Tuesday, November 29, 2016

August 2016, continued - La Rochelle

Like many coastal river ports, defensive towers were built in ancient times.
August 21st - Continuing our route south, the rocky islands and inlets gave way to lower and sandier shore and islands, with few good sheltered anchorages.

After a couple days, we arrived at La Rochelle, the end point of our French cruise.  It is a major sailing center and a busy tourist destination.  We splurged on the marina for a week+ and used our bikes to run over to the picturesque and busy old town.  At the marina, there was a well stocked mini market, a superb boulangerie/patisserie and lots of good restaurants.  Oh yeah.... it was great.  The weather was hot during the first few days, but very comfortable at night.  
Lantern Tower

The marina holds 2,000+ boats, but most aren't very big by US standards, so the marina itself is fairly compact.  Here is a fleet of 30+ 1-design boats for big group outings, team building and the like.  As you can see, there wasn't much wind that particular weekend.

The French are very gung-ho about sailing:
Sailing school sign

 There is lots to see and do in the charming town:
the Municipal Market, after closing  

Waterfront Restaurant
Full of tourists, and seemingly hundreds of restaurants

something for everybody

We were really sorry to leave at the end of the month, but it was time to move on.  We were planning to joint an OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) cruise in La Coruña, in Galicia, in NW Spain.

Friday, November 25, 2016

August 2016, continued - Le Golfe de Morbihan

Le Golfe de Morbihan, one of our main destinations on the French coast, is an enclosed body of water sprinkled with islands, quaint villages and oyster farms, in south Bretagne.  The islands ressemble the San Juan Islands in Washington.   
The current rushes through the narrow entrance and shallow channels scattered through.

We rejoined our kiwi friends, Ross and Ann who we met at Roscanval near Brest.  So we had a few days good company before setting off on different courses for a while.  Much of the area is very shallow and with strong currents, so it was challenging to find a good spot to anchor. 
 Locmariaquier village at low tide

 We found a workable spot behind a small island with an abandoned house.  It seemed incomplete, but would have been a pretty château style home.

Oyster farms
and a garden cart....


Thursday, November 24, 2016

August 2016 - France, continued - Les Îles Glenan et Portivy

Les Îles Glenans are a cluster of rounded rocks with some beaches a few miles offshore.  They're a favorite local boating destination and were chock full of boats of all kinds over a holiday weekend.  They are very low lying, so it's hard to get good photos.  Despite how crowded it was, we found a peaceful spot to anchor.  One difference we noticed from US and Canadian cruising, is there are many fewer dinghies buzzing around, which is much more pleasant.  And of course, many fewer big powerboats sending big wakes into the anchorages.  Add French food and wine: life is good there.
Huge sailing school fleet of cats

 It was mobbed...
At low tide, waders cross between two sandbars

The islands have also had defenses on them for eons....

A few more miles south, after an unremarkable stop anchored off Île de Groix barely protected from the ocean swell, we found a beautiful spot all to ourselves in the sheltering arms of Portivy.  Again, it's hard to get good photos of these low lying rocks, but the sunset shows up well.  Followed by fireworks late that night, which turned out to be a common occurrence.
So peaceful, until an outdoor concert started on the beach and the fireworks....

August 2016 - France, continued - Morgat and Concarneau

Bretagne has a scenic, rugged coast line, punctuated by numerous bays for anchoring. 

Our first stop after the Rade de Brest, was Morgat.  It was several miles around the Crozon Peninsula to get there, but we ended up an easy bike ride from our prior stop at Roscanval. 
Low tide

Morgat sits on a pretty and protected bay.  A longtime fishing village, it was taken over and developed in 1883 by Armand Peugeot, as a summer holiday resort for his employees.  So there are many beautiful late 19th century homes in the town.

It has great modern amenities as well: 

Busy sailing schools

Just plain pretty
The sunny, mild weather continued as we rounded the infamous Raz de Sein.  The strong currents were turbulent and we could imagine how rough it could be in stormy weather.  There are many famous calendar photos of these lighthouses inundated by big breaking waves.
Our destination was Concarneau, a beautiful old town with a lively Fishermens' Festival underway.

 It was thronged with tourists.
There was a snug anchorage close by so we could easily get ashore by dinghy.