Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ocean Kayak

So two days of public holiday, no boat except for a Kayak. We launched at the home port of Plouer Sur Rance, Brittany, France and decided to paddle up the estuary and into the river. The weather was changeable, sunshine followed by cold showers. I didn't care. Susan sitting up front has a unique paddling style which sends sheets of water in my direction with every stroke. Rain or fine, I'm always soaked on the kayak. Well at least the wind was light.

Now, to set the scene, a few words about this neck of the woods. Brittany's first inhabitants were Celts and Britons displaced out of England and Wales by successive invasions - Romans, Angles, Saxons etc.. that's why this region of France is called Brittany (little Britain). Towns and villages here which have a Plou or Plou prefix are ancient British settlements. Across the estuary is Mordreuk (the place of the Druids) and further upstream there is an old tidal mill with the unfortunate name of Moulin de Pratt!. The river Rance by the way translates as the 'Rancid One' but don't let that put you off, this is a truly beautiful place.

Further upstream, the estuary tapers to a narrow channel, with old fishing platforms on either side of the river and then you are at a village called Livet, locking out of the estuary and into the placid fresh waters of the river itself. A short paddle, through the increasingly beautiful wooded valley brings you to Dinan, a walled medieval town which is a delight to stroll through. If you had a sailing boat drawing less than one meter, you could drop your mast and continue by canal southwards from here right across the Brittany peninsular to the Atlantic. I'll do that one day, but for now, its time to dry out at a riverside cafe, for gallets (a sort of pancake made with buckwheat) and sausages, washed down by several glasses of rough local cider, followed by a stroll along the ramparts and the enjoyment of  almost free music supplied by very capable busking musicians along the way.

Returning, Jack our Jack Russel, embarrassed himself by falling off the kayak as we made our departure from the town. I estimate we were making about five knots at the time, trying to impress the locals, and so for a moment Jack's nose made a significant bow-wave for such a small dog.

Back in the salt-water estuary, we pulled ashore to harvest young Samphire spears, the best of all vegetables for a low cost cruiser, and to collect as much driftwood as the kayak could carry for the log burning stove at home. For the last few miles, we trailed a lure in the hope of catching a sea bass or maybe an early mackerel. No luck. So we ended the day, scratching a low tide sand bar for clams and cockles and took a mighty haul!

The shell fish were cooked with garlic, white wine and cream on the log burner, and the samphire was lightly boiled, tossed in butter and served alongside, with plenty of sourdough bread to mop up the juices. Susan will post the recipe shortly on our 'View from the Galley page'. Cost of the day? - eleven euros ( lunch for two paid for) Savings for the day? evening meal, that could not be beat. Best bit? Drying out, toasting toes by a free log fire with a perfect shellfish dinner inside you. Such a perfect day.

NOW an Apology to John the unlikely boat builder, who commented on an earlier posting and recommended seeking the perfect boat by considering local designs. He quoted Howard Chapelle as a designer who draws inspiration from local traditional boats. I confused Chapelle with another famous US designer  Nathanael Greene Herreshoff. "Captain Nat," as he was known, revolutionised yacht design, and produced a succession of undefeated America's Cup defenders between 1893–1920. I confused the two hence my incorrect reference to Chapell's designs as 'Ocean Greyhounds', Mea culpa!  I need to learn more about Chapelle. Sorry John!

Meanwhile if you're interested in the Ocean Kayak - you can get it here
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (12-Feet / Yellow) (USA Readers)