Sunday June 2 Belle Isle to Golfe du Morbihan…Auray River

The currents around the Gulf are very strong and the pilot books all warn about the dangers of being swept into places one would rather not be swept. We plan to get through the entrance and up the Auray River on the rising tide and leave our mooring at Le Palais at a respectable hour for a Sunday morning having made one last trip to the market, the boulangerie and the small shop for essentials such as wine and loo rolls.

The day is overcast, but with a steady 8-10kts from just over the port quarter we join what seems like half the French nation out on the water. In some respects this is a bit like the Solent on a bank holiday, but….everyone is sailing. We have mentioned this before, but the French seem not to have fallen under the spell of Sunseekers and penis extensions in the same way that many Brits have. The Solent on a Sunday is not exactly quiet, with big motor boats powering up and down in a hurry to get…where? We like to think of ourselves as an island seafaring nation, but when it comes to sailing the French seem to be much more egalitarian  and, dare we say, less snobbish. There are still lots of young people/couples in small (8-10m) sailing boats. Certainly, moorings and upkeep seem a lot cheaper here compared to the south coast of England. It all seems more akin to the more northern and eastern parts of Scotland…brilliant.

We pass lots of interesting boats on the way over and the wind comes and goes, but it is glorious to be out on the water and exploring places we’ve not been before.

We dog-leg through the Passage de Teignouse…one of many through the string of rocks and small islands running off from the Quiberon peninsular. We count off the buoys as we get swept into the Gulf proper and on up the Auray river.

We have no real plan other than to anchor somewhere quiet but within a dinghy ride of Auray itself. We sail in company with a couple of other boats up the river in a steadily increasing breeze (gusting 18 kts), but what a brilliant ride. We start to get to narrower bits of the river, but we’re not the first to chicken out and lose the sails!

In no time we are searching around looking for a quiet spot and finally pick up a vacant mooring buoy near the village of Bono. Only a handful of other boats around, and none seem occupied!

We decide to take a trip in the tender up to Auray itself and spend a relaxing late afternoon with a few beers and the odd ice-cream and a wander around the lovely old town and its twin St Goustan. 

We catch the start of the ebb back down stream to Heydays in the last of the evening sun.

Friday and Saturday 31 May and 1 June…. Belle Isle

Bus just across the island to Port Coton. Not really a port in the English sense, more a rocky inlet with some nice beaches which seem only accessible by boat.

The ruggedness is like that of Cornwall and we spend some time happily walking along the cliffs.

Some canoeists are threading their way through the rocks…

…and a presumably local boat does the same. Perhaps he has forward facing sonar as well, not something we would fancy doing without it…

The main inlet has a few boats already anchored and enjoying the sun, but we watch another trying several times to find some good holding before he is satisfied that he won’t get too acquainted with the rocks.

While we are waiting for the bus back (with a couple of drinks), the fog rolls in and visibility is down to a few hundred metres and the water and even the rocks which seemed almost friendly a moment ago, suddenly take on a more menacing feel.

Back in Le Palais we have some good views over the inner harbour and small marina…

…just as a coastal freighter manoeuvres backwards through the lock which seems way too small. Their boat handling skills are impeccable as they slip into their berth with millimetres to spare.

Le Palais has grown on us and is a great place from which to explore the island…

Saturday… and after some market shopping for the next few days we take another leisurely bus ride to Sauzon (meaning Saxon port in Breton apparently). We had considered dropping in here by boat but a couple of pilots talked about how crowded it would be with few moorings, hence our stay in Le Palais. In the event there appear to be quite a few vacant places, and the little harbour is a world away from the ‘fleshpots’ of Le Palais.

We are a bit regretful that we didn’t come on Heydays, but we’ve had a great time here and feel like we know the island a little and there is always another time…