Catching up.

OK Folks, it is Tuesday 28 June and we are in the Yacht Club on Alderney, taking advantage of their kind offer of free wifi while drinking their beer.    Yertiz,  an update for you all.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Went for a walk around past the Base Maritime, naval base to a little beach called Plage de Saline.  It over looks the Passe a l’Oueste (western entrance) to the Grande Rade (outer harbour) of Cherbourg.  A beautiful sunny and breezy day with yachts sailing in the protected waters of outer Cherbourg harbour and small fishing vessels bobbing around, plying their trade.

Back onboard for tea and decision time:  do we head for Alderney tomorrow?  While in the midst of deliberations we had a visit from one of a group of sailors from Gosport and East Cowes,  agonizing over the possibility of getting in to Carenten.  One of the boats in the group has a draught of 1.9 metres and the entrance to Carenten,  while quite well marked,  is very shallow in places.  An interesting discussion ensued on the validity of the ‘tidal coefficients’  used by the Europeans.   A quick secondary port calculation in the normal manner, compared with the low coefficient for tomorrow,  demonstrated that the boat in question had around 50 milliseconds either side of high water if they were to venture over the bit of ‘beach’  that had a 3 metre drying height.  They decided to wait until the coefficient was higher, matching the advice in the Almanac (good decision.)

Meanwhile, back onboard WM the decision making was floundering in a sea of rampant apathy (oh wow, have we slowed down the lifestyle or WHAT??)

As with all good decisions, sleeping on it was agreed and with that,  a couple of well-earned beers (well, decisions are tough after all)  and an early night was called for.

Sunday 26 June 2011   Harley’s 11th birthday HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOVELY GRANDSON

We awoke early (probably the need to visit the smallest room onboard after all that beer) and the decision jumped across our cups of tea like a mackerel trying to escape from Barbara’s fishing line.

Favourable tides going west for at least 5 hours or so and off we went.   What a lovely day.   Wind also in the east and only about F3 so our we were out of the  marina and under full sail more or less immediately.   Our sail to Alderney was wonderful;  we literally ran along a sun-lit corridor with fog banks on both sides at a range of about 8000 yards (4 nautical miles)  With a good strong west going tide and the wind directly astern, we put the mainsail away to allow the lovely new genoa to do the work unhampered,  and with the mizzen balancing nicely on a goosewing (sails on opposite sides)  we flew along.

The important bit about the trip from Cherbourg to Alderney is to treat the Alderney Race  with immense respect.   The Race is the channel between the Cotentin Peninsula ie with Cap de La Hague on the corner and the enormous nuclear reactor station just behind it,  and the eastern seaboard of Alderney.

Many a sailor has tried to cross the Race to Alderney,  not  plotted a course to steer or kept an eye on ground track and ended up being sucked sideways (or possibly backwards) all the way to Carteret, which incidentally is one of our favourite places to visit (but not backwards, in case you were thinking…..)

We made it to Alderney in 4 ¾ hours, having a superb sail AND Barbara caught two magnificent mackerel which, if you haven’t tried them freshly caught are amazingly tasty  and well worth the effort.    We cooked them on the trusty Cob BBQ pot thingy after Barbara stuffed them with couscous, chilli, ginger and lime zest/juice and wrapped them in greaseproof paper then foil (to stop the foil sticking.)  This, on a bed of salad and glass of red wine, made a sumptuous feast. Yours truly is definitely married to the best cook in the whole wide world.

A wobbly night ensued.  The wind found its way around to a bit north of east and anyone who knows Braye Harbour on Alderney, knows that  a night on the moorings here in a wind with anything north-ish in it will mean a night on a trampoline.

Monday 27 June 2011

Eventually got to sleep just in time to wake up again,  knackered!  Still, all is calm and a nice lazy day planned.  After breakfast and a tidy up we deployed ‘Crumpet’, resplendent  in her new graphics, courtesy of Major Dennis.   Our little Honda 2hp started on the 3rd pull and off we went for a roam around the island.

We found a fishing tackle shop, bristling with things  angle-ish and a chap in there who really knows about this stuff.   Came out armed with enough gear to frighten a hammerhead and some info on how to snare the local delicacy,  turbot and bass as well as our favourite (and easy to catch) mackerel.

There is a little museum up the top of the main drag in St Anne, telling the history of the island.   Barbara was very interested in the ancient stuff and I was in to what happened in the last century, principally 1939 – 45.   The museum is not huge but has loads of info.  We only visited for a short while as they close for lunch.  Did you know that the majority of the Alderney people were evacuated to England in 1940 and were not returned until around Christmas 1945?  What a shock that must have been!   They returned to a quite different place, where the occupiers 1940-45 had burned most of the furniture on the island just to keep warm.   There were some things left and some bright spark in HMG decided that to distribute it fairly, it was put in a pile, someone put up a starting line and shouted  ‘on your marks, get set, GO!   After that it was first come, first served and they took away what they could carry.   One lady told her son to sit in a wardrobe while she fetched a barrow, so that no one else would take it.  This appeared to have caused a lot of grief for years afterwards.

On a lighter note,  a modern artist named Andy Goldsworthy has made up 11  ‘Alderney Stones’  spheres of about 5 feet in diameter and dotted them in strategic places around the island.  In each stone, made of  ‘rammed earth’ contains artefacts from Alderney (berries, seeds, old tools, discarded gloves to name a few) so that when the elements wear the stones down,  a ‘layered past’ will be revealed.  We found one such stone on the sea wall at Braye.  The outer layer was already eroding away and revealing anchor chain, wrapped all around the stone.  Interesting.

As for ancient Alderney, thousands of years ago in the Neolithic age,  Alderney was much larger, encompassing the Swinge (another interesting channel on the western seaboard of the island) and the rocks of Brehou (pronounced  beroo) and all the other outlying chunks.   There  is evidence of trade going on here 9000 years ago and people settled and living here.

Apparently the Alderney cow could give a Guerneys a good run for her money as well, providing excellent milk and cream.

Of course, the prime aim of coming to Alderney was to top up with fuel prior to entering the waterways.  After a nasty bout of diesel bug a couple of years ago we have been a bit more careful where we get our fuel.  Alderney has always done us well, plus it’s cheaper.   With the day tank full (60 litres) we went in to Little Craby Harbour to Maynebrace’s berth and started fueling.  Great news:  the new filler cap fitted prior to deployment works a treat with minimal spit back.

We were expecting to take on around 320 litres  but in the end could only tyre-lever in 269.     This is brilliant; we have used much less than we calculated. We had experienced a problem where our fuel was syphoning back from the day tank to the main tank, thus cocking up our calculations.   Great news, saved us a lot of dosh.

Back on board for tea and a good book.  While sat enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun,  we noted another Fisher 34 entering Braye and mooring at the other end of the trots (lines of mooring buoys.)  We undertook to visit them tomorrow morning; sadly they were early risers  and had departed by the time we looked out.

Tuesday 28 June

A quiet day in paradise., with me sitting here writing this twaddle and my beautiful lady, still in her jim-jams, perched next to me with her nose in a book.

A bit overcast today, excellent for a walk.  So if I can get Barbara to wriggle into day clothes etc, Crumpet will take us to the jetty and we can go visit the gannets and other interesting things this lovely place has to offer.  Hopefully we might encounter some puffins as well.

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