Rade de Brest
08 June 2017
48° 20' 02" N
004° 28' 47" E
Le Chateau Marina
Rade de Brest
Having said goodbye to L'aber Wrac'h we headed for Anse de Bertheaume which showed on the chart as having a good sheltered anchorage so we were expecting it to be quiet but in actual fact it was full of mooring buoys all of which were occupied except for a few for visitors. At one end of the bay there was an adventure centre and after we picked up a buoy we spent a couple of hours watching a party of kids climbing steep rocks and whizzing across on a zip wire. It was a very pretty bay and we would have liked to stay longer but we were on a mission to visit the rivers Aulne and Elorn before going into one of the two marinas in Brest. We left Bertheaume the next morning and had a lovely down wind sail on the genoa . By now the sea state had changed and there was a big swell as we were sailing in Biscay. The entrance to the Rade de Brest is really quite small compared to the vast amount of water beyond it - about 70 sq miles. A true inland sea! For a number of centuries Brest has been an important military port and therefore has a number of military installations - the Brest Arsenal, the Submarine Base of Ile Longue, the Ecole Navale (naval college), 2 naval bases and a naval graveyard for ships at Landevennec. We motored up the Aulne, very gingerly approached the bridge and cables and despite knowing there was plenty of room above us it was a hold your breath moment and still a bit scary!!! It is just impossible to clearly determine just how much space there is from the tip of the mast to the underneath of the bridge. A beautiful river, quite narrow in places with steep cliffs covered in trees that went right down to the waters edge. As we rounded a bend we were shocked to see 2 destroyers and an auxiliary vessel that had clearly been moored there for a very long time and had become home to dozens of gulls and were slowly just rusting away. A very eerie and also very sad sight. We went back down river and picked up a mooring to sit out the horrid weather that was forecast for the next day - and it was horrid! Twelve hours of torrential rain and 55 knot winds. It wasn't the best location as we had a very rock n roll night due to the very big gusts coming through so we decided next morning to find somewhere more sheltered. The absolutely perfect spot was where the ships were moored, below the steep cliffs that offered really good shelter, (which is obviously why they are there) so we dropped the hook a little way further up river making sure we would have enough water under us at low tide and had a much better night. By complete contrast the Elorn was a wider river without the steep tree lined sides. An altogether flatter landscape and not as attractive as the Aulne. We motored up as far as the munitions dump and then picked up a vacant mooring buoy for an overnight stay. Next morning we headed for the Chateau Marina and Andreas commented on a rock ahead of us that he was sure wasn't there a couple of days ago. On closer inspection we realised that not only was it moving but it was the conning tower of a submarine on its way out - a sight very rarely seen! We entered the marina and tied up onto the last remaining visitors pontoon alongside French, Swiss, Norwegian, Swedish, Belgium and quite a few British boats. Our plan was to leave Stiletto in the marina for two weeks while we travelled back to the UK to collect our motorbike, to return on it to France to meet up with friends for the Le Mans 24 hours race. For Andreas, this has been an annual event for the past few years. I went with him last year and enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it again with him this year. We were also going to max out the visit back to UK to see the dentist, Andreas had his annual Diabetic Eye Test and we were going to catch up with family. My sister Sarah was visiting the UK from New Zealand and I hadn't seen her for 2 years so a catch up was very much in order. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare and sounded absolutely crazy to leave France, come to UK, to go back to France, to leave again to return to UK to then go back to France - all in the space of just two weeks!!!!! but hey - if you can't be crazy at our time of life- life just ain't worth living!!
Song for this post: Crazy Life of Mine by Chaka Khan
Thought for this post : There is something just not right about seeing ships rusting away
Highlight for this post: 5 days at anchor or on buoys and we hadn't spent a penny!!! Love it.