To the Bay of Biscay on a sailing yacht

As a sailor, I participated in several flotillas in Greece and Italy and received a skipper license in Tenerife. And in the first independent charter, I wanted to go to some not so popular region. Moreover, it seemed that to gather a company, seducing them with the sights of a rare route, would be easier than just tell them about the joys of sailing (and this turned out to be true).

My friend, the owner of all possible RYA licenses, Ivan Sharapov, became interested in the idea. In the end, we decided to go on two yachts to the Bay of Biscay, Brittany, with the start from the marina of La Trinité-sur-Mer.

We intended to go to the Belle Isle, to study the Normandy dock at the port of Saint-Nazaire, which was intended for the battleship Tirpitz, which British commandos blew up in 1942. Enjoy Belon oysters, known since Roman times and the most authentic for France. In Bono, visit the grave of Bernard Muatssier, a man who, leading in the first non-stop round-the-world race, decided not to finish in England, but went to the second round, stopping only in Tahiti, and thus losing the championship to the famous Robin Knox-Johnston.

We quickly found two aluminum four-cabin boats OVNI 395. Their peculiarity is a lifting keel, thanks to which, without falling over, you can stay on the littoral at low tide and sail up the local streams, visiting coastal villages.

The teams were quickly gathered, especially since I planned to go with my wife and children, 12 years old twins, and the younger one, Luke, who has not yet turned one year old. Lots of free time, a false idea of economy, some adventurous spirit and curiosity made us go to Brittany by car.

Neman, Oder, Rhine, a friend’s farm near Vilnius, Poland in torrential rain — we drove past all these places. Visiting the bars of Berlin, an educational program for children in Paris, a synthetic electrified tipi in the Norman wilderness, and finally, we were in the office of a charter company.

From La Trinité we went straight to Belle Ile. Having left in the morning, you can visit a Saturday market in the capital of the island — Le Palais, and, having bought local cheeses and farm cider, go to feast on one of the bastions of the Citadelle Vauban at sunset.

The nightlife on the island is concentrated in the second most important port — Sauson. Even on Sundays, there are plenty of bars where musicians play rock standards, and the Martinique rum Trois Rivières is pouring in abundance. The terraces offer panoramic views of the wide local stream. At evening low tide, it completely dries up, and fishing barges, wooden sailboats, and plastic boats look like a cemetery of spaceships from some series of Star Wars.

On Belle Ile people live by themselves. The islanders look at the mainland with noble skepticism. And it is the same on the neighboring island of Houat. Located on a deserted cape, there is a fort built in the middle of the 19th century to protect against the British. A large family inhabited it for more than a hundred years. The clan lived without electricity and a source of water. There are signs describing the history of the fort and warning against violation of the boundaries of private property.

So it was in the summer of 2018. Now, apparently, the noble old people died, and ungrateful descendants launched a website on which family-owned real estate can be rented by room or all together for 650 euros per night.

From the actual sailing experience, I remembered the tedious long sailing against a steep wave, when the wind did not allow us to turn to the Glenan archipelago. In the end, we had to start the engine. But as soon as we went beyond the islands, the sun came out, the weather improved, and soon we saw our second boat. It turned out that the experienced skipper, Sharapov, started the engine from the very beginning.

On Glenan, there is the famous sailing school, founded in 1947, one of the largest in Europe. Around it, there are kites and dinghies of various classes. We came across a couple of particularly arrogant teenagers, who flew on their catamaran right in front of our noses.

Opposite the Glenan archipelago, the Aven and Belon rivers form a common delta. If you go to the right, then you get to the oyster farms. In the morning, those who woke up earlier took a dinghy and those who got up later went swimming to get their breakfast, to enjoy mollusks straight in the water, throw shells into the river and drink sparkling wine.

You can go left up the Aven to the bridge that gave the name to the village of Pont Aven. On the embankment along the stream, there are dozens of watermills, in front of which there is a market — local delicacies, yellow fishing jackets, and Opinel knives.

I should mention the Morbihan Gulf, a kind of small inland sea with northern nature and many islands similar to Vuoksi or Saimaa. Just add the very busy traffic and currents where the water boils, as in a pan.

By car, we returned home along the western coast of Europe and through Scandinavia. We looked from high dunes to windmills in a foggy, not very friendly North Sea near Amsterdam. And then we swam in the clean waters of the Baltic sea near Copenhagen.