Saturday, 13 August 2005

Boulogne to Calais

We awoke to a beautiful bright sunny morning, with hardly a cloud in the sky..... at 08h00 it was already very warm... the wind was showing itself at about 9 knots in the marina, so we were being threatened with a near perfect sail across to Calais..... Our departure time of midday allowed us to start the day by putting up the cockpit table, and enjoying a lovely breakfast in the morning sun with freshly squeezed orange juice, croissants, and french stick fresh from the bakery with Brie and fresh tomatoes.... yum.... We had another quick wander into town, visiting the french farmers market.... it always depresses me a little to see the range and quality of fresh food on offer in France compared to the UK.... A quick 'cafe creme' in a pretty little street cafe, and we then returned to the boat and decided to slip off 1/2 an hour early... it was such a nice day that it seemed a shame to sit it out in the marina.... So we motored out of Boulogne, and upon clearing the harbour walls, raised the sails, and turned off the engine......bliss..... 11kts of wind...... We knew that we would have the tide against us for the first hour, but hadn't bargained on the wind being a North Easterly... this meant that we were dead into the wind.... it didn't however stop us... we beat to windward for an hour, with a poor VMG of just 1.3kts.... Eventually we had to accept that we would miss the lock at Calais if we didn't motor, so we furled the genny and motor sailed.... this instantly increased our VMG to 7.1kts as the tide was now starting to turn, and before we knew it we had rounded Cap Gris Nez, and Cap Blanc Nez came into sight..... this was truly the weather for cruising... we stuck the autopilot on, and taking it in turns to keep an eye on other traffic, we slept in the sun....... As we passed about half way between the two Caps, we saw a british flagged MOBO making little or no way, and just drifting in towards the shore... we wandered over close to see if they were OK..... it was a cross channel swimmer, and his support boat.... mad bugger! Nothing else exciting happened, except a bit of rapid maneouvering to avoid a floating pallet..... the autohelm wasn't impressed, as I spoiled his perfect straight wake! Too soon, we had rounded Cap Blanc Nez, and Calais had come into sight.... we followed the channel towards the harbour.... as we approached the start of the channel, just past the headland we encountered a decent set of overfalls..... SWMBO was a little concerned, but in this weather they were pretty harmless.... just a set of much larger than average waves... and a little steeper.... we did watch the little 23 footer that we had been following at a distance get pushed around a little, but we just powered through them, shipping a little over the bow in one particularly large wave..... By 16h00, we were motoring down the Calais entrance passage avoiding the shallower waters of the Ridens de la Rade shoal, although in this weather, and at this state of the tide we could have just as easily passed straight over it... some habits are hard to break! SWMBO was a little freaked at the close proximity of the ferries... the volume of them going into and out of Calais is unbelievable... its like a constant stream..... We had green green white on the IPTS so dropped the main and motored as fast as we could towards the harbour entrance... as we got within 500m or so, the lights went red.... so wed circled under the Western pier..... David obviously strayed a little too close for the Harbour Masters happiness, and was curtly asked to move away from the entrance via a tannoy on the end of the pier.. much to the amusement of the all the tourists loitering on the pier itself...! We had to wait for 20 minutes... frustrating as we would have been through and tied up by the time that the ferry arrived at the entrance, but I guess that safety is the primary concern here.... So as they went green green white again, we set off.... while we had waited outside for the SeaFrance ferry to come out, a seacat had joined us waiting outside..... David radioed him on 16 to advise him that we would wait.... as usual, no response......bit rude really.... We entered the harbour, and proceeded towards the Bassin de l'Ouest when I spotted another set of IPTS signals on the port side....... they were showing green white green, ands so I radioed the port for permission to proceed on VHF12 as per the pilot, and the alamanc.... I was rewarded for my dilligence by a very curt, 'proceed to a mooring immediately'.... 'and you should be using channel 17'..... very rude.... I was later told by another boat that they are moving to 17... and a couple of weeks back were refusing to acknowledge any communications on 12.... well they should let people know this information... every source I have still says 12. We motored through to the lock, and picked up a mooring bouy just outside the lock... I radioed the lock control, and was informed that the wait would be 50 minutes... make that 17 minutes... no... 51 minutes.... perhaps 17 minutes..... we just smiled, recognised the Frenchness of it all and waited!... After about 35 minutes, we were admitted, with the road bridge being lifted, and motored through, and then rafted up, just the 3rd boat out, alongside a couple of German boats..... A swift, cold G&T with David and Helen, and we paid the Capitanerie... the strange amount of 43 Euro and 4 Cents for two nights...... Shore power was out, as not only was a lead debateable in its reach, but all the sockets were full... after 3 hours of motoring we weren't concerned about the batteries... so just turned the fridge down a little to reduce its duty cycle, and then wandered into town..... A pleasant meal in another street cafe, and we were back on board for another sensibly early night (Yes... I do know that we are very sad!).... The German boat on the inside informed us that he was leaving at 06h00 for the last lock, so we set alarms and retired for the night..... The next morning we arose to drop off the outside of the raft, and let the inside boat out.... We executed a perfect slip away from the outside, I engaged gear, and then ...... bloody 'ell... I'd forgotten to unlash the tiller.... back into neutral, and I managed to untie it quick enough for it not to be a problem!... phew.... So back alongside.. this time,no raft, and we connected to shore power..... The Capitanerie has asked us to move to a pontoon later.... we'll need fuel anyway, and that also means no raft!..... perfect!
Miles logged today 17.4
So far this trip 102
So far this season 407

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