Morbihan - Brittany
12 Saturday – Portivy tour
13 Sunday – Golfe du Morbihan – tour from Port Blanc around Ile au Moines,
and onto Ile d’Arz and Ile du Lern
14 Monday – Cote Sauvage on foot!
15 Tuesday – Sene/Monsarrac to Île Hur, Golfe du Morbihan
16 Wednesday – day off and retail therapy
17 Thursday – Auray to Locmariaquer
17 Thursday – Lamor Baden, Golfe du Morbihan playspots
18 Friday – River Crach’h and Locmariaquer
19 Saturday – Around Ile d’Houat
20 Sunday – Cote Sauvage (the wild coast)
Our first day and with half the group already arrived we took the opportunity to stretch our legs & arms with a short trip out to île Téviec. The get-in at Portivy was not too far away, easy parking, and the all important cafe on the quayside. We had done the same trip in previous years too. The 10 strong group left the port in sunny weather, and the sea looking calm. Beyond the sea wall we felt a slight breeze and encounted some chop. We followed the ridge of islands, hopping from one to another, aiming for the small island of Guernic before île Téviec. But as we approached the short chop changed to larger chop, and still grew and grew until we were in large swell, and which was breaking on the reef to our right before arriving at the Penthievre surf beach. We didn’t see that from the shore!
Some of the group were out of their comfort zone. As it was a little early in the week for heroics so we cut short the morning’s paddle to return for lunch. After lunch we paddled west along the coast to the headline to see how the Cote Sauvage was. We never got to see the coast as the waves were breaking in front of us. Later in the week we saw (on foot) why the coast is so named. We turned and enjoyed surfing back to the port, where more gentle surf could be had in front of the port entrance.
Gulfe du Morbihan
Sunday 13th September 2015
Richard S: text. Richard B: gps track & images
This adventure kicks off in the garage, on top of a laid out tarp, which has become the hallmark of recognizable ‘getting organised’. Stockpiling everything which can be considered kayaking gear, there are discreet piles of technical equipment, cooking utensils and cookers, spare this and that including which tent, what chairs, how many spares and is it camping or glamping? The stock master, the Man with the Van, has further ideas about bikes, surf kayaks, club tent and will it be dry suits or wet suits, or both!
So for the first time in going abroad we are stopped by the Border Officials and searched. Three sea kayaks and a surf kayak on the roof must have been like a red rag to a bull – they inspected every conceivable compartment, much to the delight of Steve who has always wanted to show off how ingenious he has been in creating storage spaces and false bulkheads in his van. His invitation for them to look into the kayak hatches was declined and here was another first for me: we were the very first in the ferry queue. Normally I am still chomping on the remains of my meal and only just slide on as the ramp is being prepared for lifting, something about living less than 10 minutes from the Port.
The Club French holiday in Brittany has had years of build up. Legendry stories about epic tidal flows, harbour entrances with 10 knot currents, a ‘savage’ coast including mountainous surf on beaches and on top of that a less than helpful Coastguards just waiting to have another go to sort out once and for all centuries of seafaring attrition with the English. The French Holiday needed to start off with just the right sort of fillip so it was off to the on board wine store and bring back some well-deserved French Red to our cabin. Well, you could have guessed it. Amongst the racks first find some single bottles, which were not part of a box, wait until we were half an hour away from the land before alcohol purchases are allowed and would you believe it, not a corkscrew in sight!
The campsite at Locqmariaquer was brilliant. Lots of freedom to find and choose your site, hot showers, clean loos and other wash facilities aplenty. We heard that the weather might be a bit wet and carefully chose a site, which was well drained and sheltered. Not so lucky for some of the others who subsequently had to move or needed to use the emergency club tent or floated in silence! All this and our tent situated less than a hundred meters from the beach.
We arrived on Saturday. We rested, looked around and did some refreshment shopping in the village. Next day was an early start for the first trip for us, a forty-minute drive that took us into the heart of the Gulfe du Morbihan at Port Blanc. On arrival there was the usual fuss of finding a free car park after having unloaded at the quayside, our numbers creating quite an interest with the locals and other tourists.
First sight of French waters was a stretch of water pushing past at over three knots on which the ferries plied back and forth creating standing waves at the pinch points. First thing to notice was that the tidal flow changed very rapidly in the Gulfe and by the time we were all on the water it calmed considerably in the gap which we were about to take. Sixteen sea kayakers setting off from a maritime facility, famous for its small boat heritage and current yachting popularity, made a suitable impression and a long line of sightseers saw us hardy voyagers depart into the blue beyond.
The total distance of the trip was about fifteen miles. It started going south along Ile au Moines, for an hour with wind and tide with us. On the southern point of the island we turned east and started the long haul across the bay, aiming to reach Ile d”Arz about six miles away. This part of the bay has less strong tidal flows and at low water there are exposed large areas of mud. At all states of tide there are routes through the large number of islands and finding your way, and reading the tide, can be very tricky! Thankfully we had the leader, Andrew, his assistants Richard B and Peter who also had previous experience in the area. in our group; so most of us paddled in happy ignorance.
The large group of paddlers split into two groups and the more experienced paddlers took the longer route around Ile d’Arz and another smaller outlying island before turning west to make the return leg. The long distance across the bay was made more challenging by the increase in wind against us and because of the shallow patches near land we were not able to use any shore shelter.
The top part of the bay offered a mixture of tidal rivers and after a lunch stop on one of the small islands (nearly all privately owned) we hit on the final stretch home. The very northern point of Ile de Moines provided a pinch point with tide against us, the flow being nearly beyond some of the paddlers. Luckily it was very short but it provided a warning of how powerful the tidal streams are.
...return to Port Blanc
Port Blanc was suddenly around one of the corners and very close, but unfortunately on the other side of the channel. From the kayaks, this channel looked fierce – four knots squeezed into a narrow gap between rocky headlands, 200 meters across with several three foot standing waves and ferries powering across and seemingly enjoying adding to the mayhem by creating more wash with their bow waves.
It looked daunting and only experienced white water kayakers would have relished playing in the maelstrom for a bit of fun. For some it was safer to ferry glide some hundreds of meters further back, still tricky because of the very fast flow and many yachts moored on buoys right across the whole channel. It would be impossible to do a towed rescue in this area and a spill would have meant a loss of ground of significant distance, possibly half a mile due to the strong flow and density of moored boats.
Liz assured us that the challenging ferry glide at the head of the channel wasn’t as bad as it looked (she was right! Ed) and it took no time at all to cross it. Steve complained that the standing waves failed to get his kayak to ‘stand upright’ and by the time we had all got across the fuss had died down with all the big waves suddenly disappeared. It was good to get off the water without having any more adventures for the day.
fun and games returning to Port Blanc
Day off the water
With terrible weather forecasts we went to see exactly how wild the 'Cote Sauvage' was!
We weren't disappointed.
Two days previous we had turned back at this headland.