Yacht Cruise / Channel Hop to France
Ever fancied a yacht cruise to France or a cross channel hop? It can be a battle in the depths of winter, checking out the weather and arranging a cross channel trip over to France… however, it is definitely not impossible – you just need to be flexible and have a competent crew that can share the watches as there are lots of dark hours…
The best wind you can get would be a good force 5 from the NW or WNW so we could crack it down on a broad reach at 7 knots all the way… then for it to back for the return journey to a SW’erly! No such luck on this trip… however… we did have a fantastic weather window… did crack along at over 7 knots on occasions … and did have some amazing winter sunshine, good grub … and good company!
The pic here shows us cracking along at 7.8 knots flying the asymmetric… in the Solent (after this shot we did put our life jackets back on – just wanted to see if we could make it look like July!)
We came down to 4 knots on occasions and had to pop the engine on to charge batteries as we came towards the French coast and make sure we got swept along by the tide at Pointe de Barfleur Lighthouse.
St Vaast – France
Here shows us arriving in St Vaast at 4am… we just came in before they closed the lock gate – we definitely do not want our charterers doing this! Anchor out and wait for the next gate! … however the reason we did it – well not exactly ‘we’… ‘we’ made sure Buster was safely tucked up in his bunk and told him we were going to anchor – he only found out when we scraped the barnacles off the keel and pulled in along side!… anyway the reason PAUL did this was because he wanted French fare for lunch and had his sights set on some extravagant seafood feast! See below!
St Vaast is a really pretty place to explore with some really interesting wine cellars! … and they deliver … and carry right to the boat! Monday is closed for most of the shops but there are restaurants open even in winter. There are also some great walks around the old forts and you can take a swimming ‘duck’ tourist trip to the Island or jump in the dinghy!
We left st Vaast and nipped north to Barfleur but if you wanted to overnight there you have to take the ground against the wall. A very typical French fishing village that doesn’t see too many yotties due to the harbour drying out.
Pop further north… turn left (West) and a bit further along the coast you get to the large port of Cherbourg. It really is big! However, the town is not without charm and you can find many places of interest to explore and eat. Fuel is available 24hrs a day and it is accessible at all states of the tide…
From Cherbourg you can be back in the Solent in about 14 hrs… luckily the wind picked up and we flew the spinnaker and then the asymmetric to push us along a bit.
The great thing about doing a Channel Hop is that you get the all important mile-builder logbook miles that go towards your Yachtmaster… everyone needs passages of more than 60 miles as Skipper - and if you are at that stage in your sailing career then you can Skipper a leg under guidance or with an overview from the professional aboard. We do these mainly as 5 day trips http://www.datchetwatersports.co.uk/activities/yachting/yachting-socials-events/5-day-cruises/- but if you would be interested in a complete week long holiday for the family or a shorter weekend channel hop – then do let us know!
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