Exploring the Golfe du Morbihan by boat has long been on our list, and last week we managed to snatch a week, taking the Bayraider Expedition, surely the perfect craft for the purpose.
Taking the Sunday night ferry from Portsmouth, we were rigged and launched at Arradon by 11.30, Monday morning. Port D’Arradon – a wide slipway, some pontoons and a sailing centre – seemed the obvious choice after some research. South east of Vannes and broadly in the top centre of the Golfe, it seemed centrally positioned to day sail to every where. The end of April has its advantages – out of school holidays , and prior to “La Semaine du Golfe”, it proved very peaceful, at times deserted, and we lucked out on the weather! A busier time might have meant being on a mooring (there is a ferry service), or fully rafted. Trailers have to be stored about a mile away in a school field, but there is a generous and secluded car park near the slipway. After 2 nights with the camper in the car park we retreated to a campsite – the village’s municipal site does not open until May, so we were 2-3 miles away at Penboch. It was a very pleasant 35 min walk along the shore to the boat.
As you will all know an area over twice the size of Poole Harbour, with 60 islands and a tiny entrance, will be tidally dominated, but we were pleasantly surprised….the tides are there to be worked. Eddies abound, and of course if you have the luxury of a favourable mainstream, you do get a surprise, even Chi Harbour based as we are! On the second day we sailed to Auray, knowing we had a square beat back for the last 6 miles or so – which took a little over an hour! In 5 days we managed to sail almost everywhere, but you could soak up a fortnight or more, especially if you intend to venture up the coast a bit, and staying on board would completely enhance the experience – we didn’t when it came to it! Yes it is rocky, but there are plenty of anchorages and lots of shelter. Many islands had good beaches and early in the season you can land on an island and have it to yourself…!
So yes, it is as beautiful, special and as expansive as we had hoped. A chart, folded to about A3, was all that we needed, the handhold GPS did not come out of the bag, but I did resort to smartphone once! A tidal chart would have taken some guesswork out, but we did not feel it essential at all. Early season is a benefit – to give you an idea maybe 40% of the moorings were empty – and without a doubt we will return soon, perhaps with a slightly bigger boat!
The slipway at Port D’Arradon. The dinghy park, sailing centre and Capitainerie is behind me. This is 2/3rds tide – at low water the nearest pontoon is drying.
Nick and Kate Peters, April 2015.