The French Adventure (Alderney to Southampton)

Home James and don't spare the horses.

So, time for home. The trip from Alderney to Southampton is about 85 miles, 60 odd to the Needles and then 25 to Shamrock Quay. We decided to leave at about 2100 and catch the tide and a F4-5 westerly home.

I took the first watch to get through the shipping lanes. It was an incredible sail. Clear skies, fast sailing and plenty of traffic to keep things exciting.

Dodging in and out of the way of big ships at 7-8 knots past the time quickly

I handed over watch to Ella after a few hours, then Jack, then Selma and so by the time I was back on watch we were within a few miles of the needles. A great way to travel.


We're a little short on sea berths so one person sleeps on the floor ... which is very comfy. Except when you get trodden on



Sunrise as we approach the Isle of Wight





Rounding the needles and up the Solent




Snugged up in her final port for the holiday ... Shamrock Quay







The French Adventure (Cherbourg to Alderney)

It's the 15th August, how time has flown by. We decided to try and grab a day in Alderney before heading back to Blighty. With that in mind we needed to make the exciting sail to the channel islands and past the infamous Alderney race. The timing of this passage is quite important but not massively complicated. You need to leave about 2-3 hours before high water Dover to arrive at the Cap De La Hague about high water and then carry the tide down through the race or alternatively nip into Braye on Alderney. We were doing the latter. By doing this you carry a favourable eddy from Cherbourg up until the cape and then continue with either slack or favourable currents there on.

We left with Javelin but they soon overtook us as they headed home to their cottage on the island. We followed on with dinner booked at their place for the evening.


Approaching the Cape


Cap De La Hague -  a pretty weather beaten headland



As we sailed round the cape things perked up a bit




We were soon tied up to a mooring in Braye Harbour



The good ship in a rather rolly polly mooring




A letter box




Alderney was our favourite




The dinghy dock




How lovely is that?




The living room of the Flynn's cottage on Alderney ... it was really lovely




New friends who treated us like royalty. We had a slap up BBQ and a great time




Dominique and Jeremy share some St Vaast oysters they had bought ... they were excellent



The little statue on the roof is what Dominique and the family make in the pottery in France .... pretty amazing




It's not the caribbean but Alderney is a really charming place




Charlies Angels ... eat your heart out

The French Adventure (St Vaast to Cherbourg)

The following day we had the exciting trip around Pointe de Barfleur where things can get a bit perky. Pilot books recommend anywhere between 2 and 5 miles off depending on conditions and so we opted for 2.5. There was a lovely F5 Westerly blowing and the Good Ship was ready for some fun.



We absolutely hammered along the east side of the Cherbourg peninsula doing 7-8 knts SOG



At this point we were drawn a little into the race. You can just see the line of clearer water ahead



It was great sailing










Another snap showing the clear demarcation of the rough and smooth water



We topped out at well over 10 kts which for us is really rather fast



The Normandie Express - they are just sooooo fast




Entering the inner harbour




Cherbourg marina is easy to find and easy to berth. Facilities are great.




Brimble one evening




Cherbourg is the city of umbrellas



The Museum in Cherbourg is one of our favourites. The Titanic exhibition is excellent if unsurprisingly a tad depressing




Napolean was very keen on Cherbourg, hence, this stautte of him pointing to the port.




A seagull performing the famous Cherbourgian one-legged seagull dance routine ... with
the Good Ship in the background.




Shark Grafitti
On our arrival in Cherbourg we were welcomed by Felix and Rex who had arrived the day before. They were on their very famous and very fast yacht Javelin. Fast because they had made it to Cherbourg in one go from Ouistreham ... and famous because Javelin is the yacht that got snagged up with a large tanker in the Solent during Cowes week a few years ago. Press HERE here for a reminder.

Anyway, the good ship J is under new ownership and in tip top condition ... but she still has a pink spinnaker.


The good ship Javelin, whizzing past Brimble











The French Adventure (Ouistreham to St Vaast)

Onwards and upwards ... it's time to head north as we sail past the Normandy/D-Day Beeches towards St Vaast just to the east of Cherbourg. A longish sail but we couldn't enter St Vaast until 2130 due to tidal constraints so no rush.



We set off through the first lock opening at 0900 after a quick run around
 the town which we hadn't really had time to explore the night before. It 
was a nice little seaside town and warrants a trip back like so many of the other places 
we have visited over the past few days.

The sail started well with spinnaker up and a fair breeze but increasingly we were headed.
The wind gradually strengthened until as we arrived at St Vaast we had a F5 from the West.
It was proper sailing.




Brimble making good speed under spinnaker. This photo was taken by our new friends Jeremy, Dominique, Felix and Rex who we met in the lock at Ouistreham as we left. We didn't expect to see them again but as luck would have it we ended up with dinner together in Cherbourg and then dinner at their cottage in Alderney. More later.






The weather slowly became more stormy as the day went on


We anchored outside St Vaast to wait for the tide. It was a bit nippy, a bit dark and very bouncy






At half past nine we lead the way into the harbour enjoying the very last knockings of daylight. It was a great day.

The marina and town were really nice. Apart from the almost infamous lack of toilets
we really liked.



Always easy to locate the good ship in a crowd




St Vaast is famous for its oysters which are considered the best in the world




No Carrefour at St Vaast ... this is where you buy your groceries



Next stop Cherbourg ...












The French Adventure (Le Havre to Ouistreham)

The trip from Le Havre to Ouistreham gave us a good chance to recharge the engine batteries because with no wind we had to motor all the way. But, the sun was up and it gave the kids a chance to catch up on sleep after 3 days of ... well sleeping. Ella, pointed out that sleeping often causes fatigue a concept that I'm still trying to process.







The trip down to Ouistreham was uneventful. The entry into the harbour is pleasant and easy but there is a lock to get through to gain entrance to the canal that carries the marina and that runs up to the city of Caen. We had a little bit of a race to get there for the last opening of the day but made it and joined many other boats on the same mission. The lock experience was fun but having a large fender was handy as you will see.


Entering into the harbour. The lock entrance is straight ahead.




Milling around with other boats waiting for the lock to open




Inside the lock there was loads of room but the walls were coated with this hairy, sharp, shellfish thing

No worries though, we deployed Uber Fender ... the biggest, toughest, fender in the world






With Uber in place all was well. You use ropes around thick wires on the wall to
 move up and down. It works well.




Having left at 1100 we arrived  at 1615. We had a lovely welcome to the marina which
was one of the nicest we visited. Welcoming staff and a really clean and fresh feel to it. In a little bar
 opposite the marina, we enjoyed a beer, a quick game of Bananagrams and watched the
 local Gendarme do spot checks on yachts. We waited until they had gone before we
returned to the good ship because I suddenly realised my flares were out of date.


The highly competitive game 'Bananagrams' in full play. I found it mentally draining and quite exhausting 




All warm and snug


Next stop St Vaast ...