Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Breton sunshine coast

Blustery Morbihan morning
It turned out to be rather a windy and choppy stay in the Gulf of Morbihan. Of course, part of the point of being in there was to have a snug place to wait out any heavy weather but, after several days of listening to the wind moaning in the rigging and bouncing on the chop, we were ready for a change of scene.

We were feeling bold on the morning of departure and determined to do the whole thing without having recourse to the engine. It was still blowing a good 20 knots, so a double-reefed main was plenty to sail off the anchor and then stooge around the bay while cleaning away the thick black Morbihan mud that came up with the ground tackle. We worked our way along the twisting channel, through the wind shadows of various wee islands and finally out and back into Biscay. All very satisfying.

The sailing purity unfortunately was soon sullied when the wind dropped right off and left us wallowing around the passage around the tip of the Quiberon peninsula. Once around that inconvenient promontory, the chop remained but a good breeze returned and we had excellent sailing all the way to Port Tudy on the Ile de Groix.

Port Tudy, Ile de Groix: shades of Tobermory
We were a little apprehensive about the price of the marina at Port Tudy, having been warned that it could be dear,  but we hoped that the off-season effect would cheapen it significantly. It's normal around these parts for prices to double during the high season of July and August when things get insanely busy, but otherwise they tend to be fairly reasonable. Port Tudy, however, commences high season on the 15th of April! Charge: €22. Steep, but we could live with it for a night or two, to get showered and do some laundry as well as have a good look around the island. Wait. What? No showers? No washing machine? No toilets reserved for harbour users?? Very disappointing. We didn't stick around. A pity really, since the island is very attractive.

Freshly anchored at Port Manec'h
A nearby-ish anchorage had been recommended to us (Port Manec'h) so we pulled out of Port Tudy on a really magnificent morning, drinking coffee and munching fresh pains au raisin as we motored clear of the island, getting in a superb sail the rest of the way.

The main water-borne wildlife we've observed on this stretch of coast, unfortunately, is truly colossal medusa jellyfish. These beasts measure anything up to 2 feet across and, although they have a peculiar beauty of their own, I wouldn't fancy swimming with them about. Not that the question arises just now, with the sea temperature stuck at a frigid 10C.

Port Manec'h lies at the mouth of the River Aven and is really just an indentation in the coastline, but it gives fair shelter when the winds are northerly. Very pretty spot and anchoring on clean sand was great to clear away the last traces of the mud of Morbihan.

French schooner off Port Manec'h
Another short 15-mile hop took us to Port La Foret, recommended by a couple we spoke to in Port Tudy who knew we wanted showers and a washing machine and a lower price tag. Good choice. Attractive surroundings too.

The vieux port at La Foret
Pretty little 18th-century chapel in La Foret
This is particularly for our friends back in Granton: The dredging scheme at Port La Foret is rather interesting. They've laid a pipeline stretching 4 km, which runs to a construction site where a new sports stadium is being built. The mud from the harbour is pumped all the way up to the building site, separated earth from water and the water returned to the harbour, leaving the earth for the builders. Sadly the project is many months behind schedule, due to frequent pump breakdowns!

Crazy dredging at Port La Foret

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