Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Golfe de Morbihan & Its Islands (27.8.17)

After two nights on a mooring in the river Auray it was time to move on. Having used most of the petrol we had on-board we definitely needed more. Navigating the Auray river we decided to exit the Morbihan on an outgoing tide and come back in on the next flood. What a good idea! Just outside the entrance on the port side is the enormous marina of Port Du Crouesty. The boat pontoons are contained in 6 separate basins, and the fuel pontoon has 9 individual fuel pumps! Port Du Crouesty became known on-board as Port Crusty, it was easier. After we fuelled up with Gas-oil and petrol for the dinghy we were asked to move and rafted up alongside a brand new 47 foot Wauqiuez yacht. Very nice indeed. No-one on board we tramped our footprints over the decks, and felt obliged to wash the the yacht down when we eventually left.

France has a huge flourishing business in chartering yachts and boats. This effectively means that any French man who played with a plastic boat in the bath as a child can legitimately hire a yacht or boat. He/she does not require any formal qualifications to hire said yacht. Nowhere was this more evident than in Port Crusty marina. My goodness, there were boats going every where and no-one seemed to be in control of the majority. Such was my (our) concerns for the standard of boat control displayed, that we decided to get out of the marina tout flipping suite.

Once out we anchored in a nearby bay and soaked up the sun for a couple of hours, waiting for the tide to turn in the Morbihan. Again the Armada congregated at the entrance for the mass entrance. Again Lindsay was in the starting blocks ready to go in case the armada took all the anchoring spaces in the 50 square miles! We were early with our attempt and quickly found that a 55 HP engine which powers the yacht along at about 6.7 knots doesn’t fair very well against an 8 knot tide. Out of the tidal race we waited and again pounced when another yacht successfully passed us. Huston we have control, and slowly made our way into the Morbihan and a mooring for the night.

20170829_070648      Sunrise in the Morbihan                                   IMG-20171022-WA0002       Beautiful houses on the waters edge                            

Wow, what a delight the Morbihan is, with its collection of individual islands the majority of which are privately owned. Once on a mooring we dinghied (!) ashore for an evenings walk pasted  a variety of homes (some already closed up for the winter!) on a very quiet Ile Aux Moines, and taking in the stunning sunset as we returned to Moneypenny for a night cap and bed. The following day we toured the inland archipelago and eventually anchored to the North of Ile d’ Arz, close to another British yacht. T

The following morning the skipper off the other Brit yacht came over and introduced himself. Mark and his wife (who we didn’t meet) had been at anchorage in the same spot for the last 10 days because they both liked it!Anyway Mark was on ‘a rubbish run’, or so he said, and offered to take all our rubbish ashore which was very kind as we didn’t hesitate in filling his dinghy with allsorts . We later went ashore ourselves and walked the paths and byways of this picturesque island. A beautiful summers day and all was rosy in most of the gardens, with an array of colours. We walked a long way that afternoon and it was with enthusiasm that we returned to base for a cuppa and a rest in the late afternoon sun.  Within minutes of sitting down I saw three sailors in some difficulty. Their 17 foot  catamaran had capsized and one of the crew was seen to be swimming after the yacht he had obviously fallen off. Jude and I watched as no passing motorboats went to their aid and the crew were attempting to right the vessel. Eventually I shouted across to Mark on his yacht, (who’s dinghy with engine attached was already in the water), to come and fetch me and we would assist. So International rescue was launched, powered by a 2.5hp Suzuki outboard engine. It took a while, a long while to catch up with the up turned catamaran which was drifting away from us in the wind. As we sped to assist our fellow sailors at about 1 knot full speed a guy saw what was happening and came across in his 250hp rib. (show off!!!!) The result was that the rib guy pulled on the upturned boat as I held up the catamarans mast above my head and the crew balanced professionally as the ‘cat’ returned to its normal upright position. Many ‘Merci’s’ later we departed to make the long trip back to our respective mother ships.

With a change of top as I had got soaked, I sat down again to a well earned rest when a very inconsiderate ‘Frenchman’ motored passed Moneypenny at full speed in his pride and joy motor brick. The result was that the wake caused by the motor boat rocked Moneypenny from side to side nearly causing the red wine to spill! If said Frenchman could only have heard the expletives as he continued on his merry way. We both watched as he and the boat full of youngsters went to pass a yacht at high speed only for there to be a very sudden decline in his boat speed as he hit ground at full bore. O’ dear, another job for International Rescue? No, what use would 2.5 HP on a dinghy be in attempting to tow him off the hard stuff. We continued to watch as he tried to cover his embarrassment and re-float his boat. With much revving of the engine, he eventually managed to detach himself from the ground, coming passed us much slower than the first occasion and trundled off into the distance without even waving good bye. What an eventful day.

Tomorrow we would make our way further into the Morbihan to Vannes.

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Isle de Houat to the Golfe de Morbihan 24.8.17

One of my ‘must visit ‘ places on this adventure of ours is the Golfe de Morbihan. We left Isle de Houat at 11.30am and set our sails for the entrance into the Morbihan. Having read all the pilotage books on-board, the entrance into the ‘Golfe’ was to be treated with respect. The pilotage books all clearly stated that there was a right and wrong time to enter the Golfe. In the Morbihan there are literally 70 islands contained in an inland waterway covering some 50 square miles. The difference in the tide times from North to South is almost an hour. So, the problem lies in getting through the narrow entranceway at the right time. At full flood, the water races through the entrance at 8 knots on a spring tide. So Mr Lindsay sort this one out!    Easy, wait just off the entrance and wait for someone else in a yacht to attempt entry. Simples. We hung around for a while and could see an approaching armada of sailing vessels. Ok lets go for it. With 55 horses inside Moneypenny’s engine we commenced to motor into the entrance behind a couple of like sized yachts. Oops, we all came to an abrupt halt in the outgoing tide. Way to early, stated my only crew member Judith. She was lucky to stay on-board at that juncture.

IMG-20171017-WA0024Entering The Morbihan               IMG-20171017-WA0023 Quite has returned!

We waited and again put the 55 horses into full gallop mode and slowly but surely edged our way into the Golfe. Having negotiated the entrance, we decided to turn to port and navigate the River Auray, which believe it or not takes you eventually up to Auray! We travelled some 5 miles up the river and picked up a convenient mooring buoy and settled down for a well earned rest. Why oh why did we pick a mooring next to a disused landing stage which in the late evening became a magnet for the local youths to congregate at and scream each and every time someone jumped off the stage into the water. By the end of the evening I was ready to drown an unsuspecting said youth, but there were too many witnesses!!!!. Thank goodness the tide went out and peace and tranquillity returned, allowing a restful night sleep.

The following day we ventured ashore by dinghy and walked through ancient woodland (complete with medieval burial tomb) to the town of ‘Bono’. No I don’t know if he has ever been there!!. A small town located on the edge of the river dominated by an old iron bridge. We found that the bridge was in fact the third model to be built on the site and allowed the residents of Bono walking access to the bigger town of Auray some 8 miles away. Just popping into town for a pint darling!!! was the call from older times.

     IMG-20171017-WA0025                                                          IMG-20171017-WA0022The Bridge connecting Bono to Auray

Arriving back at the dinghy we noticed that someone had stolen the water out of the river and we had to carry the dinghy down the foreshore. Ouch, ouch as we trod on oyster shells. And that was with sandles on!. Launch said dinghy and jump in Alistair. Oh Poo, I managed to puncture the dinghy on an oyster shell and a loud hissing sound accompanied us in our race back to Moneypenny before all the air escaped out of the punctured compartment. There are three compartments on the dinghy but I didn’t fancy getting wet. Out with the puncture repair kit and a quick repair was undertaken. Leave to cure for 24 hours stated the instructions. Forget that for a start and within 2 hours we were back on the water heading for Auray, in the same dinghy. Auray was a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern. On the riverside were medieval buildings and warehouses converted, in these times, to shops and restaurants. Walk up the steep cobbled street to the modern town again with its collection of French chain stores. Jude and I were due to return to the Uk on the 7th September for three weeks and I was under orders from my daughter to dress smartly for an event in London on the 8th September. Someone should really tell the French clothing industry that someday someone may  wish to purchase a pair of trousers which will actually fit a fat bellied Welshman. No, there isn’t a man living in France with a waist band over 38 inches (Or the french equivalent measurement which is 52)(52 what I don’t know!) Not a single pair of trousers to fit in sight. A jacket sir? (Please remember this was taking place through the services of my on-board translation service – Madam Judith). A Jacket. It was like I was shopping for moon dust.  They all stop at the equivalent of 44” chest. Why didn’t I put a jacket and trousers on-board when we left Milford. There commenced the search of the century, in every town we visited for the elusive jacket and trousers. I was even walking down the streets eyeing up French men and trying to guesstimate their waist size. Surely his waist is as big as mine!!!! Where does he shop? Defeated, we returned to the dinghy and motored the six miles downstream to the sanctuary of Moneypenny. It can’t be that difficult to buy a sodding jacket and trousers in France can it? Answer – yes it can.

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Belle Ile–19.8.17

South Brittany can justly hold its head up high as a superb sailing area. There are so many Islands, ports, rivers, etc. you are somewhat spoilt for choice. Belle Ile is another example of wow, wow, wow. We had another fine sail to this offshore island and managed the trip in a single tack and even engaged in a little fishing.

IMG-20171017-WA0012   IMG-20171017-WA0013Approaching Belle Ile    IMG-20171017-WA0014Making our way towards the Inner Harbour  IMG-20171017-WA0015Moored Up!!

We arrived at Port La Palais on the island at 4pm in glorious sunshine. We wanted to rest up in the inner harbour, and duely followed fellow yachtsmen and their vessels passed the ‘Palace’ into an inner harbour after the raising of the ‘drawbridge’. The system for mooring the yachts in this harbour is ingenious, worked out on how long you intend staying. You staying two nights. Ok,  you raft up here, next to him and he will come alongside you as he is here for two night as well! The guys working the marina ribs do a great job and even turn boats around to maximise the limited space so everyone fits together like pieces of a jigsaw. …..

Supper on board again…..what to do with 24 hour French bread….Fondue Savoyard of course but as we had no fondue set on board we made do with the metal rack from the microwave, a saucepan and a tea light!!

IMG-20171017-WA0020Fondue Savoyard!  Yum

The island is beautiful. We decided the best way to see all of the area was to hire a car. Avis here we come, and were able to pick up the car that night ready for a full days touring. We headed West in our hire car, to a point where we couldn’t drive any more, without the car getting very wet. On the tip of the Western most point of the island we found a museum. The museum was dedicated to the life and career of one Sarah Bernhardt. No I can honestly say that I didn’t have a glue who she was either. But I do now. It turns out that Sarah was a bit of a lass. Born in 1844, she became the greatest French actress of the later 19th Century. She toured the World acting and on stage and when the new medium of film took hold she was one of the first actors to appear in motion pictures. Her Grandmother owned a cliff top property on Belle Ile, and it was here that Sarah would holiday on a regular basis away from the pressures of fame. I suggest you have a look on google to see what a varied career she had, including the fact that she had a champagne drinking crocodile as a ‘pet’.

20170820_113631Sarah Bernhard’s retreat   IMG-20171017-WA0009 Belle Ile Beautiful Scenery                 IMG-20171017-WA0017Our picnic stop!

Belle Ile didn’t disappoint, and is a gem of a place. The regular tripper ships from the mainland bringing more and more visitors fills the Island with thousands in the Summer months. We stayed on the island for two nights, leaving on the next high tide.

Isle De Houat

Next destination, another Island known as Isle De Houat. This island is on the end of a long chain of rocky out crops jutting out from the Quiberon peninsular. We sailed across to a bay on Houat, and anchored accompanied by another 100 plus yachts and motor boats. It was a French holiday weekend and the French like nothing better than to sail to their beautiful off shore Isles.

There is a distinct difference between me and my French counterpart in the art of anchoring a yacht. I’m not saying for a minute that my preferred method is correct but basically, find a hole between your neighbouring boats big enough for you to drop anchor, and then allow enough room for the boat to swing a full 360 degrees around where the anchor is (hopefully) secured to the sea bed. Whilst the anchor is being lowered over the end of the sharp bit of a yacht slowly motor in reverse with the wind to allow the anchor chain to lay out nice and straight on the sea bed. With enough chain out again motor in reverse to make sure the anchor has bit into the sea bed. Any vibration on the chain means the anchor is dragging. That’s my way!. The French employ a very different model. They come as close to your yacht as they can, find the smallest of holes between neighbouring boats and lower the anchor whilst still going forward. Stop engine, job done, open wine!. Said Frenchman is then aghast when his yacht gets too close to other boats. The up shot of all this is that neighbouring  French persons become very local in their protestations. So aghast French sailor moves on, to an equally small anchoring space to endure more shouting. Oh what fun!

We spend the night on anchorage and having scanned the weather forecast decided that with the expected wind we would be better off in the sanctuary of a Marina. We headed to 9 miles into Port Haliguen, Quiberon and spent the night tied up alongside an old Bristol Channel pilotage sailing cutter.  They had sailed across to support their daughter in a European sailing competition.

Next day, the weather had improved and we headed back out to Isle De Houat. On the chart was a bay on the South of the island which looked ideal as a sheltered anchorage, however, on the chart it was marked as ‘no anchorage’ in the bay due to submarine electric cables.  Enroute to the bay we became involved in a little race with another fully crewed yacht. He wasn’t going to pass me!. Around the headland we raced, side by side, only to be greeted with an anchorage bay full of not one other boat but at least 500 other boats. If there was no anchorage in this bay no body had told the French. The bay is called Treac’h er Gourhed, which is another example of the similarity between Welsh and the Gaelic of Brittany as beach in Welsh is Traeth. When in Rome etc, etc. So we joined the melee for an anchorage spot. Not a real problem as there was plenty of room for all.

We pulled up the dinghy, and headed ashore. Isle De Houat was a delight. Lots of sand dunes, not many trees, and a holiday complex which resembled a concrete jungle of cottages and houses, you know when a big development company get hold of a stunning island and turn it into a profit making machine. What a pity, but at least the complex wasn’t too big.  We again spend the night at anchorage and witnessed a beautiful sunset.

20170823_163845     Our Anchorage by day                               20170821_220735Our Anchorage by night  IMG-20171017-WA0021

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Port Louis, Lorient 17.8.17

Having extricated ourselves from  the mayhem of Isle de Croix, it was a short hours sail across the straight to Lorient, with its many marinas, and sheltered waterways. Lorient is South Brittany’s sailing capital with thousands of expensive looking craft of all shapes and sizes. We chose a very nice marina called Port Louis (turn right as you go passed the fort). A lovely marina with friendly helpful staff. Since we were flying ‘The cruising Association flag’ all the neighbouring British occupied vessels came to say ‘hello’.   The marina included a laundry facility and as ‘wash day’ was well overdue this was our first job!!

IMG-20171017-WA0007Wash day on Money Penny!!IMG-20171017-WA0008Fort Lois at the entrance to the Marina   20170817_170631

What a stroke of luck, a music festival on the quayside that very night. Two ways of looking at this, one is food, drink and music, the other is the French tend to like their music LOUD and late, so no chance of an early nights kip. As it turned out, Peter and Urika arrived in the marina with their friends on-board Yoho, and soon met up. Ok, so its food, drink and music then. We had a great evening, eating oysters, drinking beer, white wine and finished off with a very good band a stones throw from Moneypenny. During the festival we encountered the local dance. It doesn’t matter what style of music is being played the dance is the same. It consists of the dancers joining hands in sets of ever increasing circles and dancing in opposite rotation to each other if you get my drift. What is lovely to see is that at these festivals people of all ages get involved with old , young and all in between joining in the dancing. Something unfortunately you don’t see at home these days.

The following day, we took a river taxi into Lorient. What we found was a very busy largish city which as per the normal was full of chain stores and impersonal businesses. Ok, time to move on!  The water taxi ride back was interesting, taking us passed the World War 2 ‘U boat’ pens. These colossal concrete edifices bear testament to the power of war. They are apparently so well built that nearly some 70 years after construction they are still in daily use. (Not as submarine garages I might add!!)

20170818_162020                                                  20170818_163022

In a neighbouring marina was a brand new trimaran. Gitana 17 - Wow, what a machine, some 45 foot long, 30 foot wide and capable in early sea trials of speeds approaching 45 knots, powered only by the wind.

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Having had a somewhat rough night at anchorage on Isle de Glenans, the sanctuary of a marina beckoned. Concarneau to the North offered such facilities, so we upped anchor, set the sails and travelled the ten miles to the marina. No long journeys for us!!!!! Recently all under 10 miles!!.

Image result for concarneau photos

Concarneau turned out to be a busy, vibrant French holiday resort, undergoing preparation for a forthcoming music festival, and in full flow with visitors. Judith and I walked the town and had lunch in a small café. We both ignored the fort which dominated the sky line and marina in favour of retail therapy and supplies in the local Intermache. I honestly thought that the fort was a very busy tourist attraction with hundreds of visitors crowding across the bridge into and out of the historic fortification.  We struggled with the shopping back to Money Penny and saw that later on the fort had quietened down considerably . We decided on a final walk of the day and ended up at the entrance to the fort.   As we entered the fort via the archway we encountered a throw back to medieval times with narrow winding streets all occupying the little space available within the shelter of the castle walls. All street level properties have been taken over by shops and restaurants, but there was a lovely ambience about the place. There were some quaint little shops all vying for your money and offering something different to the mainstream big retailers.   What a delight, and Jude and I enjoyed the place and the vibrancy of the busy streets, we went back for another look the following day. We had fun watching a rather rotund French skipper on his yacht in the marina. A French man who had grounded his yacht in the marina! He sat at the helm shouting orders to his crew and the marina staff who were attempting to extract the vessel from its current position. After much shouting, engine revving and mast pulling, the yacht eventually became free. Still with rotund French man sitting at the helm. Once free, he decided that the best course of action was to engage forward, rev the engine to its upper limits and hot the ground again, probably within inches of his last grounding. O dear, now everybody is shouting at him, including the instant experts gathering on the quayside. An almost identical tactic was deployed by marina staff heaving the mast over on a halyard, whilst French skipper blasted the engine in reversed. Success, the yacht shot backwards and out of the grip of the sea bed. Said rotund Frenchman decided that having drawn a large crowd to view his antics he would retire gracefully, he turned around, and headed out of the marina, cursing everyone at the top of his voice.

Isle de Croix

Late in the afternoon we set sail for another island, this time Isle de Croix (I don’t know how to pronounce it either!) After a great sail we arrived at the harbour, our sanctuary for the night. Channel 9 on the radio produced two young boys in a fast rib, who instructed us to follow them. In we went and they very helpfully took Moneypenny’s lines at our requested position in the harbour, fed the lines through the eye of the mooring buoys stern and bow to, which we secured onto our cleats. Great, we thought an excellent mooring in a harbour on this popular Island, mid August. How dare we believe that we would be afforded such luxury as our own mooring buoys. In total, another seven large yachts became moored to the same two buoys as us. Most amusing was the fact that young boys on rib at one point hit a yacht amidships and motored a line of 20 odd yachts sideways in order to make room from a brand new £700k aluminium yacht which came in astern and moored alongside us. Transpired it was the owner of the company that made said aluminium yachts , no doubt attempting to prove the undoubted durability of his beautiful  yachts.

IMG-20171017-WA0000Money Penny next to her £700k new found friend!!     IMG-20171017-WA0005Our Neighbours!!

A short dinghy trip ashore took us to a quaint village, full, as expected, of all the touristy things, including a plethora of bike hire shops. We walked up the hill to a neighbouring village which as per normal for a French village had a church in the centre, surrounded by shops, houses,and even a Cinema!


We had sufficient food on board to feed the French navy so decided to eat on-board that evening. The following day, any thought of an early start was scuppered by our neighbouring boats. We were well and truly hemmed in, without any sign of life on any nearby yachts. OK Alistair, calm down, accept the situation and we may get out of here by 5pm.

The neighbouring yachtsmen leaped into action at 12 noon, and all decided it was time to go at that allocated time. Don’t know why but each and every yacht decided to go all at once. French mayhem ensued!!!

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