12 September 2015 | Gosselin, Sark 49’25.78N 2’22.70W – St Anne, Alderney 49’43.47N 2’11.35W
Every island around the world seem to have been, at some point in their lives, been invaded by marauding hordes. To defend against these unwanted visitors the key strategic points of those islands have been fortified to repel the invaders. Alderney is different. It's never been invaded and unlike other islands where just the strategic points are defended, every point, every bay, every brook and every beach is bristling with fortifications that have never had need to fire a shot.
One of the reasons Alderney has never been invaded is due to the tide that rips around the island making sailing there a heart stopping experience. This is exacerbated when the wind is blowing over the tide creating a world of white water. It was therefore with some trepidation and our hearts in our mouths that we approach the island when the tide was ripping and the wind blowing over it. We just hoped that our pilot book, tidal atlas and local knowledge, whose advice we were following to the letter would prove to be correct.
Amazingly everything proved to be right and we scooted around the island into the not quite so protected surrounds of Braye Harbour. In the North Easterly wind Ruffian bucked and kicked at her mooring making everything apart from lying down a real effort. It felt like we were sailing in rough seas and Iain quickly succumbed to seasickness while Fiona took the better option of going horizontal.
Deciding that either staying on Ruffian or going horizontal were not good options Iain ventured ashore to seek connectivity. The laptop pinged and emails flew in. There at the top of the list was the fruit of his labour from his time in the UK. A job offer was waiting and so within weeks Iain will be exchanging his tattered shorts and flip-flops, and his simple live-aboard lifestyle, for 3 piece suits with leather soled shoes and the cut and thrust of corporate life. Change is on its way on for the Ruffians.
With renewed vigour for exploring, Iain dragged Fiona out of her horizontal position and we walked every inch of the island. Around every corner we were presented with forts, gun emplacements, firing pits, machine gun posts and artillery positions. The air of menace was palpable and it was no wonder that the island had, over the years, proven to be impenetrable.
When all the fortifications were armed, having the barrels of guns pointing out of them in every direction, the whole island must have looked like one giant hedgehog, but as the guns left real hedgehogs returned. Alderney isn't home to normal hedgehogs, its home to very special blond ones and like
some blonds, they are a bit dense.
Taking to the countryside at night armed with a couple of torches that were powerful enough to be classed as light sabres we sought out these blond creatures. When they were highlighted, instead of running away from the light they just froze. This freezing strategy doesn't prove to be a particularly effective form of camouflage, as blond hedgehogs in the middle of green fields glow like moveable snack points for any predators. It's no wonder that this is the only place the poor things survive.
The more time we spent on the island the more people we met and the more the tiny community impressed us. We seemed to meet the same people again and again and all working like Billleo. We met a bar man at a bar, again on a diary farm and finally at the convenience store. The water taxi driver moonlighted as a pig farmer and photographer and the chandlery manager was also an architect and the head of planning. Talk about multi tasking.
With jobs now waiting, haul out dates 'booked'*, boat shows happening and an exciting arrival planned, we need to cross the channel and finally after exactly 3 ½ years of exploring new places head back to our home waters of the Solent.
*In so much that you can every book anything with the best boatyards.
A nice protected bay, with only a 400 mile fetch and a 4 foot swell!
The signs of war tower over everything.
Aye, that'll be a police car then.
What a cool place to live.
That's not a snow capped peak, it's a poo covered rock.
You can just imagine the troops parading.
Ruffian finally finds some flat water.
Lest we forget.
That's more like it.
Iain takes up position in a 'Tobruk' pit.
One scary lookout.
It's all happening out at sea.
Yo blondie. Shouldn't you normally be a brunette?
Lookouts for the saving and taking of life.
Poor Larry isn't looking forward to the fog.