Work the gravy train

Many headlands offer an hour’s ‘free tide’ on an inshore eddy just before the main turn, but when it comes to serious corners such as Lands End, Dover Strait or the Chenal du Four, a veritable gravy train may be up for grabs from the stream. Here’s a classic example:

A 40-footer with a southerly wind can leave the marina at Brest 2½ hours before low water and drop down the 15 miles to Pte de St Mathieu on the last of the ebb. Here, she picks up the first of the north-going tide to sweep her up the twenty or so miles of the Chenal du Four just in time to grab the early east-going eddy inshore at Portsall. If she presses on with a big tide under her, she can then carry the main flood for almost 7 hours. This gets her nearly to Trébeurden, the best part of another 50 miles on, with an hour to spare before the sill flops shut. What a day!