Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Boulogne

Friday, July 26th, 2013
Always get suspicious when the pontoons are shaped like speed boats!

Always get suspicious when the pontoons are shaped like speed boats!

Corina en route to Dover beating Sumara!

Corina en route to Dover beating Sumara!

Boulogne old town

Boulogne old town

Philip Main relaxing on Corina

Philip Main relaxing on Corina

Safely alongside in Boulogne

Safely alongside in Boulogne

24th – 25th July 2013

Log 9,029

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.

 

Dieppe

Friday, July 26th, 2013
The lovely square in Dieppe

The lovely square in Dieppe

Leaving Dieppe early in the morning for Boulogne

Leaving Dieppe early in the morning for Boulogne

22nd – 23rd July 2013

Log 8,985

 

Although we arrived by accident, Dieppe takes a bit of beating. It is a thriving town with a typical French high street heaving in shops which seem to make a living by selling such specialities as tinned sardines. It also has an easy to access pebble beach crowded with holiday makers and is surrounded by those cliffs which inspired so many impressionist painters. The harbour was crowded but we still got an alongside berth. A lovely chap called Andrew Ekert – ? from Green Ginger popped over to say hello and we met him again in town and had a beer together while Grit and I were takling a massive trough of moules. He was one of those very experienced sailors just enjoying a modest cruise to Brittany. Having done the long distance ocean crossings he no longer had any desire for such things and he seemed very relaxed pottering from Le Treport to Dieppe to Fecamp as they slowly wandered down the coast. It was yet another of those coincidences that his second name was Ekert and Grit’s second name is Eckert. A lengthy conversation followed to see if there could be a link.

Sadly after a day pottering around lovely Dieppe we needed to make progress and had to plan our trip to Boulogne 53 nm away. The spring tide would reduce that by 10 nm and the tides run north east for more than six hours but we would need to make 4 kn to complete the trip on one tide.  Well that was a shame really as the wind wasn’t quite strong enough to get 4 kn through the water so we motor sailed most of the way.

Mooring was interesting as the marina was pretty full. I called up on the marina channel and was told that someone would indicate to us where we should go. I’m not sure why they didn’t just tell me where to go but they seem very keen on lots of running around and gesticulation. We found a red clad girl waving madly and proceeded up a narrow gap. The berth I thought she was pointing to was another one and I needed to somehow extricate myself. No problem normally, but beware of strong current when they are sluicing! Yes they were sluicing merrily away  generating a healthy 2 kn stream! Such is the speed of the stream that they shape their pontoons like wave piercing speed boats. The large classic yacht that I thought had moored gently alongside was actually pinned hard up against the stern gear of about five yachts held there by the current pushing against the long keel. It was very very tricky to get the good ship aligned ready to get into the berth which happened to be about 1 ft too narrow even for skinny Sumara. We did it with a little scratch which rubbed of with a wet finger.

Journey time 10.5 hr

Fecamp?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Grit with her new offshore sun hat

Grit with her new offshore sun hat

21st July 2013

Log 8,915 nm

Well I’m homeless at the moment having sold my flat but not having yet moved into the new house in Rotherhithe. I have been commuting for a week from London to Brighton and staying on the Good Ship Sumara. Remind me not to commute in future! I wasn’t going to get a holiday this year with the pressure of work, house move, and broken arm all working against it, but it seemed a good opportunity to sneak off for a week across to France to avoid the dreaded train to London.

I haven’t been to Fecamp for many years and have fond memories of it. Grit and I decided to make that our first port of call. One of my less fond memories of Fecamp was waking at 3am in pouring rain and strong wind and getting myself and crew all donned up with oilies. We cast off and headed towards the lock only to watch the lock keeper turn off the lights and wander off down the stairs. We circled the inner harbour, tied up and went back to bed. Never got the hang of French time.

It has been a heat wave but the day we set off to cross the Channel the forecast was for ENE F5-7 plus fog, so not exactly ideal. My grib files were more promising so we looked on the bright side and set of at 3am. Well it would have been 3am if Grit hadn’t thought we were working to BST instead of my insistence of sticking to GMT. So at 2 am GMT we hoisted sails and shot off at 6 kn through a calm sea which was soon to roughen up as we left the shore behind. As we approached the shipping lanes the fog inconveniently came down but with broadcasting AIS onboard it is less of a worry and we pushed on. We called up a couple of ships that came close and had polite and reassuring chats that we would pass 3 cables ahead (gulp!).The wind didn’t ease up as I had expected and once we cleared the lanes the idea of getting to Fecamp need reappraising. We were sailing so fast that we would arrive at low water and the wind was onshore F4-5 maybe a bit more. Not good for entry. We decided to divert to Dieppe while I still had a good cut on the wind. We sheeted in and enjoyed a close hauled bash to Dieppe harbour. The wind did die but the entry to the harbour was surprisingly rough and with the French fisherman gesticulating to get clear of their lines, it made an interesting entrance. We were allocated a berth and had a much needed shower and rest.

Journey time 16.5 hr.