Saturday 18th June Ref: 2017/9

We had an absolutely amazing day’s cruising across The English Channel from Lymington to Cherbourg today as we experienced almost dead calm at times and less than 7 knots of wind throughout the voyage. It was a very hot and sunny day as well and this made for an idyllic passage, with just some turbulence and residual swell at the going out through The Needles first thing this morning

  • Leaving the Solent by the Hurst-Point East Cardinal marker
  • 2-Approaching The Needles off the IOW in fast following current but spectacularly calm seas
  • Cherbourg sports impressive fortifications-at-both-entrances

One minor problem I had was finding the channel out of Lymington River estuary first thing but I had been watching my depth sounders and quickly steered away from shallows of only 3m! The other improvement I could have made was to steer due south and not engage tracking on the autopilot such that the tide could take us in an ‘S’ shape but we would end up roughly where we wanted to go without using energy and fuel to hold a straight course. If I made regular crossings of the Channel I would perfect that technique but, for today, it was simpler just to follow the waypoints and use the auto-pilot.

The sea was so calm that it was possible to see every disturbance and movement of water and the most enjoyable sight was the school of dolphins, some 4/5 of them turning and playing in our starboard wake; presumably looking for disoriented fish, but they did not stay for long. It was so uneventful that Kathleen went below and to sleep for some of the trip as I stayed at the helm and somewhat suffered from the hot day.

We cruised at a very economical 8 knots through the water which only consumes about 15 litres an hour compared with 29 litres an hour when we go just two knots faster! For the crossing of 70 nautical miles this meant using about 130 litres rather than over 200.  At our maximum comfortable speed of 15knots it would take 420 litres and, at current diesel prices of around £1 a litre, the same numbers could be used for pounds! My strategy is always to wait for really fine weather for cruising which can be enjoyed at lower speeds rather than tolerated and survived as quickly as possible.

Upon arrival at Cherbourg, we cruised our way through the familiar outer Grande and inner Petit Rade and were greeted by two nice friendly young guys in an inflatable harbour tender who directed us to a very large alongside hammerhead berth on ‘N’ pontoon and we soon turned and tied up as they also scrambled ashore and helped us to tie up.

When I then visited the office, more friendly staff offered me a 20% yacht club discount and charged us just €33.68 per night inclusive of water, electricity and WiFi which, at the currently poor exchange rate of €1.14/£ (our country’s fault and not their’s) even then converted to just under £30/night compared with the £50+ rates on the UK South Coast. Such a pleasure also to see how the locals use their small motor boats to fish and set individual crab and lobster pots and reasonably-sized sailing yachts for their own pleasure; with many boats active in a busy port.

On the other hand all of those large unused vessels in Lymington stood empty and unused for much of the time as status symbols. It reminded me of the practical marine nature of Guernsey rather than Jersey. I quickly checked the internet again and concluded that there was nothing to be lost by staying an extra night here and leaving fro St Vaast on Monday and so everything was more relaxed from then on. 

 

Temp 19>34 degC, RH 68>31%, Pressure 1027>1026 steady, good/fair viz, smooth/calm seas with wind less than 7 knots variable

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Inland Waterways of the Netherlands

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