Photographer's Note

Chausey is a small archipelago in the Mont Saint Michel Bay, in Normandy, about ten milles from the coast. In this area you find almost the highest tides of the world (second to the Bay of Fundy in Canada) with up to 14 meters (a four storey building!) of differences in water levels between high and low tide. Landscape keeps changing every minute, rocks uncover, beaches appear, rivers dry out, only for a few hours. At high tide, only the main island and a few dozen other rocks remain above water. At low tide, you can walk on foot among sands and rocks on about 40 square kilometers, sometime losing sight of the sea completely. A small paradise for nature lovers and shellfish pickers, and a wonderful playground for sailors.

Rocks, currents and ever changing water depths make sailing in Chausey challenging, but rewarding when you make your way around rocks and find yourself in a deserted and beautiful lagoon. Small boats are at ease here. The traditional boats here are small, light, with a very flat hull that allows sailing in very shallow waters. They are powered only by sails and, when wind fails, oars. These boats were used for fishing, and today only for recreational purposes. Some new ones have been build on ancient plans, and today about a dozen of them are still cruising around. In the spring, as soon as the good season begins, you start to see their very colourful sails beneath every rock. They are often named after one of the archipelago's rock. They also enjoy competing against each other in friendly and funny regattas.

This picture was taken during such a regatta last August, with no sun and almost no wind. Anemone, La Petite Mauvaise et Fortune are trying to gather as much wind as possible by opening their sails. The crew make the boat heel, to reduce the friction of the hull in the water. In this poor light, only the sails and their reflection gives a touch of color.

More on Chausey Islands here (in French only, sorry).

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Additional Photos by Sophie Lo (SophieL) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1087 W: 215 N: 1255] (6042)
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