|Mon 31-07-2023, 12:00Falmouth, Cornwall||Wed 09-08-2023, 12:00Falmouth, Cornwall||Mascotte||9 Nights||MT310723|
Fantastic sailing across the channel and along the beautiful coast of Brittany, with a host of other traditional ships as they gather for the passage upriver to the biannual Paimpol Chant du Marin music festival. This event is a real favourite among sailors and music lovers alike, and the air of camaraderie and excitement is infectious. Crowds of people gather to watch the flotilla sail up river to the tidal harbour, before the ships nestle in, rafted one to another, for a weekend of dancing, singing, boat-spotting and fun.
And what a boat to sail there on…built in 1904, Mascotte is no pretender. She was the largest Bristol Channel pilot cutter ever built and takes a romp across the Channel to Brittany in her stride.
Anyone who loves traditional boats, traditional sailors and traditional (and not so traditional) music. Light sleepers should bring earplugs!
An amazing experience for musicians and traditional music lovers, artists and photographers but you need to be a keen enough sailor to enjoy two Channel crossings, there and back, plus sailing from the corner of the North Coast to Paimpol. Often a beam reach in a prevailing South Westerly, Mascotte can make short work of the Channel crossing. It is about 130 miles to Isle de Brehat on the French side and there will be night sailing and watches. With 9 nights aboard there should be time for a little bit of coastal exploring in Brittany or the Channel Isles either before the Festival or on the way back, but where depends on the wind.
Once you are in Paimpol Festival for a few days, there is no scope for day sailing. It is an amazing festival atmosphere, and music happens everywhere. Being crew you can escape the bustle ashore by returning to your own vessel or going for a walk in the surrounding countryside. On big wooden ships like Mascotte, being below decks is reasonably sound insulated if you need a rest from partying. This is not a good voyage if you don’t like traditional music, world music and chilling out on wooden boats.
Paimpol Chant Du Marin Festival is one of our favourite summer festivals and a great excuse to sail around the Isle de Brehat and into the Gulf of St Malo. The British call it Paimpol Shanty Festival but it is much more than just sea shanties or fiddle music. Think Glastonbury Festival with Boats. The musical roots of many countries from Brazil to Lithuania, Russia to Ireland come together for an incredible mix of nautical culture, wooden boats, music and dance. Regular guest crew who have been to the festival before, skippers and all lovers of traditional music and street theatre eagerly await the voyages that feature this 2 yearly festival.
On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her. The description below is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage.
Paimpol is in the Western part of Gulf of St Malo made famous b y its Granite Rose coastal rocks. In past years several wooden ships and working boats have headed for Lezardrieux before the festival and there has been an informal race – parade of sail around the corner of France and past the Isle de Brehat. Sailing up the Trieux River to this beautiful inland town could be your first stop and a welcome change from offshore sailing. Other first stops might be Guernsey, the Sept Isles, Isle de Brehat or Tregieur. There are also anchorages in the shallow waters off the Paimpol.
Getting into this tiny harbour involves a long approach channel over shellfish beds and mud flats and with hundreds of wooden boats nose to tail in a small channel. Chaotic, photogenic and building a sense of anticipation this procession ends with a sea lock into a wet dock. Thousands of people line the harbour walls to welcome the fleet and for a moment every vessel is a celebratory.
Once you are in position, possibly rafted up alongside other sailing trawlers or working craft, many vessels leave their sails up to look colourful. You can chill on you own boat, visit other vessels, or join the throngs ashore. Early morning the festival site is shut to the public so you can pop out to get the fresh baguettes or enjoy the peace.
Paimpol was home to a big fleet of deep sea fishing boats that sailed all the way to Newfoundland Grand Banks. Many fishermen didn’t return so there is a melancholy to some of the Breton shanties that sailors around the would would understand. The jolly Breton dancing and more up tempo brass Omph pa bands and jazzy saxaphones make up for the late night sad songs.
On the mainland the historic port of Paimpol is a busy fishing port popular with visiting tourist boats as they enjoy the many restaurants and bars. Paimpol provides a warm welcome to a traditional wooden ship and her crew and you are guaranteed to enjoy the french hospitality shown to you. If it is festival time, over 200 boats with wooden masts fill the main harbour basin and you can almost walk across the middle on boats rafted together.
Biannually, Paimpol hosts an amazing Sea Shanty Festival The French, and the Bretons in particular, are very proud of their seafaring roots and their festivals are full of life, fun and music. Many young people are involved and musicians and sailors come from all over the world. You might hear Polish Polkas or Brazilian drum bands as well as Breton Pipes playing more familiar shanties. Paimpol Festival is a well kept secret and eagerly awaited every two years by those who know about it. In terms of setting this shanty festival is in the perfect venue as it provides moorings for a whole host of visiting yachts and ships. The lock basins are right in the heart of the village with outside cafes and bars all around. The dock provides a natural focus and the organisers arrange the traditional boats and tall ships like a scene from 200 years ago. All grouped together there is a great atmosphere of camaraderie and meeting new similar like minded wooden boat enthusiast feels like one big family.
Traditionally sea shanties and folk songs can be rather sad telling stories of lost loved ones out at sea. You won’t be crying in your wine or calvados for long as there is folk and world traditional music and dancing all around. Having a large number of sailors in the audience – including yourselves – who have actually sailed their traditional wooden vessels to the festival, gives a real purpose to the festival. Shanties were working songs for sailors and you will have earnt your excuse for drinking beer and singing badly by hauling on blocks and tackles, standing on watches overnight as you cross the Channel on your voyage.
Any Channel crossing has the potential to be rough but Pilgrim is a big ex deep sea fishing trawler. Along the North Brittany and Channel Isles coasts the tides are fast and can kick up choppy seas. Once around the corner of the North Brittany coast the land creates some shelter from Atlantic swell. In Paimpol it is flat as a pancake …or crepe
Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.
Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01872 58 00 22 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.
We now have several vessels that use Falmouth as a joining or leaving port. As every vessel is different, and we do not have our own pontoon there, all joining instructions are slightly different. Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date.
This is a list of the likely joining locations, but sometimes the ship can also be at anchor. Read the vessel’s joining instructions carefully for full details.
Click on the two Blue Pins for more information on the joining locations on the map below:
Port Pendennis is the small marina behind the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the nearest rail station is ‘Falmouth Town’ (3 mins walk). The Maritime Museum has a big tower like a lighthouse so aim for that and at the entrance, turn right and walk down the side of the museum. The gate to the marina is behind the museum building.
Custom House Quay is a stone quay enclosing a small wet dock in the Centre of Falmouth Town. It is used for some of the foot ferries to St Mawes in the peak summer. Only 5 minutes walk from Falmouth Town Station if you head towards the town centre. Situated at the Maritime Museum end of the high street and has its own short stay car park between Trago Mills Store and the Chain Locker Pub if you are driving (see long term parking below) and want to drop your bags first.
Falmouth Visitors Yacht Haven is about 100 yards beyond Custom House Quay but if walking from the rail station towards town it is best if you walk accross Custom House Quay short term car park and nip through the alley tunnel through the Chain Locker Pub. The yacht haven is a small marina only yards from Falmouth main shopping street (Arwenack St), tucked away down the bottom of Quay Street.
Mascotte is a totally new vessel for Classic Sailing to promote, but she has been sailing with charter guests and as a private yacht for many years - mostly in Scotland but also in the Scillies and Norway.
Skippers from many of the other boats we have worked with have sailed in company with Mascotte and we have never personally heard a bad word about her voyages.
The many photos we have of Mascotte were taken by the co-founders of Classic Sailing Debbie and Adam when they have been out on Eve of St Mawes as skippers.We have raced against Mascotte and although she was 4 times the weight of our little pilot cutter Eve Mascotte was always sailed with perfect manners and courtesy and her guests always looked like they were having fun with former skipper Richard Clapman.
We are thrilled the former mate with Richard and Mascottes relief skipper Huw has taken over the the main skipper of this big pilot cutter and historic heirloom.
You won't have to take our word for much longer.
As soon as we have the first guest feedback we will update this page.
The largest surviving Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Mascotte is 60 ft on deck. Built in 1904 in Wales and restored in Gloucester Mascotte is a magnificent example of Welsh maritime history. She is now offering short sailing breaks around Cornwall from her new home port of Charlestown Harbour.
Brittany & Paimpol Shanty Festival 2023 PM310723
Sail to Paimpol Chant Du Marin 2023 - The sailors 'Glastonbury', this music festival is epic.
St Mawes, Cornwall
St Mawes, Cornwall
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