Brittany and summer cruising.
Cruising is now quite relaxed as we have 2 months before we are due back in the
Port Haliguen (14th June, 18 Miles from La Palais.)
Janet was almost tearing here hair out due to the black oily smuts we received daily as the ferries started up at 0700. They spread if we tried to clean them and if they were in the textured deck they were the very devil to remove. Roll on shore power, hot soapy water and loads of it.
The Passage to Port Haliguen. We had little wind and a flat sea so we didn't bother with sails. We expected some adverse tide, maybe 3 knots, as we rounded the end of the Quiberon peninsular but as it would only be for a couple of miles we were blasť about it. In the event we never saw more than half a knot against us. A puzzle that one. If I remember I'll recheck the tide tables as we need to get it right when we go North through the Raz de Seine. Most probably I've an hour adrift somewhere.
The pilot books seemed to have little good to say about the place but as the marina had allowed us to pay when we were leaving, we said we'd give the place a try for as long as we were entertained. And we had a great time, for 8 days. Well, a great time after we had spent the whole of the first day scrubbing the deck clean and then polishing it. Its nice to see Ruby looking good again though. This lovely Rock Pippet then spent 8 days crapping all over us.
The Quiberon peninsular is about 12 Km long, 4 Km at its widest and narrowing to about 100m in the North where it joins the mainland. In the South is the town of Quiberon, its only about 2.5 Km from the marina and so our first target. 2 minutes into the journey, naturally on our Bromptons, we passed the first supermarche (Casino) and we were amused as we had read it was a serious walk from the marina, for slobs and the infirm maybe. The town is very commercialised and so has everything the holiday maker would want, and all of the usual expensive boutiques of course. Actually, its clean and neat and, being still out of season, it was pleasantly quiet. The Office de Tourisme was our first call to collect maps and brochures thus allowing us to plan our week. Janet soon discovered that the peninsular had a cycleway around the southern end and a track from North to South. We returned to the marina via the southern coastal route, about 6 Km. There we planned to tour the "island" the following day.
Quiberon Peninsular Tour (18th Jun, 48 Km by Brompton)
The cycle path started at the south-western-most tip of the peninsular and wound its way through Kervozes, Manemour, Kergallo, Kerhihuel, Kergalo and Kernavest. Then, having missed a turn, we backtracked and found Kerne and the path through Kerniscob, Kervivan to St Pierre Quiberon and lunch. All very pretty villages, with interesting stone houses and beautiful flower filled gardens. Following lunch it was Kerdenvel, Kergroix, Pontivy and Kerhosin in the North. Most likely, by this time, we had the full suite of Kers.
On our way back we stopped at Pontivy for a coffee and watched the craft bobbing in the tiny harbour. We also checked the map and found that the coast road looked interesting, and indeed it was. It was certainly not a short cut as the road followed the coast as best it could; up hill, down hill, east round a bay and west back to the sea, but it was so quiet that we rode side by side much of the way. Back in town Janet decided that the long cut was appropriate and so we went back along the southern shore road. Almost 50 Km in total.
Disappointingly, we never did get to see the fish canning factory, perhaps that would have been a sardine too far.
The racing fleet of 40 Figaro One Designs about 1 mile offshore. (3 shots stitched together)
On maybe our third day in the marina we visited the racing Figaro fleet, these are 32 ft racing One Designs from Beneteau, and we went aboard the Agir sponsored boat. For all the world it was an Open 60 in miniature, water ballasted and more bits of string than I could name with any certainty. They raced out in the bay over the following 4 days and were quite a spectacle, sadly though, too far out for any details to be evident to us. We managed a few photo's as they crossed finishing line just outside the harbour. The single handed skipper of the Agir boat was 22 years old, came 17th over all and won the best newcomer title.
Carnac 20th June (15 Km by bus from Quiberon)
A day of luxury, travel and sightseeing without exerting ourselves. 1100 saw us sat in the centre of Carnac with coffee and cakes, elevenses I suppose and browsing the maps from the Office de Tourisme. Our plan was then to walk North a few Km to the Alignment de Menec.
The Alignment de Menec is one of 3 sites in Brittany where huge quantities of standing stones can be seen. About 4000 standing stones, ranging between 1m and 5m high, stretch over 4 Km from Menec. Positioned here between 5000 BC and 2000 BC and our guide book says, "they are a serious contribution to our understanding of Neolithic culture". I struggle with that statement, what do we thus understand? And a real gob smacker is that one stone, too far for us to walk to and, sadly now broken, was 20 m tall and weighed 280 tons. As late as 2000 BC in Northern France who the heck organised 4000 stones, all graded in height, and then positioned in lines over 4 Km's long? Where did they find the stones? In the forests, because I believe it was all forested then? And how did they move 280 tons of boulder? Maybe Harken pulley blocks and Dyneema ropes are older than yachting publications would have us believe. Personally I think this is evidence of extra terrestrials having a bit of a lark.
Concarneau (21st June, 50 miles from Port Haliguen)
Criterion now seems to be value for money so Concarneau, already cheap per day, offering 2 free following 5 payed for, is our destination. We'd been here 3 weeks earlier with Sapphire Voyager but had still not tired of the place, in fact, we chose the revisit as we felt there might be more to see, and we were correct.
The Passage to Concarneau. We motored South to round the tip of Quiberon but once we pointed North-ish it was clear the wind was insufficient to drive us 50 miles before the evening, so the engine remained on. It was a pleasant day, brightened by the passing of about 12 racing yachts, and boy did they look good. They were beating so had loadsa wind.
The passage took 8 hrs and we were pleased to find a free berth on the breakwater pontoon
Chateau de Keriolet (26th June, 15 minutes walk from Concarneau)
This is the 18th century chateau cum castle de Keriolet, originally home to the Russian imperial Princess Zenaide Narishkine Youssoupov. Ruined in the 1987 storm, and near derelict, but slowly being restored to its former glory. Its perhaps a 20 minute walk from the marina and very well worth the small exertion. The tour is multi lingual, yeah right; OK its in French but English questions are answered in English and a printed description is in English.
The princess has turned a chateau, via numerous additions, into a sort of castle, certainly from the rear it is. The quality and intricacy of the granite work is stupendous, and from all angles. Its perhaps sad that a French version of "The National Trust" cannot buy it because the restoration is clearly hampered by lack of funds. Fortunately the roof is now renewed so the rot is halted. A gallery of photo's can be seen via the button, right. If you are in Concarneau go see it, you'll be impressed.
Audierne (30th June, 42 miles from Concarneau)
W e've had a great time in Concarneau but it was now time to make progress North.
The Passage to Audierne. We motored out at almost exactly LW without problem, then down the hydrocarbon tankers route through the Glenans. The picture her is of the anchorage beside the most northerly of the islands. Then it was a further 20 miles before we rounded Pointe du Penmarch, with its two lighthouses and a control tower. Then it was direct to Audierne. We disagreed as to the route into the moorings, Janet favouring the longer but more cautious route in, whereas I favoured the more direct route. Whatever, we grabbed a mooring and we were snug for the night.
Funnily, everyone who has ever taken a mooring will recall how close the other boats were. Luckily either the tide or the wind lines everyone up and all swing merrily, equidistant to one another. But if the wind fails and the tide has no effect then what? Well, it was chaotic, boats were fendered to glory be, night watches were set as boats rested against one another. We realised bumping might occur but at such low speeds we could ignore it; so we went to bed. We slept well and left at 0900 heading for the Raz.
Cameret (1st July, 27 miles from Audierne)
The Passage to Cameret We could see 5 boats ahead, all heading for the Raz du Seine, all motoring, all with just a main sail. Our speed was about 6 knots and it seemed everyone else was doing 5 knots, we therefore found ourselves in front as we approached the Raz. The tide was already setting strongly to the North and so pushing us towards Le Plate, the southerly Raz entrance buoy, we therefore turned more westerly to gain a better entry to the race. Behind us 5 boats were in perfect alignment, perfectly aligned behind us intent on following our every move. We motored through the Raz with 2.5 knots of tide with us and a benign sea, sad that we could not sail through. Next time maybe.
2 hours later we picked up a mooring in the outer harbour of Camaret; pleased to be through the first of the major tidal gates this area offers. Next would be the Chanel du Four.
Camaret is a nice little town, nothing splendid, nothing exceptional its just nice everywhere, and its just as well because 10 days of strong winds kept us from heading North up the Chanel du Four.
The whole coastline of the Rade do Brest has been heavily fortified for centuries. Whilst WW2 gave rise to lots of concrete gun emplacements its the older ones which, although they were built for the same purpose, do seem more acceptable to us nowadays. Left is a photo of another Vauban tower, this one overlooking the marina and right is a WW2 fortification: funny how the former seems acceptable whilst even Jurgen from Kiel in Germany saw little to recommend the latter.
Whilst we enjoyed the cycling around the villages, often seeing 50 Km on our odometer by the time we returned, it was the Brest 2008 Festival of old vessels that we enjoyed most. A cracker from the ferry ride to Brest onwards. Click the camera right and see how our day panned out.