A unique bay and its history
To our port side, a small scallop boat is making its way along. “These little boats used to fish for scallops and also collect maerl, a sediment that’s been used as a fertiliser for strawberries for a very long time,” explains Patrick, the ship’s mechanic. Yann adds: “Here, land and sea are entwined; and so are the histories of the bay and the army.” Richelieu, Colbert, Vauban, Dajot… for centuries, Brest has been a stage for military activities and nowadays it’s a theatre for manoeuvres by submarines from the French Navy’s operational base on the Ile Longue, which we’re sailing past at the moment. But with no periscope on the horizon, we continue our journey.
Stop for lunch
It’s lunchtime. In a well-sheltered part of Auberlac’h bay, we sample the tasty dishes made by Marie, La Recouvrance’s cook. A real treat! After lunch, some of us take a short siesta in the shade of the sails, and others have coffee in the officers’ mess. When we haul in the anchor, Yann invites Serge to take the helm while Benjamin calls us together for a quick lesson in seamanship. “You’ll soon know all the ins and outs of tying a bowline knot.” Although we could point out, if we were feeling uncharitable, that the knot made by Lucy – an adopted citizen of Strasbourg – looks rather like a pretzel! We cruise on in the bright sunshine. The wind gets up a little, promising to bring us safely back to land. As I gaze at the sea, I find myself secretly dreaming of setting sail for the Pacific or the southern seas, just like Bougainville, Kerguelen and La Perouse… Next time, maybe!