Hampton Canoe Club in North Brittany June 2019

For decades, the club has been enjoying its summer holidays abroad, and in recent years our holidays have been in sea kayaks on the Mediterranean.  This was our first venture onto tidal waters, their currents and the ever-changing size of the beaches.

Our guide was Agnès of Planètekayak.fr, a friend of mine who has lots of local knowledge, a reassuring manner, excellent judgement of paddlers’ capabilities and – maybe as important – kayaks for hire.  About half of us paddled in boats we’d brought over on the ferry, the rest were Agnès’.  Several of the paddlers had significant sea kayaking expertise, and everyone had met minimum standards of skill and stamina.

We stayed in the pretty town of Lannion, which had a variety of restaurants and crèperies.  We started out the first evening with a briefing and supper with Agnès.  That set the pattern:  good food, good company and a different route to paddle each day, selected by Agnès each evening.   For the record, here’s where we actually went:

Jill, paddling with the group for the first time, recorded her impressions:

This was my first sea kayaking trip with the club. I have to say that two weeks before going I was wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. Amanda Maxine and Tamra all assured me that I would be OK. Before going I tried to paddle as much as possible to increase my stamina as I was sure it needed improvement, and by the time Amanda and I got the overnight Ferry I felt I needed a holiday and would have been happy never to see a kayak again.

We met up with the group after their first day paddling, and had the obligatory galette in the evening, one of many that week. We had a fairly early night in preparation for what I felt would be the ordeal ahead.

 

 How wrong could I be, I should have listened to the others. Tamra and I shared a double kayak and although I felt the first day challenging I was pleased with how we managed to keep up and I found I was enjoying the paddle. We went to the Sept Iles unfortunately it was misty but was still stunning. We saw seals, puffins, and on Bird Island hundreds of Gannets. I had been there before by boat but this was so much more enjoyable as in a kayak you can get so close to the wildlife. 14.3 miles that day, I am not sure I have done that distance before. My hard work before paid off as I was not as exhausted as I thought I would be.

 

All the days were very good with different scenery and different conditions. Lunch each day was great thanks to Tamra and John who did all the catering every day. I cannot believe how much I ate.

 

Our guide Agnes was so professional, she knew the area  well, was able to work out the tides and the winds and ensure that each day we had an enjoyable safe paddle. The tides can be very tricky in this area and she used them to our advantage. She made sure that Tamra and I were able to cope with the distance, the waves wind and tide. Each morning we had a briefing and at the end of the day a debrief.

 

The scenery was stunning the Rose granite coast is one of my favourite coast lines you could never be bored as the scenery changes constantly. The day I enjoyed the most was from Tregastel to Plouminarch it was the shortest paddle only 7 miles (may have been a factor in my decision) but it was my first experience of coping with waves which I loved as it made it more interesting.

I was a newcomer to this group, everyone made me feel very welcome the whole group looked after each other, I was never made to feel bad that the group may have to wait for me. I felt safe and supported I was given tips on my paddling technique which has helped. Agnes our group leader commented that we were a respectful group and she was right. It was a fun holiday, thanks to all who attended.

 

Maxine & Peter !

Maxine : summarises the trip and covers that roll!

When we stopped for lunch near the rock house at Le Gouffre we finally felt the sun strongly –  which means it’s good weather to try rolling. Maxine had agreed with Agnes that today she would try a ‘real’ roll – in a fully laden boat, in choppy ocean (and very few people knew about the agreement). On the way back from lunch Agnes gave Maxine the nod, near a rock [which wasn’t in the agreement] so that it would be even more real, and Maxine rolled and kept her glasses and hat. And it was all over before most people knew it had begun.

With only one and a bit days remaining, time was running out to see whether a double sea kayak could be rolled this year without any outside assistance. With Jonathan in place as safety boat, Maxine and Peter  decided that not only should they try to roll the double, they should try to do so with greenland paddles.  People looked up from packing up the boats to see how many attempts it would take … and it only took one…so Maxine and Peter quit while they were ahead. 

Saturday, Day 7 – Open crossing to, and around, Ile Tomé

On the first day Agnes told us that we would paddle between 9 and 13 miles, depending upon how we felt and how we paddled. We paddled the full 13 miles, which set the tone for the trip. By partway through the week we were ferry gliding across tide races to and from Ile de Brehat, and by the last day we caught a tide race back from Tome Island. We had pushed ourselves a bit and become comfortable in different environments.