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Cruise 15-22 June 2019

Channel Islands Cruise II

The plan was simple: to enjoy a leisurely week exploring the harbours and coast lines of Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Guernsey and 'deliver' Brighton Belle to Plymouth. And so Skipper Paul with MikeM, Pascal, Rami, Rik and Phil joined Brighton Belle in the St Helier marina located close to the town centre on a balmy Saturday. We enjoyed a crew dinner at a busy French restaurant in St Helier's bustling restaurant district, then set alarms for an early start the next day.​

Once the marina sill had enough water over it to allow us to leave, we sailed carefully through the rock-strewn Violet Channel and up the east coast of Jersey, helped along by the Sunday morning tide.

Having arrived at our destination on the north coast in better time than expected, and enjoying the brisk and building north-easterly, we decided to sail on to Sark. Greve de la Ville provided us shelter for the night and a fine meal aboard courtesy of the crew "chef du jour".

One of the delights of sailing around the Channel Islands is playing the tides to one's advantage - logging 11.4 knots in the Alderney Race can only be described as thrilling! And thrills aside, the strength of the tidal currents, particularly around Alderney, demand respect! We timed our departure on Monday morning to catch the start of the west-going ebb along the north coast of Alderney, just after the turn of the tide at the Race. Our approach worked to plan and we made a comfortable entry to Braye Harbour at around midday. Braye provides excellent shelter and moorings and gives easy access to the 'town' – St Anne - and to coastal walks (the sandy beaches on the north side are magnificent).

Next day we departed Alderney via the notorious Swinge (at slack water) for Sark, taking a mooring on the west coast this time, tucked into a rocky inlet in the lee of Brecqhou, the Barclay brothers' private island. Once again, to the satisfaction of the crew, we timed our approach perfectly, passing over the ledge in the 100 metre gap between Brecqhou and Sark with only a ripple of tide running over it. Long admired by sailors, Havre Gossellin - as it is called - is an anchorage of incomparable and rugged beauty. Exploration of Sark included a walk across the island to the east coast harbours and, naturally, to check out the local pubs. The beer was well earned after two very stiff climbs!

Our final CI Visit was to St Peter Port in Guernsey. One of the pleasures of being a member of BBSC is that one sails with some interesting people! Or should I say, people with interesting hobbies! This cruise was no exception and the writer much enjoyed an introduction to 'geocaching' from Phil in Guernsey. We spent a few hours searching for caches hidden in places with the help of his GPS and clues provided by ''. One certainly visits places of interest off the beaten track- much to be recommended.

We had a splendid sail (on the wind) back to Plymouth via an overnight stop in Salcombe. We crossed the bar and took a mooring buoy in the centre of salubrious Salcombe as the sun dipped below the western shoreline. Serendipity!It was delight to discover that a former Windfall Yacht – Sea Scamp - was at an adjacent buoy and to meet her crew on a trip ashore in the water taxi. (Most members will know that BBSC was formed from a syndicate that once owned another WindfallYacht – Marabu).

The final day was spent enjoying a beam reach across Bigbury Bay and on to Plymouth. It is always a personal delight to end a voyage in Plymouth Harbour and soak in the maritime history. We left Cawsand Bay where Nelson would 'house' Lady Hamilton well to port and proceeded around Drake Island leaving the Hoe and the Barbican from which the Pilgrim fathers sailed to starboard, and then towards the Tamar before berthing at the Mayflower Marina opposite the imposing Royal William Yard -the historic Naval Victualling Yard.

A fitting end to a memorable week on our splendid classic yacht!

Moored behind Brecqhou

Enjoying breeze on the beam

About the author

Paul Taylor

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