(excerpt of the book by Marcel Burel, "Roscanvel, in the Crozon
Peninsula", and published with his agreeable authorization).
Thanks to the author.
The wrecks in Roscanvel :
an immemorial time, the Roscanvélistes pulled resources of the sea
that an ungrateful earth too often refused to them. Interested spectators,
they rarely left their eyes from the sea in which they could hope
for some unexpected godsend. One reads in the life of Saint-Guénolé
that roscanvélistes brigands raged in the VIème century on the coasts,
ambushed to the entry of leGoulet, robbing on earth and sea".
This position privileged in border of a frequented way of sea provided
them good crops ; it is even likely that "These three good
sailors" didn't hesitate to ransom the ships merchants. One
knows how, alerted by the public rumor, the four sons of Catmaglus,
crossed the roadstead in the black intention to sack the attics
of the abbey of Landévennec; but there, the generosity of Saint-Guénolé
opened their eyes so they were converted. This edifying reversal
didn't yet prevent this tradition of robbery, kept by new generations
and that enrolls in the toponym of Kerlaër (the village of the thieves),
to maintain themselves for a long time, sign obvious of the place
of the wrecks in the local economic system.
The registers of The admiralty of Quimper indicates that between
1700 and 1800, about forty wrecks nearly took place on the coasts
of the Crozon Peninsula. Three ships : the "Saint-Jacques"
of Dieppe (June 20, 1722), the "Dauphin" of Saint-Yves
(June 6, 1736) and the "Dame Digne Jeanne" of Midelbourg
(June 10, 1770) were stranded on the beaches roscanvélistes. This
frequency is first bound to the importance taken by Camaret of which
the port and the roadstead are a necessary stop for the sailboats
that wait for wind or the favorable tide to enter into le Goulet
or to clear the dangerous passages of the Raz de Sein and the Fromveur.
In the bay of Camaret, stopover of ships come from all over the
world, pass in transit of the various cargos as much that rich,
that hardly benefit to the residents, even though Torrec de Bassemaison
who has the monopoly of the import of the rogue and that arms to
the coastal navigation, pull important incomes of his stores of
avitaillement of the Notic. This temporary wealth, multiplied by
the growth of the tonnage of the ships and that encourages a handful
only of privileged, can only attract nearly the lust of the inhabitants
of the Peninsula. So, after years of waiting, the wreck is lived
like a providential redistribution, a grant of the Sky that finally
offers lucky residents a part of abundance daily seen.
During the XVIIIth century, the conditions of navigation stay precarious
in spite of the biggest precision of the cards and the best formation
of the pilots; the coasts of the Peninsula is sowed of so many reefs
and dangerous passages that the navigation is there almost always
perilous. If the port of Camaret is appreciated for the safety of
its anchorage, it happens that the ships that could not get in time
at the shelter are drossés at the coast : it is the fate of the
"BelleUrsula" of 1'Ile dYeu (January 27, 1741) on the
beach of Trez-Rouz or the "Marie-Françoise" of Quiberon
(October 6, 1789) under the cliffs of Quélern. The ships that leave
the anchorage of Camaret take, for embouquer le Goulet, the
marks of the Liéval rock and Capuchins, but there is big danger,
when the approach is approximate, to clear bass Goudron and the
tray of "les fillettes", where the high funds increase
the speed of the current. If the wind misses or blows in storm,
the ships, unable to operate, make coast between the Capuchins and
the tip of Cornwall. Such is the fate of the "Saint-Jacques",
the "Dolphin" and the "Lady Worthy Jeanne".
A wreck, occurred on the coasts, is really to be considered like
a major event that modifies the course of the local life deeply.
When it occurs the day, the residents who are held ready followed
of the top of the cliffs the despaired efforts of the ship and the
crew ; sometimes the wreckage is discovered the morning by thevery
numerous shore runners, especially in winter. At the instant, the
news of the breakage hawks itself from the inshore villages until
the borough and to the hamlets of the Roadstead, Sometimes even
beyond the parochial limits. A wreck, it is indeed the hope of an
immediate gain, sometimes of a momentary improvement but substantial
of the standard of living. It is why, leaving instantly their occupations
of the moment, all valid men hurry toward the place of the wreck
and immediately begin a real depredation of the ship, so much the
hours are counted before the intervention of the Admiralty representatives,
come to impose a stern regulation that disrupts the ancestral habits.
It is true that the law ruins the hopes of a whole population to
whom are imposed a collaboration, of which everybody hopes to pull
- Copyright 1995, extracted from the book "Roscanvel, in the
Crozon Peninsula" by Marcel Burel