Rade de Brest
16 June 2013
Port du Blanc in Brest is a large modern Marina and home to a large sailing school. We found the people here extremely friendly and many spoke good English, (we are trying to use our French honest). The cost of the Marina was very good value compared to the Irish/Scottish Marinas and there are no extras, electricity, showers, good wifi all included and the efficient laundry machines much cheaper too. We liked this place but ended up weather bound here rather longer than we would have liked.
Every morning we would awake to the excited voices of school children in canoes and sailing dinghies passing by on there way out for instruction. The scale of the activity has to be seen to be believed.
We had just caught up with the jobs and some remaining admin in time for Gillian and Graham to arrive. They had driven all the way down to Plymouth, then taken the overnight ferry to Roscoff followed by trains and buses to the Marina in Brest; quite an adventure. Really great to see them. They had however left the good weather in Scotland. We had had a couple of nice days, but as soon as they arrived it went downhill. Cold and showers which developed into winds and heavy rain as the week went on.
We did enjoy a good wee sail, albeit upwind against the tide, to Cameret where we lifted a buoy to stay for a night. After a futile attempt at fishing we prepared to go ashore in the dinghy. The outboard flooded for the second time to poor Vaila's frustration anxious to get ashore! Our old orange tender is on its last legs, it's been covering all our clothes in orange dye and is leaking and generally falling to bits. This experience outlined its unreliability as a tender since it cannot be rowed efficiently. This coupled with the fact that handling it aboard, due to its weight, is bordering on the dangerous, we resolved to get on and shop for a more practical tender.
For the night we went alongside the pontoons in Cameret. Graham said it was just like Tobermorry painted houses and all. We walked into town past a film set, with armed security guys! and the rotting rusting hulks of fishing boats from an era when this was one of the main fishing ports in France. We had to imagine just how ideal the clean turquoise waters and beautiful beaches would be on a sunny day!
The weather would not let us carry on south, so we decided to return to Brest which offered more to keep us all busy for the next few days.
While Gillian and Graham explored the castle, maritime museum and fine seafood restaurants of Brest, we discovered a new Inflatable dinghy in one of the fancy boat showrooms. It was an ex demonstration model which was in a forgotten corner upstairs at an excellent price so we bought it and they agreed to deliver it the next day. I also procured a new needle valve for the outboard carb which had been sticking and that seems to have done the trick there too!
All too soon they had to leave for the journey home, but only after treating us to a dinner of the most superb mussels, except that is for Yvonne; Whilst she is now a proven sailor, braving the Channel, she still can't quite face a bowl of mussels, so instead had the "best fish supper ever" - not the way the French menu described it, but bob on!
Next step South and then East through the Raz De Sein. This passage requires the right weather and we now have that forecast so we should make good progress this next week and hopefully get into the better weather at last.