Saturday 9 July – Escape from Cherbourg

Hi All,

Just managed to grab an internet connection and am uploading the last weeks stuff we wrote while not connected.  We departed Cherbourg Saturday 9 July and went to Carentan, one of our favourite places.  We are now in Ouistreham, which is the port the ferries come to when they say they are going to Caen.

This internet connection is so desparately slow that I am scared to try and up load pictures.  Sooooo,  I will load up the words and see if we can connect somewhere else to do the pics later.  Sorrrrryyyyy.  xx

Saturday 9 July – Escape from Cherbourg

With the bikes safely delivered and the navigation plan complete,  we departed Cherbourg at 0600 in company with ‘Meridor’,  the dark green Vancouver 34 pilot house cutter rigged sloop owned by John and Chris Mathers.  With the promise of a force 5 we planned to sail a little further offshore around Barfleur than we did last year.  As it turned out,  the wind didn’t;   never mind,  we had a bit of wind and a superb sail around and past St Vaast.    We needed to be at the outer mark outside Carentan by 1508 to make passage across the Normandy beach is and into the river and up to the lock at Carentan.  Even at the mind-altering speeds we were making,  Barbara was still managing to catch mackerel,  which Steve was gutting and cleaning while George (our trusty auto-pilot) took care of the steering.     We actually had to slow down in order to make our ETA (which any navigator will tell you,  stands for  EXACT time of arrival.) and by doing this,  the number of mackerel coming in over the transom increased logarithmically.  We stopped at 8,   2 we ate,  2 we gave to our friends and we have 4 in the little freezer section of the fridge for another 2 meals.  We reduced sail and slowed Wight Mistress from flying along at 6 – 7 knots down to 2 – 3 knots and arrived at the outer mark 6 minutes early!!!!

Wight Mistress passing the Pointe de Barfleur

A slow and pleasant motor up the river (wind on the nose)  saw us locking in at Carentan and alongside K pontoon at 1700.     Tea and bikkies onboard Meridor,  an exchange of photo’s   (theirs of us passing Pointe de Barfleur and ours of them doing the same)  and it was back onboard for a mackerel supper and an early night.  Those fish did not die in vain,  they were absolutely delicious, cooked with butter, onions and a little garlic and on a bed of salad,   yummie.

Sunday  10 July


Right next to the river into Carentan is the channel leading to Isigny sur Mer.  We had never been there.   We decided to cycle into town and look around. Very quickly we found ourselves on the outskirts, next to a sign saying ‘Isigny 10 km’.

Isigny sur Mer at low water - a sandy lane with a puddle

Off we went and in no time at all were there.  A lovely little town with a harbour smaller than Newport on the Isle of Wight and of a similar design.  Thing is,  even at neaps,  Isigny dries right out to a sandy lane, with boats leaning against the sea walls.  Very picturesque however we have decided not to bother going there.  We have seen it from the shore and that is fine.   Cycled back to Carentan and back aboard for a lovely chicken dinner (mackerel being saved for  another day) and a couple of games of ‘squabble’    Won one game each and retired to bed for a read and some blog notes.  We need to find an internet connection sometime soon to upload the latest notes and pictures.

le pont a Isigny

Tomorrow a bit of work on Wight Mistress’s engine mounts first thing, followed by a bicycle and train ride to Bayeu to have another look at the Tapestry, which isn’t actually a tapestry (we are told) .  Apparently there is an exposition of a similar Japanese tapestry on which , we are reliably advised, is well worth a look.

Actually, we think we might do it from Ouistreham as that is a bit nearer. Watch this space.  (author’s note,  now 18 July and rain stopped play re visit to Bayeux, so far.)

Monday 11 July

Slightly slow start today.   Cup of tea in bed and read for a while.   Met Hazel and Peter and their friend Dave, from Portchester.  They keep their boat here in Caranten and spend half their time here and the other half in UK.  They have a Moody 34 here.

the fountains in Carentan Harbour

We phoned our friends Colin and Carol Pike, who live in Pretot St Suzanne, about 10 km away from here along a ‘green path’    Colin was up to his neck in tiling their bathroom, so hopefully we might catch up with them in the next few days.

For the naval (and especially submariners or Collingwood-ites,  Colin was a Lt Cdr submarine WEO and in his last job in the RN was the Underwater Systems Group officer in what was  A School at the time (late 80s). )  Colin and Carol had a bungalow on Hayling Island but gave all that up  and now have a lovely house here on the Cotentin Peninsula.

This forenoon, Ba sanded down the cockpit table and re-waxed it and did a brilliant job on some rust marks in the bathroom;  we used to have a little fishing net on a small pole, which rusted as it swung on its hook in the heads.   Rust marks all gone now J

While this was going on Steve hoisted the engine an inch or so and removed the port aft engine mount, as it seemed a little saggier than the other three.

What's this? someone with his hair tied back?

The chandlery opens on Tuesday morning, so we will look and see if we need to replace the offending article or just put it back and adjust accordingly.

All this industry finished at lunchtime and off we went into Carentan for a nose around and a look in the tourist centre.   Managed to find a good book (free) containing  hundreds of cycle routes around the Departement de la Manche.

S’funny but they are very territorial about all this.  For example, all their tourist information stops at the border between la Manche and Calvados (to the east).  Even the buses don’t cross the border;  strange.

Sarah called this evening for a natter.  Her new kitty arrived.  Nimah von Badgerface,  or ‘Nim’ for short.  Lovely.

Nimah von Badgerface, or 'Nim' as she is known to her friends

Depending on weather, engine mounts etc,  we might head off for a bike ride and a pique-nique tomorrow.  Who knows.

Tuesday 12  July  Carentan

It absolutely bucketed down today so we stayed onboard.  Mike called this morning to see how we are – not having heard anything via the blog or facebook.   We haven’t found an internet connection yet but have a few ideas.   Steve spent the day in the engine room sorting out the rear engine mounts,  after a mis-alignment caused some clunking when going in and out of gear. It is amazing how much extra vocabulaire  one needs when starting a new task.

Rain stopped around 1600 and Steve went off for a well-earned (and needed) shower.   We treated ourselves to a pizza for dinner at the local bar.  Ever heard of honey and goats cheese pizza?   Merveilleus.  Don’t knock it til you try it.

Received a call from Port Chantereyne at Cherbourg today.  A package we were expecting has arrived, so tomorrow we will catch the train up there to collect and do the shopping on the way.   Bastille Day is on the 14th and we doubt if any shops will be open.

Wednesday 13 July  Carentan

Caught the train up to Cherbourg to collect a package sent to us.

On the train to Cherbourg

One hour on the inter city train and only one stop at Valognes on the way.  Popped into Carrefour in Cherbourg to grab some snacks and a drink.  BTW did you know that the French word Carrefour  means  crossroads?  And also their logo is in the colours of the French tricouleur.

Arrived back onboard at lunchtime, just in time to load ‘Stripey’, our trusty wheely shopping bag, on to the back of Steve’s bicycle and off we went to Carrefour in Carentan……….WOW!  2 different Carrefours in one day – we really know how to live.      Got back an hour or so later, loaded up with essentials.  By this time it was a bit late to do anything serious,  so we hopped on the bikes and cycled off to find the headland between the Carentan Canal and the channel that leads to Isigny.

Canal de Carentan at low water and a man fishing for sand eels perhaps?

We have been to both harbours and wanted to know what was in between.   It was about 10 km to the end of the road/track but we found it.  The tide was out………on the horizon!   It goes out so far that you think it might get lost on the way back in.    The sea bed is a beautiful golden hard sand that goes on for miles.  To the east and north of us  was  Utah Beach and to the west was Omaha Beach.  The whole area is steeped in World War 2 history and it is fascinating.  We met 2 French army officers out on the point this afternoon and had a long chat with them.  We all agreed how essential it is for everyone to learn the lessons of previous conflicts in order to not make the same mistakes again. Wouldn’t that be a world-changing thing if we could achieve it?

Arrived back onboard around 1800,  knackered.

The bikes

Thank heavens for bicycles with batteries and motors – at least when the going gets tough you can push a button and get a little help……..actually,  you can also twist  a throttle, just like on a motor cycle and the bike will whizz along at quite a rate for quite a long time.   We were really doing some pedaling as we are trying to get a bit fitter, however when the going gets tough,  the tough stop pedaling .

Thursday 14 July 2011

Called Colin and Carole Pike, who live at Pretot St Suzanne (about 20 km from Carentan)  and cycled out to see them.

Colin and Carole Pike at Pretot St Suzanne

They live in a lovely house in the country  and have, what would be to most,  an idyllic lifestyle.   They have been back to Blighty once or twice but they are very happily integrated into the French lifestyle – makes one a bit envious.   We cycled along the ‘green path’ – an ex railway line that runs east-west from Carentan to nearly Carteret – another favourite haunt of ours.

Ba and the green path stretching out astern of us

We hopped off the line at St Jore and cycled about 2km up hill and down hill to their house.

Honestly,  cycling through France gives one an impression of a country where time has stood still.

Country where time stood still



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2 responses to “Saturday 9 July – Escape from Cherbourg

  1. traebonne

    I love reading of your adventures! Sending our love X

  2. Thankyou Trae. Sorry about the lack of pictures – this connection is desparately slow.
    love S and B

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