Monday 01/08/11 Douarnenez to Camaret


We made an early start and left Douarnenez about 0800 ish after fuelling up. It was a quiet day, not much wind and a little bit of mist (but nothing compared to the other day), so we made our way up to Camaret under engine enjoying an easy trip, and marvelling at the Tas de Pois (‘pile of peas’), the huge rocks we passed through as we came round the Pointe de Penhir before Camaret.

We’ve seen this stretch of coastline before from the north when we brought Planet down to Brest in 2008 for the classic boat festival there, so when we leave Camaret and head up the Chenal du Four Planet will be back in waters she knows. It’s a strange thing to recognise a coastline after so long picking out new ones up ahead.

While we were in Douarnenez we made contact with Bob and Sue, friends who used to run sailing courses and trips on their gaff cutter Irene Jack from Falmouth and with whom Simon and Martin visited Douarnenez in 1996. We made it into the marina at Camaret just in time for a lovely late lunch with them, before exploring the rest of the harbour.

Camaret’s known for its artists, and some time ago a decision was made to pull up old fishing boats on the beach and let them decay there, as a subject for artists and a point of interest for tourists.

We also lit the last candle of our trip in the fisherman’s chapel next to the old trawlers. All the way round we’ve lit candles for a safe onward journey; because without really planning to it seemed like an auspicious thing to do at various points, and by it’s probably become a bit of a superstitious thing to do before a long crossing. Generally we’ve tried to pick places with some significance, or strategic points our route. So we’ve  left little lights burning in Paris, St Gilles, in Agios Ioannis chapel on Skopelos in Greece, Monreale Cathedral near Palermo, on the highest point of Menorca, Gibraltar, in a little church by Vasco da Gama’s birthplace in Sines, Portugal and finally in Galicia for Biscay.

Today has been a day of ‘lasts’, and while we feel quite sad about a lot of them, there are plenty we don’t… Today we rejoiced in doing our last bit of laundry in a public launderette. With the exception of the wonderful Wash and Dry launderette in Siracusa and the months of last summer in Greece where basically all we wore and needed to wash was a pair of shorts and a bikini (to clarify, I wore the bikini, Simon wore the shorts), doing laundry has been pretty universally a pain in the bum.  It is typically a multi stage process which goes as follows:

1. Create dirty washing. This bit is easy.

2. Realise you have no clean clothes left and haven’t seen a launderette anywhere for days.

3. Do some hand washing to prolong need for doing laundry.

4. Begin wearing swimwear for underwear and your best clothes usually reserved for when you’re invited to someone’s house for sailing and even painting in.

5. Scour pilot book for future launderette possibilities. Come up with a vague plan.

6. Discover launderette has closed / is criminally expensive. Make a new vague plan.

7. Consider retrieving items from laundry bag. Reconsider this when you realise everything smells of damp socks.

8. Relocate laundry bag to an old sail bag for its capaciousness and to avoid contaminating other belongings with sock smell.

9. Finally find suitable launderette. Lug laundry there. Ideally it will be close to the boat. Often it won’t be.

10. Cross palms with silver and spend rest of day waiting for it to be done, ferrying loads between launderette and Planet. Ideally peg it out on Planet and let it dry in the sun. Less ideally, cross more palms with silver and tumble it, risking eternal shrinkage of clothes that have already run the gauntlet of commercial washing machines.

11. Instantly forget the pain of the previous 10 steps and feel smug, like you will never have to do washing again.

Today also saw our last painful supermarket shop. There have been many of these; painful both financially and physically. The process is very similar to that of laundry, except with food. Heavy tins, plastic bags, unable to feel fingers, hot, tired and hungry. The mitigating factors in all this being that the supermarket itself is interesting and full of exciting new ingredients and that the average European town has a bar every few paces selling extremely good and cheap coffee to refuel with when you are tired of walking. This time our shop largely comprised wine.

People we are meeting now are just here for a weekend. We feel closer to home and while this is exciting, there is a tinge of regret to it too. As Joni so wisely said, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’. I don’t think we could have appreciated these last two years more, but even when you are trying not to you take things for granted you do, so I’m inclined to think that Joni will probably turn out to be right. Then again, this is coming from the woman who also coined the line ‘I had a king dressed in drip-dry and paisley’, so you can’t believe everything she says. But as much as I am looking forward to getting home and seeing everyone, I’m not sure how I’ll feel when there are no more places to come from and places to go.


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