Trip on Viola starting 2015-05-08 in BSAJune15
Skipper Experience Trip 8- 15 May – report by Alan Howells
Yacht: ‘Viola’ Gibsea 37’ chartered from Hamble Point.
The yacht had its plusses and minuses. It was dry and comfortable below, and sailed very well in light airs. Not so good in stronger winds having a jerky motion and was difficult to helm – a problem that the charter company have found to be intractable.
Departed Hamble circa 17:30 and motored into South Westerly towards Hurst where as expected we had to punch the beginning of a foul tide. We had excellent sailing along North Channel and a further five miles or so west before tacking. Only a short further tack was required to clear the Shingles then we were hard on the wind all across. The forecast of F4 increasing F5-7 with seas slight increasing to moderate, occasional rough proved correct. We made it to due North of Cherbourg and approx 10 miles off before starting the engine to deal with the Eastgoing tide which had just started to run. An unexpected violent move of the yacht during the crossing threw Ian from one side to the other down below breaking a rib.
Moored in Chantereyne for a day’s rest and evening meal in La Regence, which was up to its usual high standard.
Tide on following day allowed relatively late start for a sunny passage to St Peter Port via a stop in Omonville in a decent SE breeze and flat water for a full day on Guernsey.
Another fairly late departure when the tide permitted took us, again in the sun, to Greve de la Ville, Sark for a row ashore to experience the delights of the island.
A very early start resulted in a motor to Alderney where again we experienced the delights of that island prior to another very early start.
At first there was no wind then a SE F5. This was forecast to veer to SW. Instead of doing that gradually it did so with a sudden shift accompanied by very heavy rain and an increase to F7. This resulted in an unintentional gybe which damaged the mainsail and an attempt to roll the headsail away before I got on deck resulted in a wrap. The main was lowered but the headsail tangle proved impossible to sort out in what were then confused seas so we motored the last few miles entering again by the North Channel to avoid the foul tide at the Needles. In the flat water the reason for being unable to unwind the wrap became clear. The genny sheets had tied themselves together – not merely by one wrapping around another but one had tied itself to the other in an almost complete bowline. We phoned the office to give them advance notice of the mainsail damage and arrived back in the marina at about 18:00 on Thursday eve. Fuelled and handed back the following day after assisting with mainsail removal.
A little postscript requiring some more detailed explanation. There are some unusual design features of the Gibsea. The fuel filler is situated on the stern requiring the person fuelling to stand on the sugar scoop platform. The boarding ladder for swimmers is hinged above the sugar scoop and when in its raised position rests against the pushpit and is a little higher than it. It was held there by a bungee – an arrangement that worked quite well. It was however necessary to avoid attempting to use it as a handhold when ascending from or descending to the sugar scoop. Jerzy, who was doing the refuelling, found this out on the descent but rapidly recovered his balance. However having finished fuelling he again grabbed hold of it to pull himself up and could not quite manage to recover when it inverted that time. But of course the ladder was then in the down position so as he said “the cause of falling in was also the means of getting out.”
Cherbourg Sundays: Excellent boulangerie open all day. Walk up left side of Place Napoleon (the big 'square' opposite the statue on the front) and take the left of the two roads in front of you – very slight bear left not sharp turn. It’s at the end of that road on right. General store which sells almost everything. Open most of day but may close for lunch. Turn sharp right at top of Place Napoleon. Shop is some way along on left.
St Peter Port: The chandler behind the model boat lake (shown on chart and near yacht club) carries a huge range of boat bits and the staff are extremely helpful. One repaired a jammer for me on the counter.
We did not eat in the yacht club but saw the food. Reasonably simple stuff rather than fancy and seemed to be excellent value. Beer was a bit cheaper than the pubs which are getting expensive.
The entrance at low tide is now far easier. Instead of getting to the end of the small boat channel and finding yourself in a space with scarcely enough room to swing a cat and a short waiting pontoon rafted up, there is now a long waiting pontoon all in deep water and plenty of room to manoeuvre.
Alderney: There is a reasonable sized supermarket in the industrial estate behind the row of houses / apartments opposite the Divers. Turn right past the end of the row and it’s about 50 yards on right. Pretty good opening hours.
Harbourmaster staff very helpful and not after every penny they can extract.