Trip on Vis starting 2011-06-27 in BSAJuly11

27 June - 1 July 2011. Southampton – Alderney - Cherbourg – report by Chris Baxendale

This was a four day charter from Hamble Point Marina on a Bavaria 36 with skipper Chris Watts and a crew of Bryan Thomas, Sue Fowle, Bernard Smyth and Chris Baxendale. We arrived at noon for the agreed handover, while the crew relaxed with a coffee Chris and Bryan took over the boat. Bags and stores aboard, we slipped HambleMap at 1430 after a cheese and ham lunch, motored west along the Solent, arriving at a YarmouthMap buoy by 1805 to await the westerly tide and to consume Bryan’s delicious homemade chilli. At 1945 we again hoisted the “Iron Topsail”, with the Bridge buoy Mapabeam an hour later and the wind on our nose, we set a course of 200 and stayed like that way all the way to Alderney. But the night brings many weird and wonderful things and that includes my middle watch partner Bryan! With lights all over the place and red helicopter fire flies dancing around behind us, he was convinced an unidentified merchantman on an adjacent collision course had a hash-befuddled Ethiopian deck officer on the bridge with the maritime savvy of Captain Birds Eye! Despite our obvious right of way we declined the challenge and accepted that might is right on this occasion and so slowed down for him to pass ahead.

With very little sleep BrayeMap harbour didn’t look too bad in the dawn light, having picked up a buoy at 0700, breakfast and heads down was the order of the day. A water taxi took us ashore later for a wander through the town and a pint at Marias Hall, afterwards Chris and Sue went on walkabouts while the other three found a pasty shop (not brilliant) and a further pint in the Diver. Under instructions to find an eating house for later but within staggering distance of the harbour, the only option seemed to be Bumps Eating House, a snug little establishment but food-wise you had to be lucky as to what dish you ordered. On return to the boat we discovered someone had doubled up on us, gloom and doom as it turned out, despite us telling him that we were leaving at 0530 the next morning he stuck to us like a limpet. No amount of fenders and rope fiddling was able to save us all from a sleepless night listening to the Atlantic swell bang and crash us together.

A shattered crew arose at 0530 dazed and bedraggled, we slipped at 0600 and with a NW 5 we tried to maintain a course of approximately 090, but on a broad reach with a following moderate sea there was always a high danger of an unexpected gybe. Later the wind died and we motored on into CherbourgMap, arriving alongside Port Chantereyne Marina at 1015.

Great facilities at the Marina, from bars and grills to toilets and showers, the later at 2 euro a splash, however the pontoons were open to the public so security was an all important factor if the boat was left unmanned. Chris and Sue went on a shopping spree while the gallant few settled for a “1664” and a burger apiece in a café called La Skipper, ho ho! Supper was a different matter altogether, to start with while crossing a small park area the skipper found a six inch pine cone of enormous proportions, yes you’ve guessed it, the jokes came thick and fast but sadly unrepeatable in good company! We had a wonderful meal in the Café de Paris on the promenade, a must if you are willing to spend that little bit more, the seafood was fantastic and the service friendly and efficient. Meanwhile the pinecone stayed under the table.

We left CherbourgMap at 0710 with a NW wind 3/4, some miles off shore the French coastguard cutter “Donaire” took a sudden interest in us, circling at about 100m but then obviously seeing that it must be a promotional sailing trip for Saga magazine, they trundled off. So with a beam sea, beating a northerly course proved to be quite exciting especially when the wind increased to 5 necessitating a reef in the mainsail. We reached Bridge buoyMap at 1730 (not bad eh - 11 hour transit?) and by going alongside at YarmouthMap, we managed to be in the King’s Head by 1930. It was about this time that things began to go down hill fast, not only had the skipper insisted on wearing his “Telly Tubbies” shirt for runs ashore but Brian now took up any slack with his rendition of sundry Jethro jokes. I’m still not sure how we got back on board unscathed.

After the last two restful nights we were quite chirpy for the run back to Hamble, even Bernard who had suffered with a bad cough for most of the trip felt a little better. With a NE3 we had a nice gentle sail up to Beaulieu where we were joined by a few thousand tons of tanker, so back to the “Iron Topsail” for the last few miles to HambleMap. The skipper got a good deal on the fuel but there was a wee bit of a wait. We were alongside by 1150, 10min early, however was generally agreed that the noon pickup and return does limit your options somewhat. The trip had proved to be a resounding success all round, weather, sailing, food and the good company, we all returned home with a smile on our faces. However nothing more has been seen of the menacing pinecone yet!

Footnote from the Skipper: It is the cone of a maritime pine.

Hamble Point Marina  50.853,-1.3113
Yarmouth  50.7074,-1.5026
Bridge Buoy  50.6616,-1.6021
Braye  49.7271,-2.1966
Cherbourg  49.6471,-1.6209
Cherbourg  49.6471,-1.6209
Bridge Buoy  50.6616,-1.6021
Yarmouth  50.7074,-1.5026
Hamble Point Marina  50.8518,-1.3099