Sail along the northern coast of France, past the Channel Islands of Guernsey & Jersey, into the English Channel and on to Rotterdam.
In the Finistère department of Brittany in northwest France. Brest is located in a sheltered position near the western tip of the Breton peninsula, to the north of a large, nearly landlocked bay. The city is situated on the slopes of two hills separated by the river Penfeld. The hillsides are so steep that flights of steps ascend from the lower to the upper town, and the second or third floor of one house is often on a level with the ground floor of the next.
During World War II, the Germans maintained a large submarine base at Brest. In 1944, the city was totally destroyed during the Battle for Brest after the Allied invasion of Normandy, with barely more than three buildings left standing. After the war, large parts of the city were rebuilt with utilitarian granite and concrete buildings. The French naval base now houses the Brest Naval Training Center.
Channel Islands, United Kingdom
The Channel Islands are located in the Bay of St. Malo, between Brittany and Normandy. Politically they belong to the UK, but as Victor Hugo said, they are "pieces of France which fell into the sea and were gathered up by England." The islands are a tourist destination and an international financial haven.
Made up of five main islands (Aldernay, Guernsey, Herm, Jersey and Sark), as well as a few smaller islands, and many dangerous islets, rocks and submerged reefs, the Channel Islands and surrounding waters can be treacherous for mariners. Combined with a large tidal range and occasional fog, these reefs can create havoc for the unwary sailor. While the islands are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing southwesterlies, as well as fall and winter storms, the climate tends to be mild, without severe frosts. In the summer the islands are baked by the sun, but cooled by the winds.
A wide variety of seabirds use the steep rock cliffs and wind blown heaths for breeding grounds. Burhou island, adjacent to Alderney, serves as a reserve and home to a large breeding colony of Puffins.
English Channel, England
The English Channel, often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about 350 miles long and varies in width from 150 miles at its widest to 21 miles in the Strait of Dover.
There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the Isle of Wight off the English coast, and the Channel Islands, British Crown Dependencies off the coast of France. The Isles of Scilly off the far southwest coast of England are not generally counted as being in the Channel. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; several small islands close to the coastline, including Chausey and Mont Saint-Michel, are within French jurisdiction. The Cotentin Peninsula in France juts out into the Channel, and the Isle of Wight creates a small parallel channel known as the Solent in English waters. The Celtic Sea is to the west of the Channel.
For centuries, navigation between England and France was by ferry. Today the predominant crossing is the newly created "chunnel", a high speed underground rail line.
Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe. It was the world's busiest port until 2004 when it was surpassed by Shanghai. The city sits on the banks of the river Nieuwe Maas, at the confluence of the Rhine and Meuse rivers. The name Rotterdam refers to the dam in the Rotte river.