Day 4 Saturday, 27th May
Seems to take ages to get into the groove of the Blog. This morning I manage, with good wifi, to send an email out to the rest of my email contacts about the Blog. Thank you very much to those who have replied by email – two from Australia – and those who’ve posted comments. It’s wonderful to know that it’s worth writing!
Picnic lunch on board and then a dash to the ferry to cross the estuary where the WWII submarine pens are to be found. Half an hour walk round the fish dock to the museum, only to be told by a French couple that the guided tour of the pens is full – which is confirmed inside. We can’t come back tomorrow as the ferry doesn’t run here on Sundays, only to the centre of L’Orient. Instead we walk round the back of the huge edifice – it housed 6 U-boats and was built to withstand bombing by the Allies – and manage to sneak a look inside pen F. We also passed a couple of dry docks too, for servicing/repairing the submarines.
The Cite de la Voile – of which the submarines are now a part – gave various options (all expensive) for giving you the experience of sailing. Decided we didn’t need any more experience!
Hiked back to the ferry and went up to the old town to buy supplies, including bags of wine which are just right for the boat says Malcolm. I couldn’t resist my first religeuse of the season either at the Boulangerie/Patisserie.
Supper outside on our new folding picnic table and then a film before bed. Not sure ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ will lead to sweet dreams??
Day 3 Friday, 26th May 2017
Concarneau to Port Louis (L’Orient)
Our intention this year is to head South initially to visit the Golfe du Morbihan which we couldn’t do last year as it was Spring tides when we were in Port Crouesty. We also want to visit the Vilaine River, a popular cruising ground with British sailors, and Belle Isle and the two smaller islands close by. After that we’re turning round and heading up North, visiting places we haven’t visited before and hoping to do more islands and anchorages in Brittany. We’ll go to Guernsey this time and Le Havre, and hope to visit the WW1 cemetries and museums in Belgium too. Our eventual aim is to take the boat to Dordrecht in Holland where we’re going to leave it over the winter, before setting sail through Holland by the ‘up-mast’ route, through the Kiel Canal and into the Baltic. Watch this space!
We depart Concarneau at 10.15 a.m. (me getting slightly distracted by the outdoor market on the way to buy bread and milk). A beautiful day again and a SE by E breeze of 9k so put up the sails and make stately progress close-hauled. Just off the Iles de Glenan (south of Concarneau) we saw a single short-beaked common dolphin but were joined a couple of hours later by a pod of ten, swimming with and under the boat for a quarter of an hour – I even heard one squeak, as if they were trying to communicate with us!
The wind increased to 13k and we sped along at 5.5 k, past the Glenans which are a very popular destination for yachts and all types of pleasure craft. A French couple established a sailing school here in 1946 to reintegrate young people who’d fought in the Resistance into civilian life. Nowadays students still come to develop self-reliance and social skills through the communal activity of sailing. That’s why so many young people were going out on charter yachts from Concarneau.
About 4 p.m. we arrived in the wind shadow of the Ile de Groix (our last port of call before Concarneau in August last year) so had to put the engine on. Arrived in Port Louis at 6.15 p.m. to find the capitainerie closed so no wifi but the cleaner gave me the code for the loo and shower. Exhausted after our first day’s sail, we head up to ‘Il Pirata’ for great pizzas. Last year we met Mick and Anne-Marie Bond (‘Fleur of Pendle’) here and it seems strange to have no friends waving us in and inviting us for drinks on board. We’re missing you! (NB They have a great blog – fleurofpendle.blogspot.co.uk – and are now doing what we hope to do next year.)
Day 2 Thursday, 25th May 2017
Today is Ascension Day, a bank holiday in France, and tomorrow is a ‘jour de pont’ which means a bridging day between the bank holiday and the weekend. The world and his dog are out and about and the charter boats are filling up with groups of young people, laden down with boxes of groceries and boxes of wine. We carry on with our jobs – including sorting the mainsail out and putting on the genoa, rather important parts of a sailing boat. Malcolm keeps disappearing from view into the very deep sail locker and handing up jugs of diesel. He keeps cursing about the boat design (he designed it himself!) and how difficult it is to manoeuvre down there.
We have promised ourselves a visit to the Musee de la Peche in the Ville Close this afternoon as we’re leaving Concarneau tomorrow. The museum is very extensive with displays on everything to do with fishing. There are models of Concarneau, including one dated 1966 which has loads of tiny model fishing boats – just like all the ports we’ve been too which are now filled with plastic yachts. The huge fish quay in Concarneau did remind us of Kinlochbervie in Scotland, which experienced a boom in the sixties and seventies, now with only a couple of fishing boats moored alongside. The ‘Hemerica’, a side-trawl fishing boat, is moored at the museum’s pier and is an immersion into the daily life of the sailors, from their living quarters to the fish hold. Think this would be a good tourist attraction in Whitby too!
Day 1, Wednesday 24th May 2017
At last, we are ‘mise en l’eau’! We arrived on Sunday in Quimper on a flight from London City Airport and had to stay in Quimper as there were no buses to Concarneau on a Sunday. After checking into our hotel near the Ville Close for a couple of nights, we got the little ferry over to the shipyard area and I polished the shiny parts of the deck whilst Malcolm serviced the engine. So many jobs to do and this is even after we’d come out in the car a couple of weeks ago and antifouled and polished the hull. We’d also brought all our clothes, towels, sheets, sails etc. and various supplies so we had hand luggage only on the flight. A great feat of organisation – and we still managed to fit in a visit to the wine merchant in Ouistreham on the way back!
Malcolm’s rather devastated that the lovely Emanuelle has left the boatyard and we’re not being treated very well at all. We even had to walk to the slipway for the launch rather than get a lift in the van. And it’s very hot indeed. However, the engine works once we’re cast adrift, although I do have problems remembering where to put the fenders and how to tie a bowline. But it all goes well and we make a good landing on a ‘catway’ (pontoon) and feel very happy to be back on the water.
We need supplies for tea and a Camping Gaz refill so don our trusty rucksacks and trek to Intermarche. Funny how you forget that you have to carry everything back to the boat, including the large but necessary bottles of wine.