My Travel Book - CHAUSEY - Part One - Birds, Old Sailing Ships and Seals

©Daniel Denis

When you are lucky enough to buy a boat, a brand new boat, a boat that will fulfill your wildest dreams (I am getting Popeyish there, I know), you end up feeling quite elated - once the payment has been carefully thought over, that is!!!

Many months go by before the day finally comes when your boat is launched and there it is... time to put out to sea.

Let’s quit rambling and get to the point.

It is probably quite frustrating for someone who sells boats and loves them and can’t afford to buy one (yet) to check the launching of a brand new boat and never get to have fun at sea on it!

We like Walter*. We’ve known him for quite a while, ever since he sold us our very old second-hand boat, Altariel, a few years ago. He’s a bright and very nice young man, always smiling, helpful and very efficient.

We talked about it and we invited him and his wife to join us for one whole day at sea... as soon as the weather would be nice... April and May were cold and rainy. We did put out to sea almost every week-end though... Popeye couldn’t stand the idea of having a brand new boat and leaving it tied to the pontoon!

And then a miracle happened - On May 26, the shipping forecast turned out to be very nice, indeed!

On May 27, around 10:00 a.m., the four of us met at the harbor. We were quite overjoyed. I had fixed some lunch because we’d really be spending one whole day at sea.

We had set our mind on Chausey because Walter had been there many times while delivering boats to customers.

Chausey is about one hour and a half away from Saint-Cast. There is one rather small main island where a few people live all year long and then a cluster of smallish islands, some of them mere rocks... 365 of them all in all!

It is very close to Granville in Normandy and it is the only French island among other very famous British Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernesey, etc.)

When the weather is nice, people come up from Granville in Normandy and the Chausey Sound is filled with boats... Quite amazing... Rows and rows of boats all tied together. Such a lack of privacy...

Had we been on our own, I think we would have turned around and left Chausey forever but we had an extraordinary tour guide on board!

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I know quite a few isolated places around here. Let’s go!”

We moved around from one islet to another one until we found the right place! We were less than a quarter of a mile from The Sound and yet we were totally cut off from the rest of the world.

We cast anchor. The sun was shining. The sky was so incredibly blue after so many weeks of rain and fog. It was even warm enough to worry about getting sunburns.

The meal was delicious, of course because while eating and drinking champagne to celebrate, we were watching all kinds of sea birds, sea-gulls, shags, terns, gannets which were flying over our heads, floating around the boat and being quite noisy on a nearby islet... while the tide was ebbing and new islets and golden beaches were rising out. It really was an incredible place.

A fantastic old sailing ship appeared on the horizon. What a beauty. She sailed very close to our spot. 

And then another one sailed by, even more beautiful than the first one. At the very moment she was gliding along behind a small island a mere 100 meters from us, Sophia*, Walter’s wife, said very quietly: “I think there is a sea cow over there.”

She was right. A sea cow was resting on her back on a rock quite close from us! The sea was ebbing and the rock was getting higher and higher until it emerged as an islet... and we spotted two sea calves very intent on having fun at their mother’s expense!

We got really excited... It is one thing having a good laugh from the boat and another to get closer to the fun spot! The seals seemed perfectly at ease... Popeye and Walter put the dinghy at sea and off they went... the three of them because I was supposed to keep watch over our boat!!! Never ever leave a boat alone, said Walter. Except that leaving me on the boat was pretty much like leaving the boat on its own...

Well, anyway... the dinghy is small and Walter promised he would come back to take me around too!

So I stayed put... I was watching them getting close the seals who were obviously enjoying having new friends around...

Seal pictures by courtesy of Popeye!
Meanwhile I was getting rid of some old popcorn, the best bait ever to have fun with seagulls!

They eventually did come back and it was my turn... By then, the mother had decided to go fishing and I only got to see the calves. They were so beautiful and so much fun that I kind of forgot to take pictures... But that is totally allright. Sometimes happy memories are much better than pictures...

It was getting late and it was time to go back home... amidst a completely different and enchanting scenery which is such a distinctive feature of Chausey - its landscape variations from tide to tide... which obviously some people don't know anything about!

Oh what a day!

“You were so good to us today. I am so happy that in return, we offered you such a summery weather, beautiful old sailing ships, lots of birds, a wonderful scenery and seals. What else could we dream of?” Walter sighed contentedly with a twinkle in his eyes.

Yes. He was so right. What else could we ask for? Such a perfect day!

*The names have been changed.

Copyright ©The Storyteller 2012

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

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