Roy's Sailing Blog 2012 / k

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

ART ELEVEN (La Roche Bernard, Vilaine River to Vannes, Golfe du Morbihan - 38NM 08:25-16:20)

Yesterday, Monday 27 August, was another day for meeting deadlines - two sea-locks at Arzal and Vannes, and tidal gates after the former and before the latter!! Clearly I’m not the only one with a baguette - Jean-Paul Benon (Harbour Master at Arzal lock) also has one and knows how to use it (see photo above!) He directs the boats in and out with molto gusto and despite some dictatorial maestro characteristics (!) he was both fun and helpful - actually posing for this photo! Fortunately, thanks much to my faithful Volvo D2 40hp engine again (...) my timing was unusually spot on! I was up at 07:00 prepping the boat and making last minute checks in my various pilot books - I have four: West France (Wiley Nautical 2010), Atlantic France (Imray 2010) and both UK Reeds and French Bloc Almanacs for 2012. Sailing like this would be quite impossible without these aids.  

I had quite an adventure on Sunday, when I ventured 15NM / 6hrs return up the Vilaine in my Ocean Kayak (thanks for tying it on all those weeks ago Trevor!) and reached the village marina of Foleux. Unfortunately, having considered the possibility of capsizing, I decided to take just a €10 euro note, 2 tissues and a can of beer, but no iPhone (stupidly my only camera onboard!) so there are no photos as evidence! 

On Monday I arrived at Arzal lock just before the 09:00 opening time, along with about 10 other boats (the lock can take about 20 all rafted 4 across!) and without ‘baguette man‘ we all just circled erratically and slowly, and waited patiently. After 45 minutes we were all safely in, but this had cost valuable time for my critical tidal gate timetable.This was the earliest lock time with apparently enough water for my 2m keel - nevertheless, just after the lock, the depth went down to just 1.3m (I touch the bottom at 1.8m) and I just had to punch through the mud at 4 knots and keep my fingers crossed!! Gradually the depth improved and I made my way out into the open sea and onwards to the entrance of the enormous inland sea of Golfe du Morbihan. The gulf is about twice the size of Poole harbour (but it has a granite bottom, so not ideal for anchoring) and it is packed with millions of boats of all shapes & sizes, all of which seemed to be out enjoying a sunny afternoon in a rather chaotic and unfriendly fashion - not my kind of place at all! The pilot book said to start the inward passage from Port Navalo at least 30mins before high tide there (14:52) - I was about 10mins late but making excellent progress, and quite soon my speed over the ground increased with the tide to 10.1 knots!! This took me all the way up to the narrow channel into Vannes, and miraculously I arrived at the swing bridge and lock at exactly 16:00 just as they both briefly opened, and very soon I was berthed opposite the Capitainerie on N140 with a nice view of the Cathedral. It had been quite a day - I knocked up a kind of boat-made Irish stew, and took my bike into the floodlit and deserted Roman town to have a night-time peep! Obviously a very attractive place - I’ll probably stay three nights till Thursday!