Month: August 2016

Ile aux Moines / The Morbihan

First of all a bit about the Golfe de Morbihan: Oft written about in the sailing mags it can be just a tad too far from the UK to fit comfortably into a 2 week holiday.

Effectively a tidal lake about 10 miles by 5 miles. Top right is the ancient and interesting city of Vannes (which can be reached by boat for a very pleasant stay)

Bottom left it is connected to the sea at it’s south west corner at Port Navalo / Port Crousty by a channel just less than half a mile wide.

And it has islands which somehow contrive to amplify the tidal streams to such a point that care is required.

morbihan mpa

Ile aux Moines in the middle. All the water to the right flows via narrow passages top, middle and bottom.

The chart shows just how fast the tidal flows can be:

that shalt not pass...if going in the wrong direction

thou shalt not pass…if going in the wrong direction

So this brings me to a final useful bit about tidal planning:

a) you will go with the flow or go backwards

b) the flow doesn’t change at low tide or high tide: all that water rushing in or out carries on going for a full 2 (yes two) hours after low water / high water.

it’s odd to think that the tide can still be ebbing well after low water, but that is exactly what happens!

Ile aux Moines

And with that useful bit of info let’s cover Ile aux Moines:

  • it’s the largest island in the Morbihan roughly 3 miles by 1.5
  • it now has a small marina with floating pontoons (see 2 short lines of boats in pic below)
  • it has a beach
  • it has some prehistoric stones
  • and is otherwise a charming little island
France, Morbihan, Ile aux Moines, aerial view of boats moored in water

Floating pontoons can be seen on the left. Well serviced by free water taxi. Inadequate depth for a 2m yacht at coefficients above 90, approach close to the ferry berths

“An otherwise a charming little island”. Well it might be out of high season.

Ile aux Moines is less than 1/4 mile from the mainland and the tourist industry in this already popular region has developed what can only be described as an industrial scale ferry service to bring tourists onto the island in vast numbers.

And on arrival tourists run the guantlet of restaurant / bar/ ice cream shop /cycle hire, repeated several times before reaching the safety of the island itself.

Ambling around the narrow lanes is not for the faint hearted either: cyclists, scooterists and a modicum of vans & taxi are all occupying the same narrow lanes as you.

Huge numbers of tourists ebb and flow

Huge numbers of tourists ebb and flow

So if you are considering a visit to this part of the world, then:

  • Arrive at the entrance 2 hours after low water and your passage will be a joy
  • Visit Ile aux Moines out of season if at all possible to best get that “charming little island” effect
  • Visit Vannes any time – it’s a must

At the time of writing, in the last week of August, blessed by fine warm weather the high season has been giving a bit of a fillip and the French are making good use of the last week before school holidays finish on the 30th.

We might go back to Ile aux Moines soon…..

Put some donk on it / Peter Mathias

I’ll come to the title later.

This blog is intended only to highlight the interesting, humourous or otherwise noteworthy happenings of our travels in Filibuster.

Our the last trip of some 4 weeks was, well, average. The weather was,well, average, we didn’t hit anything, nothing hit us (apart from the mysterious yellow mark now on our life raft). All the places visited have been written about… no cars fell in the water etc…

Something Remarkable….

But before I distil that , that recent, average, trip, let me tell you about something remarkable that happened today, down here in Pembrokeshire:

Peter Mathias walked up the hill to the chalet, in between rain storms and with a smile said “hello”  and:

  • It was my birthday yesterday
  • I’ve just got engaged
  • Can I introduce you?

WOW. Peter’s wife Anne passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer. We had lost touch a bit.

And now a new love enters his life. Cath is a delightful lady, Irish, shares a common love of golf with Peter and enjoys travel.


Peter and Cath.

Peter holds a dear place in our life and early sailing career: we raced with and against each other, did delivery trips together, we bought our chalet from him and more recently he hosted James for a week of work experience at a real architects practice.

We wish Peter and Cath the best for the future.

A neat manoevre

Read this: About getting Filibuster into a tricky mooring.

So, if you find yourself having got yourself in to a similar position :

  • alongside a pontoon
  • 3 boats fore, 3 boat aft, no more than 2 ft either end to play with.
  • no wind to help you out
  • no bow thruster to turn the nose?

And the 3 boats aft being worth more than £1m, skippers hovering, all watching and wondering how you are going to get out without damaging their prized possessions….

We saw this in Piriac, just a few weeks earlier, when a student in a bateau ecole (training boat) got their command stuck and the teacher had to show them how to get out:

  1. create a pivot point on the bow by taking a line from outermost cleat to the pontoon.
  2. remove all other lines
  3. put the boat into reverse.

The boat can’t go forward, can’t go backward, can only pivot around the one line – and it will do so to 90 degrees or more.

Slowly she does it. Slip the line and reverse out. Works on a bateau ecole, worked on Filibuster.

All watchers smile, think “neat”. A Facebook equivalent of a super like if they have one…..


How to get out of a tight spot (I’m a better sailor than an artist!)

The donk

not yet…

Frank Singleton

We bought Filibuster in 2007. Mobile internet was not there. For those of us needing up to date weather info there was one source: Frank Singleton and his collection of nascent weather info delivery services that could be acquired using the painfully slow, but all we had at the time, GPRS on mobile.

Well I’m pleased to report that Frank and his wife Jennifer came alongside us in St Martin for a few days.

Both over 80 they are a remarkable example of “continuing to use it” as they have campaigned their Halberg Rassy for many years and continue to do so.


Frank and (recently showered) Jennifer Singleton aboard their HR34 Anhinga in St Martin, Ile de Re

Demi Donk

Explained later (sorry: I’m struggling to pad this one out)

Photos from a plane

See this:groix from the air

Well we’ve all taken photos from a plane. Note how clear this one is? It comes from the driver’s seat. Cap’n Laurie Stimpson flying an Easyjet Airbus south-ish to Lisbon. The island is Ile de Groix, L’Orient and Port Louis to the left. Mid picture is the Quiberon Peninsula. In the far distance would be Piriac Sur Mer, where I write from.


And finally: donk

our new found friends: John and Julia Strudwick on board their Nauticat Wyldwind. Now Nauticats are built for comfort,pleasure and not hi-performance. they come with appropriately sized engines (ie the donk) that, when sailing isn’t the right option , the donk does it.

And so into our vocabulary comes:

  • put some donk on it: give it some welly
  • demi donk day: motor until the wind pipes up
  • donk it: better put the engine on to avoid whatever needs donking

The next instalment

Starts August 16th. Let’s hope something more interesting happens. Let me know if you would like to join us.