I had two days in Brest when John Lambe had to go home for a conference. The weather was changable with lots of wind and rain at first but gradually it improved so I got the bike out and went for a cycle to Decathlon, my main clothing provider. I stocked up on the essentials and did a few minor repairs and serviced the bikes. By the time John got back I was all cleaned up and ready. I had even cleaned the windows !! (Now who says I am a permanently messy fecker). On his arrival we headed out to Camaret where I stocked up on wine and beer. The forecast for the next two days was for a southwest 3-4 and a 6-7 coming in on Friday. So we planned to cover ground and get to Lézardrieux by Thursday evening before the blow.
We left Camaret with a good breeze and drizzly rain. The wind came more onto the nose so we motored to make sure we reached the start of the Chenal Du Four at the start of the tide running north. By the time we got there the wind had eased and the sun was out so we continued to motor on flat seas. For an hour or so the wind was sailable but it was light and from astern so we found it slowed us down too much. Our destination was Roscoff where I read in Brest of a new Marina beside the Ferry terminal. Getting closer, I read the small print to find the harbour wouldn't open until 2012, DUHH !!. Studying the chart I pinpointed a couple of anchorages but the swell got in a bit and there was increasing wind. We decided to head into the mouth of the Morlaix river for shelter and it certainly was better, though a little daunting navigating between the rocks to get in there. But as with most other navigation in France, the markers were large enough to be useful and give some reassurance. We anchored and had dinner with an increased wind blowing. During the night the wind got up even more. It seemed as the blow was starting to come in a day early and there now gales and rough seas forecast in the English Channel so plans would have to change.
We decided to head up to Morlaix to get out of the weather. The channel is 5 miles up a river which is only accessible close to high tide. So we had to spend the thursday waiting for the tide to rise. We just chilled and snoozed as we had had a broken nights sleep. High water was 7.28pm and the first opening of the lock gates was 6pm. By 2pm there were 8 boats anchored waiting to go up river. I had never been there before so when they started to go up at 4.30, I followed. We went up very slowly with the tide pushing us at 1.5 knots. Once you were in the river the steep sides sheltered you from the wind and you could relax, following the markers and enjoying the view. We arrived 20 mins early for the lock which would allow us into the town harbour and keep all the water in once the tide fell. The guide described it as medieval and a good place for a crew change as it had a train station. On checking the forecast once we got in, the weather had decided that this would be as far as John got as he had to go home on saturday. From here I would have to wait for the winds to ease and head alone the remaining 50 or so miles to Lézardrieux to meet Edelle and Andy the following friday. Luckily that was only about 7 hours as here the tide runs quite strong and gives you a great help making ground.
Friday morning started with a heavy downpour and a falling barometer, a sure sign of the next bigger blow coming in. Since we were land based tourists today, we just went for a stroll, looking for the train details for him and checking out the medieval history of the town. You could see in the buildings a long history of trade. Morlaix once was the third largest trading port in Brittany. We went to 2 houses renovated as museum pieces. The interior was an open space 4 stories high with galleries and rooms off them, built from well seasoned oak supplied by the wooden boat builders who continue to operate today.
The night before John left we went out for a feed and found one of the 3 open pubs at 11pm. I couldn't believe that even the Irish pub was closed at 9pm !!! The food was good and the ambience in the pub good. But the following morning with cloudy heads I bid goodbye to John. It was a pity that the weather curtailed his sailing this summer: 4 days stuck in Kilmore Quay, and 2 in Morlaix. The forecast was for improved weather coming in over that night. So I had an early night as I was due to go out on the first lock out at 7.48am. Tides here can reach over 8 metres and I need the tide to rise by over 7.3 metres before I can float so you can understand that you have to get your planning right. Anyway, off I went slowly following all the others who had been stuck in Morlaix. On getting to the open sea, there was still a swell from the last few days strong winds. There was only a little breeze from astern so I motored to Trébeurden, 12 miles away. It was good to be back out but the grey skies did little to lift the spirits. Trébeurden is a small resort town where John Carlson kept his boat Wombat at first. It is a pleasant spot, though a bit quiet.
I had planned to stay there only a night but the easing of winds didn't happen until the second night so I stayed on and left at 7.30am on tuesday for Treguier, a river inlet 20 odd miles further to the east. The seas had calmed a lot in the previous 24 hours and I had a lovely sail following the rocky coast known as the pink granite coast due to the large boulders and rocks marking the coastline. With 2 knots of tide I made good progress to the entrance to the river, entering at high water. It was then 5 miles up river to anchor just downstream of the town of Treguier. The wind was blowing force 4 so I chilled onboard for a few hours before going in the dinghy to town. I found a lovely medieval town, reminiscent of Morlaix, though with more granite buildings. A real treat !
The next day was market day and almost the whole town seemed to be covered in stalls selling everything from good food to arts and crafts. I had a good nosey around before heading back to the boat to do a few jobs. That afternoon in the middle of painting woodstain in the cockpit, the customs arrived for an inspection. This is something some English complain about, but I find that if you are polite and have a chat with them, they are pleasant to deal with. They just want to hear your story to see if anything doesn't gel right. I had planned going further downriver to anchor at a small village but the wind was strong very gusty. Prudence dictated that if I was well anchored where I was, why move. So I chilled out and had a lovely lamb dinner, bought at the market.
The following morning, the winds had eased considerably as I headed off at 9.30 to leave the river and go into the next river to the east to the town of Lezardrieux. There was a bit of a swell running as I headed out to the open sea but it was mostly behind me so I surfed an hour or so through a well marked rocky channel to enter the picturesque Trieux river. Here I was going to stay a couple of nights in a marina. I had laundry and shopping to do and the boat to clean a bit before Andy and Edelle arrived. But at least the marina had Wifi so I was able to download the latest forecasts from the internet for the next leg: the Channel crossing. The weather had been so unstable for so long that I was concerned that a window might take a while to develop. But it was looking like they would have some luck as light winds were forecast for the next few days.