Monday, 10 September 2012

Out in La Passagere

Out in La Passagere

I mentioned before that a good friend of mine has bought an old open two masted lugger, previously used as a ferry, to renovate and use as a pleasure boat for tourists who want to get a taste of the sea (or the estuary) on a traditional vessel. The boat is called La Passegere and his name is Allain. Well, by the time the purchase was completed and the vessel had been brought up to his exacting standards, the tourist season was  all but over. Still she’ll be ready for next season and there is still a chance that one or two late season tourists might take the bait. Allain is offering morning, afternoon or evening cruises to suit requirements and the tourist group can be as small as three and as large as six. Guests on board can help work the boat or simply enjoy the ride. The evening cruises are known as appero-cruises, in that aperitifs and wine are included in the experience.

Anyway, by way of turning a threat (lack of bookings) into an opportunity (a bit of marketing) Allain decided to use downtime to encourage the local mayor and regional representatives to support his new business venture by inviting them for a sail last weekend. So, with the local dignitaries on board Allain explained the concept of the venture while Jean Luc and I acted as crew. Who had most fun, Jean Luc and I or the passengers? Probably Jean Luc and I.

We began the voyage in bright sunshine with the outgoing tide and a light north westerly wind and reached five or six miles down the estuary to a village on the left bank, Langrolay. From there we tacked back across the estuary to Port St Hubert where we anchored for coffee and took stock of the morning. There had been significant rain during the pervious night and so the air was remarkably clear and polished, also, being a Sunday, there were lots of other boats to see and quite a bit of fishing activity along the shoreline. One or two guys were actually involved using a traditional net which seems to be spread across a giant pair of wooden scissors which fit around the waist. The trick seems to be to walk along the shoreline with the net in the water to scoop up prawns and shrimps.

Towards mid-day, the wine bottle was opened and we moored up by the village of Mondriec (an ancient settlement reputed to have been a place of druids). This is a particularly beautiful village which looks out across the water to a beautiful old chateau ‘La Chene Vert’ (the green oak).  Le Chene Vert is still inhabited and it often provokes a somewhat philosophical discussion between Susan and me as to who is the most fortunate, the obviously rich owner of the castle with his view of the boats, but with all the responsibility that such a building must place or him, or the freer spirited sailors, with less responsibility and probably less money who get to look at his castle for free? I think I know where my inclinations lie.

Mondreic also has one more claim to fame. There is a seal that has lived alone in these waters for the past five years. He’s well fed and healthy and he seems to genuinely enjoy human contact. He can be quite elusive, but when the mood takes him, he’ll pop out of the water and put on a display for passing boaters. True to form, and right on schedule, he put on such a display for La Passagere, her crew and guests as we left the port and headed for Plouer Sur Rance our home port. Sometimes sailing just doesn’t get any better.

OK, so I've finlly managed to hook up with my new internet provider and haver broadband again. Wuthin the next few days I'll be updating Susan's view from the galley and the quizz page. Also, I'll be reporting on why the offer of a Westerly Nomad is drawing my attention AND, I'll be listing reviews of a few books I've been reading - so after a lull - watch out of a lot more activity in this corner of webspace.