This is how I fell in love with Brittany / Part 3: in the footsteps of Tabarly

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
(YOUFIND 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(YOU FIND IT HERE) And third, boat preparation and navigation. Happy reading!

543269_3302886212484_1446682444_nTOWARDS THE GLENANS
The morning that follows is again windy with beautiful sunshine.
We finally go to the Glenans, maybe swim; the water is about 20 degrees, chilly but doable with a wetsuit. Course for 200 degrees and we are at the north pas of the archipelago, crosswind, about 20 knots we fly with 1 hand of mainsail and solent. We arrive in front of the ile de Brunec , we decide to enter from the chenal de la Pie, the tide is rising with a fairly high coefficient, the “eau vive” (live water sigizial tides) have passed a few days ago, we have an excellent landing with buoys at the ile de St Nicholas and at la Chambre.

550745_3302894732697_776122031_nLA CHAMBRE
We decide on Chambre. One has to enter the Canal de la Pie by route 181 (named after a dangerous rock marked by an E mirage), from the traverse of de la Pie to starboard and of the semi-flowering rocks called “les pierres noires” one veers for alignment 125 with the rocks called “Klud ar yer,” for this alignment one proceeds until one has passed the traverse of the W tip of the ile de Bananec, marked by the mirage called Perche de la Baleine. From this point you tack for 190 and as soon as you are aligned for 88 degrees with the northern mirage called “le Broc’h” you go by this route until inside the channel leading to la Chambre where there are buoys for mooring. Dropping anchor is prohibited in the archipelago and one must moor precisely at the buoys provided by the park. Before entering the Canal de la Pie we lower the sails and raise the keel. We proceed by motor to la Chambre, there the moorings are practically all occupied, and a motorboat carrying tourists around is very disturbing.

181834_3302887532517_145453273_nILE DE SAINT NICHOLAS
I decide to turn back and put up on the buoys on the ile de Saint Nicholas, at the entrance to the Canal de la Pie, there was room there and above all I can moor for the nth day without the worry of the tide going out when I have to leave. We arrive at the site and moor, and enjoy the day. It feels like the Caribbean, the sand is very white, but we don’t see any daredevils frolicking in the water. In fact even though the temperature is not prohibitive, the wind is freezing, it would not be the best to dry out in the sun. We devote ourselves to a lunch in the cockpit and entertaining the children, with a few pieces of bread for the seagulls who nothing but fearful come even too close to the food on the table. We spend several hours at the buoy and by mid-afternoon we set sail heading 330 for Benodet. Wind in our faces several edges await us even though the distance is not exaggerated.

205324_3302918293286_962070657_nTHE ENTRY ON THE ODET
Nautical chart in hand and cartographer always on we proceed by “bearding” “le banc des porceaux” a rocky plateau emerging a mile SE of the Iles aux Moutons. For several miles we navigate in very shallow water, always with chartplotter on and surveying compass in hand, then past the shoal the depth increases and we head for the entrance to the Odet River, which gives the town (Benodet) its name. Entry into Benodet is simple, you take alignment 345 with the two village lighthouses (grand phare and phare le coq) following this alignment you enter the channel determined by the green miragli of “le four” and red “la potee.”
The water in the channel is as deep as it is throughout the river, but some care must be taken in the channel entrance, which is quite narrow, and outside of that, rocks at the water’s edge can create some little problems.
We are with the contrary tidal current, in the downward phase, not going very strong.

252630_3302922213384_334140524_nON THE RIVER.
At the entrance to the riviere de l’ Odet you have the village of Benodet on the starboard side with its marina and the small port of Sainte Marine on the left. We opt for this berth. Past the jetties you can atrack to buoys placed along the river. We take a buoy and moor for the night. After a few minutes a guy from the marina joins us in a dinghy. He informs us that we can stay and that a “blizzard” is coming for the next day and the next day, which will then be the last for us. We give thanks, especially for not charging us anything. Meanwhile, a magnificent sunset with storm clouds in the distance frames the surrounding viaduct. We are on the Odet River, a must stop on my program. The day of the river’s ascent is gloomy and rainy, a strong wind lashes the masts at the river’s edge, at sea thirty knots blow steadily with reinforcements for the next day, the day of the return to Concarneau and the delivery of the boat (hopefully in order). Very quietly after breakfast we set off with the drift up and motor up the Odet. Unfortunately, we lack sunshine to fully enjoy the almost fairy-tale-like landscape. We are with the rising tide, you can visit the bights of Combrit and Toulven .

533479_3302926213484_1811314261_nCARBONARA TO ATTRACT TABARLY
The landscape is surrounded by greenery, beautiful castles suddenly appear, much to the delight of children. The depth gauge always indicates depths greater than 10 m even at the edges of the river. The plan is to moor along the river to take a siesta and lunch. Precisely I would like to moor at the very famous buoy of the great Eric Tabarly, attached to the footbridge that still leads to his house in Gousnach (that’s how it should be spelled, it’s Breton dialect) where his family lives. Well we see the famous footbridge (on directions from Charly and google earth). A couple of free buoys and a couple of occupied buoys, including one by a beautiful POGO12.50 (explains the accuracy of Charly’s directions). We moor at a free buoy (in Brittany mooring is allowed at any buoy if free) for lunch; I prepare generous portions of spaghi carbonara, in case Jaqueline or Marie Tabarly decide to drop by the river, an invitation to lunch would be due!
Having finished our siesta with lunch with no guests unfortunately, we resume our ascent of the river as far as we can, then return for our overnight mooring, this time attempting on a buoy at Benodet, not before filling up with diesel at the fuel dock.

Here, no one understands how, the self-service makes a withdrawal on my card of 70 euros even before I have inserted the gun, which unfortunately after 35 euros is at the maximum level and I am forced to hang up. Ergo ciulati 35 euros! Having had a can I would top up my car! We find a free buoy, pay here, and after a few minutes the attendant arrives with the dinghy to collect the obolus (20 euros for the night) and hand us the regular tax receipt.

269198_3302882452390_726034455_nA DIFFICULT COMEBACK
Before dinner I prepare for the next day’s return trip, which given the forecast is not expected to be the smoothest.
I cock the third hand on the mainsail (which had not been cocked) and take a hand on the foresail. Everything ready even a handy tormentor in the wardrobe. I recheck the grib which gives me for the next day a steady 40 knots from the NW in the early morning and a strengthening around 11 am. The weather by radio is no less, fortunately the sea state is still on the very rough side and does not tend to get worse, basically there is a wave of a couple of meters at most but nothing challenging. All night the whistling of the wind gave us restless sleeps; when the boat is not your own and you put 4,000 euros of bail on it, you are never calm, however I trust a lot in the qualities of the craft and the simple fact that we will be on the slack. Waking up with fleeting breakfast, I want to go back in to fix the boat and deliver it. Gray skies, rough seas rain and strong wind, apart from the wind which in sailing is welcome everything else is a pain. We motor out of the channel, as soon as we are outside we put to wind to open the sails , three hands of mainsail and one hand to the foresail, we have 35 knots constant, I would have liked to keep all the foresail and two hands but I don’t want to risk anything, so we take for 144 and we are under the transom, the boat starts at over 11 knots very stable. I’m much calmer, the visibility is not the best, a heavy downpour hits us full force.

600528_3302813610669_556735414_nTHE END OF THE VACATION
In the cockpit I stand with paper in hand (which fortunately is laminated) the handheld gps and surveying compass. The return route involves skirting several shoals and is full of cardinal mirages that signal submerged reefs everywhere. In a short time we pass the W cardinal mirage of Le Taro on the left; to the east below the coast it is unthinkable to sail, too many shallows and dangerous. One must proceed by this route until the traverse of the cardinal S mirage of La Voleuse and then begin to tack toward point de Beg Meil and then enter the entrance to the Concarneau Canal. The sailing proceeds regularly very fast and a little wet, I even find time to take a video, we are finally in Concarneau, the worries are over and unfortunately the vacation is over (at least on the boat I get a week in Paris and Eurodisney with the kids). I set up the boat and in the evening hand it over to Charly. For this time the tour is over I hope as soon as possible to do this experience again, if necessary of more weeks and with a larger crew.”

Marco Zanini




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