The final scrumtier


Solitary sort of thing, sailing. You spend all of your time avoiding things: other boats, quays, marks, running out of water, running out of beer and so on.

But sometimes, in just a few places, sailing folk congregate in vast numbers and close proximity. Usually en route from A to B and where A and B are at different levels. I’m talking about a lock, AKA boat scrum. AKA stress.

Vannes is one. St Martin another. Our final scrum this year is the Arzal Barrage. A huge marina and the flat navigable Villaine river on one side, tidal estuary on the other. Migrating yachts, including Filibuster head up river to the open lock (to find it is already full) and hang around for the next session 2 hours later.

Then it’s everyone in, like the arc – 2 by 2 attached with outer boat loosely tied to the lock wall. Every 2 hours the road bridge opens and boats move forward to fill the now vacant space under and allow more in at the back. When it’s really full (see photos) the lock gates open.

And like some enormous boat catapult, pwtang, boats get out as fast as they can, before any inferior idiot sailor does some damage, out to be free and in clear water and safe.

Back to being solitary until the next time you moor up, which is either 5 minutes or 30 minutes depending on your destination.

For us we chose the peace and quiet of a sunset cruise up river to La Roche Bernard.

Sadly, this marks the end of salty sea dog sailing. We’re now muddy river rats and Filibuster will stay in the river until next summer 🙁

1 Comment

  1. Ian and Judy says:

    Looks like you have had a marvellous time and Martin you have a natural gift as a travel writer. This could be your new career. Judy and I are having a long weekend in Mahon, Menorca and having a sail with the Watermans before they take the long haul home tonight. I will post you a few Picts of a few naked sailors!!!!