Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Another Breton week

Audierne seems like quite a while ago now, though it's only 4 days since we left. A sudden improvement in the weather forecast on Saturday afternoon gave us an opportunity to slip through the Raz de Sein on Sunday and up to Camaret. The tide times were not especially convenient. The Raz is a classic 'tidal gate', meaning that you can only go through when it's slack or setting in the right direction. It sets north on the flood, so ideally one would aim to be there at low water. Unfortunately, low water that day was at 0601 and we needed about 3 hours to get there. We decided to leave at 0700 and catch as much of the flood as we could.

That worked out all right, but the passage through the Raz was rather rough with wind and swell running against the tide. Still, it was fun, in that special boisterous sailing kind of way. We'd prepared flasks of tea, coffee and porridge before departing Audierne, intending to breakfast on the way. Sadly, it turned out to be too rough for that. We managed to grab a few spoonfuls of porridge and cups of tea, but the bulk of it had to wait until we reached Camaret at 1400. Late breakfast.

Camaret contribution to the boat graveyard series
Maybe we had unreasonable expectations, with all the enthusiastic reports we'd heard about Camaret from other sailors, but we found it a bit of a disappointment after Audierne. Probably we didn't see it at its best either. The main problem was noise. It was quite blowy, so there was the constant drone of wind in rigging, coupled with clanging halyards against masts. Then there was the steady tramp of feet up and down the pontoon, right by our heads, that went on all day and most of the night. Add in a birthday party on the boat next door and the din from bars along the waterfront and you have the complete cacophony. The facilities weren't nearly as nice as those at Audierne either, so we were glad we'd spent the time there.

We were ready to move on after one night of that, but the forecast was showing nothing but stiff northerlies and big seas for the next week so we turned right out of Camaret and retreated into the depths of the Rade de Brest, making for the tranquil Aulne River for shelter, peace and quiet.

Warship graveyard, on the Aulne
They're dummies, right?
Perfect peace, viewed from the anchorage
It was a superb sail through the sheltered waters of the Rade and we were really delighted to drop the hook in a snug river bend, surrounded by forest and hearing only bird song.

Two nights there and a grey day, very useful for a make do and mend session, and then we drifted up on the tide (and off our charts) to Chateaulin, the mast-up navigable limit of the river. It probably should have been obvious to us sooner, but this is where the Nantes-Brest canal emerges, so we've now visited it by boat as well as by tandem.

At least we know where the river is, for the return journey
Loving this river pottering
The buoyage wasn't great (this was the only one we saw today)
Approaching the lock to the Nantes-Brest canal
Port Launay
Chateaulin is a nice, friendly town. From the photos we've seen, there must be a lot more boating action in the high season but, just now, there's only one small section of pontoon, with just us on it. We had to go to the Town Hall to get the key for the showers. Very civilised.

Alone, but not lonesome
They do a very cute cottage, the Bretons
The forecast now shows a possible Dartmouth window opening up at the beginning of next week, so we'll probably be dropping back down river tomorrow to position ourselves for a run up through the Chenal de Four on Sunday.

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