Repeat of previous log that had missing pictures
of Dream On -
Well, sorry about the long gap. The optimistic words ‘to infinity and beyond’ seem to have landed back to earth and transformed themselves into, ‘To L’Aberwrac’h – just possible, but somewhat doubtful regarding the ‘beyond’.
The crossing was fine in a way, in that nothing did go wrong, and we did get there. It was mildly annoying that the wind, when it rose above force 2, was directly behind us. This meant that while we had the sails up we had to keep the engine on and it was a slow voyage – 21 hours. Cross seas, resulting from the leftovers of squalls to the East and West of us made it a bit uncomfortable– but the approach to L’Aberwrac’h, reputedly complicated and possibly a bit dangerous was in fact quite uneventful and clearly marked. We had no details about the new marina, but it was actually great. A little rib came out to meet us and show us where to berth, and give us all the details about facilities, which were all you could want. We were grateful to have arrived in one piece and to have showers and rest etc, so huge sighs of relief all round.
(Captain’s note – Thank goodness for AIS which shows on the chart plotter the position, course and speed of big ships. We encountered probably about 30 ships going up or down the channel as we went across and the AIS made dodging round them so much easier and less terrifying).
Last sight of the Lizard Big ship on a choppy sea
over the last bit of
The rocky coastlines approaching L’Aberwrac’h
The left hand pontoon at L’Aber Sunset over the marina
The harbour from the hard the pontoons from the hard
Some issues emerged at L’Aberwrac’h. One was that we are
all in a slightly nervous state regarding the boat and how confident we can be
in her. To have spent so long and so much money getting her ready and safe for
ocean crossing and to have had so much go wrong in such a short space of time
leaves us clutching each others’ arms and whispering, ‘What’s that?’ every time there is a
slightly unfamiliar noise. ‘What will be
next to go?’ is the common feeling of the crew, with the faint hope that the
captain knows better and this is just our inexperience showing. When it’s clear
the captain feels the same, not surprisingly, this feeling translates into a big
question mark about the voyage itself. The realisation that, should we have gone straight from
And in the event, just as we are trying to reassure ourselves that the worst has happened and nothing else can possibly go wrong, several other factors are added to the mix, and rocked us on our feet a bit. We’d hoped for better weather and an easy and fairly quick passage down the coast of France but low cloud, mist and rain descended the day after our arrival at L’Aberwrac’h (to be known henceforward as L’Aber), and we were assured by the marina office, local fishermen and other locals that you should absolutely not attempt the Chenal du Four, the next part of our passage, especially for the first time, in poor visibility due to the many outlying rocks and hazards. This weather persisted on and off for 5 days.
Also, the Captain finally admitted, brave lad, that the
tummy bug he had suffered in
The boat itself made her small contribution in the following way. A few hours after we arrived, 2 marina staff in their ribs arrived to explain (luckily I speak French, rusty after 30 years but I can get by) that there was a Regatta that weekend for the Race des Abers, loads of boats would be arriving and they would be rafting up several deep. They felt we would be better placed outside the pontoon arms on the opposite side to where we were, out of the way. As they guided us to another place labelled forbiddingly, ‘ACCOSTAGE INTERDIT’, where they assured us we would be left in peace, the boat added its little bit of mischief. A tiny spring on the stern drive, essential for keeping it in the water and reversing, decided this would be a fine moment to join in the proceedings and parted company with itself, leaving us without any control, flailing about next to the pontoon and several other boats. Embarrassingly, the two ribs had then to push and pull us onto the pontoon so that we could moor up and, still tired from the overnight trip, we just moored up and decided to think about that one the next day, which was a Saturday. Why is it always at the weekend or at midnight that things choose to go wrong?
The next day, we learned that L’Aber is a tiny village, basically one street about 500 yds long, and while not having a grocer of any sort, it does have facilities for sailors, tho some are about a mile outside the village itself. So we tramped about the various workshops and boatyards, looking with faint hope for a replacement, which had to be an exact replacement or it wouldn’t work. Luckily for us, they are open till 6 on Saturdays, but unluckily for us, no-one had the right size spring.
The road to the boat workshops past the slipway next to the marina & back with no result.
There was no-one available at the factory in England till the following Tuesday, so we unpacked all tools and bags of spares and screws and nails, from all the crevices and hiding places, to see what we could find that might help. And believe it or not, in the last bag of all, a big bag of totally mixed up stuff left by the previous owner in a very dark crevice we could only just reach - we found one - and it was in perfect condition!
We had by that time, on advice from one of the marina’s rib-men, phoned a boatyard in Landeda, a village a couple of miles away. This yard dealt with all their outboards and out drives and he thought they might help. Indeed they sent down their engineer to see what he could do and he arrived in just 20 minutes, just after we found the replacement. He put it on for us, was charm itself despite his wasted journey and would accept no payment. Amazing!
So that was soon mended and reinforced by the Captain, who has Skills with String.
However, the feeling of ‘yet another problem’ rather overshadowed the relief of its relatively easy resolution and did not really reduce our general lack of confidence in the boat. I do have to say though, that that was her last frolic, and since then, she has behaved absolutely perfectly, just like the lady we always thought she was. Fingers crossed, what?
While we were waiting for Fred to feel better,
of the restaurant staff, took him back a few tasters.
The food; St Jacques, a local Veal in another great sauce
speciality – scallops in a
Really scrape it all out
We discovered the Café Du Port has delicious French
bread delivered every day, though for groceries you do need to go to Landeda.
The atmosphere was great. On the hard standing by the marina office, rows of tables were set out, the yacht club bar was open to all and apparently always is, there were 2 live bands, a whole pig roast and other delicious food and drink. And everybody just sat down and ate together in the open air overlooking the pontoons and harbour until the early hours. Unlike many other marinas, the festivities involved the whole village and it was easy to get to know people, everyone was so friendly and relaxed. It was such a shame that Fred could not join in but lay languishing on the boat. We didn’t just abandon him, but he insisted that we enjoyed ourselves as much as possible, while he tried to get better in bed.
Yes really 5+ deep fishing with her fishing friends total - but happy - chaos
The band getting ready on the hard
a scene from
On another evening, we went to another little café with an incredibly tempting menu, and again we felt some fresh food would be good for Fred, if he could get it, and keep it, down. We explained that Fred was ill and asked if they had anything on the menu that might suit. They prepared a medley of easy to digest delicious titbits, including his favourite, fresh winkles, and agreed to let us take it to the boat on their crockery, for his delectation. And this, even though they don’t actually do takeaways, were overrun with customers and had people waiting. But everyone was very good-natured about our unusual request and just seemed to want to help. The food went down very well with no apparent ill effect. What service and what kindness! We were to meet with incredible kindness from these Breton people later in our journey, but back to the present.
(Captain’s note – I have remembered all my life with
great fondness eating Winkles with my granny from a barrow in
On day 5, with the weather and tides appearing to be
propitious, we needed to take stock and had a boat conference. While Fred was
better, the problem still lingered. He did not feel able to deal with any
further boat problems, and the relatively inexperienced crew, which meant
on long passages, he was basically on duty, even when resting, all the time.
Though we had been on the wheel for much of the channel crossing, in any doubt
we had to wake him up, to check the lights we saw, or the speed and direction of
approaching vessels. Without the boat problems, his illness, and the constant
delays, we could have gained the experience needed to lessen his load. We had
been unable to get that in
We considered other options, but
But before we totally abandoned everything, we felt we
wanted to do just a little bit of exploration of the French coast, get to know
And so on the 5th of August we set off for Camaret.
Well, the passage out of L’Aber was as easy going out as
coming in. Visibility was good, though it was still cloudy, and there was a big
Atlantic swell, which crossed with the tide and wasn’t very comfy for Fred, who
was not entirely better. But with Freddie helming,
(Captain’s note – the coast of
Camaret was not quite the delightful little place we
expected. We had little niggles I admit but they always look bigger, when you’re
tired. To get to the marina office, we had to negotiate the old harbour wall.
This was crumbling away in some places, was 10-12 foot above the water, had no
railings and the safe side of it was taken up with fishermen and their
equipment, which in and of itself can be a hazard. The harbour office was shut,
and is only open a few hours a day, so we could not register or find out about
facilities and there seemed to be no-one around to help. We walked a little way
towards the town and finally found the showers and toilets. They were down some
narrow stone steps, under the old and famous
The harbour wall at Camaret
Going a bit further into the town, we saw the
restaurants and shops we had heard about, but, so unlike L’Aber’s totally
unspoilt and quaint charm, they seemed to be the completely modern sort you can
find anywhere in Europe. The town is a little walk from the marina, and granted
we didn’t explore further and perhaps give it a fair shot, but we were tired and
discouraged by what we had so far seen. Back on the boat, we tried to log on to
the internet (free and easily available at L’Aberwrach), again to be frustrated.
Error on page repeatedly, card out of date for my card, bank refuses payment for
Fred’s card – both are totally valid, and it’s very expensive when you do
finally succeed. So not very happy bunnies at Camaret, and we decided to leave
first thing for
The journey to
An impressive racing trimaran a boat towing a ??????? on a tyre ????????
The first day, being hungry we went to the nearest
Bar-Restaurant, which turned out to do mainly snacks – very acceptable and
always served with salad, but none too exciting. That night though, we
discovered another restaurant right on the front, a large modern one that was
totally amazing, the L’Aise-Breizh. The first thing was that, though large it
was packed, and we did not have a reservation. The really friendly maitre d’y
assured us he would find us a place and did within 10 minutes. The food was to
die for, and since I did not have room for my favourite, grilled sardines, after
the entrée of stuffed artichoke hearts, we made a reservation for lunchtime the
next day as well. But what was so amazing was the service. The restaurant had
about 150 seats, the waiters and waitresses were actually running with the
plates in their hands, (and arms) to try and get everyone served, but at the
same time, they all looked completely relaxed, always had a ready smile and came
to the table immediately if you caught their eye for more than half a second.
They even had time for little jokes and comments. It was truly amazing and we
After lunch the next day, we realised that we hadn’t
even tried the Moules a la Bretonne, a speciality and a favourite of mine and
a little boat show letting them race little boats by the above gentleman
the restaurant in
Walking back to the boat afterwards And there she is.
We found it interesting how much the Breton language
looks like Welsh and all the signposts have place names in French and in Breton.
Even the French is slightly different to normal French. They are very proud of
We had heard a bit about the Oceanarium in
They actually pump the water straight in from the sea for all the fish tanks, and then adjust it to the appropriate temperatures for the appropriate zones.
We wanted to explore a little bit more, and looking at the pictures in the pilot book, a place called Port Launay looked really lovely. It was a lovely old French village situated right next to a very windy river, called the River L’Aulne, which led off from the south side of the Rade de Brest. The river was so small and windy that the chart plotter couldn’t cope and for the last 10 miles, it looked as if we were sailing across land.
So the next day we set off for Port Launay. This will be in the next blog and here are some more strange marine creatures