Northern Brittany

I haven’t done very much on this blog for a long time, since I became preoccupied with the situation in the Ukraine. It is still a worry for us all, out of empathy in people driven out of their homes and victims of atrocities and war crimes, and also by the real possibility that this could lead to mankind’s worst nightmare – nuclear Armageddon.

Since my sailing school days more than ten years ago, I have experienced empathy, not only with suffering humans, but also with the natural world – and the wildest coasts around. One such is northern Brittany which rivals the fjords of Norway, the lochs of Scotland, the ragged coast of western Ireland, the inspiration of the Romantics.

I am presently reading Michael Martin’s The Submerged Reality: Sophiology and the Turn to a Poetic Metaphysics. I am finding that the theological and philosophical paths I have followed since my university days in the 1980’s concur almost exactly with this American author. I intend to contact him and ask his advice for many things. This book and Sophia in Exile are illuminating. Romanticism is a northern European expression of a much wider inspiration in the human soul in both time and space.

Last weekend, I went for my “Lenten retreat” on the sea in my stout keel boat.

This was my first real sea passage this year – to replace a Dinghy Cruising Association rally that had to be cancelled because of poor weather allowing only two days sailing. Saint-Malo is a lot nearer my home than the Rade de Brest. We will do a short tour of the Rade de Brest towards the end of June. The DCA people are truly great company, and several of us members live in France.

This video is accompanied by a part of Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite conducted by Herbert von Karajan, not that I was in the Norwegian fjords, but on an equally wild and Romantic coast.

I launched Novalis at Plouër sur Rance with little time to spare with the lowering tide. I spent a peaceful but very cold night there in the port. I was prepared, with warm clothing and bedding. I was only able to offer my Office for Passion Sunday morning before leaving Plouër sur Rance. I reached the EDF hydro-electric dam for the last lock until the next rising tide. I sailed along the Dinard coast with the wonderful houses on the cliff tops facing the sea. There were several sandy beaches. I reached the double bay of Lancieux and the islands being careful not to get near any rocks. Sunday was a lovely sunny day to sail to Saint-Cast-le-Guildo with mainsail and genoa. I spend the night docked at Saint-Cast-le-Guildo,

I returned to Saint-Malo on the Monday morning, in a stronger SW wind. I also met a heavy NW swell, and I rigged with my little jib but with full main to avoid the risk of broaching. The weather remained dry, but the wind became increasingly gustier. I sailed into the haven of Dinard to get my sails down before motoring over to Saint-Malo. On the way, I had a nasty broadside wave from a passenger boat that combined with the swell and was about to break. It tested the stability of Novalis because I righted immediately from a near knockdown. My stuff in the cabin went everywhere, and you will see the state of my cabin in a later part of this video. Fortunately, nothing got broken or wet. I motored into the port of Saint-Malo in the whistling wind and agitated water even in port. I managed to find a berth far inside the port.

On Tuesday morning I motored to the dam to get back into the Rance and calmer waters. The wind was calmer than on Monday afternoon, but all over the place, very unstable, so I motored all the way back to Plouër sur Rance. I was right to end the cruise there, because the wind has freshened considerably today, even inland.

I am grateful for this brief contact with the sea, mindful that more clement weather will bless us amateur sailors this season.

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