Day 42 of Summer Trip 2014 – Fecamp to err Cherbourg?

So once you’re at Fecamp, you’re on the western tip of the Bay of Seine.

We had heard Honfleur was nice, but a total bumfight to get in, and once you’re in it’s like a fishbowl with everyone looking down at you because the marina is in the center of the town. With this in mind, we decided to bomb it over to Cherbourg and then on to the Channel Islands. Ben’s time was running out so we decided to go for it. Que a 18 hour passage (from memory, don’t quote me on my timings)

The wind was forecasted to be coming from the west, so I expected to pretty much motor all the way. Tom Cunliffe describes Pointe de Barfleur as a ‘chamber of horrors’, the headland before Cherbourg can be particularly nasty in the wrong conditions. The tide runs up to 5 knots, knowing this we filled up with plenty of diesel, and should we miss the westerly going tide, we would be able to endure an easterly going tide which would have left us standing still for 6 hours.

We left at 4am, with just 2 hours of darkness the rest of the journey would be in daylight.

We had a pretty unpleasant motor until 12pm. We were slamming waves, and we had slowed down to 2 knots, which I hadn’t taken into account in my planning. I had marked out on the chart where we should be every hour and we were starting to get way behind.

I had earmarked a bolt hole, well an alternative destination for such a situation. After 8 hours of banging around we made the decision to head to Ouistreham, directly south of our position, we could then sail south for 1 1/2 hours.

As Ben kipped for a while, I saw some heavy rain that kindly navigated around us which was very courteous of it.

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Coming into the channel that takes you to Ouistreham was like a rollercoaster ride, we cork screwed our way in, playing slay the tiller as it fought a battle that it was bound to loose.

With no idea when the lock was going to open we made a vain attempt to call up the lock on the vhf. We were in no way surprised when no one answered. Perhaps one day a french marina or a french lock will reply, but for now we had resided to that fact that they don’t give a crap.

To our delight the lock opened and we motored slowly in, with no clue as to how to attach ourselves to the lock. Armed with poles, warps and more fenders than a gypsy bumper car ride, we attached ourselves to ladders and a vertical wire hanging down. My wind generator clipped the side of the wall so I spent my time pushing the boat out until we had risen high enough for it not to be a problem.

We moored up easily enough in Ouistreham marina. By the time you’ve paid for shower credits, the price of the marina was more than the others.

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My gas still isn’t working properly so we went hunting for a new gas regulator, with no success.

Come the evening we were shattered and went for a meal.

Pretty much every restaurant along this coast do 3 course meals which are about 5 euros more than a main course. We opted for a 3 course meal, that for me at least turned into a 5 course meal with complimentary pre-starters and a plate of cheese that Ben couldn’t have. I’ve never felt so full in all my life. The service became slower and slower as we reached the final course. A French guy next to us shouted at the staff and walked off after sinking half a beer, even in French we could ascertain that he was tired of waiting for his meal and told them in no uncertain terms ‘to get screwed’. We waited for what seemed like a eternity, unable to talk, and barely keep our eyes open and our heads from hitting the table, the bill finally came and we paid up and had what must have been the deepest sleep of my life.

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Totally exhausted. The day was over.

Trip Stats
Miles: 41
Total Miles: 354
Author: Tim Butler

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