A traditional sailing boat and a sketchbook of your trip to Bréhat
A trip round the islands and watercolour painting on the Eulalie
It’s going to be a colourful day! En route from the river Trieux to the Isle of Bréhat, Dominique lets us help sail the 100% manual Eulalie. Once our course is set, Isabelle, our on board artist, guides as we start painting with the delicate watercolours. What with the art of sailing and the art of painting, the archipelago is one big inspirational playground !
Welcome aboard !
We find the Eulalie, with her black hull, moored at the quayside in Lézardrieux. Dominique, bearded and smiling, welcomes us aboard. The sardine boat’s closed construction promises a very comfortable trip. Once we’ve safely stashed our baskets, bags, and paintboxes, we’re ready to lift anchor. We set off slowly, using the engine. Our route follows the wooded banks of the river Trieux, with their pretty stone houses.
Ready to lend a hand !
The skipper has already passed the helm to Françoise. This sailing ship is constructed from oak and exotic woods and weighs 7 tonnes, but in spite of that it responds surprisingly easily. As cabin boys for the day, we’re in charge of hoisting the sails. All set to go! We all pull cheerfully together, and with the combined force of our biceps the lug sail flies up the mast. Then the ochre-coloured mainsail spreads itself between the sea and the horizon. Dominique teaches a few sailors’ knots to fasten the ends. A few half-hitches later, the Eulalie is gliding gracefully over the waves. Peace descends!
All the charms of a traditional sailing boat
Dominique tells us the history of his boat, laughingly showing us photos of the ups and downs of the restoration process. He proudly points out the unusual shape of the bow, and recounts the many long hours that went into shaping the edges, the 3,000 screws holding the wood together, and the hull that’s painted every year - all of which deserve our greatest respect! The captain reaches into the hold and gets out the braided hemp tarred with Norwegian tar that’s used for caulking. What a wonderful smell to go with our cup of coffee!
A magical setting for a watercolour
With the pretty La Croix lighthouse over to port, Isabelle takes a sheet of paper, and before our astonished eyes, she shows us how to draw a ship with just one pencil stroke - or nearly. She can draw a figure 8 and turn it into a trawler, a fishing boat or a sturdy Breton dinghy. We take it in turn to try this exercise – with amazing results. As we pass the yellow and black markers that signal the entrance to the Bréhat archipelago, we get busy with our paintbrushes. The changing landscapes are perfect subjects for watercolours. The emerald green waves and pink rocks lend themselves well to our palettes, depending on our skill. ‘Miss’ gives clear explanations of the various techniques: “It’s all about experimenting.” We throw ourselves in with childlike pleasure – into painting that is, not into the sea! Our sketchbooks of the voyage fill up with landscapes and details of the boat, in every colour and shade.
A table with a sea view
After all this water, an aperitif is very welcome! The Eulalie slips into the channel – called the Trou de la Souris (The Mouse’s Hole) – that takes her back to her mooring. Everybody puts a hand to the ropes to lower and stow the sails. Picnics come out of bags. Fishing buddies and kayaking buddies form little groups for an interesting chat. The conversation gets lively, and Dominique tells us stories about the celebrities who holiday on the Isle of Bréhat. Turning to more nautical matters, he spreads out the sea chart to help us to understand the effects of the tides. And it’s time to set off back again.
Sailing in style back to port !
We know the ropes by now, and raise sail again. The Eulalie takes us round a few of the 96 islands in the archipelago. With her nose pointing seawards, her sails look like an elegant butterfly floating above foreign seas. We go back past the charming Men Jolilguet lighthouse, a landscape artist’s dream. Once we’re back in the estuary of the Trieux, Brigitte proudly takes the helm. The ship’s become a floating open-air artists’ studio. Perfect for learning to sketch clouds! Shortly before we reach port, we get a pleasant surprise: when the lobster-pot that was set down this morning is lifted, there’s a lobster in it, waving his blue-liveried limbs! And so we arrive back on dry land, with an extra passenger on board, our sketchbooks full of pictures and our heads full of sparkling memories. A beautiful day, signed Isabelle, Dom. and Eulalie !
Additional information :
Bring a picnic, warm clothes and protection from the sun, plus your watercolour kit (if you have previous watercolour experience)