The last leg of our 2015 transatlantic tour took us from St Malo, France, via Guernsey (Channel Islands) and Cowes (Isle of Wight, UK) to Germany.
The Channel Islands are a destination in their own right and in three days we barely scratched the surface. Taking the ferry to Sark was a great experience and we wished we had more time (and less rain).
Sailing across the Channel past the Needles and down the Solent to the sailing mecca, Cowes, was a special experience (especially, when 400 boats participating in the Fastnet Race are going in the opposite direction).
On the Isle of Wight we enjoyed our daily exercise riding bikes up and down the rolling hills.
Finally pushing off to the final sail took us past the cliffs of Dover, lots wind farms and oil platforms and endless lines of freighters. Going through the locks to get into the Kiel Canal indicated that we were getting close.
A large reception with family and friends topped it off before we took Tioga out of the water in Kappeln.
All basic repairs are done by now and the more significant work is in progress. The new mast was ordered.
Distance traveled: about 680nm.
Life is good… (don’t wait too long to live it to its fullest 😉 )
Again, an attempt to provide access to the same video in countries where YouTube blocks this video:
The number of chairs squeezed into our clubhouse last night might have broken a record. It was nice so see such as large and interested crowd during our presentation of this year’s journey across the Atlantic.
Given the close connection between our tour and the various people and places in France we visited, it was good to listen to Commodore Manny’s opening statements where he found the appropriate words to address the tragedy in Paris.
Manny handed over to Philip and we continued with a couple of photos summarizing the highlights of the tour, giving us the opportunity to explain the bigger picture in words and answering questions.
- preparation took about 5 years
- 15 people sailed the boat this year, spread over three legs, supporters: many, many more
- we sailed about 4000nm, roughly 1/3 of the entire tour
- highest waves: about 45ft, strongest wind: low 50s kn, highest tides: approximately 40ft
- sailboats seen between Nahant and Azores: 0
- near collisions with whales: 3
- time to paint mural in Horta: 3 days
- number of significant storms: 3
- highest number of concurrent AIS targets: 86 (North Sea)
After that, Corinna, Ellen and Peter presented the burgees to the Dory Club that we had exchanged at various places:
- Peter Cafe Sport, Horta, Faial, Azores
- Guernsey Yacht Club, Guernsey
- Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes
- Island Sailing Club, Cowes
Videos for each leg followed, showing live at sea and the various places we visited.
Comments about Philip’s choice of music were minimal 😉
Photos we presented to explain overall route;
Summary video of crew and this year’s highlights:
As most people lose interest when watching hundreds photos of someone else’s trip, here is a very quick slideshow to get an idea of what this year’s trip looked like.
A teaser to our upcoming video night at the Dory Club…
Cowes marks the first half of our final leg to Germany. This is where we change crew for the last time. Candace left the island per ferry on Monday (flying back to Boston via Heathrow) and Alex arrived here on Tuesday (coming in from Hannover via plane, bus and ferry). Bjoern will fly in from Munich on Thursday morning and we are planning to leave here Thursday afternoon (weather permitting).
We had a great time in St Malo, the Channel Islands, Lymington and Cowes and already miss Candace and our sitting in the cockpit dance club at the dock in Cowes….
The overnight sail from St Malo was about 60 nm and the daysail from Guernsey to Lymington about 100nm. Both were quite different in nature but quite enjoyable in their own way.
A couple of impressions of our crew:
The water in St Peter Port was high enough at 5:20 to make it across the sill and take advantage of the tide pushing us to Alderney.
You can tell be are getting better at maneuvering Tioga in close quarters as we got up at 5:30, woke up the Kiwis next door, untied them and then us, and crossed the sill just 15min later. No marks left in the harbor.
On the other hand, we still have to learn how to read the light signals a little better as we apparently ran a red light light when leaving the overall harbor while the high speed ferry came in…
we had 3-4kn current pushing us all the way up to Alderney, a nice sunrise (and no more rain) and a good breeze. The forecast was right on as the wind shifted from the NW to W throughout the day. In hindsight, we could have steered an initially much lower course to sail faster, as the change in tide pushed us up wind throughout the second half of the crossing and forced us to sail dead downwind into the Solent.
This was our second time close to a traffic separation zone and as before our AIS system proved to be working very well. We could see the freighters before they came over the horizon and position us to cross the busy shipping lanes safely.
The Isle of Wight’s Needles were visible from quite a distance and it was a special moment for us sailing close past this famous landmark. As this week is Cowes week, we were not able to get a slip in Cowes before Sunday and therefore made landfall in Lymington. A very nice harbor with three marinas, lots of sailboats & ferries and an active dinghy sailing program (with a huge seawater pool). We had just tied up to another boat when the Sheppard’s Pie made it to the cockpit for another nice dinner…
A little shopping therapy on Sunday morning lifted our spirits even more and filled the fridge.
We had called Yachtline when we arrived in England to formally check in (there are no formal ports of entry in the UK anymore) and were happy to see that after a couple of clarifying calls our inspection by customs in Guernsey was sufficient to enter the UK.
After a prime spot at Peter Sport Cafe in Horta, the NDC burgee is now also hanging off the ceiling of the Guernsey Yacht Club as well. The things you can do when sending three pretty ladies to a yacht club…
We will find an equally good location for the GYC burgee at the Dory Club.
We had initially planned to visit Herm for a day and then check out Guernsey by bus (there are lots of beaches, another island to walk to at low tide and at least 15 cliff walks – in addition to numerous museums etc).
as the rained kept on coming and the forecast indicated less wind for the planned Saturday night sail to Cowes, we changed plans – skip Herm and leave on Saturday early in the morning, stay over in Lymington and then sail to Cowes on Sunday (where the Fastnet race will likely come our way as they start at noon).
We traded burgees with the Guernsey Yacht Club, paid our fees, walked through St Peter Port and then took the 90 min bus ride around the island (1 GBP/Person) to get a general feel for Guernsey. Thomas and Philip left the bus to walk along another amazing cliff path back to St Peter Port while the girls went back and learned about the “meat draw”. As it usually happens, they spend a lot more money on wine in that bar than on tickets, but of course won a nice pork roast…
Sark is one of the smaller Channel Islands with just 600 inhabitants. Despite the rainy weather we decided to take the ferry to Sark and check it out. We were not disappointed.
The whole island’s look and feel took us back in time – way back. No street lights, no cars, just tractors on dirt roads. It was very cool and a little wet, but at least it did not rain.
During our walk to the northern tip of the island (where we enjoyed a nice wine & beer pick-nick) we found plenty of tasty blackberries. On the way south and a couple of very nice narrow paths later, we found a good hotel for lunch. Thomas and Philip went on to check out Dixcart Bay, a nice beach surrounded by impressive cliffs. While the girls made it back to the ferry, Thomas and Philip checked out La Coupee, the ridge connecting Sark to South Sark. Too bad there was not more time to make it down the narrow path meandering to the beach 80m below.
The only disappointment of the day was the lack of ice cream. That was probably for the best as we just caught the last ferry of the day in time. A perfect meal on board, escargot, scampi and a pasta meal, rounded of the day. By now our French and English neighbors moved on and we have a boat from New Zealand tied to us.
The wine is still flowing, no arrests yet…
After an initially choppy start upwind in St Malo, the seas settled and the wind shifted from N to NE. We were able to ease the sheets, had a rainy, relatively cold sail and enjoyed Corinna’s first meal with the new crew (Candace, Ellen and Thomas).
Other than a race with another sailboat in the dark, the sail was uneventful and we arrived at St Peter Port at 5:20 in the morning. As the harbor has a sill to keep a minimum amount of water in the harbor, we waited for another 15 min and then were assigned a spot.
As that spot had us tie up to two other boats that left the dock at 6:20 we did not get much sleep but at least ended up with a prime location directly on a float in this extremely busy harbor. In between some bursts of microsleep, we accommodated 2 other boats that tied up to Tioga waiting for their berth assignment.
After a quick shower, we registered in the Channel Islands formally, got Philip an LTE sim card, had breakfast and developed a plan to maximize the time on the islands.
It was interesting to see the tide outside the harbor dropping below the sill level, locking us in for at least the next 8hrs, riding a couple of meters above the outside sea level.
With equipment drying out, Philip connected to high speed internet access, all of us getting a good look at Castle Cornet and the girls getting their first drinks at the Guernsey Yacht Club, we got off to a good start.
By now we have two new boats tied up to us. One from France and one from the UK. The customs officer visiting us, checked our passports and was the most friendly “customs-service” we’ve ever experienced. Life is good.
Now it’s time to find the pub.