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2005 - 2
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Part 2: The Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey.

Guernsey

 map

St Peter Port (20th April, 78 miles)

Yesterday we had arisen at 0530 with a sail from Dartmouth to St Peter Port in mind but the F7 winds quickly sent us back to bed. Today it was bitterly cold but we had a fantastic sail even though we were stung at both ends of the passage, as you'll see below.

We set the alarm for 0445 and surprisingly got up at that time, breakfasted and readied our selves for the off. The wind was from the NE and perfect for the passage if it would  just stop pressing us firmly onto the pontoon and let us leave. I shunted about a bit and set off with loads of revs on. Bang, I had collided with a large floating steel bollard and ripped a hole in the gel-coat. Oh well a job for tomorrow if I survived the tongue lashing from Janet.

The passage. Once at sea the wind became a NE of about F5 and on our beam so we were off like a rocket. For the first 6 hours the speed was never below 6 knots in spite of the 2m seas from yesterdays near gale. About midday the wind died so on went the motor and I went to bed for an hour leaving Janet on watch. 30 minutes later the wind returned and although the wind was now lighter the sea was also flatter so Janet soon coaxed Mithril back into the sixes again. This continued until we were at the North end of the Little Russell Channel where, as we had been really flying, we decided to drop the main and sail a little slower with genoa alone. Bad move. The sea started to boil as currents from 3 different directions merged creating 2m waves in random directions and, as those readers from last year will remember, we once again found ourselves with a 4 knot current against us and a very confused sea. That last 2 miles took an hour but we still managed to tie up in the harbour with the log showing 77.5 miles in 12.5 hours.

click to enlarge

During the passage Janet had seen our first Puffin, very elusive birds to spot at sea. Once the clouds had cleared the sky was totally blue so we needed sun cream for the first time.

The harbour at St Peter Port

You can see that the harbour is right in the centre of town. This photo is taken from above the harbour's entrance at about high water and we are on spring tides.  Mithril is in the centre.

Our first planned job on Guernsey was to refit the Brunton propeller now that it has been re-profiled, so we rang around for lift-out prices. In Dartmouth I had laughed when quoted £450 for one week on the hard but on Guernsey we were quoted £600, and even worse, we could not stay on the boat so would need a B&B or something like for the week. The only up side to this could have been the good old fried breakfasts that B&B's still do so well but at that price, no thank you. We need to give this more thought.

On Saturday we cycled around the lanes at the North of the island. In the town traffic was really heavy and for much of the time stationary, even though the islands speed limit is 35 mph. Out of the town there was little traffic and so it was possible to see how lovely the island is. And in contrast, on one beach we came across sand racing. This was saloon car and motorcycle racing but on a half mile course on the beach. It looked great fun.

Observations & Trivia:

  • In the Channel Islands VAT is not payable.
  • So many Ferraris and Fire-blades yet the island speed limit is 35 mph.

Jersey

La Collette Marina, St Helier. (26th April, 25 miles)

We decided to take advantage of the strong South going tide down to Jersey and so leave at local LW. This meant leaving the inner harbour before breakfast and going to the deep water waiting pontoons in the outer harbour. The morning was wonderfully sunny with wall to wall blue sky.

The passage. At 1300 we set off down the Little Russell Channel and followed the coast to the southern end of the island where we turned SE and headed for Jersey. At 25 miles distance the hills of Jersey could just be seen as a gray smudge on the horizon. We had a southerly F3/4 wind and we were sailing hard on the wind. Two hours into the passage the perfect blue sky gained a dark edge and this soon showed itself to be heavy rain, just as forecasted. Luckily it passed behind us but a second cloud looked as though it had our name on it. The sky darkened as it approached and the the rain started. Then all of a sudden the wind rose to 35 knots directly on our beam. Having far too much sail up now Mithril heeled alarmingly and the deck became awash, then the rain became really heavy reducing visibility to less than 50 metres. We let go the main sheet as this sail, although a power house, being fully battened does not flog at all, so is safe to let fly. Then as we came more upright the sail became more efficient and so off we went like a scalded cat.

The squall (if that's what you'd call it) lasted for about 45 minutes and even though we now had 2 reefs in the main and only a scrap of headsail we were traveling at well over 7 knots. The tide adding a further 3 knots.

Whilst rounding the SW corner of Jersey the wind dropped to zero and left us rolling in the swell. So with full main and engine we motored towards St Helier. Unfortunately we missed the "West Passage" and so made for "Danger Rocks Passage" and "Red and Green Passage". Strange names, the first 2 are quite descriptive but the latter is not buoyed at all so where its name came from we don't know. Anyway it had leading marks so we followed them in, passing over rocks which dry by over a metre, hmmm. We tied up in La Collette Marina at 1745 and had a cold beer. It was needed I can tell you.

Here in St Helier we have arranged to be lifted out on Thursday, and with luck we'll be in a quiet corner so we can stay aboard. Our aim is to refit the Brunton Auto Propellor, refill the sail-drive with synthetic oil and paint anti-foul where necessary.

Observations & Trivia:

  • In the Jersey Coop supermarkets they still ask for your divi number.
  • Jersey is 30% bigger at MLWS.
  • Tidal range on springs is over 40 ft.

Liberation Day .

This is a very important day to the people of Jersey and Guernsey; it is the day the English Force 135 regained control from the Germans occupations. This year is the 60th anniversary and what a celebration we witnessed.

 Force 135

On the 8th May we watched the surviving members of the 135-force parade through the main street accompanied by a pipe band.

The parade ended in the civic square and we attended the open-air service that followed. It was a mixture of church service and drama sketches provided by the local primary schools. Terry Waite the ex envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury was the quest speaker. It was a lovely time, we where amongst people who had been young during the occupation and at times during the service these people where not ashamed to show their feelings, it was an emotional afternoon.

On the 9th there was a massive programme arranged, and we attended the following events, these were by no means all of them:

Lagonda

11.15 We watched the start of the round Jersey rally for Vintage cars and the parade of vintage military vehicles, including those which where going to provide a 21 gun salute later in the day. We believe it is the first time civilians have been allowed to provide this salute. The guy in charge confessed to Barry that he was more worried about getting the number right than anything else as he had four guns each with 8 shells.

Red Arrows

11.45 Red Arrows display over the bay, the crowds by this time were enormous, but with a massive promenade 5 miles long to watch from it was no problem. Impressive as always. 

2.45 Re-enactment of the Liberation force 135's arrival on the beach.

Lady in red hat

3.05 Arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip, the 21-gun salute was a success. The route taken was thronged with people including us. Honest the lady in the red hat is the queen, and the Duke is 6 ft to here right.

Liberation sculpture

4.05 Watched the Queen unveil this, the Liberation sculpture.

Battle of Britain

4.15 Watched Battle of Britain fly past comprising of a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.

 De Havilland

4.30 De Havilland aircraft landed on beach, this was once the original runway for Jersey. It is first time a plane has landed on the beach since WWII. 

5.15 Free Fall Parachute drop onto beach by Jersey club.

Jersey Band

6.00 - 6.45 Massed bands of the island of Jersey, the Royal Marines and the Royal Welsh regimental bands, complete with goat mascots, beating the retreat on Peoples Park. Brilliant music and crowd appreciation.

Clip art fireworks

10.16 The most superb music and firework display we have ever seen centred on the Elizabeth Castle in the bay. 3 ton of fireworks were loaded onto the mid harbour barge alone, it was positioned 200 yards off the beach. Not surprisingly it was displaying the statutory light pattern for keep clear I am carrying dangerous cargo.

After the show we walked back to Mithril as thousands of others walked back to their cars. All in all a magnificent day full of colour and spectacle, we will remember it for a long time.

April's figures
Distance logged. 259
Hours at Sea. 47
Engine Hours. 24
Average passage distance 39
Average distance per week. 86.5
Total distance this year. 259
Total dist' cycled this year. 132

We are generally assuming Gibraltar to be about 2000 miles  from England and when that distance is spread over about 6 months it gives a weekly required distance of about 80 miles.  It seems we are on target here.

Engine hours are pretty poor and mainly due to windless days of 8 hours to the Solent and of 7 hours to Dartmouth.

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