Southern Brittany^

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
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Tug Boat
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Southern Brittany^

Post by Tug Boat » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:00 pm

I am planing on going to Benodet, southern Brittany next summer and paddling the River Odet up to Quimper and also around the Glenan Islands, after getting a lift from the ferry out to them.

Has anyone done any leisure paddling on the Odet etc...this will be with a small group of 2 / 3 star paddlers, mostly in river running boats.

Any guidance from personal experince of pointers where to get info in English would be appreciated

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:10 pm

Tug

Just picked up your post now, doing a search for paddling in Brittany. Have just booked 2 weeks to southern brittany in August this year (2009), staying La Trinite Sur Mer (Morbihan). Will be with the family but am taking my River Runner (WS Diesel). If you are still going to the area or if anyone else knows of rivers or short stretches of coastline worth paddling please get back or PM. Ta John

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Jersey Kayak
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Jersey Kayak » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:08 pm

Paddled the Odet some years back. A nice river and the estuary is good as well.

The Gulf de Morbihan a bit more south is excellent kayaking and accessible in all weathers. Some good tide races at the entrance to the gulf.

Daniel Bonnigal “guide –Itineraires 700 rivieres de France has the Odet. Drop me a line and I can send you a copy of the description (in French).

For Mobihan, I have tide stream atlas so can give more details if you wished.

For sea kayaking information and links try http://www.pagayeursmarins.org/
Or CKMer has a good site http://www.ckmer.org/
Both seem to be down at moment though for upgrades.

Le Canotier is a bookshop specialising in kayaking. They have a lot of good and sometimes hard to get English kayaking books as well as European guides. Might well have some guides to the areas you want to paddle.

This link covers the coastal areas guide. http://www.canotier.com/langue-fr/guide ... html#refB3

Or
http://www.canotier.com/langue-fr/guide ... html#refB4

Both are charts and descriptions for sea kayak trips Euro 6.10 each.

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:08 pm

Jersey Kayaker,
Thanks for the advice. Am an absolute sea paddling novice, so bare with me. Have done a few moderate trips on a sea sit on top and a few other shorter trips in river runners, and had some run ins with the tide (a long but good pub story!).

Basically how tricky are tidal races are they to be avoided or are they relatively safe play spots? Or am I best just sticking to some chilled touring in the gulf(?) Have seen these rips/races and avoided them in the past, but they do look fun. Anyway any comments, advice welcome - not going until August (too far away) so plenty of time for research!

Ta John

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Jersey Kayak
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Jersey Kayak » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:12 am

The Golfe du Morbihan is a super area to paddle and good for entry level kayaking.

Lots of islets and virtually an enclosed lake. It is only at the entrance there is the risk of a tide race. It is pretty logical when you see the map. You do need to time your route to go with the flow. This makes there and back day trips possible. Though the flow into the golfe can be fast it is not likely to turn into overfalls and white water. As on any expanse of water wind can generate a short chop due to the small fetch. Tide can rise and fall quite fast in the golfe.

The beauty of this area is that you can paddle even when it’s poor weather. I opted for this area when it was blowing 5 plus on the coast. Missed the tide between one island and rather than get out and walk pas the narrow bit I ended up getting applause for successfully sneaking up eddies. Had it got too hard I could have just landed.

Here is the Google map link. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... iwloc=addr

French IGN map (like your OS series) are very detailed such as the Top 25 Vannes 1:25000 series so you do not need to buy a Shom chart.

Can be busy in August as being enclosed makes it a popular boating spot.

Here are some outfitters. Not used them but it will give you some ideas. http://www.kerners-kayak.com/index.php

Plasmor build soem very good sea kayaks http://www.plasmor.fr/fr/rando-kayak-go ... n/135.html make sea kayaks in Vannes.
http://www.armorevasion.com/360_randonn ... vannes.htm

Photos: http://www.expemag.com/en-france/kayak- ... bihan.html

A great area. Not as good as Jersey, which is not all-big tide races. Lots of nice areas and no Euro to worry about!

Beware of the Euro rates in France this year £1= about Euro 1…….

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Mark R
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Mark R » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:19 pm

Jersey Kayak wrote:The Golfe du Morbihan ... good for entry level kayaking ... virtually an enclosed lake. It is only at the entrance there is the risk of a tide race.
Unfortunately this is not true.

There are really powerful currents within the harbour, e.g. we encountered lively tide races bouncing past the island with the burial mound on it (forget the name, begins with 'G'?). There is also fairly busy leisure traffic in mid-summer. Large areas of tidal flats also become uncovered as the tide drops, making stranding a possibility.

I would still say, go paddle there - wonderful spot - but use your eyes and your common sense in deciding what is safe and what isn't.

Incidentally a night paddle on the harbour (we were setting off for Il d'Houat at 3 am for some reason) was wonderful, with numerous fish jumping out of the water and across our boats ... surreal experience.
Mark Rainsley
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Heather Rainsley
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Heather Rainsley » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:48 pm

I would agree with Mark's recall of our experiences in the Gulf of Morbihan. Additionally, the afternoon offshore winds were quite significant and raised quite a chop when against the tide. All fine if there is someone experienced to do planning and think about the logistics. Otherwise it could be a bit of a chore for inexperienced paddlers.

But! It is beautiful and it is quite interesting to see the oyster and mussel farming going on. I don't think I will ever forget the phosphorescence we saw on our night crossing.
Heather Rainsley

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:22 pm

Jersey, Mark, Heather

Thanks for the advice, one last thing, have done some sea paddling and a little surfing in my river runner and am OK with swell, minor cross waves and wind, also past my 3* recently and paddle G2 OK and just started paddling G3 rivers, how difficult are the tides races to negotiate (as haven't experienced them before)? Are they like the eddy/main flow turbulence of rivers, with the risk of capsizing unless you edge correctly or is the problem just uncontrolled drift and obstacles? If they are like rivers can you ferry glide or are they too strong for that?

Ta Albs

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Mark R
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:31 am

Johnnyalbs wrote:a little surfing in my river runner and am OK with swell, minor cross waves and wind, also past my 3* recently and paddle G2 OK and just started paddling G3 rivers
... then, you'll be fine.
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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:48 pm

Mark

Sorry to be thick and I know I should just check my technique book, but to spell it out -

Is the tide race like a river eddy line (i.e. likely/possible to capsize you) or is it less pushy than that and just sweeps you along.

Just a little nervous of capsizing in a shipping channel with angry french ferrymen and a not quite bombproof roll!

Albs

app
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by app » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:47 pm

Sorry to be thick and I know I should just check my technique book, but to spell it out -

Is the tide race like a river eddy line (i.e. likely/possible to capsize you) or is it less pushy than that and just sweeps you along.
Just a little nervous of capsizing in a shipping channel with angry french ferrymen and a not quite bombproof roll!


I live in france, I have paddled most of the Brittany coastline, I know the Gulf of Morbihan well and paddle there regularly, if you are asking these type of questions, get yourself on a course and get some instruction, but dont paddle in the golfe du morbihan !

At springs the current runs up to 12 km /hour at a variety of places around the Gulf. At Berder you will find numerous playboaters on a nice standing wave
If you can't roll ... can you rescue yourselves ? remember, you could be drifting at a rate of 200 meters a minute, or to put in another way you will be 1 kilometer from where you fell in after just 5 mins.

The fastest tide race is marked on the chart at Grand Mouton the mean spring rate is 8 knots (15km hour) at the highest springs it is faster.

Gennerally, other water users are friendly (including fishermen), but if you get in peoples way because you can't handle your boat in a situation where you are not competant, it is going to bring out the worse in any person.
The Island Mark mentions with a tide race alongside is Gavrinis, other bouncy races can be found at Berder, Ile de la Jument and Grand Mouton

Another consideration is the exclusion of all craft in certain eastern areas of the Golf due to Nature Reserve restrictions

As a general point, there are strict regulations relating to all leisure craft on tidal waters in France, even for a kayak. These include Boat registration confirming conformity with construction regulations, and the carriage of safety equipment. The only exceptions to these laws are craft termed "Beach leisure craft" which are restricted to navigation less than 300 meters from the shore. Night navigation is forbidden for all craft propelled manually.

I am always asked..... "what are the consequences of breaking the rules ? " Firstly, the enforcers are the Gendarmerie Maritime, they are notoriously efficient, they can fine you, and they can confiscate your equipment, as in the UK Ignorence is no excuse. You may be lucky and not meet them ....
Further, should you find yourself in a situation where you require rescuing, you could face a large bill for the rescue efforts

you can PM me for further info if you want

Best regards

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:55 am

App
Thanks for the info, especially about boat registration. Have done a little more reading now and wished I had that first before my last post! Plan to check out some of the tide races we have in the south west and get some more sea paddling experience, with some mates for assistance. Still hope to paddle on the Gulf of M when over there, but will not be there for 6 months, so should have plenty of time to improve my skills.
Ta
John

michelle44
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by michelle44 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:59 pm

I also paddle in the golfe, and I agree with App. I remember the first time I paddled there, although it was a low coefficient (33), the currents at la Jument were quite impressive.
Have a look at this page :
http://snosck.info/snosckblog/blog4.php ... nvier-2009
That was our last paddle there, on january 10th. Not all of it will be of interest to you but the 2nd video shows Berder, on that day, the coefficient was 82. It can give you an idea of what it's like. Every time we paddle in the golfe, we expect the beginners to capsize.
Regards
Michelle

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Johnnyalbs » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:08 am

Michelle,
thanks for the excellent info and links to videos, now I get a clear image of what to expect. Looks fun, I've come across most of this, although in smaller volume, on some of the southwest rivers I've paddled. Think I'll still try to chck out some tides races over here in my river boat before i venture out on the Golfe.
Albs

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Global Traveller
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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Global Traveller » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:28 pm

Johnny,

I started this post under a different login, but I am aware that there are some rips going around the places, that is why we are doing the Odet river from Quimper to Bendoet , possibly Pont - L'Abbe to the long beach past IleTudy to Saint Marine, but getting out on the far end of the beach as the rip coming around the point there between Saint Marine and Benodet is also a bugger.

I was there two years ago with my brothers skiing boat and even a 26 foot powerboat was pulled along at a fare old pace.

I will be there 6 others in two families from the 01st - 15th August, staying just around from Benodet so if you want to join us for a leisurely paddle your welcome to.

The Glenan Islands - not found out anything particualr abou them as they are just a group of islands close to each other and fancied doing abit around them having taken the boats out on the ferry from Benodet.

Had looked at Concarneua harbour as well for a short run around but that will depend on the tides and time due to the fishing fleet being around!!

Will have a browse through what the others have said and see ....the licence thing is correct but we will not be that far out :)

REgards

Clive
I only roll in the dry!!!

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Re: Southern Brittany

Post by Jonathan. » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:44 pm

michelle44 wrote:although it was a low coefficient (33), the currents at la Jument were .......

..... on that day, the coefficient was 82.

Michelle

What's a coefficient, please?
============
Northshore Atlantic
============

michelle44
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Re: Southern Brittany^

Post by michelle44 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:40 pm

a high coefficient (more than 70) is a spring tide and a low coefficient (under 70) is a neap tide. Last Saturday, it was 99, so we went paddling in the Golfe du Morbihan. Here's a link you might find interesting (you can get to the list of the harbours in the left-hand corner "liste des ports")
http://maree.frbateaux.net/117

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Johnnyalbs
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Re: Southern Brittany^

Post by Johnnyalbs » Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:35 pm

Clive
Thanks for the offer, I would love to join you, unfortunately I arrive as you leave!

May be we can hook up in the UK sometime. If you ever paddle Exmoor or Dartmoor let me know.

John

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