Friday, July 31, 2009

did we deserve Le Pouldu ?

You have to deserve Le Pouldu as said Jean, Michel and Annika's friend and neighbor. I guess we did... On the river Laïta, which runs to Quimperlé, Le Pouldu is a very small harbor accessible only at high tide. Its chenal is narrow and shallow. On one side, the beach and rocks, on the other one a moving sand bar. Finistére on portside, Morbihan on starboard. At the village, a "deep water" chenal allows to moor boats on mooring balls, on line. It is a trap since we have to count on the tides to leave and also on good weather since waves can break on the bar at the entrance. We stay 4 days, 2 more than expected, but Michel and Annika make our stay the most agreadable inviting us in their nice home right on the cliff above the beach. We make some trips to Lorient during the interceltique festival, to Merrien and Doelan, two little harbors extremely charming at the mouth of small rivers. Everyone in Le Pouldu welcomes us warmly and that

compensated greatly the hardship of getting in and out of this tiny harbor...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Les Glénans

The sun shines, the sea is flat and pleasant but the air is still too cold for the season. We motor lazily(batterie charging, since the regulator for the solar panels is broken..) We anchor at Penfret the eastern island in a small nice anchorage near a white sand beach nested between rocks. The colorful little sails of the boat from the famous Glénans sailing school brighten the emerald clear water. We hike a long while on the tiny island gathering some shell fish for dinner and watching with dismay a canibal seagull eating alive

one of her own... Disturbing sight. Life and death go on even on this beautiful morning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

friends and plans....

Strong winds, and gust to 6 and rain keep us in harbor. It it not a weather to enjoy the islands of Glénans. Our friends from Falsterbo (Annika, swedish has a house in Höllviken) came to visit us. Michel, breton has a family house in Le Pouldu, not very far from Lorient. They drove us to Pont l'Abbé up river from Loctudy where the sun came back after our visit to the museum of the Pays Bigouden (the region around Pont l'Abbé). They invited us to visit them in Le Pouldu on the river Laita. It is a good refuge, but the entrance has to be managed at high water plus or minus one hour.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Raz de Sein, another famous rocky trap...

Neptune is on our side again... We spent two nice days in the beautiful Camaret at the extreme point of the Crozon Peninsula. We played tourists, hiking on the trails of the mighty cliff almost at the point of Penn hir, we went down a pristine beach borded by high cliff filled with mussels colonies at their bottom. To make the Raz, between the point of Brittany and the Islandof Sein, we have to depart at 11 am to be at slack water at the entrance. It is a very dangerous place, a string of rocks which extends for several miles. As a short cut, for smaller vessels, there is a passage which needs to be negociated carefully with the tides. We did well, because it was a very smooth passage close to the very impressive lighthouse "la Vieille". We continued toward Loctudy after passing the Pointe de Penmarc'h, turning East and having a wonderful ride under sail. The entrance at night in the small harbor of Loctudy is a challenge, but again, the tide was with us and after some stressful moment finding the right spot, we took a mooring buoy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The can be redoutable Chenal du Four

To reach the lighthouse of the Four at the entrance of the 12 miles chanel we have to arrive at slack to benefit from the change of tide. We leave Aber Wrac'h at the end of the high tide with a great blue sky and a bright if not warm sun at 9 am.

It is a noisy but peaceful trip under motor in the wide well marked chenal. We see Ouessant and Molène islands and we can have a test of its temperament when at St Mathieu Point, the water suddendly became very agressive. Short breaking waves tossed the boat around for 10 minutes, then calmed down again. No need for a storm to disturb those waters. a simple fresh wnnd against the tide can lead you in serious trouble.

A stop at Camaret at the tip of the Crozet peninsula is a perfect rest. We anchor in a fairly large bay in front of a Vauban fort, The Raz de Sein this second Breton Cap Horn is only 18 miles away. But we enjoy Camaret another day, hiking the hills toward the mighty rocks

Friday, July 24, 2009

Land of the Sea

The wind is favorable enough as the tide pushes us in the right direction. We sail and enjoy almost 5 hours of it close to the wind. We enter the very small entrance of Primel Tregastel where we moore at a visitor buoy. It is a fishing harbor mostly with a big wharf and a few buoys. It is absolutly pristine with its big sharp rocks guarding the entrance like knights in armour. We are in spring tides and magically the landscape

changes as the tide rises more than 32 feet !

We won't go on shore, as we leave early in the morning. We decide to go between Roscoff and Batz island through a narrow channel. Reed, the British nautical almanach fills us with cautions and advices almost scaring us to attempt anything out of the main chanels. But it is simple, straightforward as the chenal is well marked ant it is a pleasure to speed at 7 knots so close to this very cute island. We sail only for a too short time though, We have to motor to reach Aber Wrac'h before the reverse of tide. We decide to go through the chenal de la Malouine, one of the 3 which enter Aber in between rocks. This one is more direct for us, but according to Reed risky.Well, in fact there is no problems with good weather and visibility. not a big deal at all !! Aber Wrac'h is a very attractive place nested among green cliffs, oyster farms on either side showing only at low tide. We moor at a visitor buoy in front of a new marina and soon, despite of the still strong current of a spring tide, we row to shore. The coast of Brittany leaves with the rythm of the tides, landscape change every 6 hours, new colors, new odors. We come back from the village up hill with our newly bake bread, cheese and saucisson. The shorline has disapeared the water has risen more than 30 feet again. Strong winds are forecast for tomorrow, so we will stay in port.

I will sleep in Brittany tonight....

The trail of low pressure does not seem to slow down between. Between two, a weather window opens but the wind is still south west but light enough. We leave Guernsey for Perros Guirrec 50 miles south west. We have to motor more than we wish to reach the harbor before night. The weather welcoming me back to Brittany is typical : drizzle, low and perturbated grey skies. The sharp rocks which lay far into the sea rimind us constantly to be very careful with our navigation. We take a visitor buoy in the well protected anchorage behind the mighty Tomé island and in front of the green cliff of Pointe du Château. Without an outboard, rowing the dinghy is a challenge when negociating the tide and the wind. We are always too far from shore (tidal range). We manage it without any problem, Magnus loves to row ! Perros Guirrec is a charming village very Breton, with its sturdy granit houses with slates roofs adorned by big bushes of hortensia, our breton national flower. Tourism does not spoil the coast which is protected, no high building, no flashy hotels, the nature surrounding looks almost unspoiled in its raw beauty.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

a little taste of Guernsey

the marina at low tide
Up hill
Fort Cornet
St Peter from the anchorage

It was not our primary choice to stop at Guernsey, and surely not to stay at the marina. But Eole decided for us again. A train of low pressure front and a specially vicious one which lingers north of us bring some contrary winds. The anchorage was untenable and we decided to move to the marina. Every 6 hours, the tides allow the entrance through a sill. It is full season, a lot of boats come in and out. Although despite the crampy feeling everything goes smooth, quietly and evenings and nights are quiet.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The tides decided for us.....

A low pressure stole our nice high while we were around playing on land.... We waited for the return of favorable winds at Wight at anchor. We were far enough from shore (tides oblige..) that it was impossible to row the dinghy against the tides. A west-north west wind do not incite us to go on along the South UK coast. But we felt restless, and decided to go South, toward the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy, instead of jumping south from a more western point in UK.

A fresh breeze gives us a nice and fast crossing in a Channel not at all as busy as everyone says... Though it is spring tides (full moon) and as we arrive toward the coast to Cherbourg a strong tidal stream stop us. Running the engine, we gain only 1 or 2 knots for several hours. The wind is against us also of course... At the change of the tide, we gain 3 to 4 knots in the right direction and we decide to forget a night arrival in Cherbourg. Instead we keep going west riding the tide and taking advantage of the strong tidal stream along the coast. After a rought night motoring tide against wind in a confused sea we arrive in view of Guernsey which seems very appealing. With the tide on our side, we anchor in St Peter. We have learnt a lessons : never under estimate the power of tides in the region which with New Foundland has the most tidal amplitude.. Avoid having them against you that is all !

Friday, July 3, 2009

Portsmouth and the heart of England

Our young friends, Dave and Jennifer invited us to spend 2 days where Jenny lives in Whalybridge, 400 kms north of Portmouth, close to Manchester. This trip gives us a good glimpse at the ever traditional and tamed British countryside. It is lovely and very green with rolling smooth hills and winding countryroads lined with stone walls. The villages are tidy with flowery gardens and well kept houses which reveal the love of cosy indoor life the British have.

An evening stroll under the moon to the local country pub was the finale after a nice barbecue dinner with our friends. They took us along a wooded path which like in the best novels followed an old cemetery lighted by a bright moon. The air was heavy with the smell of wet grass after the afternoon heavy showers. The 30 minutes stroll put us in a perfect mood for some good ale at the Shady Oak, the old traditional country pub. At 1 o'clock, when we left the still busy place, it was pitch dark. No flashlights, who needs any when our guide has a superb night vision and leaded us hand in hand through a short cut of the already short cut... crossing fences

, down a creek, following a muddy path. Completely blind, we staggered down the path admiring stars and feeling exhalirated by this little adventurous episode in the tame


We returned to Portsmouth via Stonehenge, this magic place, cousin of the Carnac standing stones field in Brittany which I know very well. Although, as the latest, we cannot approach the stones, I felt the same power and mystery of a unknown past when those same hills were still wild. I would have loved to touch those big erected stones for ever witnesses of century of mankind who across time have always admire and worship them.