We looked towards the Admiral, where high the Peter flew,
And all our hearts were dancing like the sea.
These are just a couple of lines taken from Henry John Newbolt’s poem The Old Superb set to music by C.V. Stanford. My dinghy Sarum will be the flagship and alone in her fleet. The Peter is the flag which gives the signal for the fleet to put to sea – and woe betide Napoleon’s navy!
My little embarkment hardly needs any such formality, but the anticipation is there all the same as I prepare the boat, check off my list and make sure everything is in good order. Each year, I go off on my own with my boat, and get a good little adventure. Next Saturday I will be going to the Rance for a few days, as back in 2013 – Sketches of the Sea. After this, depending on the weather, I intend to haul Sarum out of the water and tow her to the Rade de Brest. I will launch her in the Aulne at Trégarvan and sail out to the Rade de Brest on the ebb tide. There are places I didn’t have time to explore last time, and this time I will have my old British Seagull engine to help when the wind dies or when I have too little lee room to sail.
For Saturday (23rd June) morning I will need to sail with the flood tide back into the Aulne and moor at Rosnoën in readiness for the Route du Sable. I go to this gathering every two years in alternance with the Semaine du Golfe which is only held every two years (next time in 2019).
This will be my retreat, and I will spend much of the week in solitude, without my computer but with my smartphone which gives me my GPS position, a means of communication for any reason (I also have VHF), the weather and the tides via internet. I can also get my e-mail. To recharge batteries, I have a small foldable bank of solar cells and two external batteries. I also have some Kindle books. If it is to be a spiritual retreat and not just a pleasant sail, I need to work out a little programme of things to read and pray about. I sleep aboard like in a tent at a campsite, except that the tent goes over the boom and is hooked to four points along each side of the hull. Two boards either side of the cockpit move together to form a bed, and I have my self-inflating mattress in my bow compartment together with a sleeping bag and inflatable pillow. I can be afloat and at anchor, tied up to a floating dock, pulled up on the beach or dried out as the tide goes out. The sensation is strange – the boat stops rocking and the smell isn’t always very pleasant as the hull lies in the mud.
I have added a small frying pan to my galley so that I can eat other things than tinned food. I will appreciate some meat from a local butcher and fried eggs at other times to eat with bread or pasta. Minimalism is a great teacher of life and the effort of getting priorities right. The weekend gathering will be more convivial with Brittany sea shanties sung as we go through two locks on the way to Châteaulin. A meal is organised for those of us who have sent payment in advance and that will be on Saturday evening. The last time, we had torrential rain! We were sheltered under a marquee, but our feet were in the water. We sailors are used to water, and it is said in Brittany that the weather is fair every day, several times a day! It is like Ireland, and a culture of which I am very fond.
I will take photos and maybe a video or two.