By Brian Mead
This was one of the most fantastic holidays I have ever had! We were ten on board, John Kapp (Skipper) and his wife Janet with their children Belinda and Sylvia, Roger Griffiths (Mate) with his two children, Waldo and Claire and nephew David (incidentally a qualified doctor and an excellent cook) and my youngest son, Stephen and myself.
There was great excitement packing and setting off; all went according to plan with a ferry across to Boulogne and a hired car there for us to drive down to La Trinité, piled high with luggage and food. I think we were practically the last ferry passengers to get across without delays caused by the French fishermen!
We arrived at La Trinité about teatime on Saturday 16 August, where Tony Venables handed over to us and we met up with the Kapps, who had been touring in France for the past week. It was so exciting to see Marabu awaiting us at the end of a long pontoon and to stow everything on board and settle in for the night, knowing that she was to be our ‘home’ for the next fourteen days!
We did not sail until after lunch the next day so there was time to explore, shop and sail the Mirror. It was also Stephen’s 11th birthday, which we celebrated with chocolate cake and candles.
During our trip we visited all these islands off the Brittany coast – Belle Île, Île de Groix, Îles des Glenan, Île de Seine and the Îles d’Ouessant (commonly known as the Ushant Islands).
We started off visiting Le Palais on Belle Île, which we liked enormously. Then we sailed back to Port Maria on Quiberon, across to Île de Groix and back to Lomener, a lovely little fishing village on Quiberon. The weather was good, with nice sailing breezes and the most perfect sunsets.
Next, we sailed up the coast and found a tiny, uninhabited island called Île Verte, where we decided to row ashore, build a superb fire and barbecue our supper. All our appetites, particularly those of the Skipper and Mate, were excellent and entailed a very efficient system of organising superb lunches on deck of French bread, pâté, cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, washed down with local wines. Our evening meal was always very much appreciated and would be cooked underway so that as soon as we had moored for the night we could ‘set to’ in the saloon and enjoy it to the full. We were divided into two watches and took our fair share of the duties, especially the children who, incidentally, settled down to life at sea very easily.
Our visit to the Glenans was just too perfect for words. We spent two or three days there, had superb weather, glorious swimming, shell collecting, exploring and made a lot of use of the Mirror. The French run a very efficient Sailing School there – and what a wonderful place for it.
Finally, we moved on to Loctudy and Île Tudy back on the mainland where we filled up with water, bought the most delicious crêpes for our supper and into the bargain lost the Mirror in the darkness because she slipped off the stern where we were towing her. She was finally retrieved and we kicked ourselves for being such a negligent crew. We stocked up with vast quantities of food on Île Tudy the next morning to the amusement of all the shopkeepers.
We sailed through the Raz de Seine, off the famous Pointe du Raz and visited the Île de Seine where we landed and explored the tiny streets; what a fascinating place but only for a short visit. The Skipper timed it just right as far as the tide race was concerned, and here I must say that our Skipper was great at getting us just where we wanted to be at the right time and managing to keep the whole crew happy.
We crossed the Baie de Douarnenez and rounded the Pointe de Pen-Hir to the charming port of Camaret. Then, we went over to the Ushants where we had some more good swimming in spite of quite a lot of fog when we had a ‘make do and mend session’. We went ashore on lie Molene and found that it was evidently a place where people were buying and doing up little properties for holidays or retirement. L’Aber Wrach was our next stop and here we were able to explore quite a long way up the river in the Mirror.
Finally, we went to Port Bloscon at Roscoff sailing through the Île de Batz Channel. We stayed overnight and the next day we went into Roscoff for shopping, exploring and a super French meal enjoyed by all. Because of ferry delays, we were planning if possible, to sail across to Plymouth so that the next crew could take over there, but gale warnings were in operation and the Skipper and Mate quite rightly decided not to take five children across much to their disappointment – they were longing to try a night passage.
We therefore had one more day in which we were able to sail round to the Château du Toureau and up the river to the lovely old town of Morlaix, where we went through the lock and moored for the night in the centre of the town. The scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed sailing back to Roscoff the next day, although by then we encountered ten-foot waves much to the excitement of the crew.
Our final treat was a delicious meal in Roscoff that evening, with soupe de poisson, crab, oysters and mussels, accompanied by excellent wines. In spite of delays on the ferries we all managed to get on together and sail back to Plymouth where we picked up Mike Hetherington’s car and drove it back. We had all got on so well together and made such an excellent unit that it was quite sad to split up and say goodbye.
However, the memories will always last and we have been fired with enthusiasm for Marabu. A fortnight like that with such an excellent Skipper, a good humoured Mate, an efficient doctor and not to mention the Skipper’s wife and all her food planning made it a holiday to remember. The magnificent scenery, the gorgeous weather and the blue seas were all part of the magic. I see that I haven’t said much about the actual sailing and handling of Marabu – she is superb and I returned to ‘teaching at school’ the following week feeling that I really hadn’t ‘lived’ to the full before experiencing a trip like that.