International Shrimpers' Week 2014
Bay of St. Malo and River Rance
Thanks to the hard work of our French colleagues, the itinerary for ISW 2014 has now been finalised and we are looking forward to a pleasant and relaxed week cruising the beautiful 'Emerald Coast' around the bay of St Malo and discovering the delights of the river Rance. Passage distances are planned to be fairly short but there is a lot to explore in this area.
St Malo is about three hours relaxed drive, towing a boat, from Cherbourg and a little less from Caen. The roads are good, most being dual carriageways. We shall be arriving at the 'Port des Sablons' adjacent to St Malo on or before Friday 13 June when boats can be launched or craned in and prepared for the week's sailing. There is a briefing supper in the evening in the marina restaurant. (This could be quite a relaxed event as apparently aperitives and drinks are included with the two suppers).
Saturday sees us leave for the completely unspoiled Hebihiens islands across the bay and a lunchtime picnic before heading to St Cast marina for the evening. (The French assure us that on each leg we are to be accompanied by experienced local sailors who know the area very well).
Sunday we are hoping to have a day's cruise to Fort Lalatte (a spectacular castle that has been used in a number of films) and on to the dramatic Cap Frehel. If the weather makes this too challenging then some local sailing with racing is planned.
After a further evening in St Cast, on Monday the fleet will return across the bay and around the headland back to St Malo. For the afternoon there is a choice of further local sailing or a guided tour of the old fortified town and ramparts.
On Tuesday there is an early start for the lock through the Rance dam which houses one of the world's largest tidal power stations (all out of sight inside the dam) and then on up the Rance river to La Landriais where we go ashore for lunch and to explore the pretty village and visit the historic dry dock. In the afternoon we continue on up river to the small marina at Plouer where we shall berth for the night. That evening we are being offered a 'soiree galettes' which is a traditional Breton evening of savoury pancakes and cakes. It is rumoured that Breton cider could also be provided.
Wednesday will see us continue on upriver, through the 'Ecluse du Chatelier' lock and into the non tidal upper reaches of the Rance to motor to the small historic port of Dinan. We shall then have the evening to explore what has been described as 'Brittany's most beautiful town' with its narrow cobbled streets, interesting shops and plentiful restaurants.
Thursday we have the long trip back down river before returning through the two locks and back into the bay to return to the 'Port des Sablons' for a final night in the marina. That evening there is the prize-giving supper planned for a restaurant inside the ramparts of the historic walled city.
On Friday the day is given over to taking boats out of the water and preparation for the journey home, although Loic assures us that the marina is not fully booked at this time of year and that anyone wishing to prolong their stay is more than welcome. Advice will be given to those who wish to continue their exploration of the area.
Once we are in France it is of course possible to consider trailing to another cruising ground: Southern Brittany with the Gulf of Morbihan or even La Rochelle on the west coast are less than a day's drive. And, if you fancy almost guaranteed sunshine at this time of the year, the Med can be reached by motorway in two days!