Have you seen it?

Several senior moments near Brest

10th September 2011

Several senior moments near Brest

Trebeurden to Brest

Before leaving Trebeurden to head for Brest we took the dingy to a few isolated islands for a picnic. There was not even a footprint on the golden sands and worst of all no bars that sold beer!


Take the pontoon with you.

Did you know there is no such thing as ropes on a boat? They are all given other names such as halyards, warps, springs and lines to add to the Rubik’s puzzle of sailing terms. They have also forgotten to add a hand brake so when you moor up somewhere you have to tie the boat on and hope it is still there when you get back. So far we have remembered to do this in each place we have been but it also means you have to untie everything before you leave as well.

Aiden anf the Trebeurden rocks

Aiden on the Trebeurden rocks

When we left Trebeurden there was a slight oversight in this department, a senior moment shall we say. As we backed away from the pontoon the hand brake that does not exist was suddenly applied and Cygnus III did a perfect pirouette. Someone, (me) had forgotten to remove a bow line and we were still firmly attached. Well I suppose taking the pontoon with us was one option as then we wouldn’t have to look for a marina. Then again the other 400 boats that were tied on may not want to come along for the journey. We decided the best option was to leave the marina behind for others to use.

We were heading to L’aber Wratch, the last deep water marina on the North Brittany coast before you turn left into the Atlantic and start heading south. The winds were behind us for the first time although they were so light we had the engine on and the sails up. It was as hot as a crematorium on Mount Etna. The decks looked like a “River Island” changing room floor as clothes were abandoned everywhere. We also had another British boat sailing close by all the way there and we followed her into the rock infested entrance to L’aber Wratch.


L’aber Wratch

L’aber Wratch marina

L’aber Wratch marina

Now forgive me for sounding a bit bewildered here but the marina is built around a large underwater rock. The trouble is, they have not removed the said rock and half of it is still in the marina marked by a couple of thin red poles. The harbour master met us in his dingy and kindly put us just the other side of this invisible rock next to “Mojo”, the boat we had sailed down with.

A hot day, another British boat, it was Pims o’clock. Aiden brought out the beers to share with James and Mim from Mojo and suddenly the next few hours and a good few cans of beer disappeared quicker than Shergar in a slaughter-house. I was a bit worried by Mim’s dexterity with a knife and sausage and wondered very silently if he was a relation of “Jack the Ripper”. They were wonderful company but really we had to go ashore and see the town. That took ten minutes and we were back. Trying to put a description of L’Aber Wratch is akin to someone with cataracts trying to read the Magna Carta. There is something there but it is hard to know what.


Chenel Du Four on the rocks

The following morning it was time to go around the corner and down the “Chenel Du Four”, a notorious boat breaking stretch of water to Brest. We could have gone to Camaret which is nearer but I have always been a big Brest man myself. We released all the lines apart from the stern line so the gentle wind would blow the font end (bow) of Cygnus around and chatted to James and Min as we did so. God did it look cool and professional. As we headed out past the underwater rock, Jordan kept saying, “You have seen the red pole haven’t you”. Of course I had, it was miles away and besides I was being uber cool. Unfortunately the red pole he was referring to was not the one I was looking at and was directly in front of the boat obscured by the mast. Bye, bye coolness. Hello panic. We swung hard to avoid it, literally using the pole itself to push us away from an embarrassing disaster.  I wonder if the captain of the titanic was a distant relative and I wonder if he tried to push the ice burg away with a boat hook. For me it was yet another senior moment.


Sailing across the Atlantic to America.

Cygnus III

Cygnus III

Out in the English Channel the thought did occur that if we carried straight on the next land we would encounter would be America. I have no doubt the Yanks have cheap chickens and spoke a language slightly similar to our own. The thought of 20 to 30 days or so sailing soon dispelled the image although it was tempting.

The waters were smooth, the sun came out, the shirt came off again and I could not understand why people were so worried by this stretch of water. OK, there were enough rocks to build a small continent but I had a chart plotter (a very detailed sat nav for the sea). The only thing the chart plotter was missing is a patronising female voice to tell me what a dork of a driver I was. Then again I have Angelina for that.

Sailing close to land between the rocks was a wonderful experience and we were really mellow and beginning to settle into this live aboard life. We were sunbathing on the deck whilst the autopilot did the hard work. We even had sea shanties playing through the speakers on deck. Well I did. Angelina had put cotton wool in her ears and was humming loudly.


Painting by numbers

Then it happened. The crisp, detailed images on the chart plotter suddenly turned into a painting by numbers drawing for a three-year old. Don’t panic “Mr Mannering”, just reset it all. I did several times but nothing happened. Mr Mannering was now a jabbering, dribbling wreck. Then it dawned on me. The card in the chart plotter that gives the images runs out around here and you are supposed to put the next card in. The only problem with this is that I didn’t have the next card. I resorted to a couple of books, old-fashioned sailing ways and several pairs of brown trousers, which incidentally were not brown when I put them on. Yet another senior moment.


Big in Brest

Well, we managed to find the cleavage leading to Brest somehow and headed for the safety of the port. As we were going along two dolphins swam alongside us within touching distance. It was a wonderful moment as they arched out the water looking at us with those little inquisitive eyes. I cannot be sure but I am pretty certain that one of them had a huge smile on his face and whispered “Prat” out of the corner of his mouth.  I tell you, if I had a spear gun he would have been in my next sandwich!

Brest marina

Brest marina

We went into Brest marina and moored up as snug as a well-fitting sports bra. Cygnus III was booked in for a few days whilst I got counselling for my senior moments brain farts. The first thing I did was buy a new card for the plotter.

Brest, as the name implies is a bit hilly, in fact it is a double G cup in places. It has some very old buildings but in general it reminds me of an old communist city with faceless concrete housing blocks everywhere. We walked for miles around it but one part did tend to look a lot like the next. It is difficult to say anything too good about Brest apart from it has a wonderful name and Stalin would have been happy here. The reason it is so bland is that it was again flattened by the allies during the war as a major port with submarine pens.

The Sunday market here is huge and a wonderful mixture of fresh foods and stalls cooking all kinds of local delicacies.

The weather was not looking too promising so we gave Cygnus III, who has looked after us all so well a good check over before moving south again. It would also give me chance to finish my “Signs for Senior Moments” counselling course before we left Brest.



Other posts we think you will enjoy

Leave a comment