Thursday, October 20, 2016

Breton Bread and Circuses

The Port of Brest sponsored some evening entertainment over the weekend, with some imaginative diversions.  Here's an example:

These guys are milking the cow and powering the carousel
I don't remember what this did.

But here's the result:


August 2016 - Crossing the Channel and our first week in France

Gentle Reader, At long last we'll fill you in on our summer cruise along the Atlantic coast of France.   By now, it's ancient history and some of the photos were already on Facebook, but it was such a wonderful cruise, why not relive it.

After a lovely 10 day visit to Cornwall, we crossed the English Channel from Plymouth to Brest in  NW France. (Well, really it's in Bretagne, or Brittany to English speakers.
 It was an easy, overnight crossing, due to calm weather.  However, it is a very busy shipping channel,  And great care and attention is required.   Here's a screen shot of ship traffic on our plotter:  The lines are ships' tracks in one direction.  There's whole other set going the other way.  The small arrows are predicted wind direction and speed. Once we crossed this mass of ships, we had to do it again for the inbound traffic lane.

Anyhow, we arrived safely in Brest Sunday morning.  Marina du Château staff were very thoughtful and add the US flag to the array when we checked in.  It was a very nice gesture.  As you can see, there are many countries represented.  There is an old fort and museum remaining that overlook the harbor.
We spent several days at Marina du Château.  Checking into Customs and Immigration was perfunctory.

Our friends, Catherine et Pierre, who we met in the Bahamas live nearby and gave us a warm welcome.  Pierre took us to the chandleries and supermarket.  One main problem to resolve was cooking gas.  Portable gas tanks are not refillable in France, and the standard fittings are different than our American ones.  So Pierre got us set up with Camping Gaz bottles, hoses and regulator.

one of several memorials to US troops
It has just a few historic buildings left because it was extensively bombed in WWII by the Allies.  The Germans were occupying the town and had an important submarine base nearby.

Brest is a wonderful town.  They try very hard to keep it clean....  This is a reminder to pick up after walking the dog.

 After some catastrophic modern shipwrecks that cause huge oil spills, the French posted some gigantic remorques, giant tugboats to rescue ships in distress.  They can tow container ships.  The Abeille Bourbon was so big, it was hard to get it all in one photo.  It was open for public tours, and was really impressive.  Anytime there is a gale, the ship puts to sea to be ready for an accident.  I guess the crew must have cast iron stomachs.

The harbor, the Rade de Brest, is a wonderful, enclosed, deep body of water surrounded by small villages.  Perfect for cruising and a submarine base.    We were underway when a sub was being towed out, and the Gendarmes came around and very politely asked us where we are going and please to clear the way.  We could overhear them on the radio to other boats, and they were as polite with all boats.

During WWII, Germany had a navy base and a submarine base in the city.  The surface ships were moored in the river and this section of town was obliterated by allied bombing.  The locals joke that they bombed everything but the submarine pens. The bridge in the photo below replaces the famous Pont National that way destroyed during the war.

Here is large piece of art from the town.  If you look closely, you can see plants growing out of the metal tree.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fowey, Cornwall

July 22nd-25th Fowey,  A pleasant, scenic coastal, 25 mile sail away were the wee villages of Fowey and Polruan.
Polruan looking inland
Throngs of holiday-makers along the quay
It's a busy little place
Polruan shipyard
Pretty stuff afloat
pontoon neighbors

round cockpits?
yep, round
This one's square.  Just another cruiser passing thruogh, like many others from the Brest Maritime Festisval on their way north
and ashore
overlooking the entrance

Falmouth, Cornwall England

July 11th-20th
Falmouth, at the mouth of the River Fal, was a beautiful sight, lush and green, full of sailboats, ancient gun forts (King Harry XIII), friendly people and mild weather.  We loved it.
Falmouth basin

Karl took the train back to Paris from here.  It was ridiculously convenient.
St Mawes Town Regatta
Tied to a mid-river pontoon, we met some friendly cruisers
While waiting for a replacement autopilot, we spent a few days up the Fal River.

Low tide...

Truro Cathedral

Friday, July 29, 2016

Passage from the Azores to Falmouth, UK

July 4th - 11th,  ~1200 nmi, straight downwind, 7days, very little motoring.  An amazingly quick trip.
There was lots of food, fuel and water left over.   We actually did some handsteering for something to do. 
Karl on the helm

Since it was downwind in dry, sunny weather, so why not?   Otherwise, it was a normal trip, same watches, same menu, dolphins visited morning and night most days.

Falmouth Harbour and town were a beautiful sight when we arrived.  
Gun Fort, (but King Harry's Castle sounds better)

Pendennis Castle and HMCG station

Beautiful countryside marred by large motor yacht Aquila.  She required a pilot boat to go to and from the fuel dock, where several fuel trucks were also required.
Another curious sight: an oil drilling ship

Karl left us the next day.  It was  a short walk to the nearby train station.  With a change to a Chunnel train in London, he was home in Paris for dinner that night...  Thanks Karl!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Azores - Terceira Island, June 30th - July 4th

On June 30th, we left Faial on a pretty day sail past Sao Jorge and Pico islands to Terceira.
Sao Jorge
The little marina in Praia da Vittoria was less crowded and easier to get around than at Horta where we were the 4th boat rafted off the wall.  It had nice facilities and even bathtubs in the shower rooms!  Terceira is small than Horta, but is more densely populated.  Praia is also a much smaller town.

 We took a bus ride to a beautiful UNESCO protected town of Anchra do Heroismo  one day.

Karl Schulmeisters had joined us a few days before.

Karl and a cannon
on the waterfront

Neat cafe
looks like a giant Christmas tree, doesn't it

Everywhere, was beautiful pavement.
Mosaic pavements everywhere

On July 4th, there was a good weather window to start off for England, so we took off.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Azores - Faial Island, June 24th-30th

View of Pico from Horta

Faial is larger and more populous than Flores.  And the port and marina at Horta are much larger, it is truly a yachting crossroads of the Atlantic.  There were boats from everywhere, bound for the UK, Europe and the Med.
There are hundreds of painted yacht signs around the marina

We had a few days before Karl arrived to clean the boat, make the inevitable repairs, and play tourist.

In the mid-1980s there was a major volcanic eruption at one end of the island, so we went to have a look.  It was a moonscape.

On the 28th Karl arrived. A couple days later we set out for Terceira.