9th July 2020
Port Guen, Belle-Ile – Treach er Goured, Ile d’Houat, France
Quick. Go find yourself a 5 year old and set them the task of drawing a piratey desert island. When crayon is put to paper there will be a perfect crescent shaped sandy beach, ruined forts nestling in the corners to defend it from invaders, some treacherous rocks waiting to catch the unsuspecting mariners and hidden coves that are perfect for smuggling. Now go and find yourself a map of Ile d’Houat and you’ll find that what the 5 year old has sketched is an exact match for the map that you’ve just found. Ile d’Houat is that perfect piratey desert island.
Pushing our way to the front of all the anchored boats in Ile d’Houat we found ourselves looking at wall to wall sandy beach that was shining under a blistering sun. The other 104 boats in the anchorage had a view of Ruffian and that same beach, but we had just the beach and it’s blue water.
The only downside to such a perfect gently shelving soft sandy beach is that it’s not really Brock compatible. Brock is a real Cadillac of a dinghy and so to get him above the high water mark would be a herculean task. On Ruffian however we had a fix for this, we’d replace Brock with our trusty old dinghy Thug.
Iain took to pumping up Thugs tiny tubes, dropped on his tiny engine and awaited patiently for Fiona. Now getting onto Thug isn’t the sedate civilised affair that mounting Brock is. When getting into Thug you take your life in your hands and simply ‘slip’ off the side of Ruffian hoping you’ve positioned your feet over his center of buoyancy. Fiona had everything sorted, then Iain thinking he was being helpful, moved Thug and Fiona ‘slipped’ down the rigging bounced off a cleat and landed in Thug. Note to Iain, try not to be helpful.
With Fiona sporting war wounds Thug safely transported us to the island and we transported him out of the water to safety. It was now time to explore the island drawn by that 5 year old. As we took to circumnavigating the island by foot, every hillock exposed another perfect cove complete with caves and a spit of sand, every headland was framed by rocks that could break boats almost at will and every corner hid a fort that was once bristling with guns waiting for an unsuspecting foe.
Day after day the sun shone and day after day things became even more impossibly idyllic. The water was so clear we could see the chain and anchor far below us and the sea became so flat that paddle boarding adventures were on the menu, complete with the Aquallama Larry.
Needing provisions, we set off on a paddle boarding adventure to the single shop on Ile d’Houat. Once ashore we were seduced by the aromatic comfort of freshly baked bread and the irresistible shininess of its patisseries, but hadn’t considered the challenges of transporting these delicate and essential provisions on our paddle boards. With baguette in hand and patisseries precariously stowed on the paddleboard Iain pushed off from the beach. Thankfully no waves spoilt the pastries and Iain didn’t mistake the baguette for the paddle. Once again he’d learnt a new skill (baguette boarding), but had not managed to improve another (forward planning).
No piratey desert island wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of mystery and danger. They usually have either a haunted cave or a cursed treasure to offset those beautiful beaches. As we woke on our last morning on the island, no island could be seen. The few boats that were visible all bobbed about facing different directions and in the distance, we could hear the eerie moo of foghorns. Sea fog had descended up Ruffian taking our island, taking our bearings and making Ile d’Houat just the most perfect piratey desert island ever.
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