1 June - at Port du Crouesty, Golfe de Morbihan

Escapade of Rame
Richard & Julie Farrington
Fri 2 Jun 2017 05:38

47:32.5N  002:53.7W

Well we escaped from Lorient around lunchtime on Tuesday, having spent the forenoon mainly engaged with trying to sort out IT and connectivity issues.  I might have mentioned that we managed to store the power supply unit for our Gucci little portable printer in the attic at home… well the awfully nice people at Canon put us in touch with a company called Robert Scott Associates in Oxfordshire.  They confirmed that they stocked spare parts but could not send me one on the grounds that they only replaced items missing from the box on purchase.  How splendid!  Why should Britons tremble when faced with such stoically unimaginative customer service?  I then rang the internet seller who supplied the printer in the first place; a much more swept up initial response, but I shall reserve judgement on their performance until the bits appear somewhere…


Comms has never been my strong point either.  We purchased a very clever booster aerial which is designed to suck up the weakest wifi signal from a distant coffee shop and blast it through the boat.  It comes with an equally clever router device that you can configure to work off wifi, HF or satellite.  I parted with significant cash for this elegant combo, but it seems to be allergic to the boat computer.  A couple of dozen screenshots later, and the nice chaps at Mailasail think they have a solution… or rather, the solution lies with me and I need to do some techy stuff I don’t really understand.  So another forenoon awaits when we are next in wifi and mobile phone range.  For now, I’m doing rather well with a funny little box from Mr EE which cost me a fraction of the huge outlay to Mailasail – and okay, I admit it can’t control a satellite phone, but at least I can read about The Donald’s latest antics…


More importantly, we escaped from Lorient and had a very easy sail to windward down to the south east to the magnificent island of Belle Ile.  The Pilot book waxes lyrical about a fairly remote anchorage on the north west corner of the island, so we thought we should give it a look.  The narrowest part requires you to drop your anchor near one steep cliff and tie the stern to the opposite side.  I like a navigational challenge but decided that risking our new home was a step further than necessary, so we retreated to the wider part of the bay.  Here, the low Atlantic swell would probably have made life quite uncomfortable in the lovely PhoeniX (our previous boat – a lightweight racer) but there’s something about 23 tonnes of Oyster that spreads reassurance and calm.



So we stayed put.  I got my Christmas present out (a gas Barbeque) and after nearly dropping it in the sea a couple of times trying to assemble it on the guardrail, we had a fine supper of chargrilled vegetables and Merguez sausages.  Washed down with some Elderflower cordial as we are trying to stick to our policy of not touching the hooch during the working week.  Got to maintain some sort of a link to you fine readers back home, after all…



Wednesday we arose bright and early (nine-ish) and set foot ashore for a bimble.  A fine cliff walk with lovely views, bright wild flowers and the odd lizard. 




Returning to Escapade at lunchtime we weighed anchor and set sail for Le Palais, the capital of Bell Ile.  Mainly because we were running out of milk (fresh and Long Life) and Fazza without his morning tea can be a bit grumpy (ask Leading Steward Curtis).  Also, ironically, because we knew we wanted to spend more time here and wanted to see a bit more of the island before taking advantage of the Neap tides to visit the Golfe de Morbihan.


Le Palais is literally steeped in history.  The small town is dominated by the imposing citadel, built by the French master of Defensive construction, M Vauban.  I suspect he had a lot in common with some modern defence contractors I’ve met over the years: his stuff is everywhere along the coast from St Malo to here, yet despite being sold as ‘impregnable’, it was captured by the British quite easily.  The island (a mini Isle of Wight) remained under British control for several decades until some enlightened negotiators swapped it for a place called ‘Nova Scotia’.  Let’s hope their descendants are going to work in the Brexit department!



We poked our nose into the harbour, more as a reconnaissance mission than a definite raid, only to be swept up by a swarthy chap with very long grey hair, a gilet (no T shirt), a Gauloise, impossibly balanced on a small inflatable with a massive outboard (I admit some envy on all counts except the ciggy), who ushered us into a narrow space between two other English boats – the first we have seen since L’Aberwrac’h.  Bows tied to a chain on the jetty five feet ahead, stern tied to a buoy.  Slick as you like.  Turns out both boats were from Portsmouth – one has a mooring at Hardway and used to look across at Escapade every day!  Oh it’s a small world.  We shall definitely return to Le Palais, but I think we’ll anchor off next time: the €30 charge hardly represented a bargain with no ability to get ashore without our rubber boat, no electricity and no Wifi – with or without my **** router!


So today we set out across the sound to the entrance to the Golfe de Morbihan, a fabled cruising ground known for blissful anchorages and startlingly strong tidal streams.  We stopped short today though, and have spent the afternoon at a vast marina at Port de Crouesty.  Odd name, huh?  Quite an odd place, actually.  Industrial scale pleasure boating for the masses… rather well done.  We are alongside a British boat with a Belgian owner, Emile Schamp.  He’s a professional interpreter and translator and has produced a remarkable reference book of sailing terminology in English and French.  Needless to say we now own a copy, so I hope it works in Guadeloupe!  Actually, given that we spend so much time sailing around the Cherbourg peninsular, I think it will be useful for many years to come.


A better investment than some of the fresh vegetables that we came here for.  The much vaunted ‘fine supermarket’ of the Pilot book (and Reeds) had some of the worst selection of fresh vegetables that I have seen outside the Third World.  I suspect we will be making a vegetable stew with most of it in the next 24 hours before it disintegrates…


Tomorrow we will enter the Golfe.  We have a fine French Navy chart and tidal stream atlas.  It’s Neaps (morte eau in my new book) so the strongest tide should be 3 knots rather than 9.  Who knows, we may even slow down for a few days!