On relaunch rather than return to our berth we sailed directly out of Portsmouth Harbour and took the tide down the Solent for a decent head start the following morning.
Left our mooring just outside Yarmouth breakwater at 0530 with a westerly breeze in anticipation of a healthy push from the currents into the wind, before battling against wind and tide to reach Braye harbour later that afternoon – what folly to commit to meeting friends in pre-defined locations regardless of the weather forecast!
My foreboding proved ill-founded as the wind turned northwest and we flew down past Portland reaching the first shipping lane in no time at all.
As we entered the lanes the wind died and the tide turned so the engine came on and most of the second half of the crossing was motor-sailing to ensure we arrived in Braye in good time –good enough to arrive in time to pick up the very last visitor mooring in the harbour.
We celebrated Secret Agent’s first Channel crossing that night enthusiastically.
The following morning wasn’t favourable for any further forays to the southwest so we elected to explore Alderney and make the most of it, having passed it by on so many previous occasions.
We explored Victoria & High Streets, then old fortifications of various generations including WWII machine gun bunkers – extensions to Victorian fortifications. Water wheels, paths less travelled that underlined how few people set foot on this quiet island, before finishing off with a couple of sundowners overlooking Braye beach and devising a beaching plan for our next visit.
Then decision time arrived – we need to effect an insurance claim for damage sustained to Khujada 2 on the return from the Caribbean, already delayed from earlier this year, but we were also keen to fly down round the corner of Brittany down to the Bay of Biscay to join up with cousins sailing out of La Rochelle and in-laws and friends holidaying on the islands (Yeu, Re etc.).
Head ruled heart this time around, prompted in some part by the forecast –resolutely westerly and another day of motoring, this time all the way down Brittany’s coast, held no great attraction.
We’ve never sailed east of the Solent / Cherbourg axis before, and St Vaast, Deauville, Boulogne, Oostende, Blankenege, Flushing (Vliessingen) and the like all offer pastures new to explore, so albeit without any pilot books (perhaps we can find something as we head up the French coast) we’re heading east. We will beg advice from any Dutch boats we meet as we go.