Baie de Morlaix Continued
Passing close to Ile Louet. This picture illustrates that sea kayaking in Brittany isn’t always in bright sunshine. A rare cloud covered day.
From the lighthouse at Ile Louet continue heading west, paddling in front of the popular summer holiday resort of Carantec. It is likely that in the distance the distinctive spires of the churches of St-Pol-de-Leon will be visible. The single spire of the Chapelle Notre Dame de Kreisker has dominated this skyline for nearly 600 years. There is a need for a degree of urgency in our paddling if we wish to be able to cross the Passe aux Moutons, which links Ile Callot to Carantec at low water. Being able to cross this neck of land allows access to the waters of the Penze River and the lovely beaches of the west side of Ile Callot. The size of the tide will dictate how far away from the coast it is necessary to paddle. If possible follow the contours of the coast and select a beach towards the northern tip of the island for a well deserved lunch break.
Looking across the Baie de Morlaix to the west. The numerous navigation marks and shell fish farms are visible.
To the north the ferry terminal of Roscoff can be easily identified, particularly if there is a ship on its berth. The more attractive face of Roscoff is not visible from here located as it is opposite Ile de Batz. The superb waters of this area will have to wait for another day. Rounding the northern tip of Ile Callot we can start our journey back towards Terenez. Two distinctive navigational marks indicate the start of the crossing of the bay. Head for Le Cerf and then Ile Ricard. It is likely that there will still be some outwards movement of the tide so move from reef to reef as opposed to steering a course down the middle of one of the main channels. These channels are narrow and at times very busy with craft which have far less freedom than the average sea kayak so please paddle with the movements of other boats very much in mind.
Heading out across the Baie on a bitterly cold February morning
Threading your way through the reefs remember the regulations of the bird reserve. From the 1st March to the 31st August it is prohibited to approach within 80 metres of the high water mark. The main islets covered are Ile Verte, Ile Ricard, Ar Beg Lemm and Ile aux Dames. There are numerous smaller islets which are also vulnerable to disturbance. A large scale chart is a real bonus when paddling in this area because of the numerous navigational marks. In fact kayaking can be quite a cerebral activity when paddling in this area.
This is just a flavour of the area, there is plenty of exploration waiting for the sea kayaker. Head into the Morlaix River on a rising tide and explore the small estuary of the Dorduff or follow the buoyed channel all the way to Morlaix with its very distinctive railway bridge. This would be an ideal paddle when weather conditions restrict activities on the outer coast. To the west of Ile Callot the Penze River, starting wide it narrows significantly and provides a pleasant paddle on a rising tide.
Many kayakers who visit Brittany head for the justifiably popular areas such as Morbihan and Brehat missing out the pleasures of this region. It is ideal for those British visitors who are using the cross channel ferry from Roscoff. Pay it a visit, at any time of the year and I am certain that you won’t be disappointed.
Brest is the Standard Port for this area and the tidal differences are as follows:Roscoff +00.55 Pen Lann +01.00 As a general guide the in-going tidal streams commence at -04.50 Brest and the out going at +01.05 Brest. The maximum rates are stated to be around 2 knots but I know that one day when heading towards Morlaix we were brought to an abrupt halt off Locquenole by the out going tide. It was impossible to make any progress and I am certain that when I am paddling with full power that I am able to move at a speed greater than 2 knots. The moral is to be vigilant for local anomalies. Due to the large number of rocks within the bay the sea kayaker is generally able to make progress by using the eddies which develop. There is comprehensive tidal information on the SHOM Chart 7095 Baie de Morlaix.
Ile Louet N 48° 40’22 W 03° 53’19
Morlaix N 48° 35’28 W 03° 50’29
Roscoff N 48° 43’54 W 03° 58’59
Terenez N 48° 40’34 W 03° 41’04
Primel Tregastel marks the eastern side of the Baie de Morlaix and provides some superb kayaking.