Trip on Shropshire Lady II starting 2014-06-30 in BSAJuly14

Return cruise l’Aber Wrac’h to Hamble, June 30 – July 3 – report by skipper Jeff Birkin

01:10 Monday 30th June in a windless, pitch black, moonless night we slipped from L’Aber Wrac’hMap and made our way out using the sector lights, managing to avoid the huge but unlit buoys that mark the channel. Picking up the east going tide we motored along the outside of the reefs towards LézardrieuxMap. It was a dull cloudy day that seemed to match the chosen destination. The marina moorings were very tight and, at over €30, the facilities were absolute rubbish. No showers in the male side and an additional €2 per shower that you had to take in the female side. We had a trip to the town and a drink in a nearby cafe but there was little to draw us back to this location any time soon.

05:20 Tuesday we slipped and made our way out through the strong and confused tidal currents at the entrance to the river Trieux and made our way towards Jersey. The wind was blowing gently from the North so, yet again, we were using the engine.

For those who have never been to Jersey, there are a lot of rocks and reefs surrounding the island and we chose to make our entrance to St.HelierMap by one of the most open routes named the ‘Danger Rock Passage.’ This entails identifying the end of the harbour wall and a signals mast upon the hill from over a mile out and holding the transit. As suggested, we contacted the Harbourmaster and were informed of a fast ferry leaving as we approached. Not something you want to be caught unawares by, but no problem given we knew the intended direction of travel from their point of departure.

By 2pm we were moored on the waiting pontoon, waiting for the tide to rise. It did and by 5:30 we were moored in the inner basin. It was a slightly fraught mooring given the narrow berths, strong swirling winds and swirling waters inside the basin. In comparison to Lézardrieux, our £31 charge included fantastic shower facilities that we all made full use of during the stay. Later that night we met with Claire Turner for some food and drinks on the boat then visited the Yacht Club overlooking the entrance to the harbour.  The following day we all went sight-seeing around the island before meeting for an evening meal in the Little Greek restaurant.

At 8pm on Wednesday evening, bang on time, we slipped and motored out to the fuel berth where we took advantage of extremely favourable fuel prices and topped up the tank. Then heading out into a sunny windless sea, we headed east around the reefs using the buoys to mark our turns before heading up the east side of the island to witness a bright red sunset.

The passage north towards the Alderney Race saw some of the clearest skies and glassiest crystal black seas ever seen. At one point, Rich, an experienced sailor, asked what the flashing lights so close to the boat were for. They were so bright and clear they had long reflections across the water and could be judged as within ¼ mile. He was informed that, the one to the left was the Casquets 18nm away, the one just off the left bow was Alderney light over 12 nm away and the one to the starboard bow was Cap de la Hague, nearly 14nm away!

We cleared the Alderney RaceMap at 2:30am, just as the tide was about to change. Another long windless passage began and by dawn on Thursday 3rd July, we sighted Blighty. Closing the coast and picking up the east-going tide, we rushed past the Needles just after midday.  

Enjoying the last of Alan’s excellent meals we approached the Thorn Channel and a wind we could finally sail sprang up – just 2 miles from the river entrance. We just continued on the motor and finally fuelled and moored at Port HambleMap by 3:40pm and began the long slow process of sorting out the boat and replacing the last few items of kit we had left at Port Hamble.

We logged 498 NM although the log had been seriously under reading until we corrected it at Helford so 530 NM would be closer to the mark. Unfortunately, we also logged 68 engine hours – not what you call a ‘sailing trip.’

My thanks to all the crew for getting us back safely and putting up with long watches manually helming on the motor. Special thanks to Alan for his superb cooking and provisioning.

On a final note, I have today (14th July) been contacted by the owner regarding our trip. Far from being complimentary about our handling of the repairs, she decided we should be responsible for the £207.60 cost to repair the sail and £89 for a broken toilet seat hinge. Interestingly, Force 4 chandlers charge £7.40 for a replacement hinge pack. Also, no account has been taken of how much we saved her by fixing the fuel gauge, cooker gimbal and compass binnacle.  We are contesting this.

L’Aber Wrac’h  48.5982,-4.5619
Lézardrieux  48.7882,-3.0987
St.Helier  49.1769,-2.1167
Alderney Race  49.7,-2.0833
Port Hamble  50.8608,-1.3118