Having anchored the last few nights, we decided to venture further into the Golfe and eventually joined another flotilla of small craft as we weaved our way up the river towards Vannes, which is pronounced ‘Van’. Entry into the port of van is fairly specific as there are a number of bridges and tidal sills to negotiate on a rising tide. The road bridge swings open and remains open for 2 hours (don’t know what happens to the usual traffic, but a detour is inevitable).
We were met at the pontoons by a young lad in his inflatable dinghy who was zipping around here and there. Having allocated us our berth, we drew up alongside and were surrounded by Brits eager to help with our lines. Within five minutes our fellow Brits had found out all there was to know about us, where you from, where you been, where you going? Within minutes another large yacht was shoehorned into a berth to our stern. Another British boat so the introductions and chat continued, each boat, I think, relieved to find another ‘English’ speaking person in order to converse.
All three crews off the ‘Brits’ then watched, with some amusement, as a fairly new large French Jeanneau sailing yacht came into the area. He was attempting to berth the vessel in his usual allocated berth which was equipped with some very snazzy fenders on the pontoon as a permanent fixture. When I say large I mean around 50 foot in length. As the helm swung the vessel to starboard in order to turn into his berth there was a loud thud as his keel hit the bottom of the slipway and for the second day running a French boat had, pardon the pun –ground to a halt. Severe embarrassment all round as the identically dressed crew (red shorts and sparkling white shirts) rushed about and checked for damage. Back the helmsman went and on the second attempt missed the ground and came straight into the berth. No doubt there was a debate as to what had just happened.
Vannes is a busy cosmopolitan city with a fortification surrounding the inner city centre, with arches allowing all to enter the inner sanctum of shops and business. Since my last visit by car the city council have improved the area around the waterway and now, instead of a car park there was a tree lined avenue to walk and cycle along, littered with restaurants and cafes. We chose a nice looking restaurant for lunch and weren’t disappointed. The food and the presentation of the food was mouth-watering! The woman on the table next to us had ordered a salad, and much to hers and everyone’s amusement the salad arrived on a large shallow bowl, complete with three small terracotta flowerpots full of accompanying ingredients. It really was very well presented. Our meal was equally carefully presented, I had carbonara and Jude had a salad, and I finished the meal off with a cafe gourmand, which in English means a coffee with four small taster desserts (gourmand has good reason to be translated to the English word - greedy). Flipping delicious.
The hunt was still on for a pair of trousers for me to wear in London. Every gents outfitters in Vannes was visited and again the elusive pair of 40” waist, by 33” inside leg, wasn’t forthcoming. Time is now getting a little too close to find trousers!. We spend an enjoyable two days discovering Vannes which included a long walk along the riverside, past some very professional boat building enterprises, one of which was a yard refurbishing a 70 foot long racing trimaran. What an absolute beast. The winches adorning the deck area were each the size of a barrel, and made, of course from carbon fibre to reduce weight. Would love to have a go on such a flying machine!
too big to get the whole Cat in the shot!
Vannes is a beautiful historical city, well worth a visit.
Medieval Wash Houses along side of the river.
Time to move on, and with the tide at the right state, we left Vannes. Now getting out of our tight berth was a bit of a problem, but again the Brits came to the rescue and two guys gave Moneypenny a good push sideways and she obliged in moving out of the berth with inches to spare either end. Within minutes the heavens opened and a downpour ensued. I got soaked to the skin in a matter of minutes. My crew, had the good fortune of sheltering under the spray hood, and remained relatively dry. The rain continued as I steered Moneypenny through the lock gates, over the tidal sill and through the opening of the swing bridge, towards the open sea, some 20 miles away.
We motor/sailed down the Golfe, and when the rain stopped, it didn’t take long in the warm breeze for those of us who got wet to dry out. On an out going tide we were quickly swept down the channels towards the sea, and at times were covering the ground at over 9 knots (10miles per hour) towards the open sea. Next stop, the River Auray.