And so to Sauzon
Oyez! Oyez!. All you creek crawlers, bilge keelers, flat bottomers and lifting keelers. Welcome to Sauzon, Belle-Ile, for this is your heaven.
This is the place that perfectly exonerates your decision to acquire a boat that “can take the ground”.
Along the astonishingly pretty quayside of Sauzon is a huge, sheltered, drying harbour, complete with moorings to assist your arrival, which of course you do when there is water in the harbour.
Fin keelers (like Filibuster) whose decision to visit Sauzon is always a gamble on how much swell you can tolerate. Swell whilst mooring to a buoy in the anchorage outside the harbour (lumpy) or swell whilst mooring fore-and-aft in the outer, non drying harbour (also lumpy).
Happily, nay smugly , the “take the grounders” chug past all the fin keelers. Smiling inwardly, smiling visibly, smirking, going onward to a nirvana where no fin keeler can stay.
The ground in the drying harbour is mainly hard sand, so if you can get off your boat it’s easy to walk ashore.
The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared
Have you read the book? It’s very funny. Essentially a long shaggy dog story. But there’s a bit missing, entitled “and so to Sauzon” I include it here.
And so to Sauzon.
Henri, the hundred year old man, found himself on the West Coast of France. He’d heard that Sauzon was a nice place and that sailing a yacht was a nice thing to do.
So he decided to borrow a yacht. He’d never been sailing before but reckoned it can’t be that difficult as you can just switch the engine on and go. So he did, and off to Sauzon he went on a pleasant summer’s day.
On arrival he was pleased to see that Sauzon was indeed a beautiful place and happy he’d made the decision to visit. He had only one problem to settle and that was how to stop and stay.
Observing a nice big British yacht already moored in the harbour, Henri asked the skipper “puis je fair a couple avec vous” (which is not a request to get over familiar with someone, but just to come alongside).
Martin, the skipper of the nice big British yacht says “mais bien sur, fair un turn (because he was facing the wrong way round ) en retour ici”.
Hundred year old man goes round and starts to come alongside. Martin notices he has no fenders prepared. Or lines to attach with. Typical French. Martin “advises” him, “ou et votre lignes et defensoirs”. Henri points to a locker as if to say “obviously in here, you stupid Brit, where else?”.
He’s passing. He realises that lines are the key to stopping and staying. He gets a line out of the locker and passes one end to martin. And the other end. And the middle. All of it, not attached to anything.
“What do you expect me to do with this?” dit Martin en Francais. Henri looks at me genially as if to say “you’re the expert – you tell me”. I throw it back, all of it.
So I tell him, in French, kindly “attach your lines and fenders first, then come alongside”. Blank look returned.
Is it my French that’s the problem? (could be: my inner French man quite often says things that my inner English man doesn’t understand). Perhaps Henri got the last missive as “put out your washing line and install your fence before coming to my place”
I recruit the next nearest boat to translate from English to French for Henri. Blank Henri look again. A discussion in French ensues. The centime drops. A little wave of a Henri hand acknowledges in a “righty ho” sort of way.
Henri, being a hundred years old, doesn’t do anything really quickly. He slips, nay slides or possibly slopes into the task now in his mind.
He chugs off for another turn. Connects an end of the ligne to his boat. Forgets about the fenders. Comes alongside. One line attached and he’s stopped.
At this point the Capitanerie boat gets involved and takes control: gives Henri a parking place alongside a similar sized boat . Henri now remembers fenders and starts to attach whilst we hang on to Henri’s boat.
Capitanerie man moves Henri. Zut go the new neighbours. Phew go we.
He doesn’t have a dinghy so sits on deck reading and then goes to bed. He left early that morning and for all we know is still out and about.
And as I write this in Port Haliguen a smart Beneteau 45’ comes alongside the other side of our pontoon. Fully crewed by Henri-relatives and driven by an incompetent Henri-alike who commands with an air of authority-without-experience. No lignes, no defensoirs on a boat probably worth £100k. Much snarling and gashing of engine. Backwards, forwards, over the Irish sea sort of thing, nearly over the boat in front, Michele goes to help. They throw a line, in the water. Eyes look to heaven. Etc….
PPS above mentioned boat has 13 people aboard. Several generations of family, not all happy about being on granddad’s boat together. Noisy, at least whilst awake and then an absolute calm descends on this quiet, flat corner of the marina.
PPPS Rather shyly they aplogisied for the enthusiasm of their gang on holiday. Apology graciously accepted, but it was still nice when they went to bed….
And so back to Sauzon
I’ve digressed and dithered a bit, and I’m sure you want to know a bit about Sauzon.
- It’s on Belle-Ile. A popular holiday island for French rich and/or famous and it shows, especially in Sauzon.
- It’s very pretty
- The quayside is closed to traffic Friday and Saturday evenings, making promenading, people watching and checking out the many restaurants a pleasure
- It has resident quayside bands – we pitched up at a bar and listen to “The Golden Jakes” Jazz Band. Niiice.
It’s a must visit place. We did a couple of years ago by scooter and a few days later by car…
If you feel daring and just want to stay long enough for an meal, springs tides will float your boat in the inner drying harbour for long enough to enjoy a peaceful evening meal or lunch if the tides are neapish.