After a 40 hour passage, we arrived in Concarneau as dawn was breaking on Tuesday morning. I was unceremoniously pulled from my warm, comfortable bed at 5:30am as we motored towards the marina and sleepily observed the approach of land from the cockpit, wrapped up against the early morning chill in my favourite blanket. We radioed the harbourmaster to request permission to enter but they were sensibly asleep, and so we invited ourselves in, found a berth on the visitor’s pontoon and moored up quickly and easily. The passage across the channel and around the coast of Brittany had been challenging at times, especially for our guests Matt and Kaitlyn who had been sailing only once before, so we stood around congratulating each other on a job well done before returning to our beds for some much needed sleep.
We met Matt and Kaitlyn on the same trip to India where Nick and I first met, and I think it’s fair to say that our own developing relationship paled in comparison to the bromance that quickly blossomed between the two boys. It was love at first sight. Or, perhaps more accurately, at first fart joke. So we knew that the four of us travelled well together (always a tough one when inviting friends to come and stay) and they took up our invitation for a 2 week sailing holiday with us without hesitation.
They travelled down from London on Saturday and we celebrated the beginning of our holiday the traditional way- in the pub. The boys hadn’t seen each other for a whole week, so there was a flurry of excitable giggling, nipple tweaking and the usual puerile humour. Eventually they wore themselves out and we were able to plan our passage across the channel to France.
We left the next evening, having decided that it may be easier to get the night passage out the way first. We still weren’t sure of where we might make landfall; this would depend on weather and how everyone was coping with the long passage. As we sailed out of Dartmouth and the English coast slowly receded behind us, the wind and swell picked up to a level that was a little uncomfortable. During the day, it’s easy enough to deal with a heeling and rolling boat, but when you’re trying to sleep it becomes extremely arduous. Nick and Matt took the first watch, but Nick didn’t end up going to bed until 5am because of the need to be extremely vigilant whilst transiting the busy shipping lanes. However, by then the wind had dropped, the sea state had calmed considerably and the boys were able to enjoy a few hours sleep.
The next day we motor sailed because of the light winds, but it was sunny and warm, and we were all feeling pretty mellow and relaxed. We took the decision early on in they day that we would continue south for a second night passage, arriving into Concarneau the next morning. I think it’s fair to say that nobody was particularly looking forward to a second night at sea, fearing a repeat of the lumpy conditions of the night before, but it turned out to be the most pleasant night crossing I’ve ever done: it was still and calm, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; the stars were absolutely phenomenal, the milky way clearly stretching over our heads in a massive arc. After living in London for the last 5 years, I’d almost forgotten what stars look like. We even saw some dolphins as the sun started to rise. And, to top it all off, everyone slept well while they were off watch. Perfect!
We spent 24 hours in Concarneau; the only reason we went there to begin with was because it is a port of entry, and as an Australian I need my passport stamped when I enter a new country. However, as with our experience last year, nobody seems to care. My passport wasn’t even checked. In fact, I snoozed through the whole experience while Nick dealt with the officials in the office.
Everyone was pretty shattered that day. We managed to rouse ourselves for a very french lunch of baguettes, charcuterie, cheese and fruit before yet another nap. But we rallied once again to go out for dinner; food is the ultimate motivator. We decided to explore the old town, which was actually a small fortified island in the middle of the marina, connected by a footbridge to the promenade. We were greeted with medieval streets full of shops, bars and restaurants, one of which tempted us inside with their talk of moules frites on the menu. And so we celebrated our successful passage to southern Brittany in true french style, with wine, mussels and the internal organs of some unknown animal which I enthusiastically chowed down thinking it was ham. Nick didn’t feel it necessary to enlighten me until we were licking our ice-cream cones on our way back to the boat afterwards. What a gentleman.
So now we’re en route to Ile de Groix, where we plan to anchor for the night before continuing onto what was our favourite destination last year, Belle Ile. The weather is gorgeously warm and we have a fridge full of cold beer, wine and french food: life is good!