Every two years, sixteen cities, towns, and small villages along the coast of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the Gulf of Morbihan, hosts one of the greatest classic boat festivals. Always scheduled around Ascension Day and the coinciding banking holidays, this year’s festival took place from May 31 – June 4.
Split into eight categories, over four thousand sailors on almost a thousand boats sail from one of the 16 participating ports every morning to rendezvous at the mouth of the gulf. At the appointed time, the endless line of boats begin a parade back into the gulf and then continue to their next night’s destination port.
As this was our first time to the festival, we were just amazed at how well planned the whole event was. Every night, a festival accumulating in the parade of boats into port took place at the 16 different locations around the gulf. There was entertainment for kids, boatbuilding demonstrations, booths with information about the region and it’s history, and of course many places to buy food and wine. What made this event so special was the enormous amount of interest and support it got from the public. With two weeks before the event, it was truly difficult to find a hotel room in any of the participating towns. Every where you went, there were thousands of people enjoying the atmosphere. There must have been ten thousand people just watching the afternoon parade of boats entering the gulf on Saturday.
We were lucky enough to find a room in the city of Vannes, the headquarters for all the festivities. We arrived late afternoon Friday, stocked up the stroller with all necessities, including Noah, and headed down to the port.
The parade of boats into the port was in full swing.
A beautiful Summer evening in the presence of some beautiful boats
The pond boats were really neat. Falling victim to that big smile, I decided right there that we need to design and build a pond boat ourselves. So, stay tuned because I will be posting a free pond boat design for families to build over the course of a weekend. We will be including some methods and materials used in boatbuilding to help people get more comfortable with the thought of building one of our full size boat designs.
The following day we ventured to Port Navalo to watch the boats meet up for the grand parade back into the gulf.
View Golfe du Morbihan in a larger map
La Golfe du Morbihan – The purple cameras are the places we visited, Vannes and Port Navalo, and the green points are the many towns that hosted festivities.
The many thousands of people watching the fleet of boats gathering for the parade.
Although there are too many to post here, the following are just a few of my favorite boats that we came across over the weekend.
You gotta love the overhangs of this handsome sloop.
This beauty just looked ‘salty’ with a French accent, of course.
I just loved the use of the sculling oar. Boat after boat came into the port skillfully manuevered by one. It makes me wish my old boat had one when I was forced to always sail in and out of the marina because the motor refused to work!
These two traditional dutch leeboard craft certainly stood out from the rest of the fleet.
And finally, probably my favorite, this little cream colored lapstrake yawl. Design and proportions were perfect, workmanship was top notch, and she struck quite a profile with her sails set. That outboard needs to go or have a well designed in the lazarette, but that is just me…
I am really interested to hear of other great boat festivals that folks have visited or plan to visit in U.S. and around the world, so leave your comments below or shoot me an email. I know I am excited at the possibility of attending one of the many events leading to the next America’s Cup and the Cup Finals.