Thursday, August 27, 2009

open ocean

a last treat, some wild oysters we picked up, a last taste of Brittany, wild and salty..

A good weather window cannot be missed, northerly winds coming with a good old high pressure are here to stay a few days. We leave for 286 miles of open water crossing the Bay of Biscay which have its reputation.... But the odds are good, and a "jolie brise" takes us at a fast pace away from the continental shelf. Röde Orm rides the swell and offer us a smooth rides over a force 4 to 5 beaufort almost close hauled for a while. The movement of the boat are astonishly comfortable considering the agitated sea, and the spray over its deck seldom. The wind is agreeable this time, and a soon north westerly then north wind settled under a starry sky. It even became force 6 as we approach the spanish coast, forcing us to take 2 reefs, just to slow down trying to avoid a night arrival. The boat keeps a good speed, and we have to face a night approach. Ria de Ribadeo has an easy entrance and with the help of GPS, and radar, we soon are anchored in a little bay, which protect us from the heavy swell than can develop on this coast. At 4 o'clock, tired but happy, we secure everything for the night and just drop to bed, having just guest the surroundings by its shadowy contours.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Belle Ile, our last taste of Brittany

Higher, mighter, Belle île (the beautiful island) stands between the mighty Atlantic and the Brittany coast to protect her from the big swells. With westerly winds, there is some anchorages along the leeward side. There is always a little cove of golden sand accessible by dinghy and the coastal path which runs all around the island on top of the cliff, has access to allow us to go to Le Palais, the main harbor, 3 kilometers away. We rent some bicycles. I have bicycled already once during a few days all over the island, but I never get tired of it, enjoying every little hamlets, wild fields and wooded valleys. The island itself smells of wild flowers, of tides, it tastes of salt, of raw oyster. its micro climate allows some very mixed vegetation unknown elsewhere. Its wild coast surrenders to the Ocean which keeps beating her, shaping her, the mighty cliffs hide some tremendous caves where the waves crashes like geysers, exploding in a tremendous thunder roar. As we come back to the boat at dusk after a wonderful day and a good pizza in town, a very hidden wish come back from the secret part of my mind, a forgotten desire, an unaccessible dream. To own a tiny little granit house where I could come back to for a while, to feel, to smell, to taste Brittany, to enjoy the ocean from a base, still surrounded by the Ocean which have carried me away so many time. A so well known melancholy and nostalgia have woken up those last weeks in Brittany. But it is here in Belle île at the eve of departing for Spain, that I feel it to an extent I never felt before. So long Belle île, Kenavo Houat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

off to the islands

The peaceful pace of the river bewitched us a little and almost reluctantly we got ready to pull up the anchor after a full week dedicated to some little projects, purchasing of some stuff at the two chandleries and have even a repair done on the bow roller. La Vilaine wanted us to stay longer too as a thick fog surprises us the early morning of our departure. We almost missed the 8 o'clock opening of the lock waiting for the fog to lift. But the boat make up the decision for us. As we pull up half of the chain, we realize there is no hope to see anything for a while, so we abort everything and as the water is so still do not bother to add more chain,. Nothing to do but go back to bed for a while.... As I check for some break in the sky, I realize that Röde Orm despite the perfect stillness has drifted gently toward the shore. A pale light gives us some hope, and we decide to go, following the other boats in front of us in the lock. The fog lift at the approach of the sea and a splendid weather smiles on us, sunny, warm, but very calm. A very slight breeze encourages the captain to hoist his spinnaker, he had done it just once before ! It is a good exercice, even if it last a too short moment. Very soon the bright sail hangs shamefully, as a bed sheet on a drying line....
Houat, the little island south of Belle île offers one of its beautiful anchorage to us, but also to 60 or more other boats on this beautiful sunday.... Most of them will go back to the main land in the evening. Houat (the duck) has kept all her charm and it is a privileged place with its little carless village. An out of time place, untouched even if tourism takes over during 2 months of the year. I had loved this island at first sight 30 years or so ago. I came back several times and found always the same attraction. And as if I had lived here in a former life, I feel attracted by the island, wishing to stay for a season, for even a full winter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

in land Brittany, always close to water

We spent 3 days, in Rezé my home town enjoying life, good food, good wine and family..And then, without any break, we went right to my cousin's Creperie "la Gavotte" on the Nantes to Brest Canal (Quily, close to le Roc St André) and enjoy more food and family. I had promise Magnus the best galettes in the world, done the traditional way with a Sarrazin flour milled the old fashion way. And do not forget the artisanal cider, brut and smooth. The deep Bretagne is there, along the canal with its little village, granit, flowers and water, and what more, even the sun is there !

Roc St André on the canal Nantes-Brest

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Toward la Vilaine (the ugly), though beautiful river

Here you have to deal and cooperate with the sea and the weather. It has been too early to leave with the tide in the morning to deal the treacheous chenal in the dark and too late in the afternoon to go somewhere before dark. So today, we got up at 5 waiting for day light to leave before the tide turns again. Soon we can leave safely to avoid the sand bar and to be able to see the chenal. The long westely swell welcoms us, but the wind is in vacation too.... We motor the 40 miles to the entrance of the Vilaine River to Arzal where we pass through the lock. Up the lock, the river is domesticated and not affected by the tides. It is wide and deep and we can anchor in very nice and peaceful little place along the sides. La Roche Bernard, 3 miles and a half up river is a very nice little town which has kept all her originality when in the 16th century, this harbor on the river was a very busy building ships for the East Indies Company. It is where we will meet my parents.