Monday, 18 September 2006

Cherbourg Jolly....

Well what can I say.... The usual round of frivolities on the now annual Scuttlebutt Cherbourg trip.... this year about 20 boats and 65 people made it.... I was sailing with StugeronSteve on his Beneteau Oceanis 331 again, and we made it down to his Marina at the lovely Beaulieu at about 23h00, much at the same time... after I had detoured to Ipswich on the way to pick up 2 kites with the forecast following winds both ways and light.... Jhr turned up promptly ay 07h00 the next morning, and after we had spent an hour in the pouring rain freeing a stuck spinnaker pole fitting, we slipped.... the plan was to head for St Vaast, just East of Cherbourg, and given that its locked and didn't open until 02h00, we went the long way round out of the Solent via Bembridge, which proved a nice sail, as the rain stopped, and the wind blew about 12kts... As we passed Bembridge, we set a course of 186 Mag, turned the autopilot on, and settled in..... Steve had invested in a new Raymarine combined plotter and radar, so a good chunk of the journey was used up in playing with this new 'toy', and by 23h00, we were off Barfleur.... Tome called up on the VHF and was only 5nm west of us, so we converged and headed into St Vaast together..... The night was black as it could possibly be.... full cloud cover, hiding the moon, so it was impossible to even pick out the horizon,. As we closed land, we could see massive storms on the radar, and ten minutes later, the heavens opened.... it was torrential.... so here we were, approaching a notoriously difficult entrance, none of us having been before, with absolutely no visibility, and with rain so hard that we could neither read the plotter screen, or look anywhere other than our feet without drowning..... fun really! none-the-less, we made it in, after a bit of dancing around with the local fishing fleet, and got ourselves tied up by 02h30... A couple of drinks to celebrate a successful crossing, and we retired to bed.... the next day was a bit grey, but thankfully not raining too much, so we had a quick look around St Vaast.... very nice.... not overly commer******ed... By the evening, we found a little restaurant, enjoyed Moule Frites, and went back to bed by midnight.... Tome's crew meanwhile lived up to their name as the Emsworth Bad Boys, and partied all day.... absolutely hammered is the term that springs to mind, with antics including walking into closed plate glass doors.... 06h00 the following morning, we slipped and headed over to Cherbourg.... 35nm by the battleship route, but with a moderating sea, we cut a few corners, and with a good tide, did it in 23nm.... the sea, while moderating, was still quite large, and the first 10nm to windward, across a quartering sea saw one of our crew off, and from reports after, several others on the other boats.... Regardless, 11h00, and in Cherbourg.... 20 boats there.... biggest accomplishment in my eyes being Duncan in his day fishing boat!!!!!!, along with about half a dozen 'channel virgins'... well done all of you... We had time for a quick scrub up, and caught up with a few old friends, and made a few new ones, and before we knew it, it was 19h00, and we were in the bar again... this time for an orgnaised meal in the yacht club..... cracking evening.... usual reparté, and another late night..... So..... Departure Sunday morning was delayed until 08h20, almost the last boat out, and we had a light wind motor sail all the way back... with the wind thankfully across the beam, but never more than about 10 to 12kts..... we entered the solent via the Needles Channel, and m,ade our way into Yarmouth, where we rafted up against Nick, and also found Pat and Tom there too.... so four boats, a visit to the Kings head... proper beer, and a very decent Steak and Ale pie.... back to the boat by 22h30 before the last water taxi, and then finished a decent chunk of a bottle of Laphroaig along with Nick's crew..... sigh... 02h00 again.... 07h00 Monday, and we slipped off, for the short hop back to Beaulieu..... tied up, sorted the boat... gave it the kind of clean needed after a boys weekend trip, and away by midday... What a great weekend.... i'm absolutely knackered.... but we've had a real good time, got some great sailing in, and we'll be there again next year.... I'm thinking about leaving Maggie in the solent after our summer cruise, and doing the Cherbourg trip on her, and then taking her straight back to Ipswich afterwards... long trip, but might if a couple of the east coast gang are up for it.... Tommorrow we're off the Southampton Boat Show.... report to follow....

Miles logged 180nm
Miles this season 884nm
Miles since this blog started 1,667nm

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