Janet Holder describes her first overseas adventure with Dell Quay Cruisers

It was my first crossing of the channel by sail. Although Keith and I have spent many a happy hour wandering up and down the Solent, it was with a little trepidation that I set off to France, out of sight of land, passport on board.

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We started cautiously with boats Moody Maid and Zephyr spending a first night in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, due to concerns about the strength of wind on the French coast, but at first light (4.30 am!) on Friday 18th May we were on our way - past Hurst Castle, past the Needles and then due South towards Cherbourg. Soon we were watching the sun rise over the Isle of Wight.

The weather was kind to us, the hours passed more quickly than I had expected with the diversion of the shipping lanes to cross, and eventually we spotted the faint outline of the French coast. We reached Cherbourg at 18.00 more than ready to tie up to a berth in the marina. We were joined about an hour later by Niobe and Opus IV who had made their journey direct from Dell Quay.

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The following day was spent resting and looking around Cherbourg. On Sunday we were ready at 9.00 to set off again to make our way along the eastern side of the Cherbourg peninsula.   The tides were strong along the French coast and we had the strongest winds of the trip here so that some of us found it prudent to take in a reef. Our destination was St Vaast which can only be accessed when the entry gate is open, within 2 or 3 hours of high water.

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The next day we left St Vaast as soon as the gate was open and headed south towards Carentan. This typically French town is approached across a wide shallow bay peppered with lobster pots then up a long canal and through a lock. It was well worth the effort and the day ended with a splendid meal in the Marina restaurant.

Tuesday began our journey Northwards again. We returned to St Vaast, spending two nights there and enjoying another excellent meal in the Marina restaurant.

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On Thursday 24th May we were ready to depart at first light again for the long journey home. The sea was again smooth but what wind there was was ‘on the nose’ and the visibility was quite poor so that we soon lost sight of the other boats. The hours passed and eventually we arrived back at Chichester Marina.

So, I had completed my first trip abroad in a 28ft sailing boat. Would I do it again? – definitely!