Log Entry Monday 16th July
We left Les Sables about 0900 hours as planned, in theory giving us an entrance to Santander in daylight late in Sunday evening. The weather had and was forecast to remain stable over the next few days. The wind forecast to be light (SSW - WNW, variable during mid day - both days) we expected to motor for quite a high proportion of the trip (Wind - feast or famine!). The trip was uneventful for most most of the day until about 1630 hours we received an unexpected visitor.
A pigeon took to our genoa sheet but was able to hold it's perch, it dropped to our decks and wandered around. We tried to feed it, it carried two green ring tags (one one each leg), as we approached it flew off, circled then landed again on Sailaway. We felt it was either tired, disorientated or just lazy! After an hour or so it flew off towards northern Spain heading far west of our destination - some way for it to go we guessed?
As darkness fell the wind increased from the south west far beyond the forecast, the swell built, the wind fell off but the resulting swell stayed with us during the night. We enjoyed (fortunately from a distance) fascinating electrical storms heading north, passing to the east and west of us. The morning brought light winds, we were forced to motor, the lack of wind making it unrealistic to seek stability from our sails as the resulting crashing and banging of both boom and/or sails was now common to us. We were against putting Sailaway and our nerves to such ordeals, we motored managing the swell.
We continued on through Sunday until late afternoon, the wind increased from the north west up to 25knots, we reefed and took on the resulting broadside swell. It was warm but we had to put on our wet weather gear and closed our hatches as breaking waves flooded the cockpit (and us!). At about 1800 hours we spotted through the cloud the mountains of northern Spain, the wind dropped off to about 6 knots or less, the resulting swell stayed with us, and of coarse back up went the canvas, and it rained! We entered the estuary in darkness with an annoying swell and no wind at all. Santander has four marina's, two too small for us, a third a further 3 miles up river. We made for an anchorage/visitors buoys in the town centre as the marina offered no visitors berths - we tired up and hit our beds about 0200 hours.
Log Entry Friday 13th July
We rise early, un-pack our cycles and head off. The plan is to follow a cycle route from the port, around "Pneute de St Nicolas" the old fortifications then north up the coast around the district of La Chaume. Most of the larger towns we have visited have excellent facilities for the cyclist with dedicated routes both in and out of the towns. I must say they are well used and clearly well maintained.
The beaches we find along the route are very picturesque, at around 10.00 hours only a few people are around, but certainly families are being to arrive. The beaches are very clean, with all refuse bins emptied for the days visitors and a gang clears the sea weed deposited on the beach by the early morning tide. There seems to be great pride in both the cycle tracks and the beaches, graffiti and vandalism is not evident here at all.
We decide to head back as the sun begins to intensify, we grab "a cheeky one" in a road side bar to replenish our lost fluids (medical as I would say!) then head back to Sailaway.
Log Entry Thursday 12th July
We spend today, first of all checking the weather as our next destination is to be Santander (Northern Spain) approximately 60 miles west of Bilbao. The target ports are selected as they have access for twenty four hours (not tidal or weather restricted) as there is little else now for us between Les Sables and northern Spain, perhaps a few small harbours on the French coast but none offering enough water for us to shelter should the weather turn against us during the passage. In actual fact the distance between the two ports is very similar (approximately 200 nautical miles) just a different coarse to set. We budget on 36 hours at sea to complete the trip, the weather, influenced by a high pressure zone dominating central Europe gives us (today, things may change) enough leeway to spend another day in Les Sables, we now plan to leave Saturday. Friday (yes the 13th, which may have had some thing to do with our decision to travel Saturday 14th) will be spent on our cycles, exploring the local beaches etc.
The town itself is split into six districts, housing approximately 44,000 people - we love it, the people are so friendly and willing to help. The town/river is split into into three harbours. The fishing port, claimed to be ranked seventh amongst French harbours (68 boats with over 200 seamen) - not militant like Saint Gilles! They specialise in sole, tuna, cuttlefish and squid. The commercial port serves one of the main cereal producing regions exporting 500,000 tons of cereal per year. The yachting harbour holds 1400 berths, and guess what berthing is a lot cheaper than the UK, and electricity and wi-fi etc is all included in the price. The marina itself is fairly new and is complete with restaurants bars etc, all the stuff we have no interest in! An interesting fact is that the boat building industry seems to have under gone a full swing with now nine boat yards in operation.
There is clearly a great pride in the town, it is very well maintained and very clean all local produce is easily available and at a good price.
The medical system is very good in France, Ann has to make an appointment with a doctor to obtain a further coarse of anti-biotic's. Our NHS system (European Health Insurance Card etc) is not recognised here (contrary to popular believe) therefore we have to pay for the appointment with the Doctor. An appointment we get once again within 8 hours of asking, costing €25 (£16), the French obviously do not pay. If we had insurance we would be able to claim it back. The prescription cost are less than 50% of that we pay in the UK.
Log Entry Wednesday 11th July FREE SPIRTS ONCE AGAIN!
0930 hours a fellow captive calls us - "we can leave he calls". "When?" I ask. "It has to be now!" he replies. To support his claim a member from the Port Authority arrives to tell us the chain over the harbour entrance is lowered but he is unsure for how long. In less than thirty minutes we have cast off and are making our way down the river, not sure whether we will be seeing the place for the last time. We passed through the fish quay, the fisherman bidding us fare well as we pass the fish quay. We turn the corner and sure enough the chain was down - it was also letting the fishing boats out for their daily catch!
We our way between the floating markers, over the lowered chain and out to sea - our destination Les Sables d'Olonne. There was little wind but an annoying broadside swell remained from the previous days winds. We did not care, we motor sailed for the twenty miles or so, managing the swell. We arrived in the marina at 1430 hours, booking a berth for two nights - still finding hard to believe we had been let out, especially after the previous days fiasco.
Log Entry Tuesday 10th July FREE HOSTAGES ANN & KEVIN! (11 DAYS CAPTIVE)
In rugby terminology - "Sold a dummy - by the fishermen"
At last a development breaks, the Port Authorities approach us and others about their intended discussions with regards to dropping the blockade for one hour to allow us and other boats to leave. We are told it all appears positive so we remain on board and plan our departure to Les Sables D'Olonne some 20 miles closer to the Spanish boarder, from there we would jump to central, northern Spain. At 1300 hours we, against our expectations get the "green light" -the cable across the harbour entrance is to be lowered at 1500 hours for one hour. We complete our plans to leave and all (Port Authority and boat owners) all work together the shuffle around the boats on the pontoon go give all that want to leave the opportunity. Not an easy task as the cross wind gust up to 25 knots, we fit our storm jib as the forecast indicates gusts up to a force 7 with sea's 2-3 meters in height. Not our chosen weather to leave but we are unsure when a further opportunity would arise, our destination was only three hours away. As 1500 hours approach on us and only two others look likely to leave. Our plan was to follow a French boat out in case there was any problems as we were told to listen on Channel 6 - what for, we could not understand it? The Port had approached us with a compromise on the charges which we accepted as "reasonably fair", we had been held for seven days, they wanted payment for three! There was no way was it to be free, and the Port now controlled the whole departure exercise. We paid up reluctantly, our final protest once again bring a flurry of French and the usual apparent lack of understanding when controversial topics are discussed.
The VHF's (Channel 9, Port Traffic) com alive, confirmation of the cable being lowered had not been received - there was a problem which was translated to us as "The Mayor did not use the right words!" Two hours later they confirm that the blockade would not be lifted - we had already planned our celebration in Les Sables D'Olonne? We pack all away and await any further development, we discussed with the crew of another vessel our understanding of the fisherman's position (believe that if you like they hate them as well!).
Our spoken French continues to improve we are met with jokes explaining that when we do get out it should be perfect! We laughed as you can imagine!
The most frustrating thing is that the resident fishing fleet are still working, they are the only vessels entering and leaving the harbour. Without any financial losses to the fishing fleet this could go on indefinitely, the only sufferers are the pleasure boat owners, and we are the only foreign vessel involved. I am sure Brussels are racing to change EU Fishing legislation to meet their needs? Today we will make contact with the British Consulate to see if they can assist.
Log Entry Monday 9th July FREE HOSTAGES ANN & KEVIN! (9 DAYS CAPTIVE)
A picture of the visitors pontoon, all vessels waiting to leave. There is only ourselves and one French vessel occupied all the other owners have returned home until the dispute is over!
We are still awaiting some development in the situation, there is a meeting on the 11th but people are not optimistic of a conclusion as the fisherman's grievances are targeted toward EU Agreements or legislation? We learn from a friend of ours (Jean-Jaques) and a local fisherman that the Mayor has ruled that the "imprisoned racing boats" will not be charged for additional berthing fees during the action, in fact it is even reported in the local news papers. We also discuss the mooring fee expectations of the Port Authorities with regards to our selves (i.e. we have to pay in full) with a number or the other boats on the visitors pontoon, all french. They have all been given free berthing during the action, we explain our position, a "shrug of shoulders" is the normal response along with general complaints about the Port Authorities? We also have been told by the local fisherman that the union has agreed to pay any due fees to the Port.
I return to the Port Authority Office to ask once again "who is responsible for our mooring fees?" and I am once again told that we are, in full. My french is obvious improving, and eventually I leave with a suggested meeting with the Director of Port Authorities - we shall see where we end up. Hope fully not paying what could result in being well over £250.00 in fees, especially when every on else is paying nothing, we wish Sailaway was French registered? The greater frustration is that we sit as days of relatively settled weather pass us by. We could have been in northern Spain with such conditions, hope fully we will see similar weather as the strike breaks as we have now been "Frenched out" and look to make a direct jump to Spain as soon as we can.
We continue to pass our time, the town is relatively small, but quaint with a distinctive "Spanish style" in the buildings especially the older dwelling - understandable as we are only 200 miles from the boarder.
We continue to use the local markets as a high quality, low cost source of food. Ann & I both agree the fruit and vegetables are far superior in taste and shelf life and guess what, yes, they also cost less than even the super markets in the UK. On sunday we discover a car boot sale equivalent with a difference - free entry, complete with a jazz band and a bar! We do not buy any thing but the social activities are good.
Log Entry Saturday 7th July FREE HOSTAGES ANN & KEVIN! (7 DAYS CAPTIVE)
The meeting on the 5th broke up without conclusion. We now have almost hourly demonstrations with parades, fireworks etc - Bless em! The next meeting is now scheduled for the 11th! The port remains closed, they are allowing vessels in looking for shelter on the under standing that they cannot get out. We occupy our time doing "things!".
Log Entry Thursday 5th July FREE HOSTAGES ANN & KEVIN! (5 DAYS CAPTIVE)
No change with the situation, there is a union meeting today, no news as yet! The best thing is the port authorities expect us to pay mooring fees in full because we cannot leave!
Log Entry Monday 2nd July - FREE HOSTAGES ANN & KEVIN! (2 DAYS CAPTIVE)
We awake on board, have breakfast as we begin to make ready to bid our fare wells to the kids a member from the port authority arrives to confirm our technical problems are solved, I explained the parts were due at lunch time and we would be leaving on the evening tide. We bid our farewells and check the weather, we are to make for Ile d'Yeu, the westerlies are F5 gusting to F7. It was only a short hop, but definitely time to leave, with kids gone we begrudged funding this arrogant port any further - the visitors pontoon remains half empty.
The port staff, move us once more further down the pontoon to make more room for visitors? They watch us make ready, remove our sail covers, start our engine etc. We had a vessel close in front of us, the tide and strong wind could be problematic. I spoke to them giving them our intension's, at least then if there was a problem getting out of our berth (wind or tide) we could hit them with their knowledge! Only joking, actually the two guys were very pleasant we had practiced our French on them, and their English on us. Our conversation took a strange turn, they asked "where did we think we were going, the Port was closed yesterday?" The fisherman have a cable stretched over the mouth of the river controlling the vessels entering and leaving the harbour - the "strike" due to finish 11th July???? We tidy up and head to the port to investigate.
We call in at the office to try and clarify the situation, especially regards to the earlier conversation with there staff about leaving? The fisherman (this time not the farmers) have a grievance over fishing territories, it was explain to us that apparently the Spanish fleets can enter the French waters but the French not the Spanish. I explained that we sympathised because the French can "rape the English water" but the English are not allowed in French waters. The conversation died, I guess sarcasm is lost in translation?
We are stuck until the dispute is resolved, any help (especially from French speakers) in fighting our quest for freedom would be appreciated. We suspect that the Port organised the industrial action as we out stayed our welcome. I have to confess, one of the girls in the office was as help full as she could be - they were obviously following orders. A least she had the ability to convey those orders without rudeness.
WE HATE THIS PORT!
Log Entry Saturday 30th June
We head off to the kids holiday park at St-Jean-de-Mont, we are to spend the following couple of nights on firm ground, the first for many months. The park was well equipped for the kids, with play groups, play areas and pools, we joined in, rounding the evenings off with "the barbeque". Lee appears to have taken qualifications on this topic, so I allow him to take control of the cooking? The weather remains a mix.
On Saturday morning we return to the harbour to declare that we still have problems and are awaiting parts - due Monday. We met the same resistance to us staying, not worth going into detail - it was clear they did not want us! Interesting enough, speaking to a different person the number of visitors had now been reduced from 100 to 80. They still could not fit 80 boats to the pontoon, 50 max. (for information 23 turned up, lots of spare berths for other visitors not allowed in a perfect way to run a business a loss of approximately €900 per night in revenue from the pontoon!) As they were unable to force us to leave they accepted payment until the Monday then we had to leave once the repair was complete, I confirmed that was definitely our intension, it truly was we had had enough. We were beginning to become "anti - french", the rudeness was quite unbelievable, obviously a "local thing" as the staff at the park were entirely the opposite.
We returned to Sailaway as we now planned to spend a couple of nights on board, visit the town and the local fun park. Returning to the visitors pontoon every one had left except for us and a single sailboat. They had moved us down to the end of the pontoon and rafted us both together, they obviously did not us English mingling with the french visitors. It gets worse, climbing on board we notice they have damaged Sailaway during the move, they have dragged her along some thing during the exercise, removing the paint from the hull for about 11/2 meters ( 50mm wide). I reported the damage to the office, they asked me to return to the vessel and some one will come to see us. Two days later he did, initially we discussed our technical problem, I then pointed out the reported damage and it's cause. The conversation now turned into a fast total "high speed French discussion" I translated into "up yours!". We now absolutely love this port, still I won €10 as the out come was as predicted.
We visited a couple of restaurants and sample their local dish "moules & frittes" the local fun park tired the kids out.
Log Entry Thursday 28th June
We lift our anchor and head down the narrow channel through the busy port and into the marina, we are tied up by about 1400 hours - off to register with the "Capitaine de port". The port has a busy fishing fleet, ferries to Ile d'Yeu and a massive marina, the visitors berths are crowded, positioned further up river. We register, only to be told we had to leave on Saturday morning - "NO EXCEPTION!". There was a sailing regatta, and they were expecting 100 visiting boats - obviously all to be French. We had hoped to stay a few days with the kids? I very quickly invented an engine problem and asked for some assistance in seeking help, they supplied a number of companies details. They would only take payment until the Saturday as they would not accept any visitors after that for the following week. I was asked "wouldn't you rather go to Ile d'Yeu?", some seventeen miles on? I replied "no, as the trip would not be safe with my engine problem". The comment brought further questions as we were a "sailboat", I stood my ground. Not a good start to the visit, every where we had been, people had been so friendly and help full.
Ann and I were discussing the difference in attitude with this port, it was disappointing as we had until today enjoyed our stay in France and had looked forward to spending more time in the country. We were taking a great interest in the "spoken language".
Just when we thought it could not get worse, to cap it all - Lee, Trish and the kids turned up AGAIN!
The next couple of days brought a mix of rain and sunshine, the westerly winds remained constant day and night.
Log Entry Thursday 28th June 2007
Wednesday 27th, the winds drop off to a westerly F5 and the sea state falls from rough to moderate - we are off! The thunder showers remain and the temperatures seem to remain around 16-18 Celsius, more like the English summer. We were heading for St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, a destination some 65 miles south. Lee, Trish, Georgia and Reece were holidaying at St-Jean-de-Mont only 8/10 mile from St Gilles. The journey was a good twelve hours and gave us our first experience of the westerly swells generated by such light winds, it was strange sliding down such large waves with a full set of canvas flying. As we pasted through areas of increased wind speed the sea seemed to react instantly. It makes one understand by people generally "hop" from port to port as apposed to longer trips as the concentration required to negotiate the swell and it's consequences is quite exhausting. The trip reminded us of familiar UK waters - with the wind chill, it was cold!
Making good way, we arrived a couple of hours before low water, our pilotage advises against entry until deeper water. We decided to anchor off shore and await the following afternoon tide. The night was constantly disturbed by the swell (as there was little shelter) but it did began to abate as the winds dropped in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Port was clearly a developed holiday resort, but as we awaited the tide the deserted beaches, beach huts and chairs was a clear indication of the weather pattern. Anyone on the beaches were heavily dresses - and its the end of June!
Log Entry Saturday 23rd June 2007
We continue to monitor the weather, especially that in the region to the south of us as we require a good couple of days for our jump to Spain - seems almost an impossibility with the currant weather trends. When it leaves us here, it heads north for the UK, Eire etc. The recent storms and floods in the UK have already passed by us. A word of consolation to UK followers, "you have more on the way!". A change appears to be on the way with high pressure zones beginning to develop to the south of us.
We continue to explore the Island, predominantly by road (bus/cycle) remaining based in our relatively sheltered cove at Sauzon. We get on with our chores, Kevin, planning and fixing, Ann, washing and cleaning. With no laundrette available Ann try's washing in sea water as fresh water has to be conserved as we are only able to enter the harbour at high water with the larger fishing vessels should we need to fill our tanks. The fresh water tap in the harbour is strategically place in amongst their berths, so replenishing our tanks is an interesting task as we have very little clue as to what is being conveyed to us by the local fishermen. With the bad weather, entertainment is sort inside, bars are few and far between, closing around 9pm even on a Friday night, restaurants obviously stay open until the customer is finished. We found some entertainment in the Hotel du Phare, at the harbour entrance. We observed a good old fashioned sing-song, any one could join in it appeared. One of the Chefs (from what I could gather) was initially reluctant to do so, after a number of songs the manager shouted "check on", in French obviously to get the guitar off him!
Working our way around the island we find many small hamlets and harbours, picturesque areas developed by the local people.
We visit La Palais, the main town of the island and only other port of shelter available to us. We had, considered moving to La Palais following a couple of sleepless nights "bouncing off the walls" due to the winds and resulting swell. With the weather at it's worst, many had left Sauzon for La Palais for better shelter. We decided against it and following our visit we were glad we had.
Only a certain section of the river, they call a marina was available to us due to our depth, it was congested and unfriendly, we saw very few people actually sitting on their boats, certainly very little communication between the rafted vessels. We had met a number of English couples with similar objectives in Sauzon heading south, we exchanged views and invites aboard each others vessels.
The town was in our view almost like a "marshalling yard", the tourists came in on the ferry, the harbour area was full of car, bicycle, scooter hire companies complemented by coach excursion organisations - "in they came and off they went!" Facilities were no better than Sauzon, in fact La Palais gave the impression of a tired, disorganised town
Log Entry Sunday 17th June 2007
The strong SW winds did not fall off as hoped we remain in Sauzon awaiting a window to move south. We share the protected bay with about 5/6 British boats with similar objectives. The only vessels moving are the local, island boats and visitors from the mainland. We watch as there appears to be a "carved route" to the north east as local boats come and go across ten mile wide channel to the mainland in the lee (shelter) of the island. Our problem is a series of lows moving through the west of the Biscay, the resulting westerly's creating a swell off the continental shelf. As the low pressure systems move north/north east the bad weather and accompanying thunder squalls travel north with them bringing the swells towards us. The local fragmented coastline and series of islands further confuse the water. Earlier in the week we spoke (as best we could) to the Harbour Master about his posted weather forecast as they presented F4-F5 south westerly's creating rough or very rough seas (up to 6 meter wave height) - not what we were used to. In UK waters a much greater wind strength would be required. His advise was quite simple, the seas would be "that rough beyond the shelter of the island, and to " be careful these waters are not English!". His advise was adhered to, the Navtex forecasts also associated relatively low wind strength westerly's and relative high sea state.We are seeing sail boats traveling North/South, they are all heavily crewed and they do not give the visual impression that they are enjoying it!
We decide to sit tight awaiting a settling high pressure development, there are other nearby destinations (but not south as required) we could head to but we decide to stay in Sauzon as the cost is very low in comparison to the mainland marinas. Our next destination is south (approximately 60 miles) to the Ile de Yeu and then a single jump (220 miles) to the north coast of Spain. South of us there is very little with regards to "safe havens", ports we could run too therefore a good few days of settled weather is important. We are comforted further by the significant number of people telling us how unusual this weather is and how good it is normally this time of year - great eh!
Log Entry Wednesday 13th June 2007
We continue to work our way down the coast of Brittany toward Spain, our next port of call is the small port of Sauzon on Belle Ile. Belle Ile is a small island approximately 30 mile off the mainland of Brittany to the west of the River Loire. Sauzon is heavily dependant on both tourism and it's "local fishing industry". The harbour is very small and dries therefore we have to pick up on the visitors buoys out side the harbour it's self. It's a dinghy ride into the harbour/town itself.
The town is small quaint and colourful, to explore fully takes about thirty minutes, the island is fed (tourists and provisions) by a series of ferries entering the capital La Palais five mile to the south of us. Strong winds are forecast through out the night, hopefully they will drop off allowing us to move further south in the morning.
Log Entry Monday 11th June 2007
Understanding the French way of life - "every thing stops for lunch!"
Having worked with the French for many years in business one always understood the importance of their lunch break, living with it is a little frustrating for an englishman? Every thing closes from 12.30 - 14.30 except restaurants and bars, I must admit one or two of the shops do also stay open. Who has got it right, the french would argue they work later at night - debatable in my opinion?
A couple of examples that bring the cultural differences clearly home:
1. A group of workmen are refurbishing a bar/restaurant, each lunch time they bring out a couple of tables and bench seats from within the bar and set them up for lunch on the pavement. Why not its there lunchtime!
2. We use a Navtex system for navigational warnings and weather forecasts. The French military have a number of restricted areas in the sea area in which we travel. The navtex informs us of the co-ordinates, type of activity (flight, missile/artillery etc). They issue they day, date and time of the exercise. You guessed it they include a 12.30 - 14.30 daily break of the relative activity - must be lunch?
Good luck to them!
Log Entry Sunday 10th June 2007
We arrived at Concarneau yesterday (Saturday) about 8pm, the journey taking us thirteen hours in total. With the exception of the first couple of hours where we were able to sail the wind soon dropped off completely and the sea took "glass like appearance" - not even a ripple at times. Unfortunately the coastal fog remained with us, only clearing four or five miles from the shore. On went the engine for the remainder of the trip. The route we chose enabled us to save five hours over all, but we had to time the journey to pass through the "Raz de Sein" at slack water as the tide (with or against) reached over eight knots (nine mile per hour) - the French equivalent of the Menai Straights. We had initially considered pushing on to Belle Island, a further twelve hours, but the journey has been tiresome due to the intensity of the heat from both the sun and a combination of the heat radiated from the engine.
Moving through the Raz de Sein the dramatic Brittany coastline was spoiled by the sea fog.
Concarneau was originally a tiny islet at the head of a wide bay, the entrance from the sea cluttered with rock falls making it an interesting entrance. It was one of the earliest fortified sites in Brittany, dominated by pirates and privateers for centuries. The fortifications were modified on several occasions to improve their efficiency. The fortress today still remains, with its majestic walls surrounding a miniature town.
The town soon out grew it's walls, sardine fishing brought wealth to the area with the invention of tin cans in the 19th century the town further expanded. I had visited the town some 12 years prior for a company that produced metal/tin printing equipment (Crabtree), it brought back memories however the "developers" had also made their mark. Today fishing is still a larger employer but mainly coastal, tourism a key factor in to day's economy.
During our walk around the old town we found a "master confectionary", in his collection he boasted a chocolate lion and lighthouse in his collection. The adults seemed to enjoy the shop as much as the kids?
Log Entry Friday 8th June 2007
We have seen the weather turn for the better, we spent most of today unpacking our summer gear and storing away our fleeces, sweaters etc. We have also began using our hatch covers to eliminate the "green house effect" as well as using the bini to protect us from the sun in the cockpit. We take a last look around before we leave in the morning for Concarneau or Belle Isle, dinner this evening will be in a local restaurant - fish of coarse.
Log Entry Wednesday 6th June 2007
Monday (4th June) at 0600 we slip our lines leaving for Camaret, just south of Brest (Brittany). Our stay in Cornwall (extended to five weeks in total) had not provided us with good fortune, for Kevin, a chest infection, back complications and of coarse our engine problems. We planned to take the more direct route than the norm, missing the tidal gates of the north west tip of Brittany. Many favour the shorter trip across the channel, then coastal hop along the French coast. Twenty six hours later we are in Cameret, the trip providing all the normal occurrences. Weather - not enough wind, too much, a big swell coming in from the Atlantic, and finally, thick fog as we approached the French coast line. The sea provided "lonely ness", hours without a sighting of another vessel (commercial or pleasure). Then, the hectic busy shipping lanes and an abundance of traffic to keep our minds occupied. With a "watch" scheme in operation, (conditions allowing) we still arrived at Camaret ready for a quick tidy up, good breakfast, shower and a refreshing sleep before we wander into town.
The town itself has contrast, obviously, in earlier years, a fishing port. Now, clearly a failing occupation with a number of "abandoned" travelers left to the weather on the beach. The area is very picturesque, with dramatic coast line, "almost white sand beaches". The local industry clearly now being "tourism" - too many English for us! We were taken by surprised by the number of "UK registered cars" along with the number of English registered vessels in Port Verban where we are.
A walk along the promenade confirms our thoughts, plenty of "English Yatchies" in the cafes/restaurants. However, behind the commercialised promenade, a warren of closely build houses from the tradition town - quite an interesting contrast. Just checking the weather it looks like we will be here for a couple of days.