Sailing from Iceland to Brest, France by Catamaran – Part 1

Our TIMEZERO Ambassador Adrien Boudin recently completed a trip all the way from his adopted home country of Iceland to France on board his beautiful ‘lindo’ catamaran the Kata Lind which he impressively built himself!

Kata Lind moored

Adrien has been using our software for over 20 years and thanks to these year of experience, he has more than mastered each and every feature in its entirety. In this article, he tells us about his trip from Iceland to Brest in France where he has to cross a busy shipping lane.

The Preparation


“The trip starts by choosing a good weather forecast window. This year, in June just like July, the North Atlantic was once again swept with depressions one after the other, just like in winter. Fortunately, the peaks were not as extreme as in winter but they still carried winds of more than 40kn with even more in gusts, and this takes place over several days which is never pleasant.

The goal was to find a window in which we could avoid such an event. I had to therefore leave once a depression had passed (which gave Northern winds), not to close to the heart of the weather system to avoid strong winds and to be able to arrive before the next depression arrives. To be sure I analyzed multiple weather sites and uploaded these systems straight into TZ Professional v3 straight away by uploading them as GRIB files. The GRIB files are displayed perfectly. You can adjust them as you wish to see only the details that are important to you, for up to 16 days forecast.

 

Rain, winds, wind pressure, etc. are all displayed in colors, arrows, lines, as you like. We can then see the weather forecast evolve with time by simply using the time bar to scroll across. So every day I check the weather in TIMEZERO. Between two depressions I tried out the weather routing module which confirmed that there wasn’t enough of a window. The window gave me less than 4 days to cover the 900 nautical miles which separate Iceland and Ireland. It’s just too short. The month of June passed but the start of July, a 6-day window presented itself. You theoretically need 5 days for the voyage. The weather routing module gave the green light, it provided little margin for error but worth the try. The navigation was downwind, in light to average wind conditions.

We needed to get passed the Fastnet lighthouse and into the shelter of Ireland before the depression arrived carrying 30 kn winds (40 kn in actuality) head on. The wind indicated that it would soften towards the arrival which would slow down the boat.

Direction Ireland


Dolphins en route to Fastnet lighthouse
Dolphins en route to Fastnet lighthouse

I left and everything seemed to be going well, with more than 200 NM covered in the first day without forcing it, all on automatic pilot. Chilling. The dolphins and wales decided to give me some company. I even got to reach out and stroke a dolphin by stretching out from my boat. It was a beautiful moment.

I was under powered, reefing the sail in 20 kn winds, without pressure and surpisingly the Kata Lind went quicker than the polars that I had taken from a Fountaine-Pajot build that is similar in size.

Fastnet Lighthouse


Le Phare du Fastnet
Fastnet Lighthouse

We arrived at the Fastnet in under 5 days. The navigation went really smoothly, sailing with dolphins, wales, and even being able to eat good meals at the table (which isn’t always the case at sea). The weather was timed absolutely perfect from a wind perspective force and direction (always a little bit stronger than forecast, but I already knew it would be) and even with the cloud cover. Crossing the Fastnet in beautiful weather meant I could really take it in. Seeing as I was good time-wise for the weather, I decided to continue on directly to France without stopping in Ireland. During the 5-day trip, I was surprised to not have crossed a single boat, not even a fishing boat, nothing… At last I found myself sailing with a sailing boat after having crossed to Irish fishing vessels. Unfortunately, the boat was sailing only with a Genoa jib and so it couldn’t keep up with the Kata Lind. Such a Shame that.

Crossing the Shipping Lane


Cargoship in the shipping lane off the coast of Brest, France
Cargoship in the shipping lane off the coast of Brest, France

After two days of navigation without commotion, I arrived in French waters, but I was still not home and dry with the infamous “rail” to cross. I arrived at Brest where I would have to cross the shipping lane according to the Ushant Traffic Scheme system. The shipping lane is impressive; the boats seem to file in one after the other. I crossed during the early hours as the sun was rising. I know about the stories on crossing this shipping lane. It really is very difficult to see the distance between the boats given that you have to cross without always knowing if the boat is 100m long or 350m long. The difference in their speed is also just as impressive as some can be cruising along at 10kn whereas others can be steaming in at 23kn. For these reasons, knowing where and when to cross, in front, behind, etc. is quite the challenge.”

To Follow…


In the next edition of Adrien’s trip, we will see how he overcomes the challenge of crossing this shipping lane. We will also look at an armada in Brest and a trip to La Rochelle to meet old friends.

TIMEZERO is a software which is perfectly adapted to sailing boats thanks to its Weather Routing module that calculates the optimal route for a sail boat based on: weather forecasts, current, polars and your own unique sailing style. The module is available for both recreational and professional sailors.
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