My Travel Book - Brittany - The day Popeye and Olive Oyl never made it to Saint-Malo

Last May, Popeye and his beloved Olive Oyl spent a few days in Brittany. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and crisp, maybe a little bit chilly once you were at sea.

‘A perfect day to reach Saint-Malo by sea’, said Popeye.

Olive Oyl thought that maybe it would be better to go by car. There are days when she likes boating but the weather has to be perfect, sunny and warm.

When Popeye gets his mind set on putting out to sea, there is no way to have him change his mind.

So out to sea, they went.

Saint-Malo is a very famous harbor in Brittany. It is an ancient fortified town as well as a modern sea and sailing resort. It’s also a ferry terminal to go England.

Its ramparts were built by Vauban, King Louis XIV’s military architect.

Jacques Cartier sailed from there on his way to discover Canada. It also was a haven for many privateers and pirates.

Saint-Malo is surrounded by several military forts, no longer in use, all of them built by Vauban, to protect the privateers and the riches they brought to France.

So back to Popeye and Olive Oyl.

They decided to go to Saint-Malo along the coastline.

Great sandy beaches
Dinard and its huge old mansions
Popeye had forgotten one thing. Very surprising but he did. They left their port of registry without even realizing it was low tide.

That’s what you get for being moored in a deep-water port. You're no longer in  touch with reality.
Saint-Malo has the most important tidal range in Brittany, if you consider that Saint Michael’s Mount (Mont Saint-Michel) is in Normandy: a 46 feet difference from high tide to low tide. Impressive.

Of course, Popeye and Olive Oyl did not get stuck on the sand bar which sprang up very suddenly in front of the boat, quite an obstacle to their trip to Saint-Malo.

They could have turned round and resumed their journey by using the ferries path.

‘Too risky', said Olive. Popeye agreed. Besides it really was chilly. They would try it again during the summer. There would be plenty of time and beautiful warm sunny days ahead.

(How wrong they were! About the warm sunny days, that is.)

So they turned back and enjoyed the many islands, rocks and forts around Saint-Malo and along the way back to Saint-Cast.

'Ile Harbour'
'Fort de la Conchée'
'Fort National'

How lucky they were. At low tide, most of the rocks rise out of the water. At high tide (all the time actually), sailors are advised to focus their attention on the beacons and buoys. No rocks to be seen any longer.

It is absolutely essential to know that you have to sail to port (on the right side) when the beacon/buoy is red which means that you have to see it on your left.

When it is green, you do the opposite and sail to starboard (on the left side). And of course you have to see it on your right.

What happens when the sailor is color blind?

Very easy... The red beacon is cylindrical while the green one is topped with a cone.

If you fail to follow the rules, it will be your problem. You'll probably hit a rock and sink.

But no problem for the other 'landlubbers', outstanding sailors and fishermen. They will see this buoy.

They will know that your boat is lying there, at the bottom of the water.

Easy to understand why poor Olive Oyl never got her boating licence...

*Good Night, and Good Luck*

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