23 August 2015 | Ile de Penfret, Iles de Glenan, France 47’43.05N 3’57.04W – Tregarvan, Aulne River, France 48’15.16N 4’14.00W via Anse de Kerautret, River Odet, France, Englishmans Cove, River Odet, France & Camerat sur Mer, France
Rivers are good for many things. They can help transport goods many miles inland, they provide a focal point for a village and can give children endless hours of aquatic based fun. For Ruffian they seem to be good for all things beginning with ‘H’. Hiding from the howling wind, hibernating away from the horizontal rain and hovering on perfectly flat water giving us the best slumber that is possible for humans to have.
After many sleepless nights where we’d be hemmed in, knocked about and rolled around. the Odette River was bliss. The chateaux lined banks were reflected in the mirror like water and the brilliant blue of kingfishers darted around us. At night things were so still and dark we felt like we’d entered a zone of sensory depravation. Rivers didn’t rock us they just rocked.
Waking bright eyed and bushy tailed we felt able to sample the delights of the local town and it’s well known beverage. With the sun only just up locals were tucking into what can only be described as ‘cups of wee’. This deep amber liquid with a frothy top looked totally unappetizing and so we just had to order some.
As the local beverage was served not only did it look like wee it also smelt like it, but we put on our brave hats and necked some of the juice. Once it hit the palette an effervescence of apples filled every pore, and although it was almost yummy, it didn’t overcome the thought that we were drinking cups of wee. The only saving grace was that it wasn’t served at body temperature.
Waving goodbye to the southern Brittany coastline we whizzed through the Raz de Sein and found ourselves at the most fortified part of France ever. Although we were not on a river the letter ‘H’ still rang in our ears. We were horrified at the signs of war that still covered the hilltops.
We walked through bomb craters and through German bunkers, which, once upon a time would have been brimming with the tools of war. All the shipping which found itself unlucky enough to be on this coastline would have been blown to bits and the memorials to the 1000’s of lost lives painted a painful picture.
The weather in the Bay of Biscay made it a dangerous place to be at sea and the guns would have made it even more so. Thankfully we didn’t have to think about the guns, but some serious weather was on its way, and the Bay was not a place to be. It was time to find another river and hide.
Leaving the sea far far behind us we said goodbye to rolling waves, uninterrupted vista’s and civilisation of any type. All we had for company were derelict French warships, vertical river banks covered in trees and wind so strong we had to dodge the dogs that were being blown off chains.
For days the wind howled and like a caged animal Ruffian pulled left and right on her anchor. Slowly her captive crew grew stir crazy having no idea what was happening in the outside world, or even if it still existed, but were happy in their isolation. Occasionally news would filter though as the VHF crackled to life and we heard stories of the coastguard co-ordinating the ‘pan pans’ and ‘maydays’ of boats unlucky enough to be caught out in the storms. Life on the river was humdrum but at least it was safe.
Staying in the safety of a river doesn’t help us get home and so as the monster waves and ludicrous winds have disappeared we can finally go and do what Ruffian was built for. We can head out to sea and make for another country.
Here’s looking at you kid.
A nice simple riverside house.
Ruffian all flat in the flattest anchorage ever.
Fiona pours the yummy local beverage.
Which looks very much like wee!
We try to understand some art.
It’s just like Maine (but with yummier cheese and wine).
Downwind. No choice but kite up.
The fabled rough water at the Raz de Sein.
Iain tries cross dressing. Next he’ll be moving onto Fiona’s skirts.
UNESCO treasures in Camerat.
Ancient boats from ancient mariners litter the port.
It’s just like Woolacombe.
These pillboxes tell a sad story.
Barbed wire, flowers and guns. Very emotive.
This is pretty random. A pig playing a bagpipe while escorting a raft.
It gets even more random when the Smurfs turn up.
And take to the water.
Warships die up the river.
6.8m waves, 40 knots of breeze, rain. Time to go and hide.