24th – 25th July 2013
Boulogne certainly isn’t a destination port like, perhaps, Dieppe but it is a really useful harbour which can be entered under any conditions. Once around the starboard pier-head you should follow the wall for a short while until the white painted patch indicates the main channel taking you into the visitors marina. Poor Boulogne no longer has any ferries which is a huge shame. It would certainly make a better weekend away than Calais does. Maybe someone should start one again on a smaller scale and link with hotels and restaurants to try and make it work. Mind you Boulogne isn’t instantly pretty but it has character and at least it is a real port rather than a stereotypical marina. It does boast a great shady Crazy Golf circuit, and aquarium and, if you just walk up the hill, it has a remarkable area surrounded by ramparts and housing a grand cathedral, the Hotel de Ville and a street of restaurants. On our first night exploring our meal out was a bit of a let down. My peppered steak wasn’t and Grit’s Gallete was deep fried! However on our second attempt we went to a bright green café called La Scala. Instantly recognising a typical French restaurant we dived in and ate as much as we could of a splendid but stupidly massive paella. We only got half way through which was criminal really but if we go there again with more people it would be an excellent choice. On the way back we passed a restaurant selling Cous cous which looked really special. The street was Rue de la Porte Gayole and the restaurant was called Strega. I reckon it would be worth a visit if you are a cous cous fan like me.
Whilst on our regulation stroll around the marina I spotted a Vertue 11 called Corina and called across. The owner, Philip Main , stuck his head up and we had a chat. You might recognise that “Main” name as it was his father who made the Main pulleys and fittings that I still have onboard Sumara. Philip was due to sail off that morning and we waved good bye to him as he motored down the channel. A few hours later he called at our boat having quickly recognised the cold air as he made his way through the outer harbour and quite correctly diagnosed FOG. It hardly made any sense for him to sail across to Dover in the fog when he could wait a day and sail with another Vertue (with AIS!). We readily agreed to the idea and we set off together on Thursday 25th July at 1000 GMT. Philip is local to these waters as he lives and works (making Opera Glasses) in Deal. It was pretty shocking to see the behaviour of some yachts in the shipping lanes. As Corina and Sumara presented our hulls at right angles to the ships and let the tide drift us across at an angle we saw one Dutch flagged yacht actually going head on to the ships simply ploughing on in the wrong direction while on the VHF Dover Coastguard were ticking of yachts who simply didn’t seem to understand the regulations. One of which was being reported to the flag nation. It rather lets the side down when people fail to adhere to the col regs.
Luckily we had a pleasant breeze and no fog. Corina was faster than Sumara gradually edging ahead. I think we will need a rematch one day! Not that it was a race of course. After 6.75 hours Sumara moored on the visitors pontoon awaiting a bridge opening to go through to Wellington Dock where I would leave her for a couple of weeks. Ironically we had to wait for a ferry before entering the western entrance – it is rare for ferries to enter Western nowadays. We celebrated our safe arrival by all going to Cullens Yard for a great meal which we ate while wrapped in blankets.
Two weeks in Wellington cost GBP190.00. Not so cheap but I feel it is a bit safer left in Dover rather than the outer harbour at Ramsgate.