Monthly Archives: July 2015

Log Entry 31st July 2015

The strong winds came on the 24th, and it felt like we were at sea – cooking tea was a challenge the crew passed on.  Although it was not the best nights sleep we woke up the following morning to the tap on the hull from the Harbour Master collecting his dues, his opening remarks were ‘your brave to have slept on board’ .  Things got better as he continued with ‘there is no charge for last night as conditions were horrendous’ – a sentiment Ramsgate port authorities should reflect upon. The wind continued to blow for the next few days, albeit from a better direction where the harbour offered more protection, still a dinghy trip ashore was not viable. The water taxi was doing a roaring trade – alas not from us.   The wind brought with it the benefit of good power output from the wind generator – and the domestic batteries remained well charged without the engine.

The weather began to settle and boats started to leave – though it was clear the sea state was still angry and we felt privileged not to be on a tight timetable.  Dinghy trips ashore were now viable – and gave the opportunity to stock up with fresh food.  It was interesting to note the locals timetable their shopping around the arrival of the ship that brings fresh provisions – which arrived the day before yesterday.   The crew was happy to see the high street with its offerings – and modest purchases were made.

The Alderney Yacht club has an open door policy which allows for use of the internet, and the bar is open every day between 18.00 and 20.00.  In the club they also have copies of practical boat owner magazines, in which there was an article about old pilot books.  It was encouraging to note others acknowledge how ‘sailing’ has
changed and there is now the expectation to achieve an average speed of 6 knots which allows passages between ports to be made in a single tide and mostly in daylight.  Whilst this strategy affords a very ‘comfortable / easy life’ it also brings with it raised expectations and many anchorages in the new pilot books are dismissed as being ‘uncomfortable’.  The 6 knot strategy is not an option for Cariad-Y-Mor as she would struggle to make 4 – 5 knots under engine – she will of course rise to the occasion with a stronger wind, and when the wind is stronger  she offers a more comfortable sail than the modern yacht.   The point of interest being that old pilot books often have anchorages that maybe of interest to those taking a more traditional route.

The weather is now being watched for a fair wind to take us to Portland,  its time to think about making our way back.

Log Entry 24th July 2015

Yesterday. we moved pontoons to allow for an easy departure as the marina was packed at St Peters Port – the Harbour Master was particularly helpful as was the case last year. On our new pontoon we met a Dutch couple who spoke perfect English and put us to shame of only speaking one language. If that was not enough they were polite enough to tell us there was no need to learn another language as most educated people spoke English.

Departed St. Peters Port 06.30 UTC, bound for Alderney, fairly easily from our new berth. There was little wind and sadly the engine had to be used. Progress was slow and thoughts turned to a contingency plan if we were not going to make Alderney before the tide turned. As the Spring tide kicked in it was clear we were going to make it, in fact a little early for the notorious Swinge – given there was little wind that should not be a problem.

Other yachts were also making for the Swinge and that gave some comfort until the one ahead was seen being thrown about. Again with my confident voice I assured the crew with our heavy displacement we would have a more comfortable ride. Indeed we did, nonetheless it was turbulent to say the least – life was easy with a chart plotter as I failed dismally to pick out the navigational marks. As we made the approach for Braye harbour yachts appeared from all around, speeding past our sluggish approach. Little courtesy was given, and boats simply overtook to get to the mooring buoys first. Lady luck was with us, however, since as the overtaking vessels searched for free buoys we were hailed by another yacht to lay alongside. The owner had recognised the lines of a Tradewind and was happy to have us alongside as the were leaving shortly. Top tips for Alderney were passed on, such as where the supermarket was, and the opening times of the yacht club bar etc.

The Harbour master was quick to collect his dues, but did so in such a pleasant and welcoming manner it alleviated any discomfort of parting with cash.

The following day the dinghy was pumped up and a trip ashore was made, and the crew took advantage of land to visit the high street in Alderney. Alderney is was Yarmouth aspires to be, a trip back in time and is a lovely place.

The days have passed quickly and the weather forecasts have been studied with care, for Alderney is not a place that you want to be in a strong NE winds, so all the pilot books say. Although strong winds were forecast yesterday they were to be from the West or North West – in preparation we moved closer into the harbour to afford more protection from the breakwater. A second line was put on the mooring buoy along with a third line of chain.

Today the winds have picked up and the Harbour Master has been out to one boat which appeared to have ended very close to the breakwater, and to other boats ensuring they put additional lines on. At the present time, 18.20 UTC, the wind is North East force 5, fingers crossed it does shift to North West as it is forecast to reach force 7 with gusts up to 45 knots. Had I had more confidence I would have used lines from our series drogue plates so the boat laid stern to the buoy – I was not sure how much tide there is in the harbour, did not have the bridle made, and was not sure how the Harbour Master would view the experiment.

On the optimistic side the winds are due to subside at dawn tomorrow.
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At 7/24/2015 6:36 PM (utc) our position was 4943.66’N 00211.85’W

Log Entry 18th July 2015-07-18

Departed Havelet bay for St. Peters Port 15th July 2015 as an easterly wind was forecast which could be potentially unsafe especially if it moved round to SE.  The initial plan was to find another anchorage, however, a splash of larger on the laptop disagreed with the internal electronics, so it was time to pull out the reserve netbook. Given the age of the netbook it has served well as the backup, especially after some updates from the slow free WiFi at St Peters Port.  Free of course really being included in the price of the mooring fees – but reasonable gi mokoven the prices in Brighton.

We are currently like sardines in a tin – a far cry from the anchorage in which we had to ourselves at one point.  There are walk ashore pontoons, laundrette  and inclusive showers, apart from that there is little benefit.

Our neighbours for the last couple of days have been a couple who fly a defaced ensign for the Royal Air force sailing association – well spoken and very polite, also particular about squeaks – applying fairy liquid to their fenders – which apparently eases the squeaks.  

The current plan is to make for Alderney after the weekend and have the pleasure of the ‘Swinge’ – all good experience.   Alderney has mooring buoys and places to anchor 🙂

Log Entry 13th July 2015

Departed Cherbourg 8.05 UTC bound for Havelet bay next to St. Peters Port, Guernsey. The intention was to anchor at Anse de St. Martin and then use an early tidal eddy purported to exist just off Cap de la Hague. This would then give a full six hours of favourable tide to Guernsey. The reputation of the Alderney Race is indeed formidable, and even though this was going to be our second time it still felt scary.

Unfortunately when we got to Anse de St. Martin the wind was blowing straight into the bay which made it a definite no no, since not only was the wind in the wrong direction it was also stronger, force 5. There went our nice lunch at anchor, instead we sailed in a circle which was comfortable. We then tentatively approached the Cap de la Hague, close in – it was not a comfortable feeling but seemed to work tide wise. I am not sure we caught the southerly eddy but the tides were neap and we made progress. It was disappointing when the wind dropped and we had to motor, sluggishly towards St. Peters port. The intention had been to arrive just before dark having taken the trouble to gain time around the Cap de la Hague but that was not be and darkness fell upon us just as all the rocks appeared – in truth ‘thank goodness for chart plotters’. Sometime was spent validating our course with lights but more practice would be need if the chart plotter failed (and of course the spares) – but a lightening strike could take them all out – and yes there was some lightening over Alderney. We made it safely to Havelet anchorage, only to find it was quite busy, weaving through the boats we found spot and dropped the anchor along with a tripping line which was recommended in one pilot book – but was our first attempt. Anchor light on and time for sleep, woken in the early hours by the anchor alarm, thankfully a false alert but a German catamaran had anchored very close to us – too close for my comfort really. Later in the morning the German boat moved his boat slightly and shared with us they had sailed from the Azores – nice trip. He asked why we were flying the ‘Q’ flag, and we proudly stated the pilot book we bought last year said it should be flown – and given we had been visited by customs it seemed sensible. He smiled and said our flag was big enough to share. Later when we purchased yet another pilot book it became clear the formality was not necessary, but the marinas still like it flown to identify new arrivals – all was now clear.

The first dinghy trip went fairly well and Marks and Spencer found to get some fresh supplies.

On the 12th we went ashore again and the dinghy trip was a little more bouncy, but we made the land stage and went to the shops again. Upon return we looked at the sea breaking and decided to go to the pub to let the tide drop a little and hopefully find a kinder sea state. As we rested the dinghy up against the wall I tripped and fell seeing my wrist and fingers bend unnaturally, fortunately there was no snap but it was not nice . The pint soothed the discomfort.

A couple of hours later we had another go, and the sea was a little calmer so we went for it, getting in the dinghy from the landing stage was a piece of cake in comparison to getting on the boat which was rising and falling, I felt further respect for the pilots at Spurn point who have to jump for their lives onto ships from the pilot boat. The crew went first, and as the dinghy lifted the step was made for the boat – with an anxious pause the crew was non board – my turn next, with no one to hold the dinghy against the hull – a sense of relief was felt when we were both on board rewarding ourselves with some chocolate cake.

Last night was broken sleep as the anchorage seemed even more bouncy, so currently watching the weather to decide where to go next.

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At 13/07/2015 12:13 (utc) our position was 4927.07’N 00231.81’W

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Log Entry 06/07/2015

Its always dangerous to feel chilled and having reached that state a visit from customs late on Saturday night 04/07/2015 (23.00 hrs ish) broke the atmosphere. The announcement was ‘hello we are customs and WE ARE coming aboard, sorry for the late hour’ and I managed to interject you ‘you are only doing your job’ he said ‘yes we can do it here – the cockpit’ he was already aboard. I recalled some pilot book highlighting the importance of humor and courtesy and so i said ‘ no please come below’. ‘We need to see your papers’, ‘ah passports’, ‘yes your ships papers first’.

I have only been boarded once before by customs, and being younger and in my own country I asked for identification, on this occasion that did not seem like the right move.

Passports were presented, but the interest focused on the ships papers, and there followed the explanation that the previous owner built the yacht and there was no VAT receipt other than for the hull. First mistake was to provide an out of date small ships registry, followed by an apology and the current copy. The boss appeared to be a ‘lady’ carrying three stripes with an older officer acting as an interpreter.

Four armed customs officers on board is something to be remembered.

Finally all questions were asked and answered, but the passports had been passed to another colleague who had disappeared with them ! We were told radio checks needed to be made. Ages seemed to pass, and thoughts turned to what a French prison might look like. Even the lady and interpreter seemed to look uncomfortable at the time the checks were taking. All the small talk was used up and they just looked at us, until finally the lady shouted something to the other two customs officers on the boat and the reply seemed to be satisfactory as were bid good night. I gingerly asked if I could have the passports back …. the request was met with a smile, and an oh yes here they are.

So no longer is a British passport in its own right satisfactory it has to meet some other computer checks … hold that thought – and remember computers never make an error do they.

Why pick us, I guess we were on the central pontoon which is not linked to the shore and I don’t think they had a clue where Grimsby was.

Oh, and there was no interest in our flares which apparently the usual favorite check, disappointing as ours were all new last year.

Having taken a day or so to recover, we had hopped to move on tomorrow, Tuesday, but the wind has other ideas so it looks like time to try and chill again 🙂

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At 04/07/2015 18:27 (utc) our position was 4938.78’N 00137.21’W

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Log Entry 1st July 2015

Departed Hurst Point 28th June bound for Yarmouth moorings. The harbour masters team have a reputation for courtesy and they lived up to that expectation – with a smile. We were offered a non-walk ashore berth for the same price as a mooring, I explained the lady had a long keel and lacked a bow thruster, he smiled again and said its not the first time he had heard that. The price of a mooring was just short of 20, a water taxi was 2.50 per person each way – we pumped the dinghy up and used the outboard to get ashore. Showers were another 1.30 each, but were nice and warm, and your given a full 6 minutes of pleasure. There is a ‘Cost Cutter’ store which was useful to re-provision – eating out looked expensive so a bottle of wine was purchased for a meal aboard.

Departed Yarmouth 30th June 07.15 UTC bound for Cherbourg, the rewards of a mooring buoy are reaped, as you only have to slip the line and your off. The forecast was for a rare Easterly, with the threat of some south in it (not helpful), the reality was somewhere in between. The passage was, thankfully, uneventful – though the crew became anxious when the self steering struggled a little to hold the course whilst some chart work was undertaken. Confidence was restored once a steady course was held. The wind dropped and the iron donkey was used for the last 10 miles – the trick with Cherbourg is tide timing – and I would like to say it was planned but it was almost slack water at the east entrance when we arrived – good to have some luck. Another yacht overtook us at the first harbour entrance and then proceed to ‘hover’ apparently struggling to find the marina – this of course is as the point fenders are being deployed etc. It was good to have a chart plotter to show the way, but we took care to identify the lights as you never know when the electronics might fail (even though several spares are carried). It was very dark but we found the central visitors pontoon and tied up, safe arrival drink and then hit the bunks.

The central pontoon is another dinghy trip mooring, but we are pointing the right way to depart … not just yet, a couple of days here.

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At 01/07/2015 11:12 (utc) our position was 4938.78’N 00137.21’W

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