I’m not sure if five beers at the bar with one of the Porthole editors counts as a ‘management meeting’ but I was getting a bit worried I’d been shirking my responsibilities as a journalist. With just two days before the print deadline I’d still not spoken to my proposed interviewee and I was thinking up excuses as to why pages eight and nine were going to be blank. Then in walks this beautiful French woman with an air of sophistication.
We slipped the lines at 10am, making the most of the strong tides that run around Alderney Race, though this was nothing like our outward journey. We had the steering back for one thing! After passing Cherbourg we turned the engine off to find that we were doing roughly one knot through the water due to changing tides. Five knots of wind and fed up with the engine on… spinnaker anyone?
Paimpol is one of those French towns that comes to life at six in the morning. The boulangerie and patisserie were open for trade, so too were the cafes and tabacs. That early morning buzz is something that is lost in the UK. The only thing open in the UK at that time in the morning is the all-night garage and McDonalds.
So what was the lesson learnt? Simple really. Always err on the side of caution if things do not seem quite right. Don’t try and ‘force’ your passage into an angle that doesn’t match the suggested instructions. Generally a compass won’t lie so if it’s telling you you are 10 degrees out, then you probably are. Thanks to Jon’s sensible and considered approach we successfully made our way up the river with no problems, despite the fact that all his crew were moaning about him being over cautious!
With Tim and Sharine replaced by Liz, we made our way down towards the northern coast of France, aiming towards Lezardrieux. Lezardrieux is France’s answer to Dartmouth, with pink granite, cider and lots of bottles of Pouilley Fume. The sun came out for our crossing though despite some great SW winds early on we had to motor for the second half of the journey. Still, spending the next 24 hours drinking cider made up for the lack of the sail.
A rather amusing incident occurred today. Due to an administrative cock up with the marina the English power-boat users next to us had been directed to someone else’s berth. That someone else was a rather snotty-nosed Belgian couple in a very expensive yacht who decided to turn up later that morning.
Jon had spent much time explaining the basics of passage planning. We had sat down each evening to plan our route for the next day. In Portsmouth we had to decide where we were planning to head to next and we debated two options: either head west towards Devon and Cornwall in the south west of the UK, or sail due south towards Cherbourg.