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Sunday, 24 August 2014

MORE FRENCH SAILING

 
During our sailing years we often sailed west to l'Aberwrach at the far end of Finisterre, the most westerly part of Brittany. The sailing was challenging with a rocky coastline and strong currents as you approached 'the end of the land'.
 
 
But once inside the entrance of the river estuary and past all the rocks guarding the channel we found ourselves in a lovely tranquil place.  We would pick up a buoy and settle down for a few days to enjoy the peace.
 
 
We often met friends here who had made the passage from England or our neighbours from Perros, like Claude and Denise on their boat Blackbeard.  On this occasion we spent some happy times together, walking, sharing meals and Bob helped Claude to fix a leak.  Imagine us going from boat to boat and back again on our dinghies after a few glasses of wine and laughing a lot!
 
 
Our favourite mooring was at the end of the line of buoys, farthest from the town where we could watch the birds and the tide falling and rising over the oyster beds. These withies, basically sticks in the seabed, mark the edge of the navigable water and woe betide anyone who ignores them as they'll get stuck in the mud!  Not to mention upsetting the oyster growers who turned up every day to turn their crops!
 
 
The simple landscape of cottages and pine trees kept my sketching hands busy every time we came here and I've got a series of sketches now drawn over 10 years showing the growth of trees as well as my own development as an artist.
 
 
L'Aberwrach is a centre for sail training and every year many young people have come to learn the basics, some groups as young as 6 or 7 years old.  At lunchtime they would moor their boats in a sheltered part of the harbour and one day we had the wonderful experience of watching these Hobie-cats sailing around their buoys as the wind picked up and moved them around in a ghostly fashion in the sea mist.
 
 
We often used l'Aberwrach as a starting point to go further west down the 'Chenal de Four,' a notoriously dangerous piece of water between mainland France and Ouessant island.  We always went down with the tide and the next stopping off place was Camaret in the Rade de Brest which had a lively holiday centre.
 
 
The moorings here were on pontoons which got very busy in the summer but had a lovely view of the town with  it's pretty waterfront buildings. Another place to meet up with friends on their way north or south on their summer cruises.
 
 
The marina is dominated by this fort built by Vauban a few centuries ago as part of the French fortifications.  From Camaret one can sail further south down another channel, notorious for it's currents but we never went any further than Douarnanez, just south of the Crozon peninsula and Morgat which is another pretty seaside town. 
We seemed to prefer to spend our time on the buoy at L'Aberwrach, just soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sun.  Maybe we will go there again one day in the camper car to see what we missed.