Loctudy to Port Haliguen

Dream On
Freddie Alderson
Tue 9 Aug 2011 09:20

Audierne to Loctudy

(The trip to Loctudy was easy, flat calm and hot sun. We took it in turns to helm, though Freddie, starting off and finishing had two sessions. The last involved rounding the Point de Penmarc’h, with the usual fringe of nasty looking rocks, plethora of buoyage and amazing amount of other boats all doing the same thing, and was a bit tiring. But we arrived with no problems to get the last space available on the outer pontoon, tucked in next to the fuel dock, and just by the stairs to all the facilities.  Below, Sarah messes about as usual, and Cap’n falls asleep after his exertions

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Here the Captain stayed aboard resting, and doing odd jobs and the mate did – believe or not – yet more washing, all the linen. But the machine were extra efficient, thank heavens and I was able to pass the time in the café next door, writing postcards while I waited. The young crew ventured further afield so it’s over to Saz to continue our tale.)


We left Audierne and arrived safely in Loctudy on 26th July. All very tired and not much in the fridge, we opted for steak frites at the little restaurant at the port rather than the alternative – chilli con carne made with tinned steak – on the excellent suggestion from the first mate (mum). Four steak frites, 3 cold beers and a glass of chardonnay later we were very pleased with our decision.

Loctudy is a very pretty little place unlike some of the bigger more industrial and concretey places we had seen previously. We were supposed to leave the following day for Belon, but mum and dad had been rather busy and were both feeling quite exhausted.

Jim and I got up and went to do the shopping run on some bikes that you could borrow from the marina. An excellent service to offer I thought and it was just the perfect weather for a bike ride. Gorgeous hot sun. JWe had a really good laugh and a lovely time. On the way to the super market we bumped into the circus... literally. We looked up from our map from which we were trying to determine the best route to the shops, to be faced with a couple of lama’s being led across the main road, a couple of horses, and a few camels for good measure....Oh, and some very tiny goats!? They were setting up the big top in a car park and were putting all the animals over the road on the grass to graze. We also saw they had many beautiful big lions and lionesses in cages L. This was not quite what you expect to see on the shopping run.

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After we had been back to the boat, stored the shopping ,  and had some lunch we decided as it was such a beautiful day, to borrow the bikes again and go and explore. We rode in the opposite direction from in the morning. We found a few people fishing, who we discovered on our way back had caught some garfish. We thought we might go back later and try our luck, but we were too sun tired J. So we rode around for a bit under Jim’s directional guidance, as I have no concept of direction, and he managed to get us to some lovely little beaches. We opted for the quietest one, where we parked our bikes on the beach and spent a few hours reading and sunbathing. We watched the boats go in and out of the port, including two French navy boats. We rode back in time to make omelettes and salad for dins with dad’s help. Jim and I were quite pink by now.

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Lemonade to Port Haliguen

We anchored in Lomener (or Lemonade as we call it) on Thursday night. (It is a tiny fishing village in a tiny bay just to the left of the entrance to L’Orient and saved us the time of having to go up the big river to L’orient and back again the next morning) We were completely surrounded - at very close range – by hundreds of fishing buoys and very sneaky rocks which crept up on us (and multiplied I’m sure) as the tide gradually ebbed. Jim fished while I watched. He caught another eel, only around two and a half foot this time, and a small pout. During the fishing session as we watched the creeping rocks emerge from the deep we were audience to a very amusing show staged by the local gulls and a vulnerable solo heron. The angry sounding gulls mobbed the poor heron as he perched on the edge of the rocks jutting out from the water. He hadn’t even caught any fish for them to steal, but they persisted. The gulls would fly around in a big loop to get a good fly up (as opposed to a good run up) then charge the heron full pelt and dive bomb him at the last second. The brave heron all on his own with no back up took this attack rather heroically as he would lurch his neck forward at the gulls and let out a yelp, which sounded half as if he were shouting back at them and half as though it could be a cry for help. Any way he had no fish, so the gulls bored of this quite quickly and left him in peace. Poor heron.

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Later that evening after the light had faded and the anchorage had taken on a new calm in the darkness, Jim and I still sat quietly on the back seat of the boat, line in the water waiting for the fish to bite. Jim kept looking at his line in the water and looking tempted to reel it in. He called me to confirm what he thought he saw - several fish on his line under the water, in the dark – as he suspected he may be hallucinating. Sure enough on my inspection I had to confirm his sightings. It did indeed appear that there were glittering swimming shapes following his line as he moved it side to side under the water. It took several minutes of us staring at this spectacle bemused to then realise what was causing it. It was of course the phosphorescence in the water only visible when it’s very dark. I think it’s caused by some defence mechanism in tiny plankton living in the water, but having never seen it before it was quite something. Bright green, glowing, glittery water. We played with the fishing rod tip in the water for ages, watching the glowing traces as we stirred the sea as if conjuring up some sort of make believe potion. A stunning sight.... and great fun!

Needless to say the following morning we managed to manoeuvre out from between the tightly packed buoys without much trouble at all. Thanks to the excellent anchor weighing skills of our very own winch gorilla. We had in fact, got one of the buoys wrapped around the anchor chain, but this was quickly remedied and caused no further problems. So, on we went, next stop Port Haliguen.

Port Haliguen

We all really liked Port Haliguen. It has a very modern well equipped marina (if a bit like Lymington) great wi fi, friendly people, and in contrast to the feel of the main marina the little old port next door had its very own unique charm. There was a little cafe in the old port called cafe du midi which was lovely. The decor looked as though it had not been updated since the fifties which I think really added to its character and charm. It had great atmosphere, and was obviously a popular drinking (and eating) place for the locals, and local surfers. There were lots of posters up around the place advertising local events and gigs. Also on the way to the cafe on the end of a kind of concrete pier that I think may have marked the old entrance to the port there were some very intriguing sculptures. On one side there was what appeared to be a fisherman tending to his nets and he was staring at a sculpture across the water on another concrete platform. This was of a lady whom also seemed to have some net so maybe she as alleged to have got tangled in his nets, or maybe she was a siren luring him into danger.

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On what should have been our last night in Port Haliguen (Port Hooligan as we have affectionately renamed it) we were all on the boat together and had been furiously downloading music from iTunes, as we had free wifi with top connection speed. This was causing great jollities and fun. We had all been having a really good laugh choosing songs and all listening to each other’s choices. It all got quite ridiculous to be honest. At around 10 o’clock we all thought we could hear some sort of distant music. Jim and I kept meaning to poke our heads out to investigate but among all the laughs it kept getting forgotten. Eventually at about 11.30 we both went into the cockpit to listen and discovered there was indeed some very loud music (the sort that we like J) which sounded live, coming from over towards the old port. We could also see different coloured lights flashing on and off, at first I was convinced that they were just navigation lights for boats approaching the harbour but Jim dismissed these suspicions when we saw purple and blue lights, not generally colours used at sea. So after much umming and arrring about whether or not we should go, would we be up too late? Should we have a drink, or not? What was it anyway, a nightclub? A private party? A boat party? We had no idea really but Jim was pretty sure it sounded like an outdoor thing and that it looked to him like a stage was set up somewhere outside. So mum and dad went to bed and wished us luck in our escapades. More time passed and at around midnight we committed ourselves and began to get ready to go and see what we could see. We heard the music stop a couple of times while we were getting ready and wondered if we should bother, but after all the effort, thought we should and the noise kept starting back up anyway. So finally ready at about 12.45 we stepped out into the cockpit to once again hear a stop to the party sounds we had previously been hearing. But this time, as we made our way along the big harbour wall, it did not start up again. We walked through the marina towards the old port and the lights that we could still see flashing marking our target. As we walked we looked for any clues of stragglers looking as though they may have just left a party, or any traces of music to suggest we weren’t too late. The closer we got the more we were sure it was all over, but wanted to see any way. We passed a house blaring out some reggae with a few people dancing around and for a moment wondered if we had been completely mistaken and this was what we had been hearing, but no, we were sure that we had heard the definite familiar sound of live MCing outdoors on a live stage, so on we went. We got to a beach and we could still see the lights on top of the headland, but the music had definitely stopped. We sat on the beach for a while and pondered our dilemma. In two minds as to whether we should continue to see if there was remnants of an outdoor rave or the other possibility that we may just arrive at a closed nightclub door?! We decided we had obviously missed whatever it was so slowly wandered back slightly merry by now and having quite a lot of giggles. We found a fish on the way back that a fisherman had obviously just dropped. We thought it would make good bait and were so happy with our find we took it back to the boat with us. Oh, and lest we forget Hamilton the giant racing woodlouse.

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Once on the boat we had the bright idea of having a look on Google to either find this mysterious club or at least view the headland on Google earth and see if we could find any clues. We couldn’t find anything which gave us any ideas about the possible nightclub, however looking on the map we could see a building on the top of the headland with a car park that we assumed must be where the sounds where coming from. We managed to wind down and got to bed at around 4am!

The following day we got up and checked the weather, we all agreed we would leave the next day in the morning. Still a bit bewildered by the confusion of the night before, Jim and I thought we would go for a walk and try to find out what on earth had been going on. We returned to the mysterious headland, and found the building we had seen on Google was in fact a sailing school. So now we were even more confused.

Feeling a bit disheartened to not find any answers to our conundrum, a visit to the cafe du midi felt an appropriate course of action. So we trotted back on ourselves and went for a nice cold beer on what had turned out to be a very hot sunny day. We had a lovely cold drink and discussed further the secret sounds of Port Hooligan. The cafe has lots to look at inside, including the events advertisements. We looked at all the things going on to see if any looked good and did come across an advert for a nightclub but it didn’t quite seem the right sort of thing. But one poster caught our eye. It was advertising a reggae night (right up our street), happening that night, with a guest appearance from an English reggae vocalist, location, Fort Neuf Love??? We had seen a sign for an old Fort up the road so assumed a club must have taken its name from that and thought no more of it. Just to check we asked the barman (who spoke no English) in our very broken French how far it was pointing in the direction of the fort. He assured us it was that direction about 5 or ten minutes away. This sounded fun, and we thought would be a fairly chilled affair so we could probably go, not drink or stay too late and feel ok for sailing the following morning.

That evening we were running a bit late after the very simple dinner I had planned took five times longer than it should have. So we gobbled it up as soon as it was ready and got ready for a nice relaxing evening of music. It would have been our first night out together other than a restaurant since we left, very exciting. We wandered down to the cafe du midi first for a quick half, and then walked across the empty beach towards our destination, not quite knowing what we were looking for. We were beginning to feel a little unsure as we could not hear even a very feint sound of music close or in the distance. The gig had started at 7pm and it was now around 9.45, so the music should have been going full bore by now. Trying not to get too phased by this we walked past the sailing club on the other side of the beach and followed a sign for Fort Neuf. Well, we reached Fort Neuf, and it was just that... a fort! Definitely not a club?! So here we were again completely confused and with no party to go to. Being on the highest point of land we assumed if there was a club nearby we would probably be able to see it from there. We looked down each road and in every direction and apart from a couple of hotels, not a sausage. The fort looked intriguing so we went inside to have a look. To our surprise and further confusion we found there was a stage set up but not a soul in sight. Had they cancelled? Were we seeing things? We puzzled over it for a few moments and decided we were defeated and we would head back towards the cafe and ask anyone we saw on the way. We did stop a couple who had a miniature fairground randomly in the street but again language difficulties resulted in us being directed to a casino which was the last place we wanted to go.

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Wandering back across the beach we had walked along earlier I saw a man with a metal detector. At first we thought he may not be the sort of person who would know where to find the reggae, then out of the darkness came the unmistakable reggae sounds of Damien Marley... and it was coming from the man’s phone! So, maybe he would know. I approached him and interrupted his call, oops. “Parlez Anglais?” I said to which he replied, in English “No, sorry”. We laughed. He said he did not know anything about the gig. It turned out the stranger we met on the beach was Ahmed. He is French, has Algerian parents and was also on holiday visiting his daughter. We chatted for hours about our travels, and our lives and he gave us lots of really useful advice about some of the places we were going to, which was quite remarkable as he spoke little English and our French was appalling and got steadily worse beer by beer, which was difficult but also caused us much amusement. I should point out Ahmed does not drink he only drank Cola. We didn’t make it to the reggae night, but I think we had a much better time with Ahmed, and we have made a really good friend. At one point we took Ahmed by his arm to show him the poster in the hope he could shed some light, it was at that point we noticed the gig had been the night before, so that WAS what we had heard the previous night and our search on this night had been completely in vain. Obviously fate bringing us all together J. We ended the night exchanging contact details and promised to stay in touch. Then we wandered back to the boat, feeling very contented and relaxed, and much earlier than planned for a good night’s sleep before the next day’s sailing.

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(Back to the Mate) Again at Port Haliguen, the mate was busy doing boring things like registering at the Port, getting all the gen on the Port, arranging for Wi-Fi – and this took up quite a lot of time as the sign-on cards were free but limited by usage not time, and the usage was very limited. This necessitated many trips back to the office for new cards, especially as we have 3 laptops aboard, each with a different function. I also had to arrange repairing the GRP damage we had sustained at Audierne and trying to get one of the screecher windows, which had split, repaired.  The sail-repairing lady didn’t want to know and kept her phone off the hook, and the boat maintenance office I was sent to equally didn’t want to know, giving the impression that our repair was not worthy of his attention. I did however find a little chandler who agreed to do the job in the next half-hour.  When he hadn’t appeared by 3.30 in the afternoon I was just voicing my disillusion, when there he was, a lovely old man, in his  working and somewhat  grubby overalls, short and a bit tubby. We communicated as best we could as he spoke no English and my French vocabulary did not extend, till then, to boat repairs. I remember his smile which lit up his otherwise somewhat gloomy face in a delightful way. By 7.30 pm the repair was done and he stayed to give us lots of advice about our forthcoming trip. So again Sarah and Jim did all the interesting things, as per her blog above. There was a lovely bay just to the left of the Marina at Port Haliguen and on one of my walks to the Port Office I glimpsed them, having a lovely time actually swimming in the sea.  Quel courage!

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We stayed a bit longer than intended as Sarah had negotiated an extra day to go to the Reggae night on the Sunday, and, after protracted negotiations, I had arranged for a further day as I had seen a notice about a Breton Festival, with music and dancing on the Monday. Knowing the Breton liking for anything Celtic, I was really interested to see how similar they would be. Ironically, not only did Sarah mistake the day for her thing, it turned out that I had got the wrong week for mine.

So suddenly, we were off the next morning, very early at 6am. This was not as easy as it might have been, as it was now the 1st August, when all the French go on holiday together, and we were hemmed in by several yachts.

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However, before the disbelieving eyes of the surrounding yacht owners, standing anxiously on the pontoons watching us, the Cap’n and crew rigged appropriate lines, and then the Cap’n drove hard against the bow line to get the back end out, and then serenely, reversed out between the surrounding boats and off we went, first to the fuel dock and then out to sea, with the sun just rising.

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The crew then went to bed as, despite getting back relatively early for a ‘rave’ at 1 am, it was still a short night for them. The trip to Ile d’Yeu was easy however – flat calm  and oily and Quiberon Bay was empty at this time. So we were quite surprised  and disconcerted to see a speeding motor boat, in all that empty water, heading straight for us.

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However, using our loudhailer, part of our fog defence system, the Cap’n gave them 5 toots to convey that we were unsure of their intentions, and they immediately changed course and gave us a merry wave as they passed.  2 watch changes and 12 and a half hours later, we entered the Ile d’Yeu. We were gazumped by a huge tuna fishing boat, which rushed in ahead of all the pleasure boats, who had all stopped to let it by, turned round in the harbour and then reversed through a tiny gap into the fishing boat harbour. When this amazing manoeuvre was finished, we were sent right to the end of the pleasure boat harbour – there is also a tripper boat harbour, a small fishing boat harbour and a locals’ pleasure boat harbour, so many harbours on one tiny island – where we got the last place again, on a hammer head on the penultimate pontoon. Other later yachts were sent to raft up 5 or 6 deep against the enormous fishing boats which dwarfed even the largest of them.  Lucky us! though some of them were sent in to raft up against us, which did result in some disturbed nights and early mornings.

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Above is the entrance to the yacht harbour at the back of the picture; here it is completely hidden behind an exiting tripper boat, of the same size as many of the fishing boats. You really don’t want to argue with them!

And in the clouds above presages of the dreadful weather to come, that was to keep us, and many others, on the Ile d’Yeu for another long week.