The Happy Hoppers Chronicles (Fallen Angel) - Part 2

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Wed 3 Aug 2016 12:23

The Happy Hoppers (a.k.a. Fallen Angel) Chronicles – Part 2


We got up to leave Ribadero at the unearthly hour of 5am for the 300 nm trip to Audierne on the south coast of Brittany, on the far side of the Bay of Biscay. The course was mostly NNW for about a day before changing course to about NNE (30 degrees) for the final leg. The trip took some 2.5 days, which was what we estimated, averaging some 5 knots.


On this trip we saw:-

  • Cargo ships - 3
  • Fishing boats - lots
  • Shearwaters - lots
  • Gannets - lots
  • Pilot Whales - 4
  • Other whales - lots
  • Dolphins - lots
  • Yachts lots – most heading south, but a couple heading north
  • Drifting buoys – 2 – one white and one orange
  • Cormorants – one flock


Before we left another Contest 42 ketch arrived in the marina – hull number 18, built in 1979. Amazing, we had a little chat before we retired to bed, but they may end up in Lagos, so you never know we may catch up with them again which would be excellent.


The trip was both Bill and Ally’s and ourselves second trip across Biscay, and the bay does have a bit of a reputation, but for us the winds were mostly less than 20 knots, although there was one gust higher, and seas of around 1.5 metres. We did get quite a bit of rain and little sunshine, and we saw few stars due to the overcast skies. The sails were regularly changed to reflect conditions and we did have to motor a fair bit, but this time we did not run out of fuel!


During our journey we saw lots and lots of whales – some close and looking very big, others at some distance, but blowing away like good ‘uns. We saw more whales on this trip than in the whole time we were on the Madeira-Azores-Portugal tour or even our two voyages across the Atlantic which was a major surprise to us. The dolphins were very scarce until we were closing on the coast of France, but eventually they did turn up, and in large numbers, and we saw one very young one swimming around the bow with its mother - wonderful. The 4 pilot whales blew loudly very, very close to the boat, so close that both Ally and Andrew in the cockpit jumped in surprise – the whales just carried on as usual, swimming very close to one another.


Land was spotted at 3.15pm and at around 6:30pm we picked up a mooring buoy in the anchorage at Audierne - hurrah we had completed our second Biscay crossing.  We only stayed on the buoy for the night as we had another unearthly hour departure in order to make the turn of the tide at the Raz du Sein channel at 9am. We had decided to make for Camaret and unwind for a day or so as Bill and Ally had been there on their way south a couple of years ago, but hadn’t seen the town, only a marina berth. We celebrated our arrival with a beer or two, naturally and in Susan’s case a cup of tea. A bit later a young man who collected the money for the moorings came by, he was very charming and spoke excellent English – he also operated as the water taxi, even delivering a pizza to another yacht – great service with gallic charm.


The next morning we all got up after a lovely still night and 8 hours and 50 minutes of sleep – bliss (we had a very early night!) – and set off for the Raz with excellent timing and had a very smooth passage to arrive late morning in Camaret, a charming holiday town, very popular with the French – it is full of restaurants, art galleries, patisseries, hairdressers, souvenir shops and holiday makers. The Celtic influence is all around and celebrated everywhere, including in many of the art galleries. Naturally moules (mussels) were sampled, and very fine they were too, the sauce being delightfully rich. The marina is large and mostly self run it seems, but does boast a very good “wifi”, the best we’ve encountered anywhere on our various trips. Local boats vie with visitors for the marina berths, although there are lots of mooring buoys available. Sunday sees an “antique flea market” along the sea walls, with all sorts of items for sale – furniture, pictures, glass, clothes, bric-a-brac and of course crepes, which Susan had to sample in the interest of research. A local boat from Brest rafted up alongside us for one night, a nice family returning from a 2 week sailing holiday. On arrival we were asked by a fellow British cruiser, who had seen us in Audierne, what the dancing around Fallen Angel was all about – we explained we had just completed a Biscay crossing and were congratulating ourselves – he chuckled, saying he may do it one day. Everyone seems to know what goes on amongst the cruising community it seems.


The moules were sampled a few times, and very fine they were – with and without frites! We highly recommend Camaret for the moules. We heard some traditional music on the pipes and saw some Breton dancing, which seems to involve shuffling the feet and holding hands in a long line, a bit like a sideways conga really, and something even Andrew feels he could cope with, with a fair incentive to hand of course. Some of the art in the galleries is very good and there is a great deal of artistic talent in these parts.


The winds for the following couple of day’s were not that great for a comfortable trip to Guernsey (SW winds up to 30 knots and 2-3 metre swells and rain!), so we decided to stay another few days until everything calmed down – Bill and Ally in particular did not want a bumpy ride north. The marina is now full of yachts, many rafted up including against us, once again, as folks seek shelter from the south westerlies so very tight in here right now, but will empty soon enough when the weather improves.


To pass the time we walked around the headland overlooking the bay leading to Brest fuelling memories of our landfall there in 2009, on our very first trip towards Portugal. We had a good ramble and the views were stunning and then sauntered around the town, very relaxed and chilled. We found another market on Tuesday which had all sorts of local goodies, clothes, leatherwork, bread, roasted chickens and hams, wooden artifacts and, yum, a Vietnamese fast food stall (they spoke French) – we naturally bought some fantastic noodles and prawns, even though we were still in France, yup, it had to be done, a very nice lunch indeed. Camaret is a nice place and we are pleased to have been able to sample its delights and the marina and its facilities are pretty good - the walk up the gangway from the pontoons at low water is, however, very steep!.


So the next leg sees us routing via the Chanel du Four, around the corner of Brittany and then off for Guernsey (and a promised Indian meal!) – the next Chronicle will cover this part of the trip – we are getting ever closer to the Hamble!


More in due course.............


Bill, Ally, Andrew, Susan

Camaret, Brittany, France