This is how I fell in love with Brittany / Part 2: Concarneau


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Marco Zanini, from Bologna, Italy (winner of our contest on the mythical 30 sailing legends) was thunderstruck by the seas where his legend Tabarly grew up, in Brittany, and decided he would like to sail there no matter what. And so he did. In two installments we bring you his adventure. In the first part (
FIND IT HERE.), with a decidedly tourist slant, “falling in love” with those cold and windy seas, so distant for us Mediterranean lovers (and yet so fascinating), in the second and third the boat preparation and sailing. Happy reading!

308256_2035980940644_2064329684_nCHOOSING THE MOST “BRETON” BOAT
“As soon as I return to Italy I proceed with the implementation of my project. I am starting to gather information about it by asking those who have some experience sailing in Breton waters. Above all I am interested in a possible rental of a decent boat for these seas, not the usual “sailing campers.” In the Friends of Sailing forum I get a reply from Renato, a great character who before me was thunderstruck by these seas. He gives me the contact for a “special” rental, a Pogo 10.50 moving-drift boat. I thought it was practically impossible to rent a Pogo! I can’t miss this opportunity, I definitely need to contact the renter. Soon done (it’s October I had just returned from vacation), he replied and gave me the only availability for the summer period, which was the second week of June the following year. What to do? I decide immediately and send a deposit of 1,200 euros to stop the high-performance sailing craft.

550934_3302940773848_1610864109_nTHE COLLECTION OF INFORMATION
Meanwhile, with Renato a friendship is born and we talk by phone, he will be in the area right around the time I rented, unlike me he bought a new Pogo and will move it to the Mediterranean right in the summer time (he even invites me for one leg of the transfer from Lorient to Horta, but I have to decline as I am with the whole family caravan and would be in the way). In the meantime, I will proceed with getting information and with purchasing the appropriate documentation for that sea. From the maritime bookstore in Paris I have the SHOM nautical charts sent to me, an atlas of the currents in the area, and the COTIER PILOTS (by Alain Rondeau published by Voiles et voiliers magazine) of the areas I plan to do.

251938_3302945733972_1722313488_nTHE GREAT CHARLY
The time of departure arrives, I have made the final transfer to Charly (Fernbach, we know him well, he is a level-headed minista and a regular guest at our VELAFestival), the charterer as well as sales manager of the Pogostructure shipyard, I am a little worried, his wife replies two weeks after the transfer telling me that her husband has problems with his father in the hospital. I hope it is not a “package.” I arrive in Concarneau the night before and Charly calls me to make an appointment to deliver the boat just that evening : “it’s not a package less bad!!!” The next day with a slight delay Charly arrives, we check in, and he hands me the keys. He apologizes for the inconvenience regarding communication delays, but unfortunately, he lost his father a couple of days ago and has not been able to follow up properly with customers.

540635_3302944373938_38868368_nA MYTHICAL BOAT
The boat is very technical; in the “wardrobe” we have an asymmetrical spi, a gennaker, a foresail to be rigged with a removable textile forestay, and a storm jib. The Pogo is an oceanic open, the 10.50 is the younger brother of the multi-titled Pogo 40S. The 10.50 weighs 3 tons, one ton of which is in the “quille pivotante,” which fishes 2.80m when lowered and 1m with keel up. On the Internet I read an interview of a guy who tried this craft and at carrying gaits he apparently pulled up the keel and the boat glided like a speedboat! Certain statements perplex me especially because of the fact that the Pogo has yes a tilting drift but unlike an Alubat without a drift it is not at all stable and the capsizing is sure. Charly confirms this by explaining to me in detail the design features of the boat: in fact, it is impossible to take this craft to slack or any gait with the keel up.

It is raised only for powered maneuvers and dry canvas. When powered, it strangely maneuvers very well even with the keel up. Serve me as an experience regarding everything that is written on the net! The boat has a carbon mast, boom and bowsprit, all current rigging to adjust everything. Adequate instrumentation for ocean crossings, charting onboard computer with tide tables, really robust and functional onboard NKE autopilot. Shortcoming of this charter, there is no refrigerator but only a cockpit cooler and the good Charly forgot to give us the charting squares and the half sailor, but we manage to make up for it by using some kind of hook from a tender oar and using a ruler with protractor found in my 5-year-old daughter’s drawing materials.

208989_3302943093906_368343674_nTHE DEPARTURE FROM CONCARNEAU
We transship everything we need from the car to the boat under gray skies and autumn weather, do some shopping and set off , direction Ile de Groix. It felt like November, wind over 20 knots and annoying rain, children in the cabin playing. The exit from Concarneau harbor is a bit challenging, just outside you have to veer to starboard and then veer left again to stay in the exit channel, out of those treacherous and dangerous waters. We are with one hand of mainsail and the solent rolled on whip. We take to SE, upwind wide, we’re out of the shallows in calm water (so to speak), the boat is super fast, we’re sticking to 10 knots of real speed relative to the bottom, it seems impossible to get it to oversteer. About 10 miles from Concarneau, the wind strengthens, I decide to close the solent and rig the foresail (the foresail whip allows the headsail to be opened or closed but not partially rolled).

During the reduction maneuver, the top of the jib furler circuit splits! The headsail opens fully. Swaggering, I lower the solent and furl the foresail on the movable forestay. One must go back and buy a new top! We returned and the next day at the opening of the sailmaker across the harbor we bought a new one and replaced the broken line. We set off again, today the day is beautiful, sunny, wind always about 20 knots and perfect sea. Halfway through we are caught in a drop in the wind, we are on the beam, and to gain a few miles I plow the spi. We are now moving at about 5 knots, not bad for that becalmed. Meanwhile, we pass several schools of dolphins. The wind resumed and turned to windward, we lowered the spi and continued by solent and then switched to foresail only, the wind went from a few knots to nearly thirty in less than an hour.

538571_3302934453690_1510725368_nA PORT TUDY
In the evening we arrive in Port Tudy, on the Ile de Groix. We are in the waning phase of the tide, I have to watch out for some areas of the harbor with low water, now in the basin with the locks we can’t go there anymore so I have to find a place in the “deep” area. The great thing about these ports is that everyone on the dock or on other boats is willing to help you and make friends. The harbor is nice and full, a family from Hamburg invites us to moor at the Englishman’s berth next to his HR48 (beautiful) , meanwhile a couple of other Breton sailors help us with the maneuvers (I am practically alone in the berth). Finally we can rest after a full day. It is 8 p.m. and the sun is still high; it will set around 11 p.m.
The whole family stands in the cockpit admiring that beautiful postcard site. Meanwhile, intrigued by our unusual family, a couple of surrounding crews come to meet us. They are amazed and admired at our choice to vacation there with them. I was very pleased about that, especially the sincere compliments they gave us, confirming that it´s not for everyone to take such a boat and sail in waters not as easy as those, practically alone given the small crew.

601159_3302888492541_2142220209_nA UNIQUE SHOW
Meanwhile, in a few minutes a cloud comes overhead, and we attack a very violent downpour of about thirty minutes with sun shining on one side and cloud on the other. At the end of the reversal, a unique and unrepeatable spectacle: a magnificent rainbow overhangs ile de Groix and the whole landscape, the boats, the harbor, the houses, take on a fairy-tale and magical appearance that only under certain light conditions can be created. We have dinner in the cockpit that it is almost 10 pm, the sun is still high; after dinner we prepare for a tour of the harbor and to watch the sunset before going to bed.

The next morning the day looks good, I download with the tablet the latest weather simulations of the area for the next few days. GRIB files are special files processed by NOOA that through special programs give you a simulation of the baric state of the area you are interested in (you can select any area of the planet), they are very reliable. In the 24 hours they don’t miss the half-hour! It even happened to me that they got the forecast right up to 4 days in a row. An excellent free pc program is USGRIB for those interested, other paid tablet programs are available and there is plenty to choose from. We have for iPad Wheather Track costing a few euros and functional (again for iphone and ipad we use for tides TidePlan12 free with paid extension).

599454_3302893892676_724260033_nTHE RETURN ON CONCARNEAU
Given the forecast giving us NW winds for the next few days, we decide to avoid continuing south to Belle Iles. I’m very sorry I can’t visit that island (and the Gulf of Morbhian), but it would be a problem to return more than 60 miles (which becomes 100 with edges)back to Concarneau in a single day with wind practically on the bow. We have only a week’s rental and it is already Tuesday, if we go to Belle iles I should risk eliminating from the visit a few destinations that I have forced myself to see including the Glenans archipelago and the ascent of the Odet River. So we leave the harbor and head NW toward Glenans Concarneau. We are out, as the wind is tense over 25 knots, we take two hands of mainsail and sail only with the foresail. The sea is rough, sun beating clear sky, very beautiful and fun. Unfortunately, we have the wind “in our mouths,” and there are countless edges ahead of us as we go up the 30 miles to Concarneau.

282911_3302883652420_957906723_nTHAT BOLINE!!!
It’s 10 a.m., I expect to arrive by evening at my destination, if the wind drops (from the grib forecast it doesn’t look like it) we will sleep at the buoy at the Glenans, otherwise we will return to port in Concarneau (we have free berth even though in Brittany our boat moors for really cheap amounts). Hours pass and the wind doesn’t drop, we are having one of the most beautiful upwinds of our short sailing experience. The boat is well balanced, sometimes we let the autopilot steer, although it is too much fun to do it ourselves, after all, a little rest is needed at least to eat something in peace. The edges were an endless’but finally by late afternoon we are at the Ile de Penfret traverse in the Glenans archipelago. We decide to continue on to Concarneau given the not-quite mooring breeze for the Glenans that give almost no ridge. In the evening we are in Concarneau, the sun is still high, it is 8 p.m. Since we will be leaving the next morning we moor at the service pier. Helping us out were a group of guys from the world-famous Glenans Sailing School, who are also based in that harbor.

There a middle-aged gentleman who was in their group answered us in Italian, I thought it was a polite attempt to practice with our language. Instead, he was our compatriot. We make friends right away, he compliments us for being the first family and the only one of compatriots to go sailing there. Basically he’s there for a little year working for the famous sailing school; he alternates between a little month of sailing and one working in a shipyard owned by the school fixing up the many boats they have. At the end of this experience he will be given the coveted award of “moniteur” (the equivalent of sailing instructor at the renowned school, from what I understand). With some regret and envy, since such experience is now precluded for me (I would have to leave work and family) I bid him farewell.”

Marco Zanini




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