Port Laurnay to L'Aber Wrac'h

Dream On
Freddie Alderson
Wed 8 Sep 2010 16:08

The Adventures of Dream On – Port Launay, Brest, L’Aberwrac’h


A small post-script; Just before leaving we found the notice (below left) way down the river bank. We never found the Post Office. We didn’t know there was one, or that we were supposed to be looking for it. The town hall did seem to manage very well; perhaps they were the Post Office under a different guise.




The bells above are those just belonging to the bell tower of the little church next to the town hall in the square. Sleeping opposite them, as we were, could have been tricky but they had a lovely sound – soft and clear, but echoey, reverberating all around. They did not disturb us a bit, au contraire, we enjoyed them. And at 7pm each day, they made us smile because after solemnly striking seven, they were off with gay abandon on a little bell-type frolic all of their own, tumbling over each other, eager and enthusiastic. Now I’ve heard Bells on Sunday, I can tell my ‘Baldrick Differential Little Bob Triples’ from my ‘Cambridge Surprise Maximus’. That is, I’ve no clear idea exactly what they signify, bell-ringing-wise, but I do love and remember the names.  I know bell-ringing is an ancient, mysterious and complex art, sometimes involving hexagons, and precision timing. But this just sounded like randomly joyful, unfettered exuberance, like, lessons over at last, it was playtime at Bell Kindergarten. We’d watched them from the square but couldn’t see if they actually moved. The photo above shows them at it and it only happened at 7pm.


One evening Sarah spotted a family of some sort of hairy water animals playing around in the reeds on the other side of the river. Otters, we thought, but that wasn’t quite right. Close observation and research revealed finally that they were Muskrats. It looked like a family and they chased and played with each other in the far bank, having a lovely time on a summer’s evening amongst the reeds and overhanging branches. Excuse the fuzzy pics.







Below, the fog that engulfed the river and delayed our departure on Monday. And on the way out of Port Launay, we were struck by some of the strange craft that line the river bank, from tiny to huge - quite a contrast to the white plastic that lines most marina pontoons.





Especially this strange old craft was in good condition, quite old-fashioned clearly but really solid.




We wondered what it was used for and about its history, given the ‘Norfolk County’, written on its lifebelt.


There were a couple of yachts coming up-river and we had to wait for them to get into the lock and then out again. With the boat behaving and now firmly under the Captain’s control, mooching round the river for 40 minutes or so, holding position without tying up, while waiting for the lock, was no problem.



Now we begin to retrace our steps, back down the river.  Can’t resist these two little riverside houses.




And of course we’ve got the bridges to go through. Well, I know we went under them before,

But somehow, when you’re on the deck, it is as difficult to believe you’ll get under it as the first time. Each bridge and each power line had us rooted to the deck, collective intake of breath, stock still, silent, eyes glued to the top of the mast  - - - - - - -  and then a collective sigh of relief. So here you go.






The naval graveyard again. This time we managed to get the name of the guided missile cruiser. We looked her up on the internet, and found that she was really smart and sleek in her day.






Saz took the wheel and very heroically helmed for 5 hours, after the captain had an

extended snooze. I bet there are a fair few stories around about the chap above right.

Eternally Able Seaman Saz  took us all the way down the river and out again in to the Rade de Brest, with me navigating when nec. Sarah makes very intelligent use of the chart plotter, tho’ it is always useful to have lookout on the cat portside, to confirm buoys, watch for fisherman’s buoys, advise on right of way and make tea. As the Rade de Brest opened out, we met a really nasty short chop and the slamming woke the Captain, who opened his eyes with, ‘Are you helming across a ploughed field?’, and other appreciative remarks. He did show us that by turning off the wind and reducing speed, we went as fast but more comfortably. That was useful to know, though we had been more concerned with staying in the channel, till we knew we could leave it safely.


Anyway, Freddie took it from there and the whole trip took 7 hours, which was quicker than going. We were doing alright till the Rade. There was no wind to speak of, but the tide had been with us, then the chop in the river mouth slowed us right down. It rained all morning, but we were pretty dry inside the cockpit tent. On arrival, and most unusually, we all wanted steak and chips so we ‘ad it, at the usual L’Aize Breizh.. For some reason we all wore hats and looked quite jaunty. And then after a couple of episodes of Coupling, which always amuses us, we slept.




The next day, Gail did the blog and the others rested, slept, shopped and settled up. Gail, who is quite proud of this, after studying the tidal atlas, worked out that if we left 4 hours after HW at Brest, we could catch the last of the ebb and, at Point St Mathieu, the beginning of the North-going stream to take us straight up to l’Aberwrac’h and avoid a stopover at Camaret. It meant a 5am start but would save a night’s delay, and the expense thereof, to boot. So that is what we did. It was very slow to start with, little wind and some sort of counter current. Both Captain and the Very Able Seamanette suffered from the motion.



Dawn at Brest                                                                and sunrise as we left.    


But as soon as we turned the corner into the Chenal du Four, we had the genoa up. It was mostly F3, a bit of 4 at this time. And she really started flying -  and we were getting 7+ knots. The winds increased to F5 at times SW and we romped up the old Chenal, making up all lost time and arriving at L’Aberwrac’h at 1.19 having left at 6am - ahead of schedule, despite the early slow going.


        Instantly Able on the wheel again                            And crashed out – again.




        Rocks to avoid in the Chenal and the approaches to L’Aberwrac’h




 But worse for me are waves breaking on rocks just below the surface (above left). Above right, the  Lighthouse of L’Ile de Vierge, the signature mark for the approach to L’Aberwrac’h, visible from a fair distance.


It was nice to be back.


P.S This is just a bit North of where Sarah thought she saw a shark’s fin, twice. Freddie saw it too, but thought it was a porpoise. Then we found out from the local fishermen that there are sharks round there, so it’s likely that she did see a shark.