Wednesday 15th July Ref: 2015/18
It was time to move on from Jersey to catch our pre-booked ferry for home leave in Cherbourg and again the right weather and tides were absolutely essential for crossing this very open section of the Atlantic, very much exposed to swells and waves from the south west. As seen a week ahead, the best choice seemed to be this day but tides and weather predictions were monitored in advance day by day keeping the date open from the 13th onwards.
The plan calls for an early start and steady passage well clear of both Point de Corbiere (at the south west peninsular of Jersey) and Cap de la Hague (on the Caretan peninsular) to avoid the strong tidal eddies and turbulence present for Spring Tides. We planned to carry the tide from Jersey up the Alderney Race and then hit Cap de la Hague at 'Slack' water and then realised that would have to punch the tide along the coast to Cherbourg as we could have it all our own way! In the event, tides are only predictions and the tidal change occurred a good half hour earlier than predictions and that, combined with a slightly later start than planned, had us punching adverse tides up to the Car de la Hague. Then, upon rounding the Cap and running into the Channel the sea state became certainly moderate and possibly rather rough and so I abandoned the passage plan and opened the throttles and left the sea state for dead, shortening our passage by two hours at the cost of some 82 (est) more litres of diesel. On Lady Martina, we have two 330HP engines to act as our 'Get out of Jail Free' card but the sailors we passed bucking and tossing around the Cape did not have that option and we felt concerned for them.
Weather forecasts (early on the 15th July) had winds 12-13kn gusting 16kn from the WSW with a swell of 0.7 from the West reducing to 6/7kn during the passage and that proved to be accurate . Spring tides and mod/poor visibility were predicted as the main hazards with fog patches a distinct possibility and that was right too.
It was generally a light drizzle but warm with temperatures 20-24degC pressure steady with fine weather and mod to very poor visibility with a 1m swell