Gavin May report 2022
Healthy types will be keen to hear that there is an annual run around the Morbihan. It is non-stop and about 125km with crowds ready to help your last steps into Vannes. So at least you now know the place is simply vast …in fact I imagine you can get lost in this “inland sea” ! A lot of oyster and mussel beds, so check if you wander off the main routes. Powerful currents run through, so don’t be surprised if you or someone else is moving 90 degrees to their apparent course!
There are plenty of buoys and anchorages, but if you wish for a pontoon with water and power, then your best bet is opposite Port Blanc at the north end of Ile aux Moines. There are two floating pontoons and a free water taxi for the 150m to shore. Note people come for lunch, for an early evening drink, and to overnight, so don’t be put off if on arrival there is not an immediate space- there might be one shortly. Given it is the only practical pontoon in the entire Morbihan, it can be popular!
Most of the eateries are for the day trippers, so check what is actually open in the evening, and note the free water taxi ends too early for a dinner.
To get ashore or back to the pontoons, the folk in the water taxi are very friendly and are usually running about somewhere. You don’t really need to call them on VHF 09…they are probably in sight anyway.
There is a baker, and minimal mini supermarket 10 mins walk up the hill.
Ile aux Moines may not look that big, but to cover in only a day will mean a bike hire. If you want to walk, especially the coastal path, then I would suggest spread over two days for 4 hrs or so each. It is a lovely island, all very simple and friendly. The lanes are small, and you probably won’t even see a car at all.
Just to note, opposite at Port Blanc there are buoys, and up at Arradon there are maybe half a dozen smaller fingers and a lot of buoys. If you have time, and you may find time slides on by here, take the boat up to the very fine town of Vannes. It isn’t quite as grand as La Rochelle, but it is on your doorstep.
At times these can be akin to watching the bath water run out of a bath! The tidal Morbihan (an enclosed sea with a multitude of small islands) is roughly 10Nm long and an average of about 3Nm wide with the river Auray and other small tributaries draining into it. Twice a day all of the tidal flow has to pass through the ½ Nm wide narrow entrance near Port Navalo and at mid springs the flood or ebb can reach up to 8 knots! Additionally, because of variable seabed contours and the islands, considerable (and potentially dangerous) whirlpools can develop where different currents meet each other.
To illustrate the tidal complexity of this wonderful cruising area, HW at Vannes is around 2 hours different to HW at the Port Navalo entrance. On the chart navigation may look like a nightmare at first glance, but with careful tidal planning it becomes a beautiful and rewarding cruising area.
Nick Fletcher kindly provided the above report
Make sure you have some power on tap because this place is crazy when a spring tide is underway. No one is going in the direction they are pointing but almost cartoon-like sliding massively this way or that. The water gently boils up underneath you, you fly through rapid-like small overalls and a few metres from this some local will be quietly fishing in his small boat held entirely still by the various eddies.
Away from the mouth, things quieten down and further away again, you can find almost pond-like serenity. Don’t think Poole; this place is vast, the islands more numerous and larger. It is all on a very different scale. No shortage of rocks and oyster beds, so don’t wander off course too nonchalantly. Apparently, a 5 kt speed limit, but by dusk, this seems to vaguely increase, out of season and by locals, to about 40knts!
There are 3 “pontoon” arrangements, numerous anchorages, rivers, a lock to the medieval town of Vannes (superb, why bother going all the way to La Rochelle?).
In short, too much to put in short notes. Suffice to say, you could spend a lot of enjoyable days in this inland sea.
Gavin May kindly provided the above report – 2021