Leaving St Malo after a leisurely three nights, we nosed out of the St Malo lock and headed to St Cast, a little further up the Brittany coast. Despite the sea being really quite choppy, it was a lovely quick sail, taking us just over an hour. As we neared the entrance to the St Cast marina, we overheard the call from a British sea cadet boat to the marina over the radio. The boat was just ahead of us, so we watched as the transaction ensued. Coming over the radio, the skipper called to the marina in blunt English; ‘St Cast marina, St Cast marina, this is John Gerwood training ship, John Gerwood training ship, over.’ This blatant English call was met with a stony silence over the radio, but the skipper was not deterred, and after his third call the harbour master came back over the radio; ‘oui, j’ecoute.’ We winced as John Gerwood proceeded to ask for one night, giving the length of the boat, in English. It just seems so rude to have to little regard for the country you’re staying in – when in England, we expect tourists to speak English, why therefore is it okay for us to speak English when abroad? It’s not, really. The French harbour master replied to John Gerwood in very fast French, as John Gerwood replied in increasingly louder English, eventually asking if the harbour master could speak in English, as he didn’t understand, to which he received a sharp ‘non, I do not speak English.’ We cringed at hearing this over the radio, also becoming increasingly nervous, as her French really was very difficult to understand, due, it became apparent, to John Gerwood’s refusal to speak French.
As we approached the entrance to the marina, my dad took up the radio, with a nervous glance at us. Would we be able to understand this garbled French, or would we manage to piss her off as much as John Gerwood did? My dad’s French is actually exceedingly good for an infrequent visitor, and as he said over the radio ‘St Cast marina, St Cast marina, c’est Patience, Patience, ouvert,’ (pronouncing Patience with a lovely French accent) the harbour master came straight back with ‘oui, Patience, St Cast marina, j’ecoute.’ Amazing what a little French can do! The harbour master was lovely, as my dad asked for a berth, giving our length, and she met us at the entrance in her rib and directed us to our berth, even taking our lines and giving us the code for the facilities. Once moored up, we breathed a sigh of relief. It’s amazing how feisty these French harbour masters can be, point blank refusing to help unless you at least try to speak French. I’m sure even a hearty French accent on your garbled schoolgirl French come English would get a wry smile. When listening to John Gerwood, we really were embarrassed by our English name.
Enough of John Gerwood, I shall now get down off my high horse. St Cast, as we found out, is a lovely town. Typically seasidey, it has a lovely sandy beach, with a square in the middle of the town filled with restaurants and ice cream parlours. After a tasty dinner in the local Poissonerie, we wandered into town to find a live band playing – a mix of French and folk music, with much vigorous Mumford & Sons-like strumming.
We spent an afternoon on the beach, which was clean and busy, and the sea noticeably warmer than in England (I’m a water-baby, and can’t resist the urge to swim whenever I can). St Cast serves the most enormous ice creams; check out the one I’m holding in this photo, which, I promise we shared.
On leaving for Plouer in the River Rance, we waved goodbye to St Cast with hope of visiting again another year. I loved the touristy vibe, the friendliness of the people, and the safety of the marina, which has coded access to the pontoons, St Cast offers. I can definitely recommend a visit to this lovely seaside port, especially the fantastic ice cream parlours!