Thursday, June 29, 2006

St Peter Port here we come

We’re in Cherbourg overnight getting ready to grapple with the infamous Race of Alderney which has some of the most powerful tidal streams in Europe. At least the weather is extremely benign – warm sunshine and continuing light easterly winds. Also, we have WiFi access!!!

The trouble with moving on every day is that I spend half my spare time in each port doing the navigation for the next day, which is very wearing, especially if I’m feeling tired or delicate. Even with modern electronics you need back-up and lots of preparation, especially given that you never quite know what could go wrong.

St Vaast was lovely and absolutely full of British boats, as indeed is Cherbourg. We’re really quite close to the UK here and it’s very strange to hear Solent coastguard or Portland coastguard on the VHF from 60 or 70 miles away.

Tuesday 27 June

Baie de la Seine

I’m typing this as we start our passage across the Baie de la Seine from Honfleur to St Vaast la Hougue. Actually we set off from Honfleur at 0830 and it’s now 1200, but because we are heading into tide we’re making slow progress. I spent most of last night worrying about the tides in the Seine and whether we would just stand still for four hours, but this morning I finally found a helpful little diagram of tidal flows which showed that although the tide does push against you at up to 4 knots, it’s only at that speed for half an hour or less. Which proved to be the case. Now we are out in the Baie proper there is absolutely no wind, a slightly uncomfortable swell, and a sort of misty murk with sunshine which means you can’t see how far you can see.

It was really great to get internet access yesterday, check our emails and upload the blog. With all four of us fighting over two PCs and struggling with French keyboards I didn’t manage to respond properly to all those of you who emailed to wish us bon voyage – if you did thank you very much, and we really appreciate it. Especial thanks to our neighbour Shawn who expressed concern at our disappearance from the aether – it was just unlucky that Calais appeared to have no internet access anywhere, and we spent four days there.

The internet café in Honfleur was wonderful – a tiny little thatched building with enormous house-leeks growing in the roof! It really was a café, not a bar, very relaxed and informal and a good chance to catch up on the Switzerland-Ukraine game too (no score by the time we left I’m afraid).

I’m obviously not much of a world traveller because I had no idea how different French keyboards are. The Q is where the A should be, the W is on the bottom row and the M in the middle row, and you have to hit shift to do a full stop (why??). Even more bizarre the @ is 4+Alt Gr – not easy to do in a hurry.

Last night we had our first get-together with other Brits on a neighbouring boat – I suspect this could be the first of many. Theirs was a 47ft Janneau and they told us some entertaining horror stories both about the boat and their experiences. I think I’d rather have a Westerly.

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