We finally made it to Dover, with both cats legally entered into the UK. The trip from Cherbourg was all motoring or motor-sailing, which is not very pleasant, but at least the seas were not rough.
We waited in Cherbourg for four days for a break in the weather. A stubborn set of systems over the continent generated strong easterly winds in the channel for 3 days, and associated large swells, so we decided to see the wonders of Cherbourg, of which there are really not many. Although the commercial aspects of the harbor have been significant in the past, only the ferry traffic to the UK is left for passenger service, and the mainstay seems to be the large shipyard. They are also trying to do a lot with a maritime museum, which we did not visit, and there have been big Titanic anniversary events going on. We did a fair amount of walking, and had two good market days in town, but did not take any meals out. With the good produce that was available, it was more fun to sit on the boat and watch the various tourist-sailors arriving from the UK, and the students at the sailing school learn how to sail dinghys, Lasers, and other similar boats. We also did a number of boat chores that have been waiting for a while, and we now have our netting back in place, and complete, to catch any wayward kitties (or boat objects) who might slide towards the gunwales…
|Kids having fun|
The Brits have been descending en masse. Cherbourg is only about 65 miles from the Solent, so a long day or a relatively short overnight trip is easy to do. And with te east wind we had, it must have been a blast. There were a lot of groups associated with sailing clubs in the UK. One guy would be designated Commodore of the cruise, and they would all tie up next to one another and party together. Then, they all left together, either back to the UK or further west to the more exotic parts of France.
This was the last holiday weekend (of four(!)) in May for the French, so we knew that town would be quiet on Sunday and Monday, so on Sunday the weather appeared to be quite calm and we decided to try to make it further east. Our first goal was Ouistreham, which is the port for the large city of Caen. As we motored east with a large push from the current, we got ambitious, and decided to try for Le Havre, at the mouth of the Seine. We often talk about heading up to Paris with the boat for a winter, so we thought we would check out the facilities in Le Havre, which is where many boat take down their masts. Supposedly, demasting boats is a real industry there, and it is possible (and even inexpensive(!)) to have the mast shipped to the Med if you decide to take the canal route instead of the Spain-Portugal-Gibralter route.
However, as we approached Le Havre, we realized that it was really just another large French city, of which we know quite a few, and we really wanted to make some distance to the north. So, looking at the charts, we decided to head to Fecamp, a former fishing village further along the coast. This meant a bit longer day, and in the end we did about 74 miles. A lot of this was motor-sailing. For non-sailors, this means that we ran the engine with the sails up. If you have weak winds from the right direction, you can use the motor to generate better winds for the sails so that you travel faster than you would if you just ran the engine or used just the sails. We can pick up 1-1.5 knots this way.
|When do we get to go ashore and party?|
We asked whether the marina office was open, and they said that of course, being a Sunday night, it was not. And, malhureausement, they did not know the code to the sanitaires. We explained that we just wanted to know so that we could go pay for the night, and they gave the French laugh that says “Oh, why would anyone want to pay for use of a few cleats for the night?”. So, we didn’t worry about it, and left early the next day without seeing the harbormaster at all. We did this once before, at Treburden last year, and we have noticed a number of boats that seem to arrive late in the evening after the capitainerie is closed, but then leave early the next morning before it opens again. The prices that are paid seem to level themselves out, somehow…
|The White Cliffs of France|