At Port Lornay
Thank heavens for Port Launay. It was just what we
needed. Despite the fact that we 3 alone had made the decision to abandon the
voyage, and it seemed all very logical, once made, and for good practical
reasons, it was also a decision to lose the dream. And to lose the dream so soon
after the beginning of its realisation still had the capacity to stun us. We had
just been convincing ourselves that it really, really was happening at last when we had
to start convincing ourselves that it really, really wasn’t happening at all.
The worst of this period was between deciding we’d have to abandon it, and when
we decided to go next year. Everyone had tried to stay cheerful, and find
different ways of passing the time, while we waited for the weather or for
Freddie to start feeling better,
But Port Launay was so overwhelmingly beautiful, peaceful and charming, it was a balm to our somewhat bruised souls. And besides that, it was so busy and so much kept happening that we hardly had time to mope.
We were quite tired still from Sunday’s journey of 7and a half hours, and from the stress, before and after the decision and the worries about Freddie. We had not bothered do much shopping at Brest as the shops were some way away, involved buses and lots of walking and it would have meant staying an extra day to get to them. We were feeling ready to leave so we reassured ourselves they would have shops where we were going, with the consequence that we were running a bit low on basics by Monday morning.
Freddie, feeling a bit better and eager to try the wares at the boulangerie, rushed therewards and returned shortly with delicious bread, fresh croissants and his favourite, freshly made apricot tarts. So we had a slap-up breakfast, wondering how bread could taste that good.
The only shops as such, as it turned out, were at Chateaulin a little way further down the river but easily reachable in the dinghy or a 2-mile walk - a nice way to spend an afternoon, normally but not carrying heavy bags of shopping in the hot sun. So Fred and Saz set off in the dinghy. It started very misty that morning, but the mist soon lifted and we had another beautifully hot day. Saz got some nice pics.
Misty morning, us in middle.
River reflections, visible as the mist cleared on the near-still
The dinghy mooring at
and a surprising find
They seem to have enjoyed their trip, and have got
lots of nice things to eat, including all the proper ingredients for Cassoulet,
The sun called for a bit of sunbathing, so we all had a read on the boat in the hot sun and it began to feel like a holiday. Then we all went off for a walk. In Port Launay, this isn’t far, in that there is the road along the river, and then steeply wooded banks, and then alongside the square there are two roads, which enclose one block and recede away from the river till they meet the main road sweeping past the village. This block begins with shops and the Town Hall, encloses a little school and then various and varied types of usually old stone houses. Some have very steeply rising and enticing back gardens, full of secret stairways to even more secret places.
We did manage to get some wine from the café, and it was really nice; smooth, with a lovely bouquet, and also liked by Gail, who often has a problem with acidy wines. It went well with the delicious veal and we watched an old episode of ‘Coupling’ to finish the evening off.
The next morning it was very wet and raining most of the day, though not cold at all. We lazed about, eating, washing up, showers etc. In the late afternoon, I went to get some more of the wine. As I got off the boat, it seems that the front of the boat was resting on the river wall and bank, though the boat at my feet was not. This was something I had never seen before and one of the problems with Port Launay if you’re not equipped. Anyway, calling Fred to have a look, I set off for the café. When I returned I saw that the boat seemed to be resting on top of the wall and the fenders were flailing about on top of the water rather than between the boat and the wall. The boat in front is clearly resting on the wall.
I let my rucksack fall to the bank and stupidly and
vainly tried to push the fenders down between the boat and the wall. A voice
behind me assured me this only happened at springs, that it just depended on the
rain and the wind, but the only thing for it would be tyres, or a fender board,
Ah, I said, having neither, and feeling very unprepared. By this time, the owner
of the voice and I were standing together on the bank in the pouring rain and
then Freddie joined us. The gentleman then informed us that ‘it would be Wednesday and
Thursday that would be the high ones, today was only 7.4 but they would be 7.65
then – it was springs of course’. Later, we realised his figures was referring
to High Tides at
He introduced himself as George, and said he had a
catamaran but it was at
He was down on the river
bank again that night checking on a friend’s boat and I think other ones. The
next day he told me he had prepared 3 more tyres for use that night. Wanting to
thank him somehow, we asked if he would come for a drink the next day. He
accepted and we looked forward to a nice chat. We knew by then he had just
brought his friend’s boat back from
The water was heavily
disguised by the grass and I was surprised when I jumped off the boat the day
before. I was sure I’d jumped far enough to miss it, and landed with a great
splash, water over my ankles.
It is easy to underestimate
the force of these tides, but the surprising thing is as soon as they peak,
there is no stand, they disappear immediately and amazingly
You may be able to see the
man in the picture above, left. He is leaning on a piece of wood while pushing
against a plastic stool on the bank. Later, his daughter was pulling on the
piece of wood on the boat, while he pushed from the land. But he began by
leaning against the boat having a glass of wine. Then the stool and then the
wood appeared later in an attempt to resist the tide. Though I think it was
quite hard work, I think they were alright in the end and they left early next
morning. They were very cheerful all the while – I was sorry we could not
During these days, we did a
few other things. We went for a meal at the café, nice wine, very tasty steak
The next day, Thursday, we needed to get provisions in before we left on Friday and we all went in the dinghy. These hydrangea are everywhere in Brittany, apparently growing wild and looking really pretty here on the river banks on the way to Chateaulin.
The mooring at Chateaulin, behind Kantara View of Chateaulin through the bridge.
whom we saw at Port Launay and L’Aber.
We found everything we needed at the supermarket and Fred went mad at the fish counter, which in itself he could hardly believe. We were leaving the next day so he splashed out.
(Captains note – this was a moderate sized supermarket in a small town, the fish counter was 100’ long and had: live crabs, live lobsters, oysters in two sizes, prawns in four sizes, mussels, many sorts of clams and of course fish).
So It was clear we were going to have some sort of fishy fest that night and so we did. When we had stopped waiting for George to pass by, and it then became clear he could not get on to the boat, Freddie began to cook and lightly fried in olive oil, garlic and chilli, with white wine to steam it in and cream at the end – langoustines, very big prawns, medium prawns, clams and scallops. Sadly we didn’t get a picture of it because we instantly devoured it, which was a great shame because it was very pretty. So we’ve added another one.
We had a game of monopoly,
Pascal came to collect us,
full of cheer. Then he found out that the chemist next to the hospital I had
rushed out to before they shut for lunch, had not had everything
The weekend passed quietly.
I did go to thank Isobel,
but she said, with a big smile, no need for thanks, we’re welcome. When I tried
to leave something for Pascal to have a drink on us, she said he didn’t drink;
but eventually she agreed to take for 2 coffees and she gave me the change. She
just insisted it was normal for people to help each other when someone needs
something and we were welcome. And it does seem to be so in Port Launay, and it
does seem to come straight from the heart. On top of George’s kindness, we felt
Saz, very fed up and a bit
sideways from her pills Cutting
Fred’s hair on the river bank beforehand
This very large ship came
down one day with loads of
crew on her at great speed
I thought she would drive straight up onto the road. Port Launay at sunset.
Fred went off to do the
shopping before we left. He used the long tiller and sat forwards in the dinghy,
found he could do enormous
speeds, and felt very smug.
Mist and rain prevented us
leaving on the Monday after the weekend. Despite