Monday and Tuesday 17 and 18 June 2019… Vannes to Ile du Groix

After a short break at home to attend to grandchildren, elderly mothers and assorted ne’er do wells  (friends), we fly back from Southampton to Nantes. Even that is not without some late drama courtesy of SW Railway trying to get rid of guards on our trains…or gaurds as GWR would have it….

We leave a slightly drizzly UK and arrive in a sunny Vannes. This is why we sailed south surely. We are forced into a small bar in Nantes to wait for our train and then soak up the last of the evening sun back on Heydays. It is great to be back on board and in the evening sun Vannes takes on a completely different atmosphere compared to the drizzle in which we left. We eat above the capitainerie and it turns out to be one of the highlights…great nosh and a relaxing evening idly watching young people flirting and enjoying a Monday evening in the sun. Despite revelry going on ‘til late we sleep the sleep of the devils….

We need to be away by 8.30 to catch the last of the eb out of the Gulf du Morbihan. By 7.45 we have dashed into town and bought some bread, croissants etc and done some shopping…we nearly ran out of rum!!! We finally slip away at 8.40 and will remember Vannes with great fondness. The late summer sun of the evening before has given way to a threat of heavy showers…we have our waterproofs at the ready. By 9 we are well clear of the canal and the sills and are threading our way between the islands and rocks which are a constant feature of the Golfe.  

With main and a small genny (just so we can count buoys) we are doing around 7 kts over the ground, but at least this is in the right direction…we’ve learnt our lesson.

At 9.40 the squall strikes. We have gradually put on more and more wet weather layers as the sky became darker and darker, but in the space of 60 seconds the wind turns from a benign 12kts over the quarter to a screaming 30+ kts dead ahead. We furl the genny and haul down the main in a torrent of near gale force winds and lashing rain as the spring ebb takes us through the narrows north of Ile des  Moines at nearly 11kts over the ground, despite being dead into a near gale and with just a bare minimum of engine to give us steerage. And then we are through! The sky clears for a while and we are left sweltering in full weather gear in a gentle breeze from the quarter. With sails up once more we are swept as if on a conveyor out of the Golfe and wave a sad farewell to what must be one of the great cruising grounds of Europe.

There are more sailing boats out than one would expect for a Tuesday morning in mid June, but perhaps that is the whole point! Work/life balance …as the French may say.

We thread our way through the line of rocks off Quiberon peninsular  and round up for Ile du Groix once more. We are looking forward to another stay there on our way to meet Chris who will join us in Concarneau on Thursday. James shakes out the last reef in the main (we don’t have lines led aft) and wonders why he is hanging onto a tall metal object pointing skywards as an ominous clap of thunder echoes off the land behind us. Why is Yee Tak checking insurance policies…just askin’!

In less than an hour, we are close hauled making for the island and gradually losing layers of clothing until finally we are in shorts and T shirts and slapping on the sun cream… This bit of Tuesday is so completely unlike the start, we wonder if we were in a time warp.

Ile du Groix tempts us with sunlit beaches…

and we find ourselves jostling for space in the small harbour once more. After a few fruitless sorties down narrow lines of boats we finally tie up….and relax. This time we wait for a more appropriate amount of time between getting properly moored and breaking out the gin.

This is a great place to hang out and clearly some dark and forbidding French marines (or whatever their equivalent is) think the same…they pretend to be on serious manoeuvres, but we know why they are really here!

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