THE HENLEY WHALERS - Brest and Douarnenez, Brittany, France 2012
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"Chalk and Cheese"?

These two events, Brest and Douarnenez, could hardly be more different, despite the common factors of sailing boats (all types and sizes), salt water, cameraderie, like-minded people, food and wine.

Molly & Gigs beached
Molly & Gigs Beached
Brest - Day out
Click to enlarge .

Brest - Big and busy. A vast ("Avarst"?) show.
4km of docks, harbour and river frontage. - "90 hectares ... exhibitions ... events related to ... sea, science ... arts ... over 3,800 traditional musicians and artists from around the world. 3,000 boats...".
Free entry for particpants, but strict ticket entry for paying public.
Town and restaurants very busy.
Accommodation - Hmm. B&B. at "Kerichen" school. Some Whalers were underwhealmed. The "OFBOG" rating (a la OFSTED) subsequently evolved.
Positives - Lots to look at, ashore and afloat. Nightly fireworks,

Friday 13th July - A pleasant "free" sail. Some flashes of sun. Rain later.
Saturday 14th - Pleasant sail across bay to village. Ashore to eat pre-bought rolls. Pm mega fireworks & meggerer crowds = near impossible to get meal. Walking “home” was faster than the traffic.
Sunday 15th - a.m. Geoff ashore. PW elected captain. Local cruising. p.m. sailed 10 miles to village. Boats all beached. Small festival. Very relaxed. BBQ. Lots of crews singing. Fireworks. Coaches "home".
Monday 16th - Today too windy to bring Molly back from village so day spent on festival site. Lots to see.
Tuesday 17th - Coaches back to village to retrieve boats. Lifting gigs down the beach, 25 people on each side (fewer for Molly!)
Night Parade. 100 boats, all sizes. Commentary for crowds ashore. Lots of hanging around then a brief sail around when almost everyone else had fnished.
Wednesday 18th - Damp, drear. No sailing but prepared and rested for Thursday.

PW unedited Brest pics here.

Steve's unedited Brest pics here

Thursday 19th - Transfer day - A coastal Parade of Sail beneath the cliffs to Douarnenez.
This began in poor weather, with Molly advised (instructed?) to turn around, but became a delightful cruise in a gentle Atlantic swell. Just one tricky moment nearly broachng in the overtaking waves while aproaching Douarnenez. Stats - 30 nm 6 hrs 40, & clear view to America!


Douarnenez - A pretty bay/harbour/town - Everything much scaled down compared to Brest.
Accommodation - Some Whalers camping, others in B&B.

Friday 20th - Dawn grey; low cloud on nearby steeple. Later nearly all blue.
Good race around 3 buoys with misc other Sail-and-Oar, then  general cruising. “This is what we paid for”.  Later at the crew tent we were about to leave when the PA sounded like results; waited to listen. Won 1st prize!
Crepes, crepes, & cyder for dinner.
Saturday 21st - Dawn bright.
Good S&O race this morning. Little wind at start but improved. Molly 1st again.
Returned to harbour, bought rolls, sailed to beach for lunch, then cruise around.
Back to harbour for prizes, won crate of cidre.
Dinner – Peter’s Birthday!
Sunday 22nd - No races for us today but good cruising morning & afternoon with sun, gentle breeze, only little waves.
2 crew conscripted from a gig fleet phoned their logistics manager (mother) and fixed our lunch with them on a pleasant beach.
Slipway a bit slow but warm and sunny so OK.
Final dinner on quayside while awaiting sound and light show and fireworks.

Learning points -
Beware large overtaking waves.
Jury-rig main-sail above rowers heads while rowing. Quick release to get sailing in minimum time.
Trailer - Check no-one has tampered with the "hook" before hauling a boat out.

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