Days 89 and 90  Wednesday and Thursday, 24th and 25th August

Concarneau

When you haven’t got a telly, you have to rely on other yachties providing your entertainment. And they come up trumps every time: this time a yacht crashing into the small yacht they’re supposed to be mooring next to, and the skipper explaining to anyone who’ll listen that the wind just caught him and pushed him over. Nothing to do with the fact that he turned too late. Another skipper is hoisting his wife up the mast with no safety line, of course.

A charming man delivers the oil to the boat, asking about the make and I tell him all about how Malcolm made the boat himself from the basic Verl mouldings. Find the ‘laverie’ (launderette) near our hotel for tomorrow and Friday nights, Hotel des Halles. Get pretty soaked on the way back to the boat in a thunderstorm – haven’t had one of those so far on this trip. Malcolm changes the engine oil – a long and unpleasant task – whilst I sort out what to take home and what to leave for when we come back by car in October to winterise the boat. We’ve only got small carry-on bags for the flight on Saturday, so will take home all the sheets, towels, clothes, books, charts, etc. etc. on our next visit.

Eat up what’s left in the fridge for supper with a packet of Smash(!) which will be out of date next season and a tin of baked beans. Hardly cordon bleu! Go back to the Ville Close for a stroll and enjoy listening to a singing group, with a very slow French rendition of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’ called ‘Au pecheur’ in French.

Thursday dawns and final preps made for our lift-out at 11 am. Tentatively make our way to the other side of the channel to find the slipway, within a large partially used naval dockyard, only to see a tractor and submerged trailer in the water. There’s a man waving at us to move forward and the tractor driver is indicating which way to proceed with a luminous baton so we’re straight on the trailer. Not quite the boat lift we’ve been used to at Coates Marine in Whitby. However it works, we descend a ladder and are offered a lift in the van, following Lady Hamilton back to the yard along the road. Quite a surreal experience.

DSCF1546 (800x597)

Emmanuelle Beaumont is just as charming as Malcolm said she was. Nothing is too much trouble. The boat is cleaned with a high pressure hose and looks like new. The antifoul is cleaner than in Whitby – though a chap nearby shows us several boxes of mussels which have come off his boat!  Frank, the Technical Director, has put a flight of steps next to the boat – I feel like a princess.

DSCF1551 (800x597)

Back at the hotel we can’t have our room until 2 pm so take our picnic into the lovely wooded area inside the Ville Close . There’s a young chap playing the violin and Irish dancing – utterly brilliant.  Plan to have crepes for lunch tomorrow and oysters and ‘Moules frites’ for Malcolm and fish of the day for moi in the evening,all  in the Ville Close.  And the odd glass of wine, of course!

Friday will be our last chance to mop out the bilges, clean the fridge and the heads, take off the spray hood, the dodgers, the lifebouys and the fender socks and stow them below. After three months on board, it feels very emotional to be leaving her and in a strange port. The boat next door to Lady H is called ‘Friendship’ so we hope she won’t miss us too much.

So it’s ‘Au revoir’ from us until our next adventure.

DSCF1550 (800x590)

Advertisements

Day 88 Tuesday, 23rd August

Port Tudy, Ile de Groix to Concarneau

Help a French yacht to berth alongside just before leaving – more spaghetti, this time with knots in, and still not attached to the boat!

Today there are light easterly winds, almost directly behind us – 9 – 11 knots – so it’s a cruising chute day. We progress at a stately 4 knots and enjoy every minute as it’s our last sail of the season. We have done 1300 nautical miles (1500 miles) since leaving Whitby, and been to 38 ports, 35 of them new – and some quite challenging, both to plan for and to enter!

Talk about all we have to do in Concarneau to get the boat ready for her lift-out on Thursday, and try and rank our favourite ports and harbours. Malcolm is very proud of getting to La Rochelle, and also was very pleased we managed to get into Honfleur too. I loved Alderney, in spite of the bouncing buoy, and St. Martin de Re, of course. And the real highlight for us both was meeting up with our family in Camaret, Benodet, Port Crouesty and La Rochelle. Big thankyous to them for making it all happen so smoothly.

It’s extremely hot – and we frazzle without shade and little wind. I’m driven to do a little housework down below to escape from the sun: reflect that ‘Norlands’ will take slightly longer to clean from top to bottom than Lady Hamilton.

A couple of racing yachts are out from Concarneau to greet us on our way in.

DSCF1541 (800x597)

Arrive in Concarneau, our last port of call this season, and are shown to our free berth, courtesy of Pasco. Pasco’s are lifting us out on Thursday morning and putting Lady Hamilton in their yard for ‘l’hivernage’ (winter storage). We’ve been emailing Emmanuelle Beaumont about the arrangements over the past few weeks, since Malcolm visited the yard when we were in Benodet.

DSCF1542 (800x597)

The marina is just to the south of the ‘Ville Close’, a fortified island which dominates Concarneau. Reckon Vauban must have been here as well as there’s a Rue Vauban.

Get our bearings by taking a walk round town, including the beautifully preserved Ville Close, after supper on board.  Tomorrow is a sorting out day.  I’ve ordered some oil to be delivered to the boat in my best French so Malcolm can change the engine oil.  I will be on a mission to find the launderette.  All good things come to an end!

 

 

Day 87 Monday, 22nd August

Ile de Groix

Go to the local tourist office on the quayside and get a map of the island.  On the way up to Le Bourg, the capital, I couldn’t resist snapping this cinema, which is having a film festival of Scandinavian films, with its art deco facade.

DSCF1528 (800x597)

We walk to the other side, through Le Bourg, to Loc Maria, a tiny port on the other side to Port Tudy,  to view the anchorage recommended in the Pilot Book for next time. It’s a sleepy little place with a couple of cafes, one of which we patronise – Le Bateau Ivre (the drunk boat!) – where they charge us 5 euros for a glass of cordial and a glass of local coke.

DSCF1533 (800x547)

Le Bourg itself is, like St. Anne on Alderney, up a hill from the port and looks well-established and like a proper little town. Ferries bring visitors from L’Orient and Port Louis, and Ploemerl, to Port Tudy every day so the island is always buzzing with people on bikes, walkers and day trippers. There are 2,500 bikes for rental!! Bikes seem to take precedence over walkers every time: Malcolm is convinced we are going to be killed by one.

A very kind lady takes pity on us on the way back and offers a lift in her car. Whilst driving like a bat out of hell, narrowly avoiding the millions of cyclists and pedestrians, she regales us with the story of her Yorkshire friend who insisted she had to taste Yorkshire Pudding. I can’t say I remember the punch line as we were so relieved to be deposited in one piece at the quay!

After lunch on board, sheltering from the blazing sun under our umbrella, we embark on the sentier cotier (coastal footpath – no bikes allowed) to the best beach, Les Grands Sables, for a refreshing swim. This beach is a rare convex beach in Europe, and the only ‘vagabonde’ (moving) one with a ‘deplacement de 160m en 2 ans’. It does have very fine white sand and clear turquoise sea – very inviting for my last swim. There are lots of families with children still here – so my theory that they would all go home after the 15th August was quite erroneous. And loads of yachts and ribs, anchored off the beach, and sailing schools with lasers and jetskis. So not exactly a desert island type of beach today!

DSCF1539 (800x597)

Down to earth with a bang – have to go to the supermarket on the way back for the usual supplies, including wine. It was shut at lunchtime from 12.30 pm to 3 pm. I’ll never get used to the lunchtime closures. Pasta and homemade tomato and mushroom sauce with beefburgers for tea.

Finished my book, or should I say Sally Clowe’s copy of the French novel, ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ (or ‘L’elegance du herisson’) by Muriel Barbery. I have it in French on my Kindle but was struggling with the vocabulary and syntax, especially when reading late at night. That’s my excuse anyway. Now I’ve enjoyed it in English I’ll go back and try again. Whitby French Group and Bristol uni friends, hope you’re impressed! We’re having our 50th Reunion since starting uni together at the end of September – really looking forward to seeing everyone, but struggling with the 50 years bit!

Day 86 Sunday, 21 st August

Port Haliguen to Port Tudy, Ile de Groix

Our last island on this trip, the Ile de Groix is 9 miles off L’Orient where we stayed at Port Louis on the way down. Set off from Port Haliguen and round the tip of the Quiberon peninsula, the Pointe du Conguel, and past La Teigneuse lighthouse (not taking any of the inshore passages!).

DSCF1522 (800x597)

The swell is pretty impressive – teetering on the tops of waves and then disappearing into a hole. Very pleased to have a couple of quiches for lunch as didn’t have to make sandwiches down below. This is the Chateau Turpault at Port Maria, near Quiberon. Victorian fake and privately owned.

DSCF1525 (800x597)

We motor-sailed all day, beating into the 15k wind, until we came into the lee of the Ile de Groix and could switch off the engine and just sail. When we arrive in the port, we are offered a berth in the inner gated harbour, seen to the left on the photo below.DSCF1537 (800x597)

Ask the Capitainerie for the best restaurant for seafood and he recommends the ‘Pub de la Jetee’, which doesn’t sound very enticing at all. Anyway it turns out to be pretty good with oysters and duck for Malcolm and scallops and tuna for me. Went to bed at 11pm and woken by a live, loud band at 1.30 am. And then by shouting at 4 am. For an island the size of Alderney this one packs a punch.

Day 85 Saturday, 20th August

Port Haliguen

A busy day on our moorings so we never set off to walk the other half of the loop going northwards. It was very windy (which is why we stayed at Port Haliguen), a Westerly 18-24 knots in the sheltered harbour. A lifeboat appeared in the entrance, accompanying a yacht, which they moored with some difficulty next to us. Three lifeboatmen were on the yacht and then had to be transferred to the lifeboat. All good stuff! The lifeboat was from Arzon on the Vilaine, there’s only an inshore one here.

DSCF1516 (800x597)

 

Then a French yacht came in and wanted to raft against us. The Pilot Book does say ‘So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Rig no fenders, eschew springs, merely pass a fistful of warps coiled like spaghetti to anybody who will accept it (normally the inboard end will not be attached to anything). Retire down below to break out the Calva.’ So true. In this case Malcolm managed to catch the headrope but the guy throwing the sternline – an exceedingly long string of spaghetti – managed to throw it into the water so the boat quickly got blown off. Once again the girl in the dory from the Capitainerie nudged them back whilst he retrieved his line and I caught it. The French skipper said that it was always good to raft on an English boat as they knew what to do!! He also said that they’d only come in for half an hour, to collect some passengers. A girl with a large hard suitcase was waiting for them (and offered no help at all) which was then heaved over our deck and onto the waiting yacht. Trouble is that they stayed and stayed, which rather put us off going anywhere as they might have damaged our boat in departing.

I ended up going round to the Capitainerie to pay for another night and then having to walk into Quiberon to buy stamps from a tabac for our grandaughters’ birthday cards (about a 3 km round trip). The yacht had left by the time I returned with cakes for tea and a lime and coconut milk for our Thai green chicken curry for supper.

Next excitement: we are asked by a young man from the Capitainerie to move our boat (not for the first time) along the quay to allow for a 50’ yacht to berth. The wind has increased and it’s no mean feat to move our boat. All this is not good for my back! The new yacht is huge and makes all the same mistakes again – this time one girl seems to be on shore, single-handedly holding the boat, with seven others on deck.  Once again the dory comes to the rescue.  We do not offer to help this time!

DSCF1520 (800x597)

 

Day 84 Friday, 19th August

Port Haliguen

Rain all morning. We have been so lucky with the weather over the past 5 – 6 weeks. I do remember Crista Hewitt (‘Gallingale’, late of Whitby) telling me about their trip to Brittany (and further, to the Gironde) many years ago when it rained all the time. You just can’t dry anything on a boat. Steve and Crista now keep their boat up the Vilaine River – across the bay and round the corner from here. Steve sent us lots of useful information about where to go and good anchorages. We hope to meet up with them next year (we were too late this time) and also visit some of their recommendations. Next year the Golfe du Morbihan and the Vilaine River, across the Bay,  are definitely on our list of ‘must-dos’.

Our inextricable history with the French came home in Piriac when we were reading a plaque about the English occupying the Ile Dumet just off the coast. A Frenchman reading the same plaque said ‘What about Gibralter?’ inferring that we have possessions about which we are being queried today.

The Quiberon Peninsula, known as the ‘Presqu’ile de Quiberon’, is only 50 m wide in places, rather like Spurn Point. It’s always been strategically important: the English held it in 1746 for eight bloody days, Royalists landed here in 1795 in the hope of destroying the French Revolution only to be sealed in and slaughtered, and there are German fortifications left over from WW11, of course.

There are safe, sandy beaches on the Eastern side of the Baie de Quiberon but the rocky coast that faces the Atlantic is the Cote Sauvage, lashed by heavy seas. Took these pictures from the same place, facing northwards and almost at the most southern tip of the peninsula, of the west (left) and east coasts.

We walked from the marina right round the tip and watched a yacht coming through one of the more adventurous passages (there are three that don’t involve going south of ‘La Teigneuse’ lighthouse seen below). Different pilot books advise going through either at low tide (you can see all the rocks) or high tide (you can’t! – but there’s more water over them). Anyway, the skipper’s decision will be final. And the seabirds seem to be enjoying the sandbank at Springs.

DSCF1509 (800x598)

Cut back across from West to East via the supermarket. I’d bought a rare cauliflower in Piriac market and we really fancied cauliflower cheese with some tasty sausages. Not easy to find hard cheese, though. All came right in the end and we rather enjoyed a little taste of home for tea.

Day 83 Thursday, 18th August

Piriac-sur-Mer to Port Haliguen

Set off at 8.30 am and it’s very lumpy, although classed as ‘Slight’.  We crash and bang through the waves with the wind on the nose, wind WNW 12 – 22 knots, and no sails up. Too dangerous to go forward, unhook the main halyard and take the sail ties off. Definitely a Stugeron kind of day. As we plough our way across the Bay de Quiberon for four hours, which feels like wading through treacle, we change our minds about turning the corner after the end of the Quiberon Peninsula for Port Louis, L’Orient. It’s still another 4 hours further on and we’re concerned about my back holding up with all the jolts. So we head up to Port Haliguen, which is a marina just up from the tip of the peninsula on the eastern side. Meanwhile all the other yachts are having fun sailing in all directions but ours, which is wind on the nose.  Tied up by 2.30pm, although we needed help from a neighbouring boat and a nudge from the Capitainerie’s dory as the strong wind was blowing us off.

We are at the end of the pontoon – and pretty exposed!

DSCF1513 (760x800)

Port Haliguen is actually a marina built round an old fishing port again, so not as new and glitzy as Port Crouesty, its’ sister port to the East across the Bay. We are put on the Visiteurs quay in the middle of the marina, with a long walk to the Capitainerie. Still going up and down as I walk round to pay our dues, past a plaque which says Captain Dreyfus landed here when he returned from Devil’s Island. When I get back, I’m feeling really sleepy (must be the Stugeron) so crash out on the deck in the sunshine, sheltered from the  wind.

Statue on the old jetty dividing the modern marina.  We are on the other side of the jetty on the left of the picture.

DSCF1511 (800x597)

In the evening we look for a restaurant and find the ‘Creperie du Vieux Port’ which has a lush, green garden full of family parties. Malcolm has ‘soupe de poissons’ which is always accompanied by croutons, grated cheese and crème fraiche, and I have goat’s cheese salad. This is followed by two of the Breton traditional dishes offered by the restaurant:  a selection of smoked fish, black and red roe and a huge number of mini ‘galettes’ for Malcolm and two ‘Coquilles St. Jacques’ for me. All highly recommended!