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 However, I’m sure this information is well out of date as the small barrage across the Couesnon that you can see on Google Earth looks impassable to anything bigger than a tender and besides, there doesn’t appear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.
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Paul – Archangel (Ribcraft 6.8m, ETec 225)