After a long struggle I came to the base of the lighthouse, a massive structure painted in black and white stripes, rising 200 feet above the sea, and topped by two levels of rotating lenses sending multiple beams into the inkiness of the storm. Those beams, turning silently overhead, angled strangely downward in a way that created the illusion of rotating cones, and passing through windblown waves of rain and ocean spray, remain in my memory as one of the world's fantastic sights. Eventually I pried myself away and continued toward the end of the island, along cliffside trails and across open terrain. Enormous waves slammed into the rocks below, shaking the earth and raising plumes that were seized and atomized by the wind and mixed with the rain. The resulting deluge pelted painfully against my face, limiting my vision and forcing me at times to turn and walk backward under the protection of my parka's tightly drawn hood. Twice when I tried to stand upright and face the storm, I was knocked down by the wind. The only way to proceed now was by crouching and, on uncertain ground near the edges, crawling. It was exhilarating work, but with care never unsafe, since the onshore winds shoved me not toward destruction but away.
I came finally to the westernmost tip of the island, where the shore took the form of gravelly shelves stepping down to the sea, partially protected by house-sized boulders that stood in shallow water and bore the brunt of the waves. I crept as close as I dared, wedged myself into the shelter of a rock, and spent an hour trying in vain to judge the scale of a gargantuan scene. The numbers don't matter anyway: the breakers were huge, and when they hit the boulders, they exploded twice as high. The wind and the water roared. The moon came out briefly and lit the boiling surf. When I grew cold from sitting, I found my way back to the hotel. The walking was easy downwind.
In the morning the seas remained rough, but the rain had stopped, the winds had dropped to a paltry 50 miles an hour, and the ferry was reported to be running on schedule. It was the end of the storm, the natural moment to leave. I had a breakfast of black coffee, paid my hotel bill, and arranged for the taxi to deliver my suitcase to the ferry landing. The last hours I spent walking again—as you might want to as well, to enjoy the calm. The ferry departs for Brest at 4:30 P.M. and arrives by 7:00, which allows you to get to Paris in time to spend the night, and the next day, perhaps feeling invigorated, to resume ordinary life.