We settle into exploring Douarnenez. We are happy to be here and feel that although we are not somewhere warm we have more than enough to keep us happy for a winter. Our crew depart for the UK and have to use some six or so forms of transport to get home..bus, taxi, train, ferry, morris minor, wheel barrow. They have been great and good fun all the way. Cheers fellas!
Meanwhile, we find it is possible to catch squid from the pontoon and pick mussels from the beaches. We have some lovely boat made cider from Cornish apples so this makes us a 100% foraged - Bretton style mussles. Excellent cheap wine abounds (It's France remember) so worse case we will be fed and watered.
The locals are incredibly friendly and welcoming. There is lots going on here and the town has a positive atmosphere. A sail trading company has become established here moving goods around the North Atlantic using the power of wind. It's a glimpse into the future but used to be the way of times past. There are boats coming in offloading rum, coffee and chocolate from the Caribbean and taking other wares onward to different ports - Bretton cider to Cornwall and Devon ale back again.
The French really appreciate wooden boats. They just love them to the core. It is refreshing compared to the wasted opportunities of the UK. The canny French offer historic vessels free berth's and in exchange peope visit the area to see the historic fleet in the flesh. This gives you a tourist attraction for free and helps the boats by reducing costs just to exist. How lovely if we could see this in the UK's ports and harbours rather than endless fleets of plastic yachts while the historic working craft that helped make the UK great, hide up rivers unseen. Every day here people, from all over France, are out enjoying the views of the historic boats in the port. Local school children take small dingies out sailing as part of their education. The port and sea are vibrant and alive. So nice to see people out in force, loving the scene.
The town has some great street art too. There is a seam of alternative energy here which you can feel and see as you walk around. Whole buildings decorated in paintings. Galleries and artists alongside high street shops. We can just step off our pontoon and straight into this exciting town.
Our berth is nice. They have pontoons with free electricity. As we tie up we are made to feel welcome but there seems to be some worry for us as the port gets lively on the weekend. Also we are advised to make a sign to say we live aboard to discourage drunks climbing on deck to drink, smoke or worse. Our fears are confirmed on the weekend as many drunken people congregate under some covered areas adjacent to the pontoons. The shouting and partying goes on until almost dawn and we go from being rested and happy to tired and slightly freaked. Babies wake up easily and broken nights sleep does little for your mental well being. Having Bryher aboard has certainly changed our requirements. It's hard enough getting through a normal night with a young one let alone with a party going on outside.
We realise although the town is great and the berth reasonable that we cannot stay. This is a massive blow to us. We talk to the port who advise us we will be paying the expensive rate if we leave before our agreed time. It puts us in a real corner but we cannot stay. We have to find a quiet spot to relax in. To where we are bound we are not sure but we have options of either heading up the rivers at Brest or moving into Southern Brittany. There is another option though and that is the bay of biscay is sat right there.
It is the end of October and winter is nearly on us. Biscay has a fearsome reputation. This is not undue but our current forecast looks particularly good with easterly winds (offshore) of up to 18 knots and low swell. We head out over a smooth sea away from Douarnenez and really don't know if we are going to turn left or right.
We have been steadily working up to this moment however for 12 years now. The original dream of travelling southwards aboard South Star has fuelled the years of hard work and effort. I have my lovely family aboard now and they are standing shoulder to shoulder with me and showing a braveness that is humbling. I am just struggling to make the decision to go for it though. What if we go and it kicks off out there? What if we spring a bad leak? Will the work we've done to South Star be up to the task? All of the responsibility rests on my plate but we share the risk equally. If Bryony thought we should stay of course I would step down from the edge and have a lovely time wherever we end up but she is encouraging me and telling me we can do it. It is interesting to see yourself in these moments when you learn a bit more about who you really are.
In the end in I can't call it (that's who I really am then) so I defer the decision to Bryher. At 16 months she must be able to decide without the burden of the captains worries. I say almost jokingly “What do you think Bryher, France or Spain?”
“Spayne” comes the response. We laugh a lot and the fog of indecision lifts and just like that we decide to leap into the unknown and head out into the dreaded Bay. After all we can always come back right?