The Brittany Canals
At first glance the Brittany canals look like a good way of cutting the corner of the more challenging waters around Ushant.
There are two major problems with this canal route. The max draft is 1.2 metres for much of it and the width of many of the locks is narrow, apart from the huge sea locks.
The trip through the sea lock at St Malo up to Dinan, without taking down the mast, is a good experience, with a pleasant little commercial quay at the end of it and a very steep climb up to the lovely town. It is essential to carry the tide for this passage and from Dinan onwards to the sea there are some depth issues which can be a problem even for centreboard lifting boats.
In high summer this canal does, sometimes, almost dry!
The route is this:-
St Malo – Rance Maritime
Châtelier lock – Dinan.(1 lock) Air height 19mtrs Max Draft 1.6mtrs
The trip to Dinan with the mast up is possible for most boats with a draft of less than 1.6m on the tide with lots of forgiving mud!
Dinan - Rennes (47 locks) Air height 2.5 metres Max Draft 1.2 metres
Rennes - Redon (13 locks) Air height 3.2 metres Max Draft 1.2 metres
Redon – Sea (1 lock) Air height 27 metres Max Draft 1.3 metres
For the benefit of catamarans thinking of this route the width of the locks is 4.5 metres and you need to allow room for fenders and planks…
I have never met anyone who has been further than Dinan and all the information above is culled form various publications and I recommend you buy the relevant NAVICARTE which is No 12 Bretane – de St. Malo à, Arzal, de Lorient à Nantes and check out that the information in the Navicarte is in fact still correct! They are reprinted very infrequently and can contain some duff information.