We left Lezardrieux with a favorable forecast of light winds for the 8 hour sail to Guernsey Island in the Channel Islands, 8 hours away. It was a bit longer than I would have wished for Andy and Edelle for their first spin in ages. But there was a weather window of 3 days appearing and I thought we should use it to get across the English Channel. The winds at first were too light to sail but on leaving the channel we found enough to sail under the cruising chute. Soon we were doing a comfortable 5-6 knots in clearing skies. The seas were moderate after the winds of the previous evening.On nearing St Peter Port, the main harbour on the island, the sun came out and the winds freshened from the effect of the heat of the sun on the land. Indeed, on tying up, I realised Edelle and I had taken quite a bit of sun on our faces without realising it. Andy had snoozed much of the trip and saved his delicate features from the ravages of the sun.
We fueled up and went for a stroll around town. Feeling lazy, we chilled out on board that evening over a long dinner in preparation for the long trip the following day. On the sunday morning, we found much of the town closed but a farmers market had been set up on the seafront. It was very warm and in the bright sun, we visited the castle to brush up on the history of an island at the crossroads of so much European history. It was invaded by so many groups, including the French and Germans. The castle had 5 interesting well thought out museums which painted an interesting picture of the place.
After a lazy lunch we left at 3pm to make the most use of the strong tides in the area. Soon we were sailing well at 5-6 knots on lovely seas. For the first 6 hours we had some 1 metre swell generated by a depression causing wind and rain off the west coast of Ireland. But the seas were more comfortable than the day before and we settled into the routine of the trip. Approaching sunset, the seas eased and the wind a little also. We ate dinner but nobody feeling tired, savoured the beauty of a sunset at sea together. Around 11pm the winds eased for an hour before turning onto a more favorable direction and soon we were horsing along at over 7 knots approaching the English coast. We were able to pick out the different lighthouses clearly to verify we were where we thought we were. The last 3 hours the wind died away and we motored on glassy seas into the dawn. On radioing in, we found the city centre marinas full so we ended up in Mayflower marina a mile and a half away where we arrived at 5am. We were tired but I think Edelle and Andy can feel proud of their achievement. A night crossing across open water and shipping lanes out of sight of land is no mean feat. Well done !!
Anne's friends Gary and Karen joined us at noon for a lovely spin up the river past the military docks with their daughter Sophie, a pleasant way to celebrate our arrival. The sun was out again which made it all very special for all onboard. The afternoon was spent wandering around the historic Barbican area and Plymouth Hoe, a headland overlooking the entire harbour area. We didn't head out that night as we were tired after out night passage but instead had a good feed and card game onboard. At this stage a skippers strike/mutiny occured so for the next 3 days the skipper was to alternate between Edelle and Andy. The previous skipper was relegated to galley slave.
The first up to bat the following morning was Edelle who sailed us out of Plymouth with a NW 4-5 forecast, meaning that we would be sailing close to the wind and tacking a bit. It it a tricky balance between sailing too close and too far away which adds miles to the trip. But Edelle got the hang of it and even winning a race with another boat, we creamed along at over 7 knots towards Fowey. The passage was over 4 hours and she kept the max speed up, leaving her buzzing by the time we arrived to pick up a visitors mooring which she managed to get on the first attempt. Well done!! After a rest we went ashore for a stroll. The sight of a St Austell pub brought back the quest for Cornish Cream, not seen since Derrick's and my trip to the Scillies years ago. Sadly we were unsucessful in the hunt but still found a pleasant tipple to celebrate Edelle's successful command (no pressure Andy !).
The winds eased that evening and in the morning after showers and shopping ashore, we headed out into the sunshine to find slight seas and slightly lighter winds. Andy seemed in his element taking us out for another 4 hour passage and soon we were creaming along under 3 sails at 7 knots. Approaching the entrance to Falmouth harbour, the winds became changable in direction and gusty. We tacked our way in and up the Fal river to Smuggler's cottage, an isolated pub restaurant with spectacular views, just upstream from King Harry's Ferry. We discovered that the river was on of the staging points for the D-Day landings where US troups were based in the run up to setting off for France. It was hard to imagine such scenes being prepared for in such a tranquil location.
The following morning we headed off downriver to Falmouth. On leaving the narrows we found a bit of wind and we had a pleasant downwind spin to the town pier. On approaching the small berthing area, I found Wild Irish Rose, a Nicholson 45 with Gordon and Ann on board who I haden't seen since I lived in Bilbao in 2005. They have been liveaboards for the last 15 years. Funnily enough, though they are English, their boat is the only other yacht I have met which is registered in the same place as Suckin' Diesel, Skibbereen. We rafted alongside and had a nateer about old times and where they had been since I last saw them. What a surprise!
Andy and Edelle deserved a bit of sightseeing so we went off to see Pendennis Castle which overlooks the entrance to Falmouth harbour. It is a very well protected natural harbour at the entrance to the English Channel and has played an impotrtant role in history and commerce for many years. Then we wandered back along the beachfront in the sunshine working our way up to a pint in the Chainlocker pub overlooking the harbour. After prettying ourselves up, we went our for dinner and had a great meal to celebrate our great trip. They were lucky with the weather they got but I think they also found that they were natural sailors. I suspect this trip will not be their last......