MoisApril 2015

Departure, Dolphins, Rudder: from Pornic to A Coruña

At last we’ve set sails! Waking up at 5AM was quite tough, an hour when for most of us it is still saturday night more than sunday morning. Thanks to our friends and families that came to say good bye. After a few tears when we untied the mooring ropes, the harder was to see all the little figures on the dock disapear in the horizon.

Départ 1

Départ 2

Good bye Pornic, hello Spain! Cape is set to South West, wind are favorable, and our route is almost direct. Out of Pornic’s bay, the north-eastern swell get its way and let us surf, revealing the rolling nature of Karukera. The swell will stay with us at all time.

With all sails up, the boat speed is good, around 6-7 knots average, and surfs around 10 knots! We get used to the sailing routine, switching drivers every two hours, taking pictures and videos, sending the last texts before being out of reach. The first naps starts barely after noon: we have to be in good fit for the night to come.


A last contact with french coasts when we see Yeu’s Island Lighthouse, right when the first dolphins come and play with Karukera! What a wondeful show to see them surf the same waves as us, jumping in front of our bow!

dauphin 1



We will be surprised to see how much time dolphins would come and play during the crossing, day and nights, for a few minutes and sometimes for an hour!

The first night is full of stars, and the wind decreases a little bit. The waves are still big, and it’s hard to sleep with the boat rolling from one crest to an other. We cross a lot of boats, fishermans and cargos. Stressful moments when we don’t know where those big masses are heading to.

To cut the rolling, we set up the spinnaker whe the sun sets! Giving us more speed, and allowing us to make a more direct route, the mood gets better with a few morning jokes !


With the light breeze, two of us can sleep when one is still driving: morning naps are good. Conditiond are great in this second day of sailing, and we print 3D parts to improve our wind turbine while in the middle of the bay of biscay. We won’t see any boat this day nor the next night, but we get to luck to have a very nice companion! A little bird lands on Karukera to rest a few hours. He would go around the boat, fly under the boom, land on improbable places of the rig!


The second night with dolphins is magic: we can perceive them thanks to luminescent planktoon that lights up when water stirrs. Each swell break is amazing: it seems that we are in the middle of a turquoise pool. We start the wind turbine and it produces enough electricity to full the batteries at all times.
The third day, wind rises up progressively, the swell gets bigger but more importantly shorter. The boat gets harder to steer, and it requires way more strength. We try the hydro turbine which starts to surf behind us!

We perceive Spain mountains around 5PM, and even if we still got 50 miles before A Coruña, smiles are all over our faces!


We think that the feared Bay of Biscay was nice to us, but he has not said its last word.
Wind gets to 30 knots with gusts, and we decide to reef our mainsail. The maneuver will be sporty: we have to make almost a half turn to face the wind, with swell on our side. The three of us are on the deck, harnesses tied as usual, Oliver at the steer.

While turning, we hear a big smack. Oliver Yells: “we lost the rudder!”

All sails are quicly sets down, boat is drifting slowly to the North-West, in a strong sea and huge black clouds upwind. Hopefully the rudder is stille here, and it’s only the steel cable between the sterring wheel and the rudder that broke. We will make a quick fortune repair with a rope instead of the damaged cable. We hope it will hold for the remaining 25 miles to A Coruña: there is no closer shelter. We contact the closest MRCC (Marine Rescue Center Coordination) to inform them of our situation, in case it would get worse.

We are going slowly to A Couña, with half the Genoa, looking at a huge thunderstorm settling in right in front of us. We prefer not to think of what would happen if a lightning was to touch the mast…
The thunder, the rain, and unstable winds are playing with our nerves, switching between 20 knots North East to 5 knots South East to nothing a dozen times… We try to go as fast as possible without forcing on the wheel, using the engine and the sails. Every two hours, we get reassuring calls from A Coruña checking on our situation.


Once we have passed Cabo Prior lighthouse, the thunder goes away, just as the wind. Stress is comming off, but we still have 4 hours till the harbour. We are seriously tired, but it’s not the moment to go sleeping. A lot of fishing boats and getting in and out of the Ria, and shoals have to be avoided.

We finally get to A Coruña around 3:30 AM. We have sailed 371 miles since Pornic, in just a little less than 3 days. We are dirty, salty, tired, but glad to have finish our first step!

We will stay here a few days to rest and repair. Inès will meet us here on sunday.


Departure: Sunday April 19th, 6AM


Checklist :

– A repared boat

– Papers in order

– Fonctionnal prototypes

– Super motivated crew

– Food and drink stock at maximum capacity

– Nice weather forecast

Let’s go!


Bags being ready for a long time, we were just just waiting the right moment to set sail. Nothing better than a one night navigation trainig from Camoël to Pornic to check everyhting is allright! We left the Vilaine river after spending so much time there for a 12h step to Pornic, repeting different maneuvers, setting spinakers, crossing cargos, trying the berths for short naps, etc. It’ll be easier to leave the harbour with the Loire river strong current near Pornic, speeding us up around 2-3 knots. We checked the navigation system we prototyped, and everything is all right (follow our position here: ).

After a few calculations, the routings give us an ETA (estimate time of arrival) in A Coruña tuesday at noon, the forecast predicts good winds in the right directions, but also short waves with us, and a huge long swell in front of us, conditions no member of the crew ever experienced.


Delayed departure.

When shall we leave? If only we’d know, and it was depending of us…

Let’s sum up last month since we (first)launched Karukera.

Once the boat was afloat, serious matters begun! Moving in, we check the functionnement of every gear, put everything in place, once, twice, until we find the appropriate spot for everything (remember tetris)!

Unfortunately, after a few days we discover a small water infiltration near the engine shaft. An 80cm bronze tube (étambot in FR), allows the shaft to go trough the hull and turn at high speed without (suposeddly) letting water get inside the boat. Details are boring, just know that different pieces provides the system to be waterproof.

But we were taking water in, and even with a small debit, it was not very reassuring. Karukera had to be taken out of water, back to shipyard. We thaught the stern gland was the problem, and focused our repair on this system. And to do so, you need to remove the rudder and the engine shaft…

Dépose de l'arbre d'hélice

We use this time back to shipyard to improve the drum genoa system with our partner Jade Gréement!

Tout petit, vu d'ici !

Back to water a few days later, our mood breaks down when we see the water still coming in…

Finally after 3 times back to 2 different shipyards, a lot of different advices (mostly contradictory but always well-wishing) from all the Villaine mechanics, and a little levitation session for Karukera, the leak is finally repaired!

Karukera vole !

We also used this few weeks of delay to test the boat at sea, and with the engine. We were incredibely surprised how seaworthy the boat was even with 30 knots of wind established! This gave us energy to go trough our different problems!

But at least, after three weeks fixing technicals problems, we are still stuck for administrative problems. The boat papers still not arrived… So frustrating!

During those weeks we totally forgot to give news and are sorry for that! Computer and engine greease does’nt go along together so well! We’re finally ready to go, a month late but even more determined!