Very nice is the beach in Le Havre, which despite being "only" an Atlantic beach has a very special charm.
Particularly long and wide, slapped by the frequent and violent storms that characterize this sea.
White, black roofed cabins and a long promenade with many restaurants where you can enjoy the inevitable Coquilles Saint Jacques.
Here at Le Havre I ate great fish.
It 's tasty and above all incredibly cheap. A few examples:
1 kg of cuttlefish € 4
1 kg of Mackerel € 2
4 Coquilles Saint Jacques € 6
1 kg of sole € 4
But the thing that struck me most of Le Havre is the flow of the tides. Every six hours the sea withdraws and also lowers the level of 9/10 meters.
Leaving your boat moored at the dock and you do not know if you find yourself hanging on the mooring lines!
But sailors here are obviously accustomed to live with the tides, even use it.
For example, if you need to clean your hull, you do not need a crane or travel lift for hauling the boat out of the water.
You just bring it to the inside of the port and wait for the water do the rest. The boat will be resting on its keel and against the dock, and you get 6 hours of time to do the job. Simple and cheap!
In contrast to the climate, the people of Normandy are very hospitable and courteous, or at least that was my experience.
I have met many people in these 6 weeks and I must say that the sense of hospitality towards a stranger was a constant in all my relationships.
Really something that I never imagined at this latitude.
Courteous, helpful and always ready to lend a hand.
It 's been easy to create new friendships, most notably Gerard and Brigitte.
They are the former owners of Angelique II, a fantastic couple of other times.
They spent 4 years of their lives to the refitt the boat, which they accomplished with so much passion and love.
Gerard is a retired Bank Manager, a great sailor, a lover of rock music, very outgoing and generous.
Brigitte has a more reserved character but very stubborn and complements and supports Gerard in any activity.
They share everything, 24 hours a day. He makes a step, a step she makes. A perfect couple, who still live great complicity.
Since my arrival in Le Havre they have helped me, hosted and sustained making me feeling as part of their family.
I really hope that this friendship will continue, as I hope to have them on board and offer them the opportunity to take part in the journey to which they had to give up.
Few days ago while I was working with the installation of the new RollGen, a French gentleman approached me and had some questions on the boat.
Angelique at the dock is always subject of attentions for its grandeur and aggressive appearance. We chatted a bit and of course I mentioned about my project and my next destinations.
Franck immediately told me that if I ever need an helping hand for the transfer to Turkey I could count on him.
Franck is a civil engineer who lives in Versailles.
His wife's family lives in Le Havre where he often spends weekends.
The same evening he invited me to dinner at his in-laws' house where I got to know two of his great children.
A very loving and caring father.
Tomorrow he will join me on board for this transfer up to Marmaris.
The new start
Tomorrow the dagger boards will arrive and on Saturday morning we will mount them with the unfailing help and supervision of Gerard and Brigitte.
For the night we will move in the marina of Port de Plaisance out from the internal basin where I am now so we will e able to set sail Sunday morning without waiting for the opening of the locks.
For the moment I'm thinking to a non stop passage till Catania. If so we should be able to cover 2,500 miles in 10/13 days.
But we could make a quick stop in Lisbon where a dear friend of Milan, Aurelio, managed to break free to join us up in Catania.
Saturday will also come the inevitable "compare" and childhood friend Giovanni.
Giovanni has done so many miles with me in the boat and above participated in the first cruise of Angelique.
So his presence on board the first cruise of Angelique II represents not only joy but also a good omen.
Until my arrival in Catania will be difficult to update the website.
I hope to update at least my position to keep you informed on progress.
See you in Catania
To visit the Normandie Memories Gallery click here