Trip on G and T starting 2008-06-05 in BSAJune08

Cross-Channel catamaran trip, June 5th – 9th. Report by Jock Playle.

Boat: Fontaine Pajot Athena 38 catamaran “G & T”. Skipper: Alan Howells. Crew: Peter Wakeling, Phil Steele, Liz Stubbs, Sharon Scurlock, Rob Umfreville, Don Hirst and Jock Playle

All arrived at Haslar MarinaMap, Gosport, during Thursday afternoon to allow a prompt start at 1800 and get a fair tide as far as Bembridge LedgeMap. Instead of the forecast very light NW breeze we had a good westerly, which freshened enough during the evening (gusting to 25 K) for a reef to be put in. After a comfortable crossing we arrived at CherbourgMap at 0700 and were easily able to find room on the alongside pontoon, as needed for a cat. Jock had phoned the marina earlier in the week to check that the fishermen’s blockade, which had trapped many British yachts the previous week, had been lifted.

The day was spent in Cherbourg, where shopping included 2.25 Kg of mussels for the next day’s lunch, and two deliveries from Normandie Wine Warehouse. Stowing these many boxes of wine under the berths at all four corners of a cat ensures the boat remains balanced, if a little lower in the water. The day was rounded off by an excellent meal at La Régence.

On Saturday morning, with the wind still in the west, we tacked along the coast to OmonvilleMap, making use of the inshore eddy which runs contrary to the main Channel tide which is very strong off Cherbourg. After picking up a mooring buoy most of the crew dinghied ashore for a drink, then Alan cooked the mussels Breton-style in cider for lunch. By this time we had a favourable tide down the Alderney Race and we set off for SarkMap. We had hoped to anchor overnight in Havre Gosselin on the west coast but the wind, now WSW, forced us to beat all the way; during our final tack towards the east coast with the tide about to turn against us, daylight fading, and a forecast for the wind to veer to the N overnight, we had no option but to join three other yachts already anchored in Derrible Bay on the SE coast. We were perfectly stable in the cat, whereas these other yachts were rolling uncomfortably. Darkness, and no apparent path up the cliffs, precluded any trip ashore.

Next morning, with the wind duly from the N as forecast, we again had to beat all the way to Alderney. We had now sailed for three days without once being able to sail off the wind. As the air temperature was only 15°-16°C (unlike the 20°-24° England was enjoying) it always felt cold. We picked up a mooring buoy in BrayeMap harbour (no charge when we said we weren’t staying overnight) and went ashore in the dinghy for a stroll up to St Anne for beer and ice cream (not at the same time). Setting off back to Gosport in the early evening we were at last on a reach and it was warmer. This lasted for two hours then the wind stopped. It didn’t die; it was just suddenly switched off. One minute we were sailing at over 8 K, the next minute, nothing. So it was on with the engines and motor all the way back, arriving in GosportMap at 0830 on Monday.

As usual when sailing with Alan, the crew enjoyed gourmet meals as well as excellent skippering for a very enjoyable four days.

Haslar Marina  50.7908,-1.1171
Bembridge Ledge  50.6838,-1.0549
Cherbourg  49.6471,-1.6209
Omonville  49.7064,-1.8346
Sark  49.4302,-2.3609
Braye  49.7271,-2.1966
Gosport  50.795,-1.1175