The Channel Crossing
18 April 2017
49 38 74N
001 37 28W
Wind, tide and weather were perfect for a channel crossing. I made sandwiches, a flask of hot water and had soup and snacks all readily available. I learnt a long time ago that on a long passage, there is no guarantee that I can get down below and make food. On this trip I was right. I felt queezy all the way across. There are only certain sea states that make me feel unwell and this was one of them. So being able to dive down below and grab food and drinks was ideal. As it turned out, I didn't eat, I just drank plenty to keep hydrated. Unusually for me - water not wine !!! So, we left our mooring at Yarmouth at 12.30pm. We got through the Hurst Narrows on slack water, passed The Needles, turned to port (left) and we were on our way. Our paper chart was on the saloon table with the " rhumb" line pencilled in from The Needles to the western entrance of Cherbourg Port. This is the line we need to follow, and gives us a course to steer, 183 degrees to be precise. We had to allow for the east and west going tides, and get your timings right it works perfectly. We had F4/5 winds from the west. Consistent all the way across. Absolutely perfect. So perfect in fact, we said goodbye to the Needles at 13.45pm and said hello to the outer wall of the western entrance of Cherbourg at 11.30pm. We had averaged 6.8 knots through the water, reading 9.2 knots through the water as our highest speed with good runs of 8 knots. For a 10m, well laden boat, and in somewhat similar shape to her owners, it was an exceptional performance and vindicates the money spent on the new tuned rigging and fully battened main sail. It was a very fast passage, we saw only 2 other sail boats, both going in the opposite direction!! Easter weekend! Where is everyone? The western shipping lanes were very busy and kept us alert , with a couple of close calls, but experience and my trusty hand bearing compass kept us safe. The western shipping lane was not quite as busy but threw up a first for us:- a gas tanker, in the distance coming up fast. We kept an eye on him, took regular readings from my hand bearing compass and just as we were about to change course to avoid a collision, the officer on watch worked out our rapid speed and changed his. Tankers just don't do this !!!!!!
It is customary that all visiting yachts hoist a courtesy flag in the waters of the country you are sailing in as a mark of respect and that you mean no harm. Ours was hoisted as we entered French waters.
Song for this post : End of the line by The Traveling Wilburys
Thought for this post: When sailing is this good, with all the factors coming together - wind, tide and weather - it is truly sublime
Highlight for this post: The tanker - very big - who changed course to avoid us because we were going so fast!! That has never happened before.