All of Brittany offers a delightful coast line and lovely places to visit. The July cross Channel Rally had intended to visit the Pink Granite Coast, but, being flexible, we actually ended up just alongside it, but still in the lovely Cotes-d’Armor.

Deciding to miss a crowded Cherbourg on Bastille Day, we instead sailed first to Studland. After a motor through the Solent, Christchurch Bay was at its best with a blue sky, flat sea and wind that allowed us to lay our destination. The evening anchored in Studland was equally memorable.

Next day the predicted westerly force 4-5 had arrived, and an early morning start saw us heading due south in a somewhat confused sea. Our destination was St Peter Port, actually the same distance from Studland as Cherbourg is from Itchenor. An hour out, Nikita experienced problems with her babystay and, with only a 4-5 day “pass”, Peter Porter decided that it was prudent to turn back. We were sorry to lose him, but he arrived back at Itchenor safely that evening after logging 75 miles.

Conditions became more comfortable as we got further south and the sun came out. Alderney looked great as we passed down the Race, and so 5 boats arrived in St Peter Port around 18.00hours. A good crossing. After a day off and some serious socialising, we had to say goodbye to Dick Hoare and all on Parity as they were only out for 7 days and needed to turn back. The following morning, after a delayed start waiting for fog to clear, Fairwind (Sue and Barrie Pearson), Opus 4 (Jane and Peter Matthews), Mandalay (Sarah and Martin Greenhalgh) and Niobe (Bill Greening and crew) set off on the 45 mile sail to St Quay Pontrieux, one of the few all tide harbours on the coast we were heading for and which none of us had explored before.

Of course the fog came down again as soon as we were a few miles south of Guernsey! However these are quiet waters and we were all AIS equipped. Six hours out we were in bright sunshine and by late afternoon we were all moored together in St Quay.  A day there exploring showed it to be an attractive seaside town that somehow lacks vibrancy, but is was friendly and offered all the services we needed.

St Quay set us up nicely to visit Paimpol, 12 miles up the coast but highly tidal. In fact we were initially concerned that Fairwind with her 1.6 metre draft would only get in at the very top of the neap tide which prevailed. However a Brit we met in St Quay keeps his 2 metre draft boat there and assured us there would not be a problem between HW plus or minus 1 hour. He was absolutely right! After an interesting sail between the rocks through shallow water, we all locked in with plenty of water to spare. Although it was busy, the harbour master cheerfully found us berths and we could explore. Only Bill had been there before, and that some 20 years ago.

We all thoroughly enjoyed Paimpol. Money has been spent tastefully modernising the centre, which is right around the harbour. It is busy, very vibrant and full of flowers. Street concerts and specialist markets seemed to be happening most days. The coastal walks were excellent, and the weather was very kind to us.

After 2 nights we locked out and took the inshore passage to Lezardrieux. Another interesting piece of pilotage through very rocky waters – in fact it looks as if rocks are everywhere. The final approach through the Trieux River is easy and extremely scenic – very like the River dart. Lezardrieux is an old favourite, peaceful and beautiful. The only sadness was that the Hotel du Port, our favourite restaurant, had closed down since we last visited. However, I am pleased to report that the “Yacht Club Bar” (there is no yacht club!) is a worthy successor.

In the end we spent 3 nights in Lezardrieux. We had intended 2, and then a move to Treguier, but the weather dictated that we stay put and then take the opportunity to return to St Peter Port at the start of the journey home. We obeyed what the winds were saying and spent another day there in beautiful but breezy weather (who needs the Mediterranean when we have coastlines like this to walk) and had then hoped to spend a day on Alderney or possibly Cherbourg. Again the weather dictated, although this time with minimum warning. The forecast the evening before we left had changed and suggested that we had 1 day to get home in comfort before a period of very unsettled weather came in.

So 3 boats made another 0600 hrs start to catch the tide through the Alderney Race. It was springs and we all recorded up to 13 knots over the ground. With this helpful push, we arrived at West Pole just under 15 hours later after an easy motor sail. Unfortunately Mandalay had to wait in St Peter Port for a new crew to arrive. Although they managed a quick visit to Alderney, it was another 5 days before they could cross the Channel to reach home.

So ended another enjoyable cruise. Flexibility was the key to easy passage making and overall the weather was not bad. It just had to be watched (as usual).

Bill Greening


The approach to Paimpol

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Lezardrieux village centre

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Home again!

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