Altwasser sailing diary

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Brest to Vannes
June 24th – July 1st 2003. 170 nautical miles.

After almost a week cruising in the Rade de Brest followed by a week back in the UK, Bingo commenced cruising with a crew enhanced by Ben and Ruth.

Tuesday 24th June. Brest to Morgat.
Early morning jogging with Ruth revealed equality in the unfitness stakes, but within 15 minutes of leaving Brest marina, the youthful crew showed their colours by flying the cruising chute. We passed two large naval vessels, wondering what exercise could require them to hold a course at a mere 2 knots until we saw the fishing lines trolling from the stern. The narrow Chenal de Toulinguet defeated initial attempts at identification: “Do we really have to thread between those rocks?” When the wind, and our speed dropped, we followed French naval practice and celebrated the hooking of our first ever mackerel. The final run up the Baie de Douarnez was a tack into an increasing Nwesterly that reminded us all what can and cannot be done at 30 degrees to the vertical, such as waiting until tea had just been poured and then “ready about”.

Wednesday 25th June. Morgat to Benodet.

As the Chenal du Four further north, the Raz de Sein channel between the Ile de Sein and Pointe de Raz has a reputation that has been enhanced by posters of La Vielle lighthouse in a large swell and strong wind against tide. We “did the Raz” with light winds and gentle neap tidal streams behind us. In Benodet we fixed the fridge, de-stained the decks, munched the mackerel and jogged the jardin-like pathway overlooking the Odet estuary. Bingo was honoured by the company of two other Feelings of the same vintage.

Friday 27th June. Benodet to Lomener.

After several hours with the chute flying and much debate over the merits of Iles Glennan and Ile de Groix, we finally opted for a mainland mooring, bobbing up and down a few yards from the small holiday resort beach at Lomener. The gentle rocking didn’t improve everyone’s sleep, the need to dinghy ashore and associated splashing of the anatomical parts nearest the water didn’t suit everyone either, but climbing the rocks at sunset and exploring the crab pools at low-tide was to all our likings.

Saturday 28th June. Lomener to Le Palais and Crouesty.
Le Palais on Belle Ile promised an alongside berth (no rocking, no dinghy-ing) an attractive fortified town and a “Belle” Island. We timed our landfall to meet the lock opening times and, after consulting the dictionary, added a new word to our French vocabulary. “Greve”, written in red by hand through the weekend lock opening table means “strike” and whatever French we may have uttered and asked to be excused, the lock was not going to open. The tide was falling, the outer harbour full and so we set off west for a further three hours, poured over charts and pilot books and poured an early evening drink. Crouesty on the edge of the Morbihan offered visitor’s berths, restaurants, shops, a local village musical festival and showers without time a limit. What more could we ask for?

Sunday 29th June. Crouesty to the Golfe du Morbihan and Vannes

With bad weather forecast to move north through Brittany, we headed for Vannes. The Baie de Quiberon is protected from the Biscay by a large peninsular and several islands. Inside, the Golfe du Morbihan offers further protection for 50 square miles of water and 60 islands. We spent time on an island beach and then on to the central harbour of Vannes. The city offered narrow cobbled streets overlooked by wooden beamed houses from the middle ages, a sixteenth century cathedral, remains of a city wall, elegant shopping, a fresh fish market, an internet café and unlimited showers. With laundry drying on the guard-rails we are starting to feel like live-aboards. In Vannes we were very pleased to learn that Ben gained a First in his second year at Bristol. Ben and Ruth return on July 1st.