Trip on Appaloosa starting 2013-05-02 in BSAMay13
Hamble to Normandy and Channel Isles – report by Bil Barnes
With two long night passages (Hamble to Omonville la Rogue 79nm and Cherbourg to Osborne Bay 77nm) dinghy rowing, anchoring by day and night, a harbour sill, fine dining on sea and land, it was a trip rich in experiences; the only thing of note lacking was some rain.
Almost the entire trip was made without reference to GPS, although it was on in order to link with radio and update the DSC position. A discussion on marine electronics brought to Alan's recollection this from Kipling: *This new ship is fitted according to the reported increase in knowledge among mankind. Namely, she is cumbered end to end with bells and trumpets and clock and wires, it has been told to me, can call voices out of the air or the waters to con the ship while her crew sleep. But sleep thou lightly. It has not yet been told to me that the Sea has ceased to be the Sea.*
Tacking down the Solent and Needles Channel, taking advantage of a West going tide we arrived at Bridge Buoy just before sundown. Passing the Needles under sail, in the natural narrow channel, gave a sense of vulnerability and highlighted the benefit of reliable buoyage and quick-starting engines. The wind died so we motored to Omonville La Rogue, during which we discovered that the log was under-reading and calculated a correction. Later we noticed that there was considerable deviation on the compass so corrected for that too.
Two ferry-trips rowing in the dinghy brought us to the village for lunch. We found how hard it can be to row upwind after lunch with uneven rowlocks, in a rubber boat which is missing its seat. I also learned not to sit high on the gunwale when a "helpful" shipmate on shore grabs the painter, and how slow clothes can be to dry after a dip in salt-water.
We left Omonville using last of the tidal eddy to arrive at the top of Alderney Race at the turn of tide. There followed good sailing with a few tacks to Sark, where we entered Greve de la Ville at midnight on a bearing on Pt Robert Light with a foredeck lookout spotting for Pierre Noir and an eye on the chart plotter; this careful approach, and Don's steady hand on the wheel, brought us to a safe mooring.
Having slept well I offered to "hang around on deck" while others were busy; Alan, not one to miss a rope-based pun, picked up a spare line and swiftly handed me a noose!...
We made a late start and passed north of the island to catch a favourable tide in the Big Russell Channel through which we tacked in a fresh breeze; arriving at St Peter Port at lunchtime in slack water. At the port we confirmed the expected 2.0m over the sill, compared to our 1.6m draught, and proceeded into the marina with confidence. Scraping the lead of our keel over the concrete sill told a different story. The draught error arose from a misunderstanding at handover compounded by a number of different figures in the yacht’s paperwork. The contact was minor, and the marina later confirmed no harm had been done. A moment of dissent and confrontation arose when our ex-navy shipmate refused clear off upstairs while the floor was swept, and I feared fisticuffs might follow; but when he offered to go topside while the deck was cleaned we realized his objection was only a linguistic one.
After a pleasant evening and a good night's sleep we left St Peter Port with plenty of water over the sill. Without wind we motored to Cherbourg, adjusting course to make best use of the tide. We found our berth through a festoon of navigation and other lights and came ashore to find a micro-brewery open (11pm on Sunday) before returning for a god meal on board. Bernard told an unlikely tale of finding a new packet of hot chocolate in the marina washroom, which was a very helpful reminder of where I had left my shopping.
We started our return trip in traditional style; using coastal features to track our sail-driven progress under a warm evening sun cooled by a good easterly breeze. As we approached the shipping lanes the wind failed so a throbbing motor was the crew's lullaby until the wind returned a little before dawn.
A perfect crossing; seeing the sun set and rise under sail, under a starry sky, adorned by a sliver of new moon, reflected in a mellow rippled sea, and in the company of courteous commercial shipping.
Rounding the Island Don trimmed Appaloosa for high speed tacking, which required somewhat acrobatic efforts from Alan in the galley; the result was a warm spicy lunch anchored in Osborne Bay and the need to clean the stove again. An afternoon tacking and gybing through Southampton water included paralleling a massive cruise ship, dodging commercial shipping, MOB drill, and observing a variety of pleasure craft, brought us safe home to Hamble.
With economical passage-making and imaginative and varied onboard cooking the total expenses for the crew of six (food, fuel, berthing) were only £601 for our 236nm five day trip.