‘The French really can’t sail’, Reinhold sighed, ‘look at them!’. The German points at a boat that makes a turn for the third time in the harbor of Roscoff to park their boat in a box. A harbor is sometimes just like a drive-in cinema: you ‘drive’ in with your own vehicle, park your boat and watch a lot happening in the harbor! We are sitting on the self-build aluminum boat of Reinhold, with wine and nuts. We have spent the last two days with him, sailing together along the north coast of Bretagne, from Saint-Quay-Portrieux to Roscoff. We helped him in the harbor of Roscoff to carry his main sail on a trolley to a French sailmaker (Voilerie), because it needed to be shortened. In the sun on his ship, we talk about the beautiful coast of Bretagne, an area that Reinhold who lives in Hamburg, regularly sails.
10 sailing taboos
We laugh about all the sailing taboos that we encounter and sometimes are guilty of ourselves:
- Leaving windows open during sailing
- Walking over other sailors aft deck, when boats are tied together and you have to go ashore
- Using your mobile phone to navigate
- Not having the VHF on. Having the VHF on the wrong channel. Chattering over the VHF
- Drinking alcohol while sailing. Not drinking alcohol once you’re moored
- Not wearing sunglasses
- Scarves, flip flops, rings
- Bow thruster
- Rental boats
Saint-Quay-Portrieux and Roscoff
Two typical coast cities of northern Bretagne: there is a lively atmosphere of fishingboats and many fish restaurants. We also ate the famous Galettes and visited the cliffs which become more and more rough once we go to the west of Bretagne. The beaches are still very pretty with white/yellow sand and green water. You see a lot of Thalasso Spa’s in this area, the salt and algae are a good cure for skin and rheumatism.
In the harbor of Saint-Quay-Portrieux were the Pen Duick sailing boats: over a 100 years old, these black wooden boats are famous in France, because they are fast, robust and elegant at the same time.
Roscoff is close to the west-side of Bretagne and ferries go from here to England (Plymouth), Ireland (Cork) and even Spain (Bilbao).
It was time for us to get a haircut, so in Roscoff we found a hairdresser that could help us right away. But how to say in French that you want ‘layers’ in your hair? ‘étagères?’ It turned out to be called ‘dégradée’ 😉.
This coastal area is notorious for pirates in the 18th century. The pirates were considered protectors of the French king. They were then called sea heroes. In name of their king, they hijacked cargo ships from England and the Netherlands. A infamous French pirate was Surcouf. I had to smile, because it brought back a memory of a holiday in Cuba. I was standing at the border of the Matanzas Bay. This was where Piet Hein won the conquest of the Spanish treasure fleet in 1628 (‘Zilvervloot’). On the information board, it said ‘Piet Hein, the Dutch pirate’. In Holland he was known as a sea hero.
The Dance of Death
In a small village, called Kermaria-an-Iskuit (spelled in typical Breton language), we found a chapel build in the 13th century. We cycled to this chapel called ‘Chappele de la Mort’, because there are fresco’s from the 15th century with images of ‘le danse macabre’ with bishops and even ‘death’ itself which reminds us of the fact that no one can escape death.
Pink onions and Johnnies
When it comes to vegetables, artichokes and onions are very much grown here. And the onions from Roscoff are famous because of their pink color and sweet taste. In the 19th century, onions were eaten a lot by sailors, because they contained a lot of vitamins and can be stored for a long time. And the French farmers went by ferry to the South coast of England to sell their pink onions. They were very much appreciated, selling from door to door, and got the nickname ‘Johnnies’. The image of the French farmer, in a Breton stripped shirt, with an enormous bunch of onions on this back while cycling in the countryside of England, became a stereotype portrait of a Frenchman for the British.
The village of Camaret-sur-Mer is special to us! Three years ago in June, we picked up the boat in France and sailed back to Holland in 2 weeks, under the guidance of Brigitte and Rob, an experienced couple from the Netherlands. One of the stops then was Camaret-sur-Mer, and because the wind turned to the north, we had to stay there for 4 days. You can’t sail into the wind. Which actually turned out to a blessing in disguise, because all the preparation and impressions of this Big Step in Our Lives, really asked for a ‘time-out’ and slowing down a bit. The weather at that time in Camaret, 30 degrees, was also helping. So I remembered strolling along the beach, along the big stranded wooden fisherboats that lay there for tourists to see and the nice colorful houses at the harbor. We came a little bit to our senses in those 4 days in Camaret, supported by the great cooking of Brigitte, who made wonderful salads with shrimps. So for us that is where the Journey actually became alive to us!
And to this day, we are so happy we decided to buy the catamaran three years ago. Don’t wait to realize your dreams, tomorrow is a gift, never a certainty. I am grateful for all the travelling that we have been doing together for over a year now. 365 days, living a daily changing environment without have to pack our suitcase, because we take our tiny floating house with us.