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Channel Islands: Summer Cruise in the Channel Islands and France
1st June 2017
During the beginning of the year, I successfully negotiated with Guernsey Harbour Authority a 25% berthing discount for visiting WOA vessels in the Victoria Marina, on a trial basis. The main criteria was in connection with rallies and cruises, hopping on and off, during June, July and August, with particular in mind our Summer Cruise, by completing an Application Form as agreed.
Thus on Sunday morning 4th June 2017, I was delighted to receive a text from Andy Truscott that Drongo and a few other Westerlys had arrived in St Peter Port. As it so happened, Julie had set up in that morning a stall to sell baby dolls and other crafts on the Crown Pier, I was therefore able to go down to the outside pontoons to say hello to the respective skippers and crews. I then went down to Victoria Marina just after 14.00 to assist them tying up in the finger berths. All together, there were 5 Westerlys – 3 from the SWG and 2 from the SCG. They were:
• Chianti (Chris & Polly Barton),
• Drongo (Andy & Liz Truscott),
• Folly (Peter Hunter),
• Lady Annabelle (Charles & Jane Patchett),
• Optimist (Mike & Mary Allan).
In the evening, before adjourning to La Perla for the customary Westerly get-together supper, we were all invited to Optimist for drinks and nibbles which was most welcoming. It was great to see all the vessels hoisting the WOA burgees and rally banners as a means of identification. Indeed, from the feedback as the first group of Westerlys arriving in St Peter Port, the process of getting the 25% berthing discount was smooth and uneventful on production of a copy of the completed Application Form.
Although Cherbourg was listed as the first port of call to facilitate members from the SCG or ECG to participate in the Summer Cruise, in the end only one vessel Sharina II (David Jibb & Mike Wilkins) sailed over from Calais to join Sauvage (John Hysted & Di Roblett), a locally based Westerly in Cherbourg. Together the 2 vessels departed Cherbourg for St Peter Port in company on Monday 26th June 2017.
ST PETER PORT
While the preceding two vessels were on passage to St Peter Port from Cherbourg, on the same day, Monday 26th June, Magic Legend (Mike Tai & Julie Payne) left St Peter Port for St Helier.
For Sauvage and Sharina II, it was a smooth passage down the Race of Alderney, getting into St Peter Port early in the evening. After tying up the vessels safely on pontoon berths just outside the marina, the skippers and crews all went for the Fish & Chips supper at the Chip Inn by the Town Church, as recommended. The consensus was that both the quality and quantity was as good as ever, well worth the visit as one of the best in the British Isles!
By the time Magic Legend arrived at the waiting pontoon at 17.30 outside St Helier Marina, we were pleasantly surprised to find Tea Time (Robert Brial) from Port Dinan already tied up there. Once we were inside, we invited Robert for a quick drink and chat on board. It was interesting to learn from Robert that he bought the Konsort in July last year and only acquired a berth in Port Dinan towards the end of the month, thereby just missing our presence for the Fete des Remparts in Dinan during the 50th Anniversary Celebration Cruise and Dinner in mid-July last year! Since Tea Time had not yet been equipped with a WOA rally banner, one was duly provided. Similarly, another banner was presented to Teddy Bear (Peter & Rosalie Smith), as happened to be in the marina as well, at the great price of £15!
On the following day, Tuesday 27th June 2017, we were joined by Sauvage and Sharina II from St Peter Port.
On Wednesday during lunch time, the nine of us, including Brian & Liz Stuttard (Lady Sinclair), met up at SHYC for a bar lunch. Peter & Vicky Warren (Temptation of St Helier) were there but pre-booked on a separate table. Their plan was to go direct to Iles Chausey to join us there. It was a good venue for everybody to exchange briefing and other house-keeping ideas in respect of the Summer Cruise.
Another coincidence worthy of mentioning was the chance encounter with Gary McGuire in his Fulmar Pucaban. Gary and his crew Jimmy were just about leaving the next morning for St Peter Port on their way back to Dublin. As expected, we spent Wednesday evening together in the yacht club having a few more drinks and reminiscing our respective role as Area Group Representative!
I then emailed Andy Truscott afterwards as I was aware that Drongo was still in St Peter Port, mentioning that Pucaban was on her way there. Subsequently, I was delighted to receive a confirmation that Andy and Gary had indeed managed to meet up! What a small world!
A further interesting topic was having the pleasure of meeting a certain Col Mike Parsons on board his Contessa Pelican. Apart from being a very experienced sailor himself, I learned that Mike’s cousin Amanda Bowley and her partner Paul Wilcox were also members of WOA with a Westerly Storm called Solent Kestrel.
Thursday and Friday were free days spent shopping or going round by bus seeing Jersey.
On Saturday 1st July at 14.00, all the vessels were moved from inside the marina to the waiting pontoon just outside in readiness for departure for Granville on Sunday at 08.00 (LW St Helier).
The CIG AGM was then held in the Bramley Suite, Pomme d’Or Hotel, at 17.00. That was followed by the Cruise Dinner in the Harbour Room, in the form of a sumptuous buffet with a wide selection of delicious hot and cold dishes to choose from, so much so that many of us went back for more! For this event, we were delighted to enjoy the company of Mike Parsons as well.
On Sunday morning, all five Westerlys left together for Granville at 08.00 (BST). They were: Lady Sinclair, Magic Legend, Sauvage, Sharina II and Tea Time. The passage was straight forward enough and the visibility was good. However, the 28 miles crossing turned out to be extremely uncomfortable, with a confused sea state that was moderate to rough. It was quite tiring too for those with wheel steering as the hydraulic autohelm mechanism was unable to cope and had to be steered manually. At 15.00 (French time) we reached Granville and made our way into the marina. We then tied ourselves up respectively to the pontoons for visitors. As the first port of call in France for the Summer Cruise, we all began to feel more relaxed as it was sunny and warm in Granville! Jusqu’ici ça va!
Most of us spent Monday morning 3rd July in town shopping or sightseeing. In the afternoon, I volunteered to go up in a bosun’s chair, firstly the mast of Tea Time to fix the RT aerial and, secondly the mast of Lady Sinclair to re-thread a halliard through a pulley at the cross-tree and to replace a light bulb while there, much to the satisfaction of Robert and Brian!
In the evening, we all met at Le Herel Bar for drinks before adjourning to Restaurant Borsalino for an excellent, well-presented and tasty supper.
Tuesday morning 4th July was spent doing any last minute shopping and getting our vessels ready for departure as soon as the marina gate opened at 13.47. Three Westerlys, Lady Sinclair, Sauvage and Sharina II aimed for Iles Chausey, whereas Magic Legend and Tea Time headed directly for St Malo.
It was a good sail to make the short crossing from Granville. Unfortunately, anchorage below the lighthouse was not possible due to a lack of space as other boats were there already. In the end, berthing was achieved by mooring between 2 buoys on the trots and by tying up alongside other boats already there due to the fact they were all taken up as well. It turned out to be not an easy task as it became quite windy and there was a strong tide running. In such a blustery condition, it was no surprise that skippers and crews decided not to go ashore but to eat separately on board their vessels.
All 3 Westerlys then left for St Malo on Wednesday morning 5th July.
For Magic Legend and Tea Time, it was a pleasant sail to St Malo from Granville on Tuesday 4th July. The sea state was slight, sunny with good visibility, wind N/NE 2-3. A splendid time was made via the inshore passage so that at 17.45 (French time) we passed S of Roches Aux Anglais Buoy to reach the main channel for St Malo Bassin Lock. We got there at 18.15 – just in time for the last open lock of the day to gain entry! Meanwhile, Tea Time made her own way for the Barrage to go up the La Rance.
Once we were out of the lock in Bassin Vauban, we met an awaiting marina dory to be directed to the right finger berth. There we were greeted by John and Sparks Beattie (Sea Daisy) who had been keeping a look out for us in order to join in for this part of the Summer Cruise.
Apparently Sea Daisy from Brixham had been at sea since May this year. It was their first time ever to cruise in the Channel Islands and in Brittany. Their plan was to remain at sea until September before returning to Brixham. What a remarkable achievement!
On Wednesday afternoon 5th May, we were joined by another Westerly Elle Jay (Garry Wade), having left St Peter Port very early that morning to sail directly over to St Malo. At the same time, the other three Westerlys from Iles Chausey had also arrived. Following a very pleasant pre-dinner drinks at the Nariley Tan’s, a typical Bretagne pub just inside the walled city, we all adjourned to Restaurant Remparts for an excellent meal where we found not only good and attentive service but also the same good old value for money!
Thursday morning 6th July was spent by most people shopping and getting ready for the afternoon Pontoon Party. It turned out to be a hot and sunny day, just right for the occasion! It was of tremendous help too from Louis-Martin of the Marina Office in providing us with a huge bowl of ice cubes! As a result, the party was most enjoyable to everyone, a complete success! Not only the drinks and nibbles flew endlessly, but the company and fellowship was absolutely superb and beyond all expectations. It was great too to find the skipper of another Westerly Dreamtime of Blackwater (Antony Smyth) joining us at the last minute! Thus for the records, there were 12 people, made up of the skippers and crews from 7 Westerlys, at the Pontoon Party!
On a personal perspective, I must not omit the mentioning of such a pleasant surprise in the course of the occasion, namely, the presentation to me of two bottles of fine wines and a beautifully hand-written card, together with a most eloquent speech of appreciation from David Jibb in his role as Rear Commodore on behalf of all the participants! Needless to say, it was much appreciated!
On Friday 7th July, Lady Sinclair, Sauvage and Sharina II left St Malo for St Cast. Other vessels had either hopped off elsewhere or decided to remain in St Malo. That applied to Magic Legend as well, having planned for the Bastille Day fireworks celebration on 14th July! However, in spite of staying put in St Malo it did not deter Mike and Julie from going over to St Cast in a hire car to join others for the last supper of the cruise! That took place in La Grand Brasserie where the 8 of us all met up and had another enjoyable supper in the presence of fine company!
While staying on in St Malo for the Bastille Day, it was wonderful to find Tea Time reappearing and virtually tied up next but one to Magic Legend. It was a real pleasure to be introduced to his wife Odile by Robert. Odile had only just broken up in her role as a school teacher. Moreover, further impromptu gathering of other Westerlys appeared simultaneously on the scene. As none of the others was aware of the 20% berthing discount offered by Bassin Vauban, still on going for our Summer Cruise and so, in order to encourage all of them to take advantage of such an offer by joining in, they were advised to hoist the WOA burgees and rally banners as a means of identification. Consequently, a few more WOA burgees and rally banners were sold in the process! Indeed, while there Eole (Christian & Monique Lardinoit) from Zeebrugge was recruited into the WOA as new members. They then joined the rest of us on Friday evening for a most enjoyable Bastille Day Celebration Dinner, again at Restaurant Remparts! Prior to that, most of us met up first at La Trinquette for pre-dinner drinks, in order to socialise and to learn more about each other! After dinner, we all retired to our respective Westerlys but remained in the cockpit to enjoy a most spectacular display of fireworks by the city wall.
Thus, the ad hoc gathering of Westerlys for the Bastille Day celebration in St Malo were:
• Aquayla of Beaumaris (Robert & Lisa Levy)
• Borborygmae (Julian Mandiwall & Jennie Vaughan)
• Eole (Christian & Monique Lardinoit)
• Magic Legend (Mike Tai & Julie Payne)
• Spirit of Earendil (Terry & Veronica Griffin)
• Tea Time (Robert & Odile Brial)
Early on the next morning Saturday 15th July, while some decided to stay on others got up early to prepare for the first exit of the lock at 09.48 (French time). Tea Time was making her way to St Helier, but Magic Legend and Eole sailed in company for St Peter Port. Our predicted ETA at 19.45 (BST) was true to form when I received a radio call from Christian to say that he was outside Victoria Marina, just as we were approaching the QE II Marina. Unfortunately, we were unable to get into the marina and had to wait until 20.15 due to the tides.
On Sunday 16th July, Julie and I were invited on board Eole for drinks before adjourning to La Perla for lunch. We wanted to introduce Christian and Monique to the place, well subscribed by other Westerly visitors, as they had never been before. They were absolutely amazed by the menu choices and the price! We then walked back with them to the vessel after lunch to say farewell, as they were on their way back to Belgium via Cherbourg.
In summary, the Summer Cruise, although small in numbers to begin with, was a great success. What had made it more so were the other unplanned events leading up to it beforehand and to follow on afterwards. Perhaps it is not difficult to point out that as a location, the Channel Islands and the adjacent French coast is a cruising hot spot for many WOA members. That is why we come across so many visiting Westerlys here, year in and year out. However, in terms of a bond of fellowship, there is no doubt that the name “Westerly” has something magical about it, as an introduction amongst sailors who have never even met before, to open up warm and interesting dialogue, to create new found friendship or to meet up old friends in unexpected circumstances, all because of one thing in common!
I think I will just leave it at that.