The Roche Douvres were 7 miles to port, meaning we were half way between the French Emerald Coast and Guernsey, when Jersey Coastguard issued an “imminent” strong wind warning. It was supposed to be for the north of their area, and we were in the middle, so we might miss it and anyway it was for a south westerly – behind us. We had 5 hours to run, and it was a lovely day for the first 3. Then the mist and drizzle came in, and the wind got up. We were, however, soon in the Little Russel and in Guernsey’s lee, although we did catch some 35 knot gusts coming off the cliffs.  The arrival beer in St Peters Port tasted especially welcome!

Despite this, the wind this year has been relatively kind to us for Cross Channelling, although inevitably plans were changed to give ourselves relatively comfortable passages.

In May 7 boats rallied in Newtown Creek – a feeder rally for crossing the Channel. We had hoped to bbq on the beach, but a cold wind decided otherwise, so we had to split and meet up on different boats. Newtown was as picturesque as usual and we all found mooring buoys – very civilised!

What was not civilised was the 04.30hrs start for the 4 boats (Fairwind – Sue and Barrie Pearson, Moody Maid – Dick Cole,  Wild Heron – Frank Wilson and Niobe – Bill Greening)  heading across Channel! But after a motor sail to the Needles and a bumpy patch over Bridge, the wind allowed us to virtually lay Alderney, albeit with a little help from our engines. So the early start resulted in our arrival in Braye by 18.00 hrs and a gentle evening!

The next day was misty with some drizzle, so exploration was limited. However the Alderney Sailing Club where we all gathered for an early evening beer was as welcoming as always, and little changes at the excellent First and Last Restaurant, where the indomitable Rita still presides!

A glorious Bank Holiday Saturday gave us a picturesque motor (absolutely no wind!) down the Swinge and then south to St Peter Port, which had 2 large cruise ships anchored off. The town was therefore crowded for what turned out to be our first visit of the year but Niobe’s crew found good walking on the west coast.

The passage to Dielette was another motor sail, but I am pleased to report the mussels on the Quay are still as good and plentiful as ever! We knew that higher northerly winds were forecast for 3 days out, so our plan was to sail to Cherbourg for a final French meal before heading home ahead of the northerlies. But the following morning the forecasts (is the internet a help or not?) suggested that the northerlies may come a day earlier, so a comfortable crossing won and we made straight for Chichester. The northerlies did not come early!!

 In July another 04.30 hrs start saw Fairwind, Niobe, Harami (Time Applewhite) and Mouette (Keith Holder) tie up in Cherbourg by 19.00hrs after a motorsail in a rolly sea in the morning which tested stomachs, but calming in the afternoon. The following day at a more reasonable 06.00hrs we left for Carteret and enjoyed fine weather but only a short time purely sailing.

We had planned a rest day there, whilst a higher headwind than we would have liked blew through. In the end we stayed 4 days as the winds resolutely refused to abate enough for us to thrash against them south to Granville with no real alternative ports on the way. This is the first time many of us had really explored this area, with Barneville having a fine Saturday market, great coast walks and even a pleasure train to Port Bail! And, of course, French cuisine on tap!

Unfortunately Mouette had to head for home from Cateret, whilst the rest of us enjoyed the best sail of the trip, 30 miles to Granville. We left in mist and drizzle, and arrived in bright sunshine, with Fairwind and Harami diverting to admire Isles Chausey. It was an all too brief overnight stop, as the following day we had a brief window of easterlies to cross to St Cast, the real beginning of the Emerald Coast and the objective of this trip.

St Cast Le Guildo was new to Fairwind and Niobe. It is a modern marina connected to the pleasant sea side town by a new half mile promenade under the cliffs. Since Harami’s last visit in 2010 the facilities have been completed and various restaurants and shops built on the marina itself. Very convenient.

After 24 hours in St Cast came the highlight of the trip for me, motoring around Cape Frehal, through the Erquay Passage and down to Dahouet. The scenery is magnificent, with cliffs and beaches, off lying rocks and plenty of greenery. The entrance to Dahouet  looked quite interesting in the pilot book, but, as usual, proved simple in practice.

Niobe was the first boat in, and unusually for this trip we were not met and the visitors pontoon was almost full of local boats. Harami had rafted on us when Fairwaind arrived, was met and taken to another berth. This was as Kip Moore, Niobe’s “kitty” man, arrived back from the Capitanerie with the news that the port was closed for dredging and we should have seen notices up in St Caast (we had not looked!). However, with some persuasion, “monsieur” had agreed that we could stay for 1 night only! As it was already evening, we did not see much of Dahouet, but it looked an attractive place and well worth another try.

So the following morning we set off relatively early to sail the 10 miles across the bay to catch the tide into Binic. This coast has a tidal range in excess of 10 meters, with most harbours gated and only accessible a couple of hours on either side of high. Binic was lovely, with an old harbour nestling in the town and fully equipped with marina facilities. However, it was lucky Barrie checked with the Harbour Master by VHF on the gate closing time, as it was shutting 30 minutes earlier than suggested in Reeds! We had to motor the last mile to get there in time.

We enjoyed our 2 days in Binic. More coastal walks, good restaurants, a boulangerie just round the corner from our mooring and even a Carrefour supermarket 6 or 7 minutes’ walk away. It is another pleasant small holiday resort with, when the tide is out, stunning beaches.

From Binic it was St Peter Port, and for Niobe’s crew a day walking Herm in glorious sunshine again. Another motor sail again to Cherbourg for Harami and Niobe where the Café de Paris provided a superb last night dinner – undoubtedly the best meal of the trip and all for 29 Euros! The trip home provided 2 or 3 hours pure sailing, but an easy run a day ahead of high winds arriving. For once, they came at a relatively convenient time. Only Fairwind, who had left Guernsey for Alderney and then Studland, was affected, having to hole up in Poole.

Not a bad year!

Bill Greening


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Tall piles for the 10 metre tidal range at St cast


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Sunset at Dahouet



Binic dries a long way!