WABI’’’ real time : May 2019 alongside quay at Port Launay, river L’Aulne. France.

In real time you are only reading blog posts some 6 or 7 weeks now after the event.That’s because I had no way of even drafting the posts let alone publishing then and it would be over month after I started the voyage when my partner joined me with my new laptop in her luggage and I could have a go at writing while on the boat and then posting blogs whenever I could find an internet connection.

As I write today, sitting in the boat alongside the quay at Port Launay I have mainly used the wifi at one excellent cafe in Chateaulin, once in the tourist information office and the first new blog post went out from Camaret.  I had at least a 5 week break from working on the internet every day and am only now just getting back into the habit of writing, preparing drafts, downloading photographs and then bringing the whole lot together during the short times I spend online. What that may mean is that if you post comments I may not see them for 8-10 days because, as I write today, I have just done the shopping for the next section of the voyaging. 

Tomorrow, in my time, I will top-off my water, lock out at the Guly-Glas tidal barrier and head back downriver and out into the Race de Brest. Jax has just gone home after a right old faff when Brittany Ferries changed her sailing time and we had to quickly change our plans to get her back to Roscoff.


Back in blog time then and in the previous post I’d had my butt fairly kicked around by an uncomfortable channel crossing, a kind of rite of passage in one way of thinking. By then   I was hanging off someone else mooring in the river above L.Aber-Wrach too cold and tired to do much except rest up and catch up on sleep.  The first time I came in here, several years ago in the Frances, I was so tired and fuzzy after 40 hours without sleep that I didn’t even get this far but anchored out where the chart shows the first anchorage symbol to the west of the mole.  That first time I explored the river as far as the quay at Paluden which is really the head of navigation for keel-boats.  This time I went about halfway up the river to the first really sheltered section because in texts from Jax she was saying that there was an Atlantic storm inbound.  With that in mind and that I really wanted to go ashore and shop for fresh food I put the boat alongside the slip at Port de Paluden and beached her there.

Port de Paluden.


Ashore, I did my essential jobs ie stocked up on water and food.  There is, usefully, a stand-pipe and tap just next to the quay and slipway at Paluden but the nearest supermarket is about half an hour’s brisk walk uphilll of course or a short bus ride.   Well the bus stop is still there but the timetable has gone so it was a walk up and heavy walk back with a weeks worth of fresh food.

To my great entertainment there was an unaccountably large police presence in Lanillis where I went to shop….I thought jokingly there might be a murder being committed which would be me of course mangling the language.    My French is truly very bad : on a good day I can ask for one or two coffee’s and can just about stretch to a pain au chocolat.   Unable to find ice for my cool-box in the first supermarket the lady at the till looked completely alarmed when I tried asking if they had any ice…..she didn’t seem to understand me at all and it was another lady in the queue who attempted to translate, even then I think that what they thought I was asking for was ice-cream whereas what I wanted was a block of ice or a pack of ice. 

Apparently they are the same word ‘glace’ and I still couldn’t find any.  The trick, at the second supermarket was to go to the fresh fish counter and ask if I could have a bag of ice…..simple enough once I managed to make myself understood and that was one first language hurdle out of the way.   I seem to remember that supermarkets usually sold blocks of ice but maybe that’s only in the official summer as I have now had at least 10 bags of ice, mainly free, from the fresh fish counters at various supermarkets, occasionally I have been charged a couple of squid (sorry !) but normally not.

Paluden quay.


Later…..I reflected on the heavy police presence and realised that they were at the wrong supermarket……in another town and another Leclerc supermarket I happened to take note of the ‘music’ playing and it was a series of very, very bad cover versions of what I would regard as ‘good’ music : that day it was some French sounding woman really murdering Pearl Jam’s ‘Black’…I don’t remember much after that although the parallel with Vogon poetry came to mind.

Back at the boat it looked as though I was in for a few days of heavy weather so there was little point in moving away from deep shelter at Paluden.  I had enough to get on with after the cross channel passage : some minor repairs and modifications and I wanted to start writing notes for blog posts.  Because I didn’t plan to leave the river for a few day I beached WABI’’’ again, the second time on the mud and shingle next to the quay just so that I could go for a walk down the river to check out an interesting little place on the south bank and a great ‘sharp’ looking lugger moored there. At Paluden I started to work on my technique of running in towards the beach while deploying a kedge astern.

The place I had seen from the river turned out to be a small boatyard in the entrance to a nearly dried up side valley and moored there was the lugger I had seen and next to that a little Wharram catamaran with someone working on it.   For me it was a case of getting my language ‘man-pants’ on and at the least getting down to the odd little structure that the cat was moored against and saying hello to the young guy working on a splice….struggling a bit too by the look of It.


The Lugger turned out to be called ‘Rose of Argyll’ and according to the guy working on the Wharram was an ex fishing boat.  I couldn’t get much further with my limited French and he had barely more English but I think I understood that the area is partly owned by an outfit that do sail training for children and I think I have seen a couple of their larger sail training vessels moored in the river during my last trip. 

I did poke my nose into a temporary boat shed cum poly-tunnel and what looked mostly like a classic Fife or very similar being rebuilt….if anything it reminded me of the late Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick.   I didn’t have any internet access at the time so I can’t say any more about the Lugger except that I instantly fell in love with it.  I like the west-country Luggers : we have several at home including Spirit Of Mystery of course and I think ‘Our Boys’ …..Grayhound, which I saw in Whitsand bay was built near home as well.  Rose of Argyll though doesn’t look anything like a classic west-country Lugger but neither does she look anything like a Breton boat….they tend to be a lot more bluff and high in the bow.

Rose of Argyll.


That same night I started writing up notes for each blog post that I have published so far and several that I am working on right now.  What I was also prompted to do was at least to have a go at talking to the owners of boats that catch my eye and try to get their story.  That didn’t really happen for a while, In fact until I got to where I am now which is far inland in the Aulne… I have had a kind-of chat with several boat owners….all interesting boats and good material for several posts.  

What it made me think about is what I am going to write about in the blog because I don’t just want to write an endless ‘what WABI’’’ did next cruising diary’ which just isn’t that interesting.  What I am working on much more are posts about the places I have visited, the interesting boats and people and some of the odd things that I have seen along the way.  I might even do my own tongue-in-cheek cruising guide.

Paluden slipway.



1 Comment

  1. Would really enjoy a “places, characters, boats and their stories” type post, though this one was pretty good too! Cheers Steve.


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