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Old 03 September 2008, 14:17   #1
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Mont St. Michel

I wonder if any reader of this forum has taken a boat to Mont St. Michel in Normandy – and I mean by sea not by trailer. It’s something that has interested me for quite a while although information about how to get there, or whether you can, is thin on the ground.

There is a charming account of two eight-metre catamarans going to Mont St. Michel in 1966 - see http://999100.co.uk/tom_mary_lac.htm That was back in the days when there was a lifeboat station nearby so presumably there has been sailing in the area at some point.

There’s also a photo of a motor boat approaching Mont St. Michel at http://www.francevuesurmer.com/photo-2334.php This is a recent shot and judging by the vessel’s wash it must be at least rib sized.

I have a pilot guide that mentions access to Ponterson, three miles inland, is possible from the Mount itself via an approach channel and then the Couesnon river. However, I’m sure this information is well out of date as the small barrage across the Couesnon that you can see on Google Earth looks impassable to anything bigger than a tender and besides, there doesn’t appear to be any allowance for river traffic within the current scheme of works that will replace the barrier and widen the Couesnon estuary.

All that aside, I can think of some obvious challenges in sailing to Mont St. Michel:

(i) The area has been silting up for years and now dries very high indeed. Access would only be on big spring tides. I know that considerable bores run at these times so care would have to be taken if beaching was planned else the boat may get swamped on the flood. In fact, this nearly happened to the yachts in the 1966 account mentioned above.

(ii) Those in charge of the current engineering scheme to alter the course of the Couesnon River may be enforcing some kind of exclusion zone and may not take kindly to ‘Les Rost Beefs’ turning up en masse in their pneu bateaux. The works are due to finish in 2015 - see http://www.projetmontsaintmichel.fr/en/

(iii) Whilst the general area comprises boat-friendly mud or sand there are rocks closer to the Mount itself; the exact locations of these are unknown to me. I’m sure the visibility in the water would be zero so a bow spotter would be essential nearer the shore.

(iv) Careful planning would be required: Being forced to sail at night in that neck of the woods, or having to wade ashore through the mud or getting caught in a squall or crashing would clearly all be un-nice to say the least. Ok, it's not Rockall but I reckon it still would need some thought.

Anyway, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who’s been to Mont St. Michel by sea or who knows someone who’s done so or who’s interested in giving it a go. I’m based in Jersey and could be there in an hour. Maybe we could meet up and form a mini expedition.

Mont St. Michel is consecrated to the Archangel Michael and my rib’s name is ‘Archangel’ so it seems appropriate the two should meet, although not at 45kts hopefully.

Please reply on this forum or by email at gj0kyz@hotmail.co.uk

Paul – Archangel (Ribcraft 6.8m, ETec 225)
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Old 03 September 2008, 16:41   #2
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We visited it by road this summer and i would suggest you contact Pablo on here as a start.I myself havent got the experience yet to do such a trip although in several months would have a suitable boat for it.If you do need any crew though in the future i,d consider it.Peter
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Old 03 September 2008, 17:56   #3
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I would be quite interested in this. Despite living in Jersey my whole life I have never been to Mont St Michel.

Your right about lack of info, every pilot book I've read skips from Granville to Cancale pretty much, down to lack of facilities for boats I guess.

Could be an interesting trip needing a certain amount of research and a spot of calm weather!
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Old 03 September 2008, 19:58   #4
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I think this would be an excellent trip. I've been to the Mount many times on land and you're right, it dries very high indeed. Dries out infact though for how many miles i'm not sure, and like you say information is limited.

I'm sure there are less obvious access points, just means more essential research.

(I couldn't find that barrage on google earth)

Unfortunately my boat wouldn't be up for the challenge, however, if you are in need of a keen crew member I think the research side of things could be an interesting task and would be more than happy to get involved.

My uncle lives in Jersey and is always popping over to france, i'll be sure to give him a call tomorrow and drop you a line with any information.

Would be interesting to hear of any updates.
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Old 04 September 2008, 07:04   #5
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I went there by land some years ago, asked what time the tide came in and was told in two weeks.
I think the water was 6Km away, that means when it comes in it would move at a foot a second.

Nick.
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Old 04 September 2008, 14:10   #6
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Improvements

The new dam is designed to improve the area and return it back to its natural state. The dam will retain the river / high water and be released at low tide to carry a large amount of sediment away from the area. 50% in next 2 years?? The car park and causeway will also be removed and access will be by natural causeway or by beach tractor/ amphibian bus. The salt marshes have been extended over the years and these will also be returned to nature.

They were dumping barges of silt from the area earlier this year which screwed the local diving for a few months, even now there are areas with a few inches of boggy silt that previously were lovely clean gravel.

Would love to join a trip next year or year after, but will probably have to be after a discussion with authorities re the release of dammed water and silt deposits lower down the beach. Apart from the Mount there is little else there, so maybe better to go to Cancale and take land trip to Mont St Michel.

Cancale is full of bars and plenty of beach to moor on.

Link to project site in english

http://www.projetmontsaintmichel.fr/en/
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Old 05 September 2008, 08:50   #7
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If my memory is correct I seem to remember that there was an article in RI about a rib trip to Mont St Michel. I may still have the copy and if it rains all weekend I may just have the time to do some searching for it just to confirm this.
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Old 05 September 2008, 12:30   #8
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Mont St. Michel

Thanks for the replies guys, much appreciated. I think I'll try and go before the year's out either on this month's or October's springs if the weather's settled enough. In the meantime here are some more photos of boats at Mont St. Michel:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/digit-ized/86428342/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelley...th/2219577404/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/domcianci/2080317256/

Keep the posts coming and Andre if you could find that article that'd be great.

Thanks again.

Paul.
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Old 07 September 2008, 14:26   #9
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Originally Posted by GJ0KYZ View Post
Thanks for the replies guys, much appreciated.
Keep the posts coming and Andre if you could find that article that'd be great.

Thanks again.

Paul.
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the article was in the June 2003 issue of RI and the trip to St Michael was made by 2 ribs in Oct 2002. Try and get a copy from RI. If you have problems let me know and will email you a scanned copy
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Old 08 September 2008, 13:36   #10
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Mont St. Michel

Thanks for your kind offer Andre. I phoned the magazine today and they said they'd send a copy in the post. If it doesn't turn up I'll get back to you.

Thanks again.

Paul.
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