Friday 24th May The ‘fearsome’ races…

Yesterday was a relaxing day spent pootling around on the boat and doing the minor repairs and alterations which always seem to crop up. We walked up to the supermarket in the next village twice…once as it was shut for lunch until 3 and then to buy the first of our french cheese and bread. We stopped by the old Napoleonic semaphore signalling station on the way and just generally enjoyed the sunshine. with some great views over the river.

The pilot books are full of warnings about two of the most impressive tidal races in Europe, the Chenal du Four and the Raz du Sein, both gateways we have to get through before the sunny warm and benign waters of southern Brittany and the Vendee. Howard has once again given us some good tips and it is perfectly possible to get through both on one tide…if we get the timings right. The weather is looking good (no hint of anything nasty to build up some seas), although the forecast is for some F5 occasionally 6 in Biscay later….we’ll make a decision about where to stop later.

By 6am, exactly 24 hours after we arrived, we are heading out of L’Aber Wrac’h into the dawn and plugging 2-3 hours of unfavourable tide, to arrive at the Chenal du Four just as the southerly ebb begins.

We have the company of a couple of other boats and once again we are motor sailing in light winds.

The event is (thankfully) an anti-climax with no sign of the standing waves or even overfalls. In the words of the harbourmaster at Wick before we crossed the Pentland Firth “Ye’ll not even get yer slippers wet”.

With the Chenal ‘done’, we head on for the Raz du Sein just the other side of Brest. This is reputedly nastier, but only around 200m of it. We are aiming to get there for the last of the ebb and before the flood starts to push us back to Brest.

What appears to be a French battle fleet is steaming fast towards us but the plucky Brits under sail maintain course and they completely ignore us…ha! Brexit schmexit!

We are joined by some other old sailing boats looking glorious under full sail …

…and soon we have around 9 kts of boat speed over the ground as we are spat out into what is now really the start of the bay of Biscay.

Our original plan had been to go into Audierne for the night, but with the two big tide gates done and only mild streams against us now, we decide to push on for Benodet, some 35 miles south (ish). There we can have a rest day and wait for Chris and Yee Tak to arrive via plane from Southampton to Rennes.


The wind build as promised and we have a glorious few hours of pure sailing in a F5 with a few gusts up to 7 even. This is the first time in nearly 300 miles that Heydays has had salt water over the decks…brilliant end to a memorable day.

One thought on “Friday 24th May The ‘fearsome’ races…

  1. So you made it to France. Sounds fun and trouble free. Just don’t get any ideas about staying there. Have some bouillabaisse on us.


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