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A Most Unusual ‘Yacht’ Charter

 With all sails flying, Agnes really moves. The mid-1800s cutters that Agnes is modeled after were purpose-built to deliver pilots to and from commercial ships, and were among the fastest sailing craft of their era.

© 2016 Classic Sailing

Latitude 38 has been reporting on yacht chartering opportunities all over the world for as long as we can remember. But in the World of Chartering section of our September 1 issue regular reader Barbara McKenna reports on a charter niche we’d never heard of before. Last month she booked a berth for a week aboard the 45-ft cutter Agnes in order to experience the world-famous Brest Sail Fest as a participant rather than as a mere spectator. Measuring 45 feet on deck, but carrying a 20-foot bowsprit, Agnes is one of eight replicas of an 1841 gaff-rigged pilot cutter built by her captain, Luke Powell.

“The day after arriving,” wrote Barbara, “I had a great time soaking in the sights and sounds of thousands of sailing vessels. I took onboard tours aboard the 183-ft Dutch Europa, a three-masted bark, and the 376-ft Russian four-masted bark Kruzenshtern, manned by young Russian cadets. Europa still sails around the world, and currently has a 52-day charter scheduled to Antarctica. Likewise, the Kruzenshtern has berths available for cruises around the Atlantic ….

Needless to say, getting to know the neighbors was part of the fun for Barbara and her shipmates. Seen here are cutter replicas similar to Agnes. 

© 2016 Barbara McKenna

“Looking around, we saw at least four other pilot cutters that our captain had built, sort of a gathering of the family. It was an ever-changing pageant to see the various maneuvers made while packing so many boats into such a tight harbor.”

Perhaps the most exciting element of the week’s itinerary was sailing with the fleet through the rock pinnacles called the Tas de Pois (meaning Pile of Peas). “As we got closer to the Tas de Pois, the breeze picked up and the boats started to pack together. There were literally 1,500+ boats all converging at different speeds and different times to pass between the two large rocks, which are only about 170 feet apart.”

No, this is not a photoshopped image. The scene really looks like this when 2,000 boats try to sail through the famous ‘Pile of Peas’ (although this shot is from a previous year.)

© 2016 Brittany Tourism

If you’ve done a memorable charter lately that you’d like to share with readers, we’d love to hear about it. Ideally, charter reports should be 750-1,500 words. And don’t forget to send along a small selection of your favorite photos (in medium to high resolution). Please email your materials here. Thanks.

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