Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Wendy’s Diary 23 July 2013 – Fireworks & Paradise

I can’t believe it is only 10 days since I last updated my diary, so much seems to have happened since. 14 July we went back up the Aven river to the quayside in Pont Aven to watch the fireworks for Bastille Day. It was well worth the trip back up the river: the town itself is so charming anyway but the fireworks in the evening were definitely worth being there for. When we arrived, the car park and road that runs alongside the quay had been closed and when we inspected the notices it also said that boats were forbidden to moor on the far quayside. We motored past our previous mooring with the convenient ladder, as it appeared a music stand was being set up almost next to it, and a little further round the corner found a nice space, albeit without a ladder.

Entertainment started on the quayside mid-afternoon and the crowds started rolling in. The music stage was not where we first thought, but further away from where we had moored, although the food and drinks stalls were in between us and the stage. I enjoy people watching and this was a fabulous place to do it from, especially as the tide came in and we were nearer the top of the quay. Sarah from Wandering Star had commented that she felt as if she was in a goldfish bowl on this quayside, but on this occasion I definitely felt that the quayside was the goldfish bowl and I could watch away to my heart’s content. During the day were watched the team of pyrotechnicians set up the display almost opposite where we were moored. It was a roasting hot sunny day and they worked almost continuously from 8 a.m.

As the evening drew on we settled down in our deckchairs with beer and snacks as hoards of people arrived jostling for places on the quayside. At 11.15 p.m. the display commenced to music and was one of the best I have ever seen. Now previously living so close to Plymouth we have been spoilt by the annual fireworks completion in August, so the benchmark is high. The fireworks may not have been as big, but being so close and perfectly synchronised to music it was fantastic. I took lots of photos and attach a couple to show how close we were to the display itself.
Fireworks above the boat

Early next morning we did a quick grocery top up and headed back out of the Aven with the tide across to the Glenans. It was a beautiful sunny day and I sat up on the coachroof leaning back on the windows topping up my tan. Unfortunately the wind was not in our favour, but it was only 11 miles from the entrance to the river so we motored across the bay and arrived in paradise. This is the most beautiful place we have anchored in all my time on Freya Frey, white sands, crystal clear water, just perfect.

I had been in contact with Debbie and Pip from Star Catamaran and they were on their way to the Glenans at the same time. On their way they had encountered Jim onboard Mago Merlino, and he decided to take a diversion from his planned course and join the party. John had offered to cook Paella (these multihull paella evenings are becoming a habit – 3rd one this year). Jim announced he had a joint of lamb that needed cooking to we agreed on a Paella starter followed by Roast Lamb and all the trimmings.

We had been the first to arrive and anchored up, then Jim arrived and anchored alongside, dropped over some fenders and tied alongside. When Star joined us they too anchored and then rafted up next to Jim. We went for a dinghy ride to get some photos of the boats tied up and I got one of my favourites this year which reminded me of Goldilocks, with daddy bear, mummy bear and little baby bear. Star is the biggest of the “twins” boats designed by Pip’s father, Mago Merlino being not much smaller with Freya Frey looking tiny alongside.

I took a quick swim to cool off before the slap up meal. There were 7 of us in all including Jim’s 2 crewmates, and with Debbie’s mum’s cake as pudding to finish off the meal it was an evening of good food and good company. We ate aboard Mago Merlino, partly as she was in the middle and partly as she had the largest outdoor eating area.  Jim called time as he was keen to make an early start and needed some sleep. He was already behind schedule and the diversion to join our party had cost him another day so each crew stacked up their own pots and took them back to their respective boats for washing up.

We had agreed that unrafting for the night would be a good idea, with Jim wanting to be off at the crack of dawn, and also it was a little lumpy for our boat so we wanted to find somewhere a little more sheltered. We headed round to La Chambre – a popular anchorage and mooring, with hundreds of buoys laid for visiting yachts. It was dark by now and we found room in the shallower water but it was difficult to see what was on the bottom, sand or rocks. We had enough depth to not go aground so tucked up for the night. In the morning we were amazed that we were the only boat anchored there as it was so lovely. We watched another boat come in and anchor much closer to the beach and decided we could do the same and in daylight pick a sandy spot.
Freya Frey anchored near the beach

The sandbar connecting the islands that covers at high tide
We anchored about 50 yards from the beach and a sand causeway that joined two islands together at low water. It didn’t take long before I was in for a swim; it was so beautiful and enticing. Late morning Pip and Debbie dinghied over to join us and we went for a walk around the perimeter of the island, then stopped for an ice-cream (girls) or Crepe (boys) at the cafe overlooking the beach (thank you Pip and Debbie). This is the only place in the Glenans that you can spend money, with the exception of the rib that whizzes around and sells bread and croissants each morning to boats anchored and moored there.

In the afternoon we went over to Star, the first time I had been on board and it was lovely to see the inside, having seen and heard so much about her in the past. Debbie rustled up some English cheese and biscuits before we went ashore on Ile Du Loch for another walk. This island is a bit less trampled, as only private boats reach it, with the Vedettes only going to La Chambre. We did the circuit around the island then went back to Star for a swim and evening meal on board before heading back to Freya Frey.

Pip and Debbie had not long left Cornwall, so were keen to get further south, and joined us on Freya Frey for a couple of hours the following morning to swap cruising notes and the boys did some techie boys' talk about engines and alternators and battery chargers etc. I would have preferred to have stayed longer, enjoying the swimming there and just the sheer beauty of the place but John was keen to head over to Benodet and the Skippers word is the law, so we up anchored that afternoon and headed back to the mainland.

One of the many chateaux on the Odet

We found a quiet spot a couple of miles upstream from Benodet and put the anchor down for the night, before heading further up the river next morning to Quimper, in search of a good supermarket.  We anchored just before a low bridge and dinghied the rest of the way into town, tying up alongside the tourist information office. We had a nice wander around the town, did a little shopping and then back down to the boat not knowing what the tide would be like so far upstream.  We returned to the same anchorage for the night before and spent another peaceful evening on the river.

Early morning sun on leaving the Odet
The following day (Friday 19th) we agreed that we were happy to move on, I tried in vain to persuade John to go back to the Glenans and instead we headed for Audierne, our most northerly destination of the year, and the port where La Route de L’Amitie starts. So 12 weeks and 919 miles later we had reached our destination. All my stressing over not making it here in time was needless as we arrived 2 weeks before the start of the festivities.

We have now been here 4 nights, met up with Alain the harbour master and his girlfriend Audrey, done lots of provisioning (Lidl’s is within cycling distance, albeit up a killer of a hill, but fab to ride down again laden with shopping), and got some little jobs done on the boat. Sadly our old friend Jean-Louis, French/Welsh resident of Audierne who we have known for many years lost his battle with cancer last month and his absence is tangible. We arrived flying the Welsh flag (that he gave to us on our last visit) at half mast as a mark of respect to this lovely man who cared so much for so many people. He had been our guest in Saltash several times, it being a very convenient stopover when catching the ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth on his way to and from Wales and seeing his boat in the marina and not him is very poignant.  

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