Cruiser Reports

Cross Channelling 2015

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!


DQSC Cruiser Rally reaches Roscoff

What a welcome to the Pink Granite Coast!

(Photo's below)

The day had begun in Jersey’s St Helier Marina with an 07.30 hours start to catch the tide for the 40 mile trip to Lezardrieu. After a day off walking the coast to Gory, we were well rested following the 2 days trip out via Cherbourg. Eight hours later we had passed the Isle de Brehat, motored up the beautiful Trieux River and were amazed to find that all three boats could moor on fingers alongside one another at the north end of the marina. We then realised that it was Bastille Day (14th July) but fortunately the local restaurant that we have favoured in the past could still fit all eight of us in.

Now the crews of Fairwind (Sue and Barrie Pearson) and Niobe (Bill Greening with Kip Moore and John Wharf) were sitting in Cantata’s (Esmond Pope, Harry Loewe and Roy Dyton) cockpit drinking a laced coffee and enjoying the late night fireworks being set off on the gravel wharf just down river from us. And what an excellent display it was!

We had made the relatively new marina at Bloscon (Roscoff) the objective of our trip as none of us had been there before. The next day we motored along the Pink Granite coast, inside the Sept Isles and across the Baie de Morlaix to find the marina tucked under the small Bloscon commercial port which is just big enough for 1 ferry to either Plymouth or Ireland and a few fishing boats. The marina houses some 600 boats and has all the usual facilities including a surprisingly useful general store. It is about 1 kilometre from Roscoff Old Port, but during the peak holiday period (which we were in) a free shuttle bus runs every 15 minutes. The French are really trying!!

Roscoff itself has an interesting drying port and plenty of restaurants and shops for tourists. We spent a pleasant day exploring and on our second day caught the passenger ferry to the Isle de Batz which is 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and about 1 mile offshore. I have sailed through that channel a couple of times with a friend and can report very strong tides and masses of rocks. It was much more relaxing to let the locals take the strain! Niobe’s crew hired bicycles to explore the Island – very “Last of the Summer Wine” as my wife insisted. There is very little motorised traffic with a pleasant mixture of small cliffs and sandy beaches. It also boasts a surprisingly good small supermarket – much better than Roscoff where the main supermarket has closed.

We enjoyed a leisurely sail back across the Baie of Morlaix to Trebeurden for a walk and a night in its marina before heading to Ploumanac’h, surely the heart of the Pink Granite coast. Its lovely entrance is through an area of impressive rocks until crossing the sill leads into an enclosed harbour where you moor on trots of dumbell buoys. Fortunately the harbour master was there to assist so we did not have to figure them out for ourselves!

Although Lezardrieu, Trebeurden and Ploumanac’h are old favourites, none of us had been to Port Blanc before, so that was our next night’s stopover. It was only 7 miles along the coast. We picked up 3 of the 5 visitors’ moorings in mid-morning and headed ashore to explore. Imagine beaches looking offshore into a multitude of rocks and plenty of moored boats, backed by the odd hotel and other facilities. Again, it is very attractive. However the moorings are open to the north, and as a w.n.w. wind increased to all of 10 knots we experienced moderate rolling during the night. We all complained of lack of sleep.

The next day it was time to start heading for home. As strengthening north easterlies were forecast for the end of the week, we only lingered for 1 night in St Peter Port (which has upgraded its outside pontoons to walk ashore), stopped for a night in Cherbourg as we would then have a daytime Channel crossing and arrived at the Bar Beacon after a 12.5 hour motor sail and before the north easterlies had strengthened. We prefer to do our cruising in comfort!

The weather had been excellent, we had some pure sailing, although as always not enough, and of course the company had made it. It is some years since we have been to the Pink Granite coast, and I, for one, hope it will not be so long before we return.

Bill Greening



Port Blanc

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Bastille Day Fireworks

Bastille Day Fireworks

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The Tale of two Dickies, or Jeckles at Hythe

What a difference the weather makes to a rally. The forecast for the 1st July had looked pretty gloomy for most of the previous week but on Tuesday 1st July it was bright and breezy. There were six boats registered for the rally but we were joined by Esmond Pope and his team in Cantata for the first leg to Bembridge. Esmond had set up third attempt at a helicopter rescue exercise. It was not to be, Esmond felt his three-man crew was too light, so we still look forward to an uplifting exercise.

Seven boats, including Wild Heron from Haslar, were soon safely berthed in friendly Bembridge. It had been a lumpy passage up the twisty channel into Brading Haven and it must have been a testing time for our single handers Peter Elford and Martin Watson.

Facilities in Bembridge are improving all the time and we were able to group together on either side of the long pontoon and enjoy Bill's hospitality on board "Niobi". It was a merry gang that climbed the hill to St Helen's and good pub meal in the "Vine". 

One of the good things about Bembridge is that you can't leave until the tide rises enough for you to get over the bar. That meant that we could have a lie-in. Esmond left first, brave fellow! The main fleet followed and turned north towards Southampton Water. The promised easterly 4 never arrived but it was a good sail up past Deans Elbow ( fl r ) and to the well marked channel up to the Hythe Marina lock.

We were in, in two batches and soon sent off, by the friendly and the helpful lady lock-keeper, to berths in this surprisingly attractive setting. Boat moorings are grouped together in clusters that are themselves overlooked by flats, houses and gardens. The effect is vaguely reminiscent of some Dutch harbours. Facilities ashore are  good too. Drinks on board "Parity" where followed by a stroll to an anticipated meal ashore but we were disappointed by the on-site Italian restaurant; fortunately the surly service there encouraged us to find an excellent Thai restaurant in Hythe village. Great food good company. 

A bright Thursday morning and reasonable water over the cill into the lock encouraged us to make an earlier than planning start down Southampton Water. 

Westerly winds were forecast so Dick prepared "Parity" for her cruising shute and a brisk down wind sail to the Bar. Much to the disappointment of the remainder of the fleet it proved to be a reach and we all enjoyed one of the best sails of the year. 

Our pleasure on "Parity" was only spoiled by being rapidly overhauled by "Harami" *. We were later compensated a little by managing to edge past "Niobi". All in all it was a great day's sail rounding off a really enjoyable rally to an old favourite and a visit to a new venue.

Dick Cole July 2014

*(photo) by Tim Applewhite
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(see photos below)

It was a poignant moment when four cruisers from Dell Quay visited the Mulberry Anchorage at Arromanches in May. We may have been three weeks ahead of the 70th anniversary of D Day, but that did not prevent us contrasting the beauty of this spot on a warm spring afternoon with the horrors of the past of which the remains of the Mulberry units are a great reminder.

Sandpiper (Peter Elford, Dick Cole and Sue), Harami (Tim Applewhite and Spence), Fairwind (Sue and Barrie Pearson) and Niobe (Bill Greening and Kip Moore) had made an easy passage to St Vaast 2 days before and then spent a day enjoying everything that port could offer. St Vaast had few visiting yachts in this second week in May which made it more special than usual. We were now on our way to Ouistreham and conditions were just right to fulfil an ambition to anchor in the limited shelter of Arromanches and wait out some foul tide for a few hours.

Having locked into the canal at Ouistreham in the late evening, we spent the night in its pretty marina and then joined the morning convoy (well, it was us and one other boat!) to Caen. This involves waiting at the Pegasus Bridge for “Monsieur” to open up and let us through, before doing the same at the other two bridges before Caen. Here we spent two nights right in the middle of the city. Kip and I visited the Memorial Museum on the outskirts of town and found it to be one of the best on the Second World War we had seen.

Going north again we were the convoy! We were joined by a few other boats in the lock before enjoying they best pure sail of the trip for the 5 miles east to Dives-sur-Mer and its modern but attractive Port Guillaume Marina. Dives claims that William the Conqueror left from there in 1066 and there is a large tablet in the church listing the nobles who sailed with him. The centre of the town is very attractive as are the neighbouring holiday towns of Houlgate and the more modern Cabourg.

The weather was starting to break up, but we were blessed with southerlies for the next few days. Sandpiper and Harami had to make for home from Dives having run out of time and made an early morning start. Fairwind and Niobe planned to make a final stop in Deauville/Trouville, but on hearing that the yacht club there was full with race boats, decided on another day in Dives. In fact it was 2 days awaiting a sensible forecast, but in the event all 4 boats made fast passages home in southerly winds of force 4 to 5.

Arromanches had been a first for all of us, and only 2 of us had been to Caen by water before. The sun shone for the first 2 thirds of our time away, the food was good and the company excellent. As Peter said, “what more does a man (or woman) need!”

Bill Greening


Anchored at Aromanches

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Mulberry Remains

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The "Convoy"

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Caen's small Marina

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Locking Out at Ouistreham

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