The Area 15 rally crossed over to Cherbourg on Good Friday. 6th April 2012. with no shortage of excitement and drama. We started off with a nice early start from Portsmouth, leaving at 6am on a beautifully calm morning with the wind coming from the NE, meaning we would have wind up chuff all the way. Although we left in the dark, it wasn’t long before we witnessed a lovely sunrise, if a little cold.
Although there was little wind, the seas had been stirred up by strong winds from the SW the day before. With the confused seas and a following wind it made for a quite uncomfortable start to the crossing. However, the rocky rolly sea was soon forgotten when one of our boats (Peyto) developed engine trouble in the middle of the shipping areas. The engine would stop and start. Pretty soon we were quite sure that it was crud in the fuel.
All the time this was going on the stricken yacht was surrounded by a pod of about 30 dolphins that stayed with them for about two and a half hours. Much to the delight of the boys onboard.
Eventually Bacchus came to the rescue and took Peyto under tow with 3 hours still to run to Cherbourg. This involved rigging bridles and attaching a tow line in choppy seas. At one time the tow-line was wrapped around Peyto’s rudder. After 45 minutes they eventually got them under tow and proceeded towards Cherbourg at 7+ knots. During the tow Peyto’s skipper Rob valiantly went below and syphoned out the crud from the fuel tank and bled the fuel system successfully, so they were able to enter Cherbourg under their own steam and moor up successfully.
Cherbourg marina was surprisingly empty, mainly due to a lack of wind. The marina was expecting a big race from Cowes to Cherbourg on Good Friday but due to lack of wind none of the racers made it in before us. The iron sail we were using gave us a distinct advantage! Consequently we managed to all moor together which meant we only had a short staggering distance at the end of the night. During our stay much wine and beer were consumed, especially at the local micro brewery. Needless to say we ordered copious amounts of wine from the Normandy Wine Warehouse. Some of us didn’t even bother going, we just placed our orders and it was delivered to the boat. It should keep us going for a month or two….
The fair at Cherbourg marina is a usual feature at Easter which was great for the big kids in the party. Some of the children also went to the fair and had a great time.
Towards the end of the week Bacchus and Skoolie Too went round to St Vaast and intended to leave from St Vaast for the UK on the Friday. However at 5am Friday morning the next calamity to hit the rally occurred when Skoolie Too’s Kiwi prop came off his shaft whilst manoeuvring from the berth. This left them floating out towards the lock with no propulsion. Bacchus, who had already passed through the lock, had to reverse back through the lock sending the French fishing boats in all directions at once. Again they came to the aid of one of our party. Three cheers for Bacchus!
Having secured Skoolie Too they missed the lock and stayed to help them repair the prop. This was achieved by Lloyd donning three wetsuits (to keep warm) and his dive gear and searching the bottom for the errant Kiwi prop, which indeed he did, only to discover that the retaining bolt that holds on the Kiwi prop had been completely stripped!!!
He then fitted Skoolie’s spare 2 blade prop so they could leave for the UK when the lock opened at 2pm. and they eventually tied up in Hasler at 1:30am.