View Full Version : Brest Maritime Festival Trip--WBRF 2008
I posted this in the misc section, but maybe some others like me stay in this ections so i am posting it here as well........
Anyone want to go? We are trying to see if there is interest in forming a group to RAID France for this!! A few of us are there either way, but I (Bruce) am fairly good at organizing a group approach....so? Take a look
04-25-2007, 08:29 AM
There's a theoretical possibility, depending in part on my ability to "shark up a list of lawless resolutes" to crew her down the Channel and back, that Mirelle may want to go.
Well so far (one day only:D ) I have 6 people wanting to go on this trip. Clearly I have no details yet, but..... seems to say this might come together after all. Have you been to the last one(s)? If so what are the daily rhythms and mechanics as you remember them? I know you can just walk around and ask to crew on boats (many boats look for crew this way), but what about accommodations, etc? Maybe you can tell us all watching this thread the feel, and mood, etc of the event as I have read articles only.
04-25-2007, 09:30 AM
Nope, never been. Sorry.
04-25-2007, 09:53 AM
I attended Brest & Douarnenez in 2000, Douarnenez alone in the off-year of 2002.
Getting aboard a boat, especially in Brest, isn't very easy. I was lucky in that I spoke French and met a couple of guys on a train (see my article in WB No. 158). So I was able to sail in Brest on one of the days. Through contacts with Le Chasse-Maree, I was able to sail from Brest to Douarnenez, but I think that would basically be out of the question without some sort of personal connection or prior arrangement.
The crowd projections for Brest in 2000 were three million — and that's not a typo — for the week. It rained, so it was considerably less than that, on the order of 1.8 million. In general, you can get up close to the large ships, very much like one of the bigger "tall ships" events in the U.S., and if you are very patient you can get aboard. But very often, just walking through the crowds can be a trial sometimes. It is generally not possible at all to get to the floats to see the small boats without having an exhibitor's pass or an invitation. Often, you are on the quay looking at a basin full of small boats, wishing you could be out there. So an awful lot depends on luck. Hanging around the beer tent in the evening can be fruitful. There is a lot to see, even if you don't get out on a boat.
Things are maybe a little easier in Douarnenez. There are fewer boats and fewer people, but it's a much smaller town. It's easier to see the boats, in my opinion, especially the smaller ones. The most impressive boats, like the big bisquines LA CANCALAISE and LA GRANVILLAISE, are booked very far in advance, often by corporations -- even the local people complain about having no chance to sail on them. But you can see them from better vantage points. So, again, a great deal depends on luck, and the smaller and less-high-profile boats offer the best on-the-water chances.
In 2000, there was a small contingent of American boats sent over in a container. A melonseed, a Providence river skiff, a felucca, a whitehall, and a couple of others, if I recall. I think having a boat -- any boat -- would give you a very different kind of experience, especially if you could stay aboard. I don't know if anyone from the U.S. is planning anything like that this time around, but it would be worth trying to tie into that.
I'm not trying to sound negative, here. And in spite of all of this, I would still say go. It is truly a spectacle, and the international aspect of the festivals really is something to behold. The shoreside exhibits are great, with "villages" for regions and countries, usually Norway and Holland, and others, and I see for Vietnam next year. The best way to have a good experience is to stay out of the mainstream -- forget about trying to get aboard the big ships with the hoards. My reaction to the festival is the same reaction I have to many festivals: a great place to be with a boat, and a bad place to be without one, if you're a boatbuilder or a serious enthusiast.
Still, luck can prevail, and the Europeans do seem very open to welcoming people aboard -- more so than what I've seen in the U.S. I had invitations from a Welsh sailor, which I couldn't do, and from French sailors. I made some friends I still keep in touch with. I met a guy who was with a Croatian boat we featured in WoodenBoat in 1999 or so, a gaeta falkusha -- they plied me with wine, had one guy read me a poem about the boat. There just isn't anywhere else where you can see that kind of global sharing of maritime culture.
Sorry for the long note. You got me going.
This is great. Tom is on it here. Now I really want to go. Clearly a blast and now a challenge!!!!!Clearly big and crazy is the word for the event, but that is also some of its appeal.
So i think with this i can get something together. I have been in touch with some of these organizations Tom mentioned and shipping boats is doable as is joining someone going instead of trying to jump on as crew in an instant. I do have a lot of connections and maybe one will work out.
There is a chance Nellie H. (the 1903 40ft Long Island Oyster Sloop) will be going to Brest if she is done in time. If so I can see if we can crew on her as she was a free boat from WBRF and i have managed her restoration arrangements. She will need a crew with a gaff rig boom of over 42ft!
All this will start falling in place if I get a core 12 people. Tom want to join us and write a new article from another view point?:D
04-25-2007, 11:05 AM
..I should also mention that the crowds at Brest and Douarnenez were the best-behaved large crowds I've ever seen. Very respectful, very nice. I never saw any jostling or pushing. You see families wheeling babies around at 1 o'clock in the morning, no problem, no big deal. I did have one French guy, who was a little more than in his cups, sort of threaten me when he learned I was American, but his friends took very quick control of him. I will say, however, that you should not go to these festival without knowing at least some basic phrases of French, the more the better, and a very healthy respect for the culture, especially if you are an American.
04-25-2007, 01:40 PM
I happened to spend a couple of days in Douarnenez last June when there was no festival or any other "events" happening. It was delightful. Quiet and peaceful with a multitiude of interesting boats to look at especially at low tide when it is possible to walk out to some of them (Gigs of some sort, I guess they were). The docks were open (in the sense that no one prevented me from strolling along the docks) and were loaded with wooden boats and, in the outer harbour, there was a collection of 6.5 m single handed transatlantic race boats to gawk at too. After a long morning of gawking, I stopped at the nearly deserted "fast food" restaurant on the dock and enjoyed a plate of sardines. Bliss, I tell you. At first I regretted not being there for the festival but upon hearing from the local bar keep about the crowds during the festival, I ordered un autre bier and decided that I was lucky to have the place to myself.
I have a few possibles. One is fairly solid (Baltic Trader- below) and the others are still unsure (Charters out of UK).
I have found a Baltic Trader that I can charter for the festival. It will need to come down from Stockholm and then go back. She will take 16 of use. We would have her for the whole time if anyone has the time to sail down, stay and sail back to Stockholm. This would be my plan if I can swing it. Either way I will arrange it so that you can stay for as long or as short as you want, but there will be an across the board charge to cover the entire charter, i.e covers the cost to get the boat to Brest and back if we 16 are only on her for Brest alone.
We will be able to join her at a port on the way down or leave her from a port on the way north. In other word we could jump on two days sail out of Brest ands leave two days out back to Stockholm.
I would expect the cost to be in the mid $2000s and would include your bunks, food, transport in out of quays. Airfare and all else will not be included. This allows us to use out freq flyer and air deals to anywhere in Europe and use the train to get to the port of choice.
One of us might very well be a Belgian friend of mine so there we have the language issue. My wife's cousin my join too from Paris so....
I have found some boat out of the UK, but the cost are running very very high, in the range of $10000 a person!!!! These are for boats sleeping 6 - 10 people. So until I get numbers from the larger boats that should give better deals due to the volume of berths (ie. Tall Ships), then the Swedish boats seem the best choice in a big way. The idea for the Baltic Trader (Captain is a friend of mine and owns one of the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters I love) is to join the boat in Amsterdam and leave it there as well. This is two days out of Brest. So we can arrive and leave in a very classic way and not deal with the masses as much. We can fly into Amsterdam much cheaper, etc than other spots in Europe (Iceland Air has great deals with a layover day in Iceland--bonus).
Please let me know your thoughts. We may have enough people for two boats of 10 -12 people each at this time.
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