Pin Mill to Brest
17 July 2016
This year we're not going to the Morbihan, but to Brest, where 2000 wooden boats gather every four years.
The way here was a game of two halves: beating from pin Mill to Plymouth was 6 days of slamming, soaking, and wondering why we do it. But then from Plymouth to Brest we had TWELVE hours of a beam reach, 10 - 15 kn, Marcita's perfect wind, unknown in my experience, so although long and tiring with three people on a small boat, it was thrilling as well. We arrived at the top of the Chenal du Four at 4 am, with favourable tide down the escalator, and then with the turn of tide round the corner to Brest.
We were met with Catch 22. You can't enter the harbour without a pennant, but you can't get a pennant without entering the harbour. With that sorted there was the usual camaraderie of wooden boaties gathered together on a pontoon, varnish and bunting melding into a golden glow by the late evening sunshinesunshine.
There are about 50 tall ships here, each with a band, including a brilliant tin whistle player on Etoile de France, but I am already slightly over-bagpiped. The man who goes round in circles in a little coracle playing the French Horn while winding a little organ, making lovely funny music, is always a delight. The big Russian 4-master has an entire orchestra among its crew, and they play the Sabre Dance with great spirit. The Polynesian village has 4 beauteous girls swaying elegantly to the most ghastly ersatz Polynesian pop pap.
The only slight frustration is that we are on a floating pontoon with an intermittent taxi service, and the only 6 showers (for 2000 boats) are a half mile walk away. Tomorrow we go out sailing with the big boys.
The picture is of Marcita at the end of the classics pontoon,