Tuesday, 31 May 2016

First Part Over

After enjoying being in northern France which was a first for me we decided to move along to Dieppe. It was a 50 mile downwind sail which was very relaxed. Dieppe has a notoriously lumpy entrance which    proved to be the case with the northerly breeze. A lovely busy harbour where we enjoyed some good walks ashore. Being conscious of time and flight deadlines we had to decide whether to go down into the"baie de Seine" to visit the Normandy beaches or make the most of the favourable winds to get further west. We decided to head for Cherbourg leaving a very lumpy entrance late evening to ensure arriving at Cape Barfleur  90 miles away with a fair tide. The tide is awesome and as we were on springs was predicted to be 5 knots. We did not want to arrive early with a fresh NE wind over 5 knots of foul tide. We did at one point ease up on speed and duly arrived as the tide went favourable, at one point we showed 10 knots over the ground.

SOG Plus 10

Cherbourg was a massive harbour with an equally massive marina. The Marina has 250 visitor berths, reasonably priced with excellent facilities. 

Out on the end

We found Cherbourg very attractive with interesting visits to castles and museums. The history of the German occupation is well covered. We also went on one of France's first nuclear subs. A massive piece of machinery.
Roule mountain castle with a great view

A leviathan of the sea

After 3 nights we made the short 24 mile trip to Alderney the most northern of the Channel Islands. Moorings are available in the harbour and there's a great water taxi to save you having to blow up the dingy.
There was a bit of a low key music festival on so we got on the only train on the islands for the shortest slowest train journey ever. About 2 miles across the island to the old quarry which is the reason for the past need for a train. We were though entertained by a jazzy/ folky band and given 3 tumblers of prosecco. Off to the pub for a few beers and tea.

A very old diesel engine.

Next morning was a bouncy but bright warm day which we used to explore the incredible defences built firstly in the Victorian period and latterly by the Germans. Apparently Hitler was pleased with himself at capturing a little piece of the U.K. and was determined not to let it go! Churchill occasionally prodded defences from a safe distance to ensure Adolf used his resources for the pointless task of defending Alderney meaning he did not use them in Normandy!
Intending to leave by the west side of the island and the infamous Swinge we left at 4pm. The Swinge was fast but flat unlike what we had seen in the morning where it was full of breaking over falls.
Down through the Little Russell with the tide meant a fast passage to St PeterPort on Guernsey. A large well organised harbour where we were met by a guy in a dory and shown to a holding pontoon to await the tide to enter the cill locked marina. Led in to a good berth at 11pm where I will be for 4 nights. Colin flew home this morning and I thank him for being great company and great crew. Brian and Eddie arrive on Wednesday for the trip south to Spain, let's hope it's summer weather all the way!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

On our way

With a fair forecast Eddie, Colin and I left Eyemouth at 5.30 on Sunday evening. A fair tide took us through the Farne Islands under engine and full main with a light west wind.
                                      Eddie in the Holy Island Sunset

An easy run down with little traffic found us off our planned stop at Whitby by 10 am. We were a bit early for the opening bridge so as the weather was fine we decided to push on to Lowestoft. A fair breeze took us on across the busy area off the Humber and past wind farms off the Wash to the mucky waters off Norfolk. With our pre made meals from Susan seriously scoffed we made into 
Lowestoft 40 hours from Eyemouth. Royal Norfolk marina was great for showers and a chance to stretch our legs. Steak night in Wotherspoons and a few beers was grand.
We planned to leave for the tide about 6 pm so firstly visited the restored Lowestoft trawler the "Mincarlo". We were shown round by an ex fisherman and really enjoyed it. Eddie and Colin very long suffering of my plunge into a sea of nostalgia! The elderly engineer showed us the AK diesels 60 year old 5 cylinder 500 horse power engine which looks as good as new. He must have enjoyed our interest as he asked if we wanted to see it running. It sounded like an orchestra, ticking over at 200rpm and full out at 320!

             Sweet music

More walks another museum and we had done Lowestoft we were off again. Thinking this would be the trickiest part of the trip with the shifting sands of the Thames estuary it was fine. A fair bit of shipping and a few course alterations round banks and wind farms saw us making good speed with 2 knots of tide past Ramsgate. We were washed out of the North Sea and into the English Channel to Dover.
There were no blue skies over the white cliffs but it was a welcome sight after 15hrs on the move.

Dover harbour is very busy with ferries but is well managed with permission required to move anywhere, all done in a very pleasant manner. A nice marina with pleasant staff provided good facilities at a reasonable price. Eddie left us on the train home and Colin and I explored Dover. We had about as bad an Indian meal as I've had at night. Next day bright and breezy! To go or not to go the same question. Forecast blustery SW 2.5 knots of tide and the busy Dover straight to cross, having seen Dover which is much less pretty than anticipated leaving was worth the effort. We left at 2pm to maximise tidal advantage in lovely sunshine and had a great sail of to Cap Griz Nez. A lot of very big and fast ships but we were lucky to get gaps between them. We got into Boulogne at the back of 7 and cooked 4 of the biggest pork chops I've seen. A shore day planned for Saturday and then see what the weather has planned for us.