THE LUGGERS :
Since 1876, close to 40 boats used as a drying site the sand bank "Sous la Tour" (meaning "Under the Tower", name of a local place close to the Saint Brieuc harbour : Le Legue). This small flotilla of two masted small boats used to be called "luggers", even without the typical rig.
There was two kinds of boats : the smaller ones, used for "fresh fish" trawling, have an upright transom. The bigger ones, with a counter stern, have higher freeboard, because they were also used for "sand fishing".
These luggers have the same rig than the famous "bisquines", but without the topsail on the foremast.
For easier use, they have a quite simpler rig : the yards are placed one on each side of the two masts, so they did'nt need the side change during tacks.
These boats were painted black or green, but all were wearing the white "mustache".
Barnabas & Grand Léjon
THE GRAND LEJON :
This lugger'story, built at the Clochet' shipyard at Plouguiel (North Britanny) on the original drawings of the "Jeanne d'Arc" (see above), began in 1987, among amateurs of wooden boats, of the maritime history of the Bay of St Brieuc, all "sea lovers".
This project would be a 4 years aventure, before lauching in may 1992, at the old fishing site of Cesson (the famous "Sous la Tour").
Close to 20 different boats were there, coming from Britanny and Cornwall, with 15 000 persons attending the 2 days event.
Winner of the contest "Boats of the French Coasts", in Brest 1992, the Grand Lejon helped to widen the reconaissance of Le Legue harbour and the Bay of St Brieuc. She is now an ambasador of the local communities, which used her image on many ways.
The name "Grand Lejon" is related to the lighthouse at the entrance of the Bay of St Brieuc.
THE "JEANNE d'ARC" :
The original drawings of one of these luggers, the Jeanne d'Arc ("Joan of Arc"), numbered "SB 658" ("SB" stands for the maritime district of "Saint Brieuc"), were used to built a replica, the Grand Lejon
The original, built in 1896 at the Le Marchand' shipyard at La Landriais (close to Saint Malo), mesured 13,40 m LOD, with 21,00 m LOS, and have a 2,10 m draught.
She was one of the bigger boats staying at Le Legue harbour. These were used for coastal fishing and sand digging.
THE ASSOCIATION :
At a time where "old rigs" were not a common sight, some amateurs recognized the importance of preserving the maritime culture, on its every aspects.
Some spend their time on old archives, other comb the old sailors "souvenirs" of the time of "fishing under sail", other start to restore anew "old hulls" still existing on our coasts.
The "Association for the Grand Lejon", born in 1989, work for the knowledge of the maritime culture of the Bay of St Brieuc, and a better use of Le Legue harbour.
With hard work and seriousness of the members, this "foolish" project came to a climax with the lugger' launching in 1992.
From 1992 on, the lugger' participation at numerous events, nautical or artistic, induce the people of this part of North Britanny, the "Côtes d'Armor", and the surrounding country, to re-discover their history, paralleling the rebirth of the harbour economy induced by local institutions, like the bordering towns and the Chamber of Commerce.
After a try at commercial sailing, now forgetten, sailing the lugger is the use of the members only, for day-sailing, week-ends or longer cruises, in the bay and on both sides of the Channel.
Sailing is the main purpose of the association, wich today numbered 120 members, but its activities also inclued : parts in movies and TV series, organizing each year several nautical events in the area of the Bay of St Brieuc, like "La Morue en Fête" at Binic, and transmitting nautical knowledge to its members (navigational courses, mechanical sessions, sculling, knotting, and so on ...).
Of course an important part is maintenance of the lugger, done every winter by the members themselves.
Since 1992, the lugger cruised from the Channel to South Britanny (from Isle of Wight to Le Croisic), participating in all the big Brest sailing fiestas (every fourth year), and attending the Looe Lugger Regatta each other year (Paul Greenhouse, "Looe Luggers' president", followed the Grand Lejon since the beginning).