Monday - woke to the squeak and tug of mooring lines and the slight slap of a halyard on the mast at 0430, which suggested there was wind; so up I got, cast off, and sure enough was sailing a few moments after clearing the Stone pier. A steady SW breeze of around 15 knots meant a bit of reefing for a while in the middle of the Channel, but otherwise a very easy and quick trip to Cherbourg – 11 hours pontoon to pontoon, and the decks washed to boot!

Lunch off La Hague was suitably Spartan – some home-grown spinach and a tomato left over from the last trip, now suitably ripe. It’s interesting how many Channel crossings mere fruit and veg get to do on the boat – I later found an onion which, unlike the tomato, has now succeeded in logging a complete there and back crossing. The advantage of only a short stay on the mooring at Weymouth, I suppose - no chance to, er, vegetate.

A mooring is a nice philosophical paradox – necessary to, but the opposite of, the activity of sailing. It is hard to justify the cost of a mooring, but the only real way to do so is not to be on it! And with mooring fees to pay here as well, next week’s Tour des Ports will require a certain amount of philosophy to justify!

Not that the event needs much justifying, really – racing all round the Channel islands and Cotentin ports in excellent company, with a party every evening, is a good way of putting a lot of quality time in on the water with friends and continuing to add to one’s experience of some very tricky places – like that cardinal to the SE of St Helier, which we always seem to be trying to round with no wind in a strong tide...

This year I hope to get less wet, as I’m on a Dufour 34, which I did the Transmanche on some weeks ago – rather more civilised than the Grand Surprise of the last two years. We’re taking the boat down to Granville on Friday, ready for the first leg back to Carteret and thence to Guernsey, Jersey, Dielette, Cherbourg and Saint-Vaast – hopefully less gruelling than the legendary Granville-Guernsey leg last year, upwind in 25 knots.

My first view of all the Channel islands was from the cliffs of La Hague on Tuesday afternoon, having joined a minibus trip at the Office du Tourisme to visit the Centre du stockage nucleaire on the way to a walk along part of the Sentier des douaniers below Cap de la Hague, from Goury to the baie des Ecalgrains in the bright sunshine. For a mere 4 euros, the trip is worth it for the walk, though it is interesting to learn a bit more about what happens at the nuclear centre.

Back to the boat and an impromptu dinner aboard with good friends Bernard and Sylvia who dropped by - I'm sad to announce the onion was first into the pot..

Watch this space for more healthy fruit and veg news!

Steve Fraser
Aliya

Submitted on Wednesday, 5th July