Summer Cruise 2006

Leg 2  - Penzance to Concarneau

Weather, ‘Scorchio!’

I imagine your all having this fabulous weather. For us it’s been a welcome start to the trip. The sun awning is up and working, and breakfast, lunch and supper have all been eaten al-fresco.

 We left Penzance with the promise of a N’Westerly force 4 to 5, an ideal wind for us to cross the channel. Sadly, it never appeared and we had to motorsail almost all the way. With the engine off we barely made 2-3 knots in the light westerlies, but with the engine just ticking over we romped along at 5-6 knots and made excellent time across to France.

Unfortunately, we arrived too early, and had to spend a couple of hours sailing up and down off the north coast of ‘Ushant’ before the sun came up and the tide turned in our favour.

Having been squeezed out the bottom of the strongly tidal ‘Chenal-du-four’, it was the ‘home stretch’ and we romped along under sail at 7 knots with the wind on the beam heading for ‘Cameret’.

As always, ‘Cameret’ was welcoming and unchanged. We picked up a mooring in the harbour and fell into our ‘pits’, having had little sleep overnight.

We awoke around 4.00pm, but though the sun was shining, a strong northerly wind was blowing, which meant it was difficult to get ashore. Sadly supper at ‘Chez Jack’ was not to be, so we settled for a more mundane ‘tuna bake’ cooked aboard.

Next morning things were looking up. The wind was easing, and sun still shining, so it was into the shorts and ashore. We did all those things you have to do. A coffee and croissant, a lunchtime ‘bier’ and a meal ashore in the ‘Hotel Styvel’ which by chance we had with ‘le sapeur pompiers’ (local fire brigade), as there appeared to be a heath fire on the cliffs.

We enjoyed a cracking walk to the local beach, where Sue sat and sunned herself while I painted the first of hopefully many watercolours.

After a couple of days in ‘Cameret’, it was time for a change so we headed east into an area called the ‘Rade du Brest’. A wonderful inland sea entered through a narrow entrance. This is the home of the French Navy, and we saw many military ships and installations. However, despite the military presence, it is a lovely sailing area with many bays and anchorages.

Our first night found us anchored in ‘Anse l’aubelach’, a tiny hamlet with only a bar and post-box (what more do you need!) We were also surprised to find another familiar English yacht at anchor. We last met ‘Ocean Goose’ in Scotland, and it was good to catch up with Graeme and Katy and hear all their news.

By now the weather was getting very hot, and with light sea breezes, we felt we had finally arrived in a sailors paradise.

After a couple of days at anchor, we spent a few happy hours motoring up the river l’aulne. This is a fabulous navigable river at the eastern end of the ‘rade’. We passed through gently rolling hills, and then as the river closed in, we found ourselves surrounded by reed beds. We spotted a strange river mammal that looked like a cross between a beaver and otter. In French it’s called a ‘Ragolin’, we’ve yet to find its English name.

After 15 miles, we finally arrived at the lock at ‘Guilly Gaz’, and having bribed the lock keeper with my last bottle of ‘Old Speckled Hen’, we locked into the canal and tied ourselves to the long grassy quay at ‘Port Launay’.

This beautiful village has little to offer but a ‘pattiserrie’, Bar and water from a tap, its a very lovely spot.

Later that day, we unstowed our folding bikes and pedalled the 3 kms up the canal path to the market town of ‘Chateaulin’. Here we found a large supermarket, indoor market with incredible fish and vegetables, plentiful bars and restaurants and even free internet access at the local library.

Stocked up with food, we wobbled our way back to the boat.

As the bikes were out, we thought we’d best get some exercise and decided to pedal out of town by the river. This ended us a beautiful ride, as the track runs for 350 kms into the heart of Brittany. Of course we didn’t do it all, but we just kept going, wanting to see what was round the next corner. It was only after 25kms we realised there was no habitation and we only had one apple a-piece. So after a very brief refreshment stop we turned around and cycled the other 25kms home!

The current heat has dramatically changed our days. We get up late, breakfast in the cockpit then try and do ‘useful’ stuff before 2.00pm. Then we really have to take it easy, reading books and relaxing. It doesn’t become bearable until 6.00pm. Supper gets eaten a lot later at 9.00ish.

I find it hard to believe we’re only 100 miles from home, but I guess your all having exceptional weather as well.

Tomorrow we head back out of the ‘Rade’ and will start to head ourselves south. Just hope it doesn’t get any hotter!

13th June 2006

‘Wi-Fi’ eludes us, but we’ve just found an Internet Café in the lovely old town of ‘concarneau’, so I’m bringing this up to date to send.

We left the Rade de Brest, setting back out to sea, and through our final major tidal gate the ‘Raz du Sein. This narrow gap is sandwiched between the mainland and the Isle du sein, a small-inhabited island reminiscent of the Scillies.

The tides rushes thru up to 7 knots, but we went through on slack water at neaps and it was a ‘pussy cat’! Anchored overnight at St Evette. A good stopping off place, but offering little in the way of facilities, though the town of Audierne is only a couple of miles away.

Next day was a bit of a shock as the wind whipped up to a strong SE’ly, and we beat our way across a nasty sea around the Pt du Penmarche. After 3 hours of bouncing, the wind suddenly dropped to nothing and all was calm and tranquil (apart from the engine going on!).

Spent a couple of nights in Loctudy, it’s a cross between a fishing harbour and marina. It’s a down to earth sort of place with a fabulous fish market each evening. We treated ourselves to a meal out (Moule frite of course), and bought some Red mullet and Crabs claws for the next couple of days.

Feeling the slight pinch for having to pay mooring fees at Loctudy we headed across the bay to the Odet River. Deemed to be the most attractive river in Brittany it winds some 12 miles or so up to the large city of Quimper.

It certainly was beautiful, and having sailed up past the busy yachting centre of Benodet and under the motorway bridge we found a quiet anchorage just tucked out of the main river and away from the tidal stream. Here we spent 2 tranquil days.

Sue was getting twitchy for exercise, so finally I relinquished and let her pump up the ‘tubbies’ (our inflatable canoes). We paddled up the river passing numerous ‘Chateaus’ with glorious manicured gardens. Finally, when we realised the tide was quite strong, we turned and fought back downstream to the boat.

Unfortunately, the weather finally broke in the Odet River and we woke up one morning to find no blue sky and sunshine. It was quite a shock! – It even deigned to rain on us, though at least that cleaned the salt from the decks and windows.

We now find ourselves in the 14th century town of ‘Concarneau’. The marina is in the centre of the town, and is looked over by the ancient walled citadel. This is a tiny maze of back streets, shops and restaurants. A lovely place to wander in the evenings, and all lit up after dark.

We’ve filled our water tanks, washed bedding and clothes, changed the Gas and done a mammoth shop. We’re already set for a few more delightful anchorages as we set sail south from here.

The weather remains settled with light northerly winds and the sun keeps showing itself. Its not as hot as it was, but still warm enough to live in shorts and sit out at night.

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