Morlaix 4.6. - 7.6.
In May the nights were still rather cold and Webasto was humming silently and warming Suwena’s interior and consuming diesel. We have never had so little fuel left. We even pondered if we’ve enough for reaching the fuel berth in the marina :-)
We were just about to cast off the lines for the summer voyage when we heard a brisk Finnish hello “terve” next to Suwena. There is an another Finnish yacht, S/Y Xenja, in the marina and we had waited for its crew to arrive but the boat stayed empty. It was really nice to even shortly meet the HSK yacht club’s skipper Markus.
Quick stop at the fuel berth of Roscoff quenched Suwena’s thirst by 600 litres of diesel and we were off.
What a feeling to be at sea again. After a few cloudy days we could see the glimpses of the Sun and our smiles were grinning widely. We motored to the north side of the first rocks and hoisted the sails immediately. The north wind pushed us quietly forward on the broad reach towards the Bay of Morlaix. It was so peaceful with water quietly squashing pass and Suwena silently moving forward. This was definitely worth waiting, after working countless hours making her seaworthy again after the winter.
The marina of Morlaix is situated behind the lock that is opened only three times every high water, at high water and -1.5 h and +1 h on both sides. We planned for first opening that on this Saturday was at 16:58. The river dries completely so it is better not to rush. Even if the wind started to die we kept sailing as long as there was any forward motion of a boat. During the approach to the river entrance there were other sailing boats as well on a way to Morlaix with everybody trying to get something out from the last breath of the wind.
Already from the year 1544 the Bay of Morlaix is guarded by the Château du Taureau fearsome-looking fort that is standing proudly on its own island. Nowadays the castle can be visited by boat trips from Carantec. We were intending to anchor on a return trip and visit the fort by our own dinghy. Now however it was time for the lockage.
When arriving to the river the wind finally died completely and we used engine for driving up to the lock. Our timing was so perfect that already after a few minutes we could enter the lock. The lock of Morlaix is really easy. The ascent was half a metre only. There are also fixed vertical mooring lines on the walls of the lock. Our own line is passed under the lock line and it slides up and down together with the water level. The harbourmaster brought harbour paperwork to the lock and told at the same time where we can moor. He pointed out a few places for bigger boats.
Our assigned berth was rather small. The length of the berth was only 7 metres, that is about the half of Suwena’s length. We’re used to mooring her in tight places so we backed in and made her fast with bow and stern lines while adjusting her exact position with springs.
This was the first marina of the summer and we immediately could put our Passeport Escales card into a good use. The card has some perks in over 100 marinas in France, Spain and the UK. The perks depend on the issuing marina. Our annual berth contract in Roscoff includes eight free nights in any of the Passeport Escales marinas.
We received also Transeurope Marinas card as the annual berth owners of Roscoff. Roscoff is one of about 70 marinas on the coast of Western Europe from Scotland and the Netherlands until the Canary Islands. The card entitles 50% reduction of visitor’s berthing fees.
The river Morlaix rises towards the town and the marina is right after the lock on the river. Then the river continues through the centre but its covered. From the marina there is a short walk to the heart of Morlaix and its medieval winding streets. The old houses made from stone and timber are overhanging the cobblestone alleys. One of the best preserved the 16th century’s buildings is the Duchess Anne’s House. Or la Maison dite de la Duchesse Anne in French.
Our visit to Morlaix took place on Sunday and Monday so like usual in France the most of the shops and the restaurants were closed. The weather however was warm, over 20 degrees and the Sun was shining beautifully. The walk on the narrow streets up and down the hills was pretty relaxing.
Of course we wanted to climb up to the viaduct that is the biggest sight of Morlaix. It must have been quite a construction project in 1863 when this massive bridge was built. It is 292 metres long and 58 metres tall viaduct built for gaining a train service between Paris and Brest.
The middle level of the bridge is open to visitors at about 30 metres height. For us the viaduct adventure can be considered as a decent exercise. We went searching for the way up on the eastern side. We climbed up on the twisting alleys and found the path to viaduct. After arriving to the eastern gate, to our surprise it was closed even if there were some happy people just passing us to another direction.
We could not open the gate, so we descended and circled to the western side. There were clear signs up to the bridge and after climbing the 30 metres up again we were on the viaduct with other people taking photographs of the sights. For satisfying our curiosity we walked to the eastern gate again, this time from inside and there was a button for opening the electric lock and the gate was now open after the previous visitors.