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Old 12-02-2011, 06:41   #1
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Cruising in Brittany and South West Coast of France in Spring / Summer

We're planning on going over to France this spring - first stop Trebeurden and then making our way round and down the south west coast. Can you give us suggestions of good places to stay and anchor and tips on what to do and not to do! I've read the previous thread on Brittany - all very helpful - thanks! We have a 42ft Moody and draw 1.4m.

Louise
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Old 12-02-2011, 15:50   #2
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Louise,
If you have beaching legs for your yacht, take them onboard: many North Brittany anchorages dry at low tide.

Depending on the wind direction, there are some decent anchorages between Trébeurden and Morlaix.

Bay of Morlaix is shallow, so there are not many anchorages close to shore. The port of Morlaix is behind a lock, but the river dries: you have to time arrival and departure with the tide.

A marina is being built just south of Roscoff (Bloscon) ferry terminal, it should be finished in 2012. If I remember well, there are a few mooring buoys west of Ar C'haden beacon. The port in île de Batz dries (5m above chart datum).

Two small drying harbors exist in Brignogan (Pontusval) and Plouguerneau (Corréjou) but yachts generally sail directly from Roscoff/île de Batz to Aber Wrac'h (River of the Witch).

Aber Wrac'h is a place not to be missed. It is THE starting point to/ arrival point from England in NW Brittany, due to proximity with Île Vierge lighthouse [Fl5s77m27M]. Chenal de la Malouine is to be attempted only in daylight and clear weather (to find the transit), without heavy swell. There is now a small marina but you can go 1.5NM upriver and moor in Paluden. Bars & restaurants, supermarket in Landéda (1.5km).

Aber Benoît is a few NM W of Aber Wrac'h. The entrance is a bit more confused but it is worth trying (chart SHOM 7094 or Admiralty 1432 probably necessary). Many private mooring buoys, anchoring possible upstream of St Pabu.

Portsall and Argenton dry completely, I have never been there with a yacht. Even with offshore winds, I would think twice before anchoring off the coast, because of the W swell.

Aber Ildut is more interesting. The entrance channel is narrow but easy, except in fog. Be careful, a bar of shingle may move across the channel in front of Men Tassin beacon, depending on tides and storms. No marina but public mooring buoys, few shops.

Ouessant (Ushant) and Molène islands are exposed to the swell, ports don't give much shelter, but you should have a try. In Ouessant, Lampaul is open to the SW and close to the village, Le Stiff is on the E side, public (free) mooring buoys, only one bar.

Le Conquet dries completely, no marina, no anchoring, only mooring buoys. Tidal streams reach 4kts between Le Conquet and Béniguet island.

Bertheaume is a wide anchorage, well sheltered from north wind, before entering Rade de Brest (Brest harbor).

There are 2 marinas in Brest:
- Moulin Blanc (White Mill), the old one, close to all yacht chandlers but far from the city,
- Port du Château, the new one, just downtown, close to bars & restaurants but without any technical resources (last summer info)

You could take a few days to explore the Rade (many pleasant anchorages), go up river Elorn to Landerneau or up river Aulne, at least to Landevennec (boneyard for old Navy ships, impressive scenery) or even to Châteaulin..

If time is short, just stop in Camaret, south of Rade de Brest. Medium-sized marina, shops on the other side of the harbor. Cannon on the tower there, built by Vauban, repelled an English landing in 1694.

There are 2 ports in Douarnenez bay: Morgat and Douarnenez/Tréboul. In fact, I prefer to anchor in "anse de St Hernot", just south of Morgat, well sheltered from swell and W wind.

To go further, you have to pass Raz de Sein (Sein race). Tidal streams here exceed 5kts in springs, so you have to wait for the right moment. Tide against the swell generate dangerous conditions, so it is often wise to wait until slack water.

The next stop is Audierne. There isn't enough water in the river at low tide to float a yacht but the marina is in deeper water. In onshore conditions, the bar at the entrance can be unpleasant. So, it is simpler and often wiser to moor to a buoy in Ste Evette, protected by a jetty.

Don't try to stop in St Guénolé (Penmarc'h). It's purely a fishing port, yachts are not welcome here and the entrance is dangerous. Instead, go to Le Guilvinec (the works should be finished by next summer) or Lesconil (disused fishing port).

To be continued...

Alain
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Old 13-02-2011, 04:38   #3
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Thanks very much Alain - all very helpful!

We are hoping to go down as far as Bordeaux before the autumn.

Louise
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Old 15-02-2011, 14:32   #4
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Louise,
If you have beaching legs for your yacht, take them onboard: many North Brittany anchorages dry at low tide.

Depending on the wind direction, there are some decent anchorages between Trébeurden and Morlaix.

Bay of Morlaix is shallow, so there are not many anchorages close to shore. The port of Morlaix is behind a lock, but the river dries: you have to time arrival and departure with the tide.

A marina is being built just south of Roscoff (Bloscon) ferry terminal, it should be finished in 2012. If I remember well, there are a few mooring buoys west of Ar C'haden beacon. The port in île de Batz dries (5m above chart datum).

Two small drying harbors exist in Brignogan (Pontusval) and Plouguerneau (Corréjou) but yachts generally sail directly from Roscoff/île de Batz to Aber Wrac'h (River of the Witch).

Aber Wrac'h is a place not to be missed. It is THE starting point to/ arrival point from England in NW Brittany, due to proximity with Île Vierge lighthouse [Fl5s77m27M]. Chenal de la Malouine is to be attempted only in daylight and clear weather (to find the transit), without heavy swell. There is now a small marina but you can go 1.5NM upriver and moor in Paluden. Bars & restaurants, supermarket in Landéda (1.5km).

Aber Benoît is a few NM W of Aber Wrac'h. The entrance is a bit more confused but it is worth trying (chart SHOM 7094 or Admiralty 1432 probably necessary). Many private mooring buoys, anchoring possible upstream of St Pabu.

Portsall and Argenton dry completely, I have never been there with a yacht. Even with offshore winds, I would think twice before anchoring off the coast, because of the W swell.

Aber Ildut is more interesting. The entrance channel is narrow but easy, except in fog. Be careful, a bar of shingle may move across the channel in front of Men Tassin beacon, depending on tides and storms. No marina but public mooring buoys, few shops.

Ouessant (Ushant) and Molène islands are exposed to the swell, ports don't give much shelter, but you should have a try. In Ouessant, Lampaul is open to the SW and close to the village, Le Stiff is on the E side, public (free) mooring buoys, only one bar.

Le Conquet dries completely, no marina, no anchoring, only mooring buoys. Tidal streams reach 4kts between Le Conquet and Béniguet island.

Bertheaume is a wide anchorage, well sheltered from north wind, before entering Rade de Brest (Brest harbor).

There are 2 marinas in Brest:
- Moulin Blanc (White Mill), the old one, close to all yacht chandlers but far from the city,
- Port du Château, the new one, just downtown, close to bars & restaurants but without any technical resources (last summer info)

You could take a few days to explore the Rade (many pleasant anchorages), go up river Elorn to Landerneau or up river Aulne, at least to Landevennec (boneyard for old Navy ships, impressive scenery) or even to Châteaulin..

If time is short, just stop in Camaret, south of Rade de Brest. Medium-sized marina, shops on the other side of the harbor. Cannon on the tower there, built by Vauban, repelled an English landing in 1694.

There are 2 ports in Douarnenez bay: Morgat and Douarnenez/Tréboul. In fact, I prefer to anchor in "anse de St Hernot", just south of Morgat, well sheltered from swell and W wind.

To go further, you have to pass Raz de Sein (Sein race). Tidal streams here exceed 5kts in springs, so you have to wait for the right moment. Tide against the swell generate dangerous conditions, so it is often wise to wait until slack water.

The next stop is Audierne. There isn't enough water in the river at low tide to float a yacht but the marina is in deeper water. In onshore conditions, the bar at the entrance can be unpleasant. So, it is simpler and often wiser to moor to a buoy in Ste Evette, protected by a jetty.

Don't try to stop in St Guénolé (Penmarc'h). It's purely a fishing port, yachts are not welcome here and the entrance is dangerous. Instead, go to Le Guilvinec (the works should be finished by next summer) or Lesconil (disused fishing port).

To be continued...

Alain
Alan, I found this forum and well this post by shear accident. Was looking for tide information on Brest harbor but stumbled on this.

You are 100% correct in all your instructions to this new sailor to Brittany. I dont sail but we own a home in Plougerneau over looking Ile Virgie. You are right, I have not noticed any yachts docking in Corjeau and the bay drains past the ramp in low tide, sometimes even gets lower.

I have a question for you, have you sailed in the Harbor or Bay of Biscay the landlocked area where Brest is located safely? We have a small engine boat this year and I am wondering about the safety factors of boating in this bay. Do they have strong tidal currents in the bay as well as swells?= I have only gone on cruises on charter boats from the Moulin Blanc marina. But I have not driven or sailed in this bay on my own. my biggest concerns are the tides and the fastness at which they flow. You seem to know this area pretty well. I might know it from the land looking out but not sea coming in

So like this other member, I am now hoping to get some vital information from you where I am unable to even get it from the tourist board.

Where is safe boating for a very small boat and where is the safest part of the bay with regards to currents? The Atlantic coast is one very dangerous and wild area, especially north of Brest by Lila and Ile Virgie and Plougerneau etc. I wont be venturing there at all in a small open boat. But I am wondering about how safe Brest area would be? Please give me some of your expert advice. I know this is not sailing but you seem very well informed.
Oh, Aber Wrach drains pretty much so except for the mid part of the river, otherwise if you go all the way up you can encounter troubles if tide is low. Thanks in advance. Oh, what is a Rade?
pt corjeau
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:55   #5
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I have a question for you, have you sailed in the Harbor or Bay of Biscay the landlocked area where Brest is located safely?
Yes, I have, many times
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Originally Posted by portcorjeau View Post
We have a small engine boat this year and I am wondering about the safety factors of boating in this bay. Do they have strong tidal currents in the bay as well as swells?
Yes, there are strong tidal streams in some areas. The strongest are close to Pointe des Espagnols, 2 hours after High Water. They can exceed 6.8kts.
There is generally not much swell, because the entrance is narrow (1NM). However, you can have unpleasant waves, e.g. when the wind blows against the tidal stream. And, of course, there is the occasional gale or storm.

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So like this other member, I am now hoping to get some vital information from you where I am unable to even get it from the tourist board.
If you don't have them already, I suggest that you buy the following nautical charts from SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine, French Navy Hydrographic Office):
7094 Du phare du Four à l’Île Vierge – port de l’Aber Wrac’h
7400 Rade de Brest
7122 De la pointe de Saint Mathieu au phare du Four – chenal du Four
7148 Du Goulet de Brest à la Chaussée de Sein
7140 Du Goulet de Brest à Portsall – Île d’Ouessant
7150 De Portsall à l’anse de Kernic

You should also get the atlas of tidal streams "Courants de marée de la côte ouest de Bretagne - de Goulven à Penmarc'h", ref. 560-UJA
All this is available in any nautical shop.
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Where is safe boating for a very small boat and where is the safest part of the bay with regards to currents? The Atlantic coast is one very dangerous and wild area, especially north of Brest by Lila and Ile Virgie and Plougerneau etc. I wont be venturing there at all in a small open boat. But I am wondering about how safe Brest area would be?
In good weather, there is no problem around Brest. Just don't go close to the cliffs. In Chenal du Four, keep away from beacon "Grande Vinotière", it's deep but there are very strong eddies there. In the middle of the "Goulet", keep away from beacon "Mengam".
Also keep out of the prohibited area (marked with yellow buoys) around "Île Longue" (the base for French SSBN). The Cold War is over, they wouldn't shoot you but you still would be in trouble.
If you don't already know how to do tide computations, learn that before going to Brest, and get tide tables: some areas are fairly shallow, mainly in the south.
Make sure that your engine runs well and always have an anchor with chain and rope attached to the boat.
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Oh, Aber Wrach drains pretty much so except for the mid part of the river, otherwise if you go all the way up you can encounter troubles if tide is low.
Check on Google Earth, for example. You will see that there are moorings in the middle of the river between the oyster beds close to Paluden. There is much less depth upstream of the bridges but a 42' sailing yacht such as Louise's cannot go there anyway.

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Oh, what is a Rade?
pt corjeau
"Rade" is the French word for "Roadstead".

Alain
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Old 17-02-2011, 04:27   #6
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Yes, I have, many times

Yes, there are strong tidal streams in some areas. The strongest are close to Pointe des Espagnols, 2 hours after High Water. They can exceed 6.8kts.
There is generally not much swell, because the entrance is narrow (1NM). However, you can have unpleasant waves, e.g. when the wind blows against the tidal stream. And, of course, there is the occasional gale or storm.


If you don't have them already, I suggest that you buy the following nautical charts from SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine, French Navy Hydrographic Office):
7094 Du phare du Four à l’Île Vierge – port de l’Aber Wrac’h
7400 Rade de Brest
7122 De la pointe de Saint Mathieu au phare du Four – chenal du Four
7148 Du Goulet de Brest à la Chaussée de Sein
7140 Du Goulet de Brest à Portsall – Île d’Ouessant
7150 De Portsall à l’anse de Kernic

You should also get the atlas of tidal streams "Courants de marée de la côte ouest de Bretagne - de Goulven à Penmarc'h", ref. 560-UJA
All this is available in any nautical shop.

In good weather, there is no problem around Brest. Just don't go close to the cliffs. In Chenal du Four, keep away from beacon "Grande Vinotière", it's deep but there are very strong eddies there. In the middle of the "Goulet", keep away from beacon "Mengam".
Also keep out of the prohibited area (marked with yellow buoys) around "Île Longue" (the base for French SSBN). The Cold War is over, they wouldn't shoot you but you still would be in trouble.
If you don't already know how to do tide computations, learn that before going to Brest, and get tide tables: some areas are fairly shallow, mainly in the south.
Make sure that your engine runs well and always have an anchor with chain and rope attached to the boat.

Check on Google Earth, for example. You will see that there are moorings in the middle of the river between the oyster beds close to Paluden. There is much less depth upstream of the bridges but a 42' sailing yacht such as Louise's cannot go there anyway.


"Rade" is the French word for "Roadstead".

Alain
Hello Alan
Thanks for this wealth of information. Now let me tell you my story and I hope to get the most honest as well as accurate advice from you and believe me. I intend to adhere to it. I have searched far and wide to get what you are informing me of and was unable. this is my story below.

I am not French nor am I German. I live in Germany and we have a holiday house in Plougerneau. I have been to polougerneau and Brittany coast for the past ten years. I have never ever went out on or in the sea in all those years except for chartered boat rides or ferries. This is my concern which I will now explain.

my boat is an 11.2 foot inflatable boat with a 5 hp engine both are brand new and have not been used yet. We decided this year to buy a little rubber boat to piddle around before we get something bigger as we both do not have the appropriate drivers license for operating a big boat. I was hoping to enjoy a bit of the summer in this little rubber ducky which is a slight bit bigger than most tenders and it will be well equipped with all the safety devices as well as two anchors for extra security.

My questions are this, can I take this little thing in the bay of Brest and where else can I SAFELY take it without being sucked out to see or dead on the water? I am studying both French and German but this wont help me. I am also studying for the boat license but that also wont help me as its in German and will take me at least a year to pass. I am also trying to obtain an English book from the UK that may educate me on the proper rules of the road so I can at least know them all in my language before I venture into trouble. I am still searching far and wide and cant find the appropriate book that will help me. A German instructor told me first study the rules in English possibly from GB and then take his course which makes sense. So if you know of one or two that you will recommend to me, I will be forever grateful.

then we have the problem with nautical charts, I am only now learning to read them, I am still unable to calculate the degrees aspect but I will by the time August rolls around. I would like to ask if this Rade de Brest chart will show all that I need to know about the bay? I would like to know if there aer charts of those L'abers the both of them? Is ther a chart for Port Corjeau? I wont get those others you mentioned as I dont intend to go out into the open opean with an 11 foot boat. i am olnly seeking sheltered bays to take this little boat on. As soon as we are able to get a license, I intend to buy the 6 or 7 meter closed Zodiac Rib but right now I have to practice on the small one and have no choice of engine strength as that is allowed without a license at this time.

We also do not have intentions to go out far on the water say 150 meters for the most from shore? My intentions also was to do a little fishing in the bay and dont even know if this is allowed and if so, where are possibilities. More than likely we wanted to go to the area by the bridge like away from Moulin Blanc towards L'elron river but not sure of that as well. I see red and green buoys sort of lined up from a small map I have and not sure if this is navigable to private small vessels.

With your expert knowledge of the area, where would you say is the safest and most appropriate area for a newbie to the waters of France to venture into? I am not completely ignorant of the sea or boats or some rules, but I am of this area of the world as they seem to be differnt to that of the USA and Caribbean.

The Map of Brest you suggested, can I obtain this in English? Also the Tidal Streams, can you also tell me if this is in English and how can I get it from the UK as I am sure from Germany it wont be in English.

Is it still possible for us to get sucked out of the Rade de Brest if we stay up by the moulin Blanc area towards the bridge? We really just wanted to find a safe calm area for fishing and also anchoring and then perhaps doing a bit of swimming (water temps permitting) and you seem to be just the expert on this subject and area of the world.

Port Corjeau, is there any time this little sweet port is safe to anchor and fish just before the mouth to the open sea? You know, the area down at the slipramp past the little marine or boat school on the pier to the left? I have always sat on the port and just longed to be in that water with a little boat fishing. Wondering what advice you can give on this little port in particular, without us gettinng sucked out to the English channel.

What other areas of Brittany can you honestly recommend for me and this little boat?

Besides Mount St. Michael and St. Marlo, are there any other areas that have Tidal Bores that I ought to know of, in particula L'Aber Wrac'h, L'aber Benoit, Gulf de Morbihan, Quiberon, Brest, do they have tidal bores?

Those dangerous beacons you warned of, are primarily for ocean going vessels correct? As they are all outside of Rade de Brest.

I have an opportunity to go in September to the Med sailing on a 42footer and will be doing this for training purposes, but that wont help me in August nor is the Med the same at the wild Atlantic Ocean.

I wait patiently for your answers to my millions of stupid questions.

I Thank you so very much.
Danielle
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Old 17-02-2011, 05:57   #7
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Danielle,

If you are after charts in English, it wouldbe worth looking at the Hydrographic website for charts. Also consider chart 5045, although it is classified as a chart its the master list of symbols that you find on a chart and will help you understand what each one means. Study this at length.

Nautical Publications

They also sell tidal stream atlas and tide tables to calculate when high water is etc.

Pete
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Old 17-02-2011, 06:16   #8
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Danielle,

If you are after charts in English, it wouldbe worth looking at the Hydrographic website for charts. Also consider chart 5045, although it is classified as a chart its the master list of symbols that you find on a chart and will help you understand what each one means. Study this at length.

Nautical Publications

They also sell tidal stream atlas and tide tables to calculate when high water is etc.

Pete

You are so kind to give me this information. i was unaware of it all. Is the Hydrographic website only in French? I had looked at it and only found it in French- Is there one in English? those publications are valuable to me as I need them. Thanks I will see what I can find on this end. Thanks so much. My husband and myself are really new to this part of the ocean and its not looking too friendly without knowledge.
Danielle
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Old 17-02-2011, 06:18   #9
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Danielle,

If you are after charts in English, it wouldbe worth looking at the Hydrographic website for charts. Also consider chart 5045, although it is classified as a chart its the master list of symbols that you find on a chart and will help you understand what each one means. Study this at length.

Nautical Publications

They also sell tidal stream atlas and tide tables to calculate when high water is etc.

Pete

I just replied to you and my post didnt post, where did it go to
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Old 17-02-2011, 06:34   #10
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Hello Pete

Here is what I found on that link you provided, is this what I need?

IALA Maritime Buoyage System (NP735)

Symbols and Abbreviations Used on Admiralty Charts, Chart 5011 (INT 1)

Admiralty Tidal Stream Atlases NP 250 and NP265 is what I will need to know about as that is the area in question I "MAY" be launching this little rubber boat. Please let me know. I didnt fin dthe one you suggested or the ones Alan told me about. and I doint know why my font is so big and so bold I copied from their website, sorry for this.
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Old 17-02-2011, 09:22   #11
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You are so kind to give me this information. i was unaware of it all. Is the Hydrographic website only in French? I had looked at it and only found it in French- Is there one in English? those publications are valuable to me as I need them. Thanks I will see what I can find on this end. Thanks so much. My husband and myself are really new to this part of the ocean and its not looking too friendly without knowledge.
Danielle

Hi Danielle,

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (part of the Admiralty) produces the charts that you're interested in: Home

Other chart companies exist in English: Imray C Charts: Northwest Europe

The RYA can provide books on rules of the road (IRPCS). If you're in the UK anytime soon, find a training centre doing the RYA Essential Seamanship and Safety course (or buy the course book from the RYA shop).

Finally, for tidal info, UKHO Easytide is free online, and a copy of the Yachtsmen's tidal atlas should point you in the right direction.
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Old 17-02-2011, 09:28   #12
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Hi Danielle,

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (part of the Admiralty) produces the charts that you're interested in: Home

Other chart companies exist in English: Imray C Charts: Northwest Europe

The RYA can provide books on rules of the road (IRPCS). If you're in the UK anytime soon, find a training centre doing the RYA Essential Seamanship and Safety course (or buy the course book from the RYA shop).

Finally, for tidal info, UKHO Easytide is free online, and a copy of the Yachtsmen's tidal atlas should point you in the right direction.

Hi St, can you please point me where I can get the free Easytide information from, which link should I click? I wont be in the UK anytime soon that is why I asked Alan to direct me where I can get a good book on the rules of the Road for Europe and UK. I was told to do the UK one as the UK and the rest of Europe goes by the same rules.

I will check those two links you provided to me. Thanks a zillion
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Old 17-02-2011, 09:40   #13
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Danielle,

If you are after charts in English, it wouldbe worth looking at the Hydrographic website for charts. Also consider chart 5045, although it is classified as a chart its the master list of symbols that you find on a chart and will help you understand what each one means. Study this at length.

Nautical Publications

They also sell tidal stream atlas and tide tables to calculate when high water is etc.

Pete
Hello Pete, I just called the German side of Hydrographic and they said they have charts in English. However, chart 5045 she said that the chart with the beacons and buoys and their definitions is Chart 5011 or Intl Chart 1, is this correct? How much are paper charts over there? she said they cost 29.95 Euros here. Thanks
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Old 17-02-2011, 09:40   #14
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Hello Pete

Here is what I found on that link you provided, is this what I need?

IALA Maritime Buoyage System (NP735)

Symbols and Abbreviations Used on Admiralty Charts, Chart 5011 (INT 1)
.
Oops yes the number is 5011. You might find it on line, but having a hard copy won't hurt.

Not sure why you got a French version of the website, I am at work, so whilst I can see some of the site it, I can't load it all up unfortunately.

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Old 17-02-2011, 09:42   #15
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Last chart I bought was about £16 in a chandlers I think. This is my local chandler. Not sure if they would do mail order, but you could ask them.

Charts - Books/Navigation | Marine Super Store

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