Brest harbour is a fantastic area; it seems to have everything. Whilst we were tucked up dodging some wet and windy weather we did a bit of exploring, and were surprised by the variety of things on offer. The dinghy sailing centre is just enormous; scores upon scores of all manner of craft from Optimists to some pretty hairy looking cats; all well used and lovingly maintained. There are two major rivers at the eastern end of the harbour with some idyllic anchorages. We also took the opportunity to visit a little place we had camped at when we were touring on bikes, over 30 years ago; it hadn’t appeared to have changed very much – that’s what’s nice about France; when something gets old they don’t automatically pull it down and replace it with something modern. I think we also sailed through the fleet at the French J80 nationals; with a committee boat to die for!
The whole area is is just a wonderful area for sailing, and it is, of course, home to the French navy.
Brest itself is a pleasant enough place, although our opinion may have been coloured by the fact that we had chosen a bank holiday, and the place was almost completely shut down!
We had two attempts to get to Douarnenez, the first ended at the headland NW of Camaret – as we were beating into 28 knots, with the rain lashing down and the headland disappearing in the mist with us trying to find a relatively narrow gap between the rocks, we had to remind ourselves what we supposed to be doing! So after an unplanned night in Camaret we had more success the following day, with a very pleasant sail to Dournenez; where, once more we cower from the elements.
I have concluded that if you have ambitions to get kids into dingy sailing, you should come to France first and watch what they do. Just like in Brest, here in Douarnenez they have an amazing water sports centre, brilliantly resourced and fantastically organised. The place exudes calm and fulfilment.
Sad to report, after the initial week of dry, sunny weather, we have been beset by cold and damp conditions – reminds me of the last time we went cruising! Tomorrow we will attempt the Raz de Sein, probably aiming for Audierne, and remind ourselves we are ever-heading south!