Sauzon to Etel - Thursday 21 August 2003, 28 miles

The pilot books counsel that you have to enter Etel just before HW, so with HW at 12:17, we set the alarm for crack of dawn (07:00, to be exact), and were sailing close hauled in a North Easterly F3 by 07:40. Unfortunately, North East was roughly where we wanted to go, so we made a long board past Birvideau, an isolated rock half-way between Belle Ile and the Ile de Groix, then tacked to find we still couldn't lay Etel.

At 11:00, just off les Pierres Noires, we ran out of wind and decided to motor to reach Etel in time.

Just before midday, we called up the Etel pilot, famously a lady called Mme Josiane, hoping to be directed in by semaphore. However she (or maybe her successor, but definitely a lady) directed us by voice over the VHF, and we skirted some unseen sandbank to enter the river and reach the first buoys. This whole process was charming, but questionably less efficient than the way a changing entrance is dealt with, for instance at the Deben or Ore, where entry buoys are moved appropriately at the start of each season. However, the pilot station at Etel is presumably where the Etel inshore forecasts come from, so maybe the station has to be manned (womanned?) anyway.

The bridge blocking the way into le Lac d'Etel

We followed the river up past the town of Etel round a chicane to reach a pool just below the road bridge, where we picked up a vacant buoy.

After a swim and lunch we waited for the ebb so that we could easily descend the river. The tide didn't turn until 16:30, when we motored downriver against the headwind. Opposite Etel we picked up a buoy in Magouër, and went ashore to see whether we could stay the night. However, the best advice we could get was that we'd have to enquire at the Mairie 3 km away. And they obviously wouldn't know who was away today. So we crossed over to Etel and anchored just above the rather unappealing marina and dinghied ashore to do our shopping.

Then, back up the river, as we decided the mooring by the bridge was a lot nicer than down near Etel. This time we anchored nearby, as there seemed no point in risking having to move for the owner when there was plenty of room.

In the evening we explored the village by the bridge, and found it had a boulangerie with some general stores, an oysterage and a service station where we could easily buy petrol with minimum porterage.