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Wednesday, 17 October 2012


We left England on a cool, grey Sunday. The preceding days had been spent at anchor off Trefusis point revisiting Falmouth and old friends. We had taken “Oryx” out for a sail on the Saturday,trying the self steering for the first time. It worked perfectly and Pete set it to work as soon as we were clear of the coast. The wind was west south west and we were doing 8 knots comfortably with a reef in both sails. Pete chose the first watch at night as we were nearing the shipping lane. The wind grew gradually less and during my second watch I was forced to call Pete after only an hour, because there was absolutely no wind and mist had reduced the visibility to a mile or so. Our new AIS system sent chills of alarm through me, there were many ships about, but I could see only two!The mist was thick and hung above the water in a pall of soft grey.

"ORYX" anchored off Port le Stiff


 After dawn we were forced to use the engine as the tide had turned and we were drifting backwards, towards the busy shipping lane. We decided to change course to the island of Ouessant and anchored in Port Le Stiff. We spent a pleasant morning the next day walking to the further port of Lampaul and exploring the small island. There are ferries bringing visitors across even this late in the season and the place must team in the summer as there are literally hundreds of bikes to rent.


The afternoon brought the favourable tide and a good breeze and we sailed across the infamous Chenal du Four and entered the Goulet de Brest anchoring off the beach of Saint Ann, just outside the city of Brest.

 The next day we walked into the city along the coastal path, past the naval base with its U-boat pens dating back to Brest's occupation during the second world war. We cleared in with the immigration and then after shopping had our first impromptu picnic.

A family of Cancerians?

Traditional schooner sailing of  St. Ann

 The next few days were spent around the Rade de Brest.

 Pete finally met Bertrand Fercot and Marie Helene.


After examining “Oryx” they drove us to their home, stopping at a wonderful village called Sizun where Marie Helene delighted in showing us the four sirens/ mermaids each facing a cardinal point on the local church.

"Grand Pha's" central  deck pod.

 “Grand Pha” their bipolar junk rigged Tiki 46 was ready for transporting and reassembling. 

I will let the photographs speak for themselves. Bertrand has done an amazing job.

 Their hospitality included a meal, much of which was home grown by their farmer son. They live in an amazing circular wooden house, which Bertrand built to accommodate their large family.

We had a lovely time waiting out tides in the Rade, the weather was warmer and there were days when we were wearing shorts and blinding everyone with our blanched skin. Dolphins frolicked across a bay. We found abandoned warships tucked in to a cove.


Locking into Gully Glaz

We headed up the river and locked through at Gully Glaz and motor sailed to Port Launay. 
Port Launay

View from our saloon door!

View from "Oryx" bow

One of the many locks along the river  Aulne.

We spent a few days in Port Launay.  We met an Englishmen who had seen “Oryx” just after her launch, whilst we were in the mud at Millbrook.

Locking out of Gully Glaz proved to be a little hair raising, or perhaps complacency had set in.”Oryx” starboard engine has her favouring turning to port, with some scary moments.

"Grand Pha" on the hard at Moulin Blanc

On the Friday we headed to Moulin Blanc, the marina where “Grand Pha” had been transported and was awaiting her launch. We anchored in the bay amidst all the sailing and rowing activities. Pete offered his help to Bertrand and spent most of the day lashing the forward beams of the decking alongside an Australian called Robert, who has lived in France for several decades. I did help a bit, but seemed to spent more time driving around with Marie Helene and playing with Robert's dog Zolie.

Pod lashings

We then sailed and anchored according to wind and tide and one of the days we found ourselves off Roscanvel We took a walk along the coastal path to Cameret, a beautiful seaside village. Once again we found traces of the German occupation and because of the old ammunition dumps there are areas where one cannot follow the coast completely. A friendly local from Roscanvel gave us a lift into the outskirts of Cameret. He had noticed us sailing into Roscanvel.

On leaving the Rade de Brest we sailed along the coast to Anse de Pen Hir, where we spent the night. We sailed and then motored through the Raz de Sein which was a thrilling and nerve racking experience. With no sail up – the wind had died- and with the engine just ticking over we flew through the Raz at over 9knots. There were rocks to either side and a very impressive over falls!We had to miss the Iles de Sein because there were forecasts for strong winds and we didn't want to risk spending a few uncomfortable days so we headed for the shelter of St. Evette.



Making use of the prevailing winds we then sailed to the Iles de Glenans and anchored off the small castle off Ille Cigogne. The sailing school, which is one of the oldest in France was out in full force and we had dinghies and Hobie Cats sailing on all sides late into the afternoon.


 The next morning we sought shelter off Ille Penfret were we rowed ashore, circled and explored the island, the old fort at the base of the lighthouse and the sailing school, before settling on some rocks for our picnic and late afternoon snooze.

Panorama of the bay at Penfret.

 I'm afraid the days of shorts and t shirts were very limited, but the weather was pleasant enough and as we relaxed a tripper boat painted gaily with bright colours and a set of jagged teeth at its waterline motored in and we had the pleasure of listening to the accordion and sea shanties in both French and English, whilst the people on board awaited their barbecued lunch.


 Our time in France was growing short and some bad weather was forecast, so we sailed back to Benodet, spent an afternoon and evening off the beach, before heading up river. 

We spent several days exploring the river Odet, motor sailing as far as we could go, anchoring off Ch√Ęteaus and up little creeks.


We sailed as close to Quimper as we could, then rowed up river, before walking into town, exploring the beautiful city with its many flower lined bridges and quaint little streets. As we often do, we had a picnic in the park before heading back.

I love the French!A carousel celebrating Jules Verne, The Little Prince and more.

 When we arrived at the dinghy, “Crake” was high and dry and it was just staring to drizzle. There were another three hours to high tide and it was a long walk back to Quimper, so Pete teetered across clumps of weeds, dragged “Crake” a bit closer to the water and convinced me to join him. He then manoeuvred us across the mud with an oar and I'm sure there were cheers from the bystanders as we floated off! Such are the days with the enterprising Mr. Hill.

Bay of Biscay and Spain within two weeks. Hope you enjoyed first Blog. Pete and Carly on "Oryx"

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