Archive for September, 2009

In Calais

Posted in Photographs, Sailing, the English Channel on September 29, 2009 by maidofmettle

We had amazing weather (albeit with little wind) on the way to Dover where we spent two days. It was really nice to have a bit of a rest and explore a bit of coastline I’ve never seen before.

chris and caroline

Chris and Caroline on approach to Dover

It was a bit weird leaving the country at last having sort of officially left nearly a week before, but here we are in Calais. The weather for the channel crossing was far better than expected seeing as the forecast had predicted very little wind, and we managed to sail most of the way.

The crossing was a little bit eventful. First off the running back-stay (bit of wire that helps support the mast at times) was pulled out a bit when the main sail went up so Pete had to be hoisted up in the bosuns chair to sort it out. Unfortunately we lost an hour or so travelling in the wrong direction back towards England during this to avoid the shipping lanes.

pete up mast

Pete up the mast

Then one of the poles that held the jib (front sail) out made a worrying sound and then bent like a banana. Luckily the Hibbert tendancy to bring more things than you would expect to be necessary proved useful on this occasion as there was a replacement ready and waiting to be used!

chris helming

Chris helming

The cooker proved to be truculent so lunch was a little later than planned but the spag bol tasted really good a few miles outside of Calais (thanks Mike and Lisa for our dinner!)

There are lots of ships coming in and out of Calais so a little boat like ours isn’t exactly considered important in the grand scheme. We were supposed to avoid polluting the airwaves with unimportant chatter on the VHF so waited patiently for the traffic light system to let us in. The traffic lights seem only to work for the big ferries so we waited and waited and then finally decided it was best to follow one of the bigger boats in or we would be waiting all night. Once through the first set of lights we waited and waited and waited for the next set to allow us entry into the inner harbour…the lights only went red or a combination of green and white neither of which were very useful for us. Again, not wanting to wait for the next 24hrs for nothing to happen, we decided to go for it when it was showing “pass if you have permission”. So far no one has told us that we didn’t have implied permission so i think we’re ok and anyway we are politely flying the french flag so that should pacify them…

caroline putting up flag

Caroline flying the French courtesy flag

Hoping to spend today exploring the older part of Calais.

We’ve left!

Posted in Sailing, the English Channel on September 22, 2009 by maidofmettle

GPS N50º48.4, W000 º32.6

Left Chichester on Monday evening and motored to East Head for the night. It was pretty calm until sometime in the early morning when we started rolling about a bit because the tide had changed.

After trying to stow things in a reasonable order, today we had a fairly bumpy sail to Littlehampton and Chris and I were reminded of the fact we haven’t been sailing for a few years through not feeling ‘quite right’ for a few hours until we entered port. The harbour is fortunately very calm at the moment. Heading East tomorrow as long as forecast remains good.

Leaving!

Posted in the English Channel with tags on September 20, 2009 by maidofmettle

After a number of false starts we’re looking more and more ready to go.  The wind is looking favourable from tomorrow so with luck (and a bit more tidying) we’ll be leaving Chichester tomorrow or Tuesday and heading towards Brighton and then on to the shortest bit of the channel to Calais.

Most of the stowing is finished but there are the innevitable little jobs to do such as photocopying passports, picking up last minute items and putting the last bits and pieces away.

Yes, we’re still here!

Posted in Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Photographs, Planning (or pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey) on September 8, 2009 by maidofmettle

I have realised after a number of conversations with people that some of you are confused.  Just today I phoned my old work and was greeted with “Oh Hi, where are you calling from?!” to which I embarrassingly replied “Well, yes, I’m calling from home…we haven’t left yet”.  Shortly afterwards someone rang up and before taking a message the innevitable “Haven’t you left yet then?” soon followed.  Still, at least I haven’t been greeted with “So have you just popped back for a bit then…” that we thought might be a possibility before too long.

The mast went up a couple of weeks ago so now the boat looks like a boat at last.

It's a boat!

It's a boat!

Chris and Pete have been hard at work fitting bits and bobs e.g. the non-slip at the front deck and loading the hundreds of tins that Tesco kindly delivered.

fitting non-slip

fitting non-slip

I’ve spent lots of time on the internet over the last 3/4 weeks buying any last minute (!) things we might need.  The physical labour has been left to Chris and Pete mostly due to my being somewhat incapacitated and resembling a wonky little old lady who could barely bend in any direction, walk without the disconcerting feeling of bones crunching (Ouch!) or weald anything heavier than a kitchen knife.

Fortunately that little old lady is fading into the past and I am now well on the way to recovery.  Despite warnings of some pain for another month or so, now I have the go-ahead to go sailing without worrying about making things any worse 🙂

The other day I did my first bit of (light) sanding and painting in a month meaning that there is now some heat-proof board around the galley and it’s enthusiastic paraffin burner.

sanding again

sanding again

Chris made some mounts for the solar panels too whilst avoiding the 3 swans that seem to have taken to hissing at him whilst on the pontoon.

The "Black Swan"

The "Black Swan"

Solar power mounts

Solar power mounts

The long-awaited curtains are nearly all up too.  It’s really starting to look like a comfortable place to stay.

curtains

curtains

We just need to fit an outboard motor on and tidy up a bit before leaving!

Looks like we need a dyson

Looks like we need a dyson

We have had quite a few visitors in the last couple of weeks including Pete’s mum and uncle, Helena and Tim (with their dog May) and various members of the Hibbert family (Chris, Tina, Graham, Jack etc) so we have been lucky to have some nice walks and eat out a few times- thank you to everyone who has made it down.

Chichester Marina

Chichester Marina

Pub at Dell Quay

Pub at Dell Quay

Helena and Tim

Helena and Tim

As it is getting a bit late in the day for crossing Biscay and because the chances of a calm, pleasant (and importantly not rough) trip for 7 days may have significantly decreased by the time we hope to leave next week.

Sooo, what does that mean?

Up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t realise there were any other options.  Fortunately someone decided to build a network of canals that run through France into the Mediterranean Sea, and it looks almost certain that we will be chosing that route instead and then making our way out past Gibraltar where we can see the monkeys and the Rock.

P.S I have just added some more photos of East Head