|Bottled up in the harbour with this going on outside|
|The beach at Petit Port (at low water)|
We've been weather-bound in a lot of places, one time or another, but perhaps seldom so gladly as in Guernsey. It's wonderful if there's no favourable wind blowing, making one feel guilty for passing it by, when you really just want to stay and enjoy the time with great friends in a rare location.
|Megalithic man in the Dehus tumulus|
|St Peter Port, also known as The Town|
|Reuse and recycle in Guernsey|
|Please do feed the cockerel|
|Guernsey cow. They must use all their energy for making milk|
|Plenty of ferry action in the Little Russel|
|Le Grand Havre|
Over at Herm, outside the southwest-facing harbour, where the wind had blown for 10 straight days from the northeast, we found a crazy swell working its way in from the south, making a stay of even a few hours there distinctly unpalatable. Plan B then, on to Sark, where we fetched up in the dramatically beautiful Havre Gosselin and grabbed one of the thoughtfully provided free visitors' moorings, where we had lunch and slept a few hours before getting under way for Alderney.
|Spectacular anchorage at Havre Gosselin, Sark|
The Race, therefore, is to be treated with respect and never more so than on a big spring tide, which, of course, is when we hit it. The wind died as we entered the passage, so we motored though as the light faded and the current gathered strength. It was rather eerie. Silent, with strange patterns on the water. For a long time Alderney was ahead, gradually becoming more distinct and then suddenly it was vanishing astern as the current swept us past and on up into the Channel. I really wouldn't want to see it on a bad day, with wind against tide and a big swell running.
|Go, go, go in the Alderney Race|
The Channel was grey and lumpy, as usual. It looked identical to the scene two years ago, which hastened us on our way from Salcombe to the Azores and warmth and sunshine. The sailing was good though. Very good, mostly. Good enough to pass up the temptation to call in at Eastbourne, as Beachy Head finally emerged from the gloom, giving us our first sight of the English coast, but instead to press on for Dover and really knock the Channel on the head.
Thankfully, the second night on passage started off more restful than the first. The 'southerly 4 or 5' wind of the shipping forecast strangely conked out as we crept towards Dungeness Point against the tide but returned once we were on the final stretch with 12 miles to go to Dover and the tide turning in our favour. The pilot book mentions lumpy seas outside the harbour entrance in southerly winds and warns against being swept past by the tide, though I reckon the warning ought to be more emphatic. One also has to radio Port Control for clearance to enter this busy commercial harbour, so with all that and the difficulty of gauging distances in the dark, I suddenly found myself being swept past the entrance on a surprisingly powerful current. When we were still 1/3 of a mile off, a point of equilibrium was reached, where I could either make progress back against the current or closer to the harbour wall, but not both. This with the engine at full throttle and the mainsail drawing in a good 20 knots of wind!
After some delicious snooze, we headed into town and found, to our immense satisfaction, a Wetherspoon's pub, where we celebrated our return with steak and kidney pies and a pint and a half of real ale, all for under a tenner. Looks like there might be a couple of days at least to dodgy weather now, so we'll sit tight in Dover and hope for a fair breeze to carry us to Harwich soon.