We had a peaceful night anchored in Newton Creek on the Isle of Wight, and I had everyone up for a 6 am breakfast before we set off at 07:00. There was a fair wind and, as we sailed out of Hurst Narrows on the rush of the ebb-tide, the grey morning was enlivened by a ray of pink sunrise illuminating the Needles.
Our course took us straight out past Poole and eventually past Portland. I had calculated our departure to enable us to arrive at the entrance of the Chenal du Four at 10:42 GMT to pick up the south going tide. However the shipping forecast was for an easterly gale after 12 hours. The satellite weather maps agreed that winds of up to 30 knots were due late evening and all Sunday. I took the view that Niall was proving to be hale and hearty , and that we should be able to handle a gale.
We have now passed through the Chenal and are at the entrance to Brest, having arrived exactly on time for our southward passage.
However the gales was not quite as forecast with winds rising to sustained 52-59 knots for several hours. This qualifies as Violent Storm 11, after which the only other classification is a Hurricane above 64 knots. I'm glad to say that both boat and crew did very well in mountainous seas, reducing sail appropriately and surfing at almost 12 knots at times. The autopilot, George, did his job well too.
Once in the Chenal du Four the seas were flatter, the wind dropped to 40 knots or so and we shook out some reefs to race another yacht through. Now as I write this we are held up waiting for a naval convoy to pass before we make for a mooring in Camaret or Brest.