Ship’s Log: Provident #3

19 Jul

Wednesday July 17 08:30hrs
Hurrah! A day of leisure exploring Ile de Brehat, Brittany, as we’ll stay in this anchorage tonight then do the long passage back to Brixham overnight Thursday. Fine day with a bit of northeasterly breeze. I’m itching to go ashore for a cafe au lait and croissant in the town square. Ile de Brehat is a haven for day trippers who cross by ferry from the mainland. Wealthy French mainlanders keep second homes here. Solidly built stone houses with large floral gardens have manicured lawns that run down to the sea. Toni says it’s also an artists’ colony but I see scant evidence for that.

I agree to book our group dinner restaurant for tonight so that is my first task after the caffeine kicks in. The cafes and restaurants in the town square seem fine but it will mean a walk back to the dinghy quite late and we have to make two trips. I opt for Hotel Bellevue at Port Clos as we can get the dinghy in and out at low tide, Toni can keep an eye on it from the restaurant and the staff have already proven to be kind and accommodating. They agree to cook mussels even though it’s not on the menu especially for someone who really wants mussels for dinner.

Now I’m free to walk around the southern section of the island to the Chapel of St Michel dedicated to seamen, and to the sea mill, a thatched roof water wheel built in the middle of a stone sea wall. A wooden wheel turned by the rise and fall of tides is still visible.











The centre of the island is still agricultural but the economy must be heavily reliant on tourism judging by the souvenir shops. I take my lunch in a pretty creperie with wifi to publish the second instalment of the Ship’s Log and try my first boule (cup) of well chilled local cider. Delicious. The vegetarian gallette (buckwheet savoury crepe) is goat’s cheese, courgettes and semi-dried tomatos. Brilliant combination.





Nowhere on the island is very far so it’s an easy stroll along the northeast coast back to the only sandy beach for a swim then a hot shower in the snack bar/chambre d’hote on the beach. Best 1.5 euro I ever spent!






Very polite notice to visiting sailors using the shower.

Where I would stay if not on a boat, Potiniere.

Many of the locals have olive skin with bright blue eyes while others have fair skin and hair and almond shaped eyes. Interesting. I can imagine staying here for a gastronomic week, cycling to the patisserie in my striped Breton shirt and shorts, and dinghy sailing in the afternoons. Noted for the future.

We’re all back on board for tea and change of clothes for dinner. Everyone looks very smart, especially Katie and Cat. Luckily Fiona checks that I have remembered the hour time difference between UK and France when I made the booking. Oops, I hadn’t. Thankfully people are happy to go in to eat at 7pm instead of 8pm.

We kick off with champagne and complementary canapes from the chef. The mussels are a success and despite a minor delay on the lamb dishes and one not so tasty monkfish curry (they would give it to our cook!) the dinner is a success. Everyone makes it back to the boat dry. Phew!




Blues skies with a few wispy clouds. The northeasterly is holding which bodes well for the return trip to Brixham but the crossing will take around 19 hours so Toni sensibly decides to start back after breakfast. The process of getting the dinghy on board and lashed down, sails and fenders stowed and sails set is always time consuming as it’s done by purely muscle power and we still need guidance. The anchor chain has a motor but it’s so rudimentary the operator (me) has to hold the mechanism while the lever is depressed. Hard work when the captain has laid about 60 metres of chain but I think about how they did it in Drake’s day and the discomfort is easy to bear.



This boat tacked closer to photograph us!



Takes us a couple of hours to pass around the island and into the main passage back into the English Channel then it’s a long straight slog. Lunch is make your own baked sweet potato on deck – lashings of delicious toppings – consumed to an Enya soundtrack. I polish off the last of the Bordeaux as I won’t be able to drink on watch tonight.



Our lunchtime entertainment is two dolphins, one on either side, that show us their dorsal fins often enough for me to capture an image.


Cat relaxing before prepping the Bouef Bourgignon.


Caroline on helm.
Our team are on first watch from 2pm which means we’ll cover 2-5pm, 8-11pm, 2-5am. Sounds daunting but after dealing with fog a clear night with good visibility is welcome. We have a steady wind so it’s decided to raise the flying jib to push us along a bit faster. It’s in stops and ready to go so no problem. It’s most of the way up when one of the stops breaks prematurely and a restraining rope also breaks causing the open sail to flap in an uncontrolled fashion. With the sheet lashing like a whip it’s a dangerous situation. Toni orders everyone to clear the port deck and wrestles it back into the boat getting badly lashed across his forehead in the process.


Barry takes the wheel.
Our second sail drama happens later when we bring in the mizzen sail. Again the wind makes it hard to control and some sail goes into the sea. When both sails are both finally in their bags we breathe a big sigh of relief. Toni needs Panadol and cold compresses for his badly bruised forehead but he is made of tough stuff and continues his duties.

Our first watch is uneventful for boat traffic, sunset is beautiful. Second watch the sea has come up a bit and we are in the first section of the shipping lane with a couple of tankers fairly close. Katie slows us down as necessary to ensure we stay well clear. As soon as it gets dark those on watch have to move back off the bow decks and closer to the cabin as a precaution. Sensible people clip on when moving about the deck.



My port watch.

I see two shooting stars and make two silent wishes.

Toni keeps the engines on while under sail so we don’t have to tack and we make a steady 6.2knots.

This is how dark it gets.

Some technology is best to have!

Friday July 19th 02:00hrs
We can already see the Start Point lighthouse. Three flashes every four seconds. I never dreamed when we hiked down there in May and later bought the gorgeous photographic print of the lighthouse for our new house that I would be approaching it from the sea.

Start Point Lighthouse.
Third watch was the most exciting as Katie picked up a huge container ship ahead on the radar. It’s dimensions are 985 feet wide and 1.8 miles long. That’s not a mistake, it really is that big. That plus another freight ship crossing in front and lots of small fishing boats gave me plenty to look at and I never felt sleepy.

Come 5am I choose to stay on deck rather than head to my bunk again. I’m looking forward to the dawn and it’s a beauty. Time passes quickly once we can see the coast clearly and watch all the little fishing boats heading out for the day and a big one coming. At 6:46am we round Berry Head. Almost home!


A Team back on watch, Lorraine & Neil.

Men can multitask too! Caroline & Neil.

Brixham style icon.

For the final time we haul down the jib, staysail and mainsail and stow them, pull in the bowsprit then prepare to moor alongside Pilgrim on the pontoon.

Fiona’s last shift on helm.





By 7:30am we’re in harbour and Cat produces cereal and bacon butties for breakfast.

After settling my bar bill, packing and a final group photo it’s time to leave Provident for the luxury of a hotel room with a hot shower and loo that flushes at the touch of a button. It will be some time before I take modern plumbing for granted!

I loved the experience and commend the Trinity Foundation for such a well run program. I would happily do it again. Come 2015 I hope Stuart and I can fit in another week under canvas with Trinity. I would do a little more upper body fitness training beforehand next time!

To my fellow shipmates, all strangers when we met last Saturday, you were great companions and teachers.


In alphabetical order:
Andy – thanks for inspiring me to plan a motorcycle trip in Sth Africa with my husband.
Barry – my singing buddy. We’d so kill karaoke.
Cat – grace under pressure and damn good grub. I’ve stolen your recipe for those blue cheese, apple, lemony canapes!
Caroline – thank you for maintaining hygeine standards and for your wicked smile.
Katie- patience personified. Your good humour made what could have been a painful experience enjoyable. You’re a damn good sailor.
Fiona – the quiet achiever. And thanks for taking the photos of me!
Lorraine – you’re a very brave woman, you should know that. I salute you.
Martin – a man who knows how to rock pink shorts and the driest wit onboard.
Neil – quit that day job, you should have your own radio comedy show.
Sue – I’d sail away with you again any time, you know your stuff.
Tony – Fisherman, Father, Old School Sailor, Style Icon, Artist, Raconteur, RESPECT!

PS Update on Stuart: He is back in Brisbane and his physician says he is going to be fine.



Video and Photo Extras:




2 Responses to “Ship’s Log: Provident #3”

  1. Dolores Dace August 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    This was so enjoyable, on so many levels! I just retired myself, and like the idea of a gap year, but may have to wait, as I have a school-aged daughter. Also, 10 years ago I left St. Louis, MO, came aboard Leader with Capt. Toni and we sailed to St. Malo and Ile du Brehat as well. Your pictures are stunning! I remember going for a solo swim at that Brehat beach in early June 2003. No one was there–too cold I guess. Thank you so much! All the best! Can’t wait for more installments.

    • Sharon Tickle August 5, 2013 at 12:52 am #

      Dear Dolores,

      Firstly thank you for your kind words about the blog. Secondly, I apologise for the delay in acknowledging your comment. I’ve been without wifi since returning home to Brisbane and have been caught up in the chaos of moving into a brand new, large house. Be careful what you wish for!

      Part of the fun of travel is, of course, planning and dreaming it, so I hope you are well into that mode for your future ‘gap year’ travel. Let me know if you need any more details about the places I visited.

      Best wishes,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: