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September 2012 - France, Guernsey and England

UK | England | Isle of Wight Yarmouth | The Needles below Yarmouth Lighthouse

September 28, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Sailed across the English Channel today from Cherbourg to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, England. Lots of wind and lots of sail changes. Changed our mind on the approach to use the North Channel instead of the Needles. Glad we did because of current and big rip tides as we passed between Isle of Wight and the mainland. Of course it started to rain again as we arrived. 11.5 hour sail today. SW to WSW winds between 17-35 kts and well over 2.5m seas. Arrived about 1830. We have to go in search of internet tomorrow. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

September 25, 2012

Hi Everyone, Glad we did some shopping and looking around Cherbourg Friday and Saturday because the rain came in big time on Sunday. Al and I bought a Facnor Flat Deck roller furling system for the staysail and ordered the new babystay we need to mount it on. We expect it to arrive tomorrow. We had a nice walk with Dick and Ginger on Saturday. Then Sunday the most we did was to venture over to the Basilica for mass.

Monday Al and I picked up our car around 8AM and headed out to Caen in the rain. Once again Joan our travel agent in Duluth got us a great car way cheaper than we could rent it for off the street. Driving along N13 in Normandy reminded us much of the time like driving in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Lots of trees, farmland, a variety of cows and horses in pastures and small towns. The villages in Normandy seemed familiar. Probably because of the WWII movies. Many of the older ones are walled. The area we traveled is a very productive farming area. Lots of dairy and beef, corn, sugar beets, potatoes... We spent 4 interesting hours at the Caen Museum For Peace. The museum included exhibits that spanned from WWI through the fall of the Berlin Wall.

France | Normandy | Omaha Beach | The Brave scupture for Americans

The sun came out in the afternoon so we headed to Arromanches to view the prefabricated harbor code named Mulberry harbors created for D-day by sinking old ships and caissons. At low tide we could walk out to one of the caissons. Next we drove to Longues-Sur-Mer and viewed part of the Nazi Atlantic Wall with it's massive casements holding 150mm German guns designed to hit targets 20km away aimed at both Omaha and Gold beaches. We were too late for the American Cemetery on Monday so we just visited the memorials over looking Omaha beach and the beach. We stopped at the National Guard Monument at Vierville-sur-Mer and then went to Pointe du Hoc where the US maintains a memorial for the Rangers. The bomb craters were unbelievable. Some were over 12ft deep. The beaches were emotional but it was only the beginning of the horror those young men faced for the next 11 months.

Today we drove to Bayeux to visit the Tapestry Museum and the Cathedral. Well worth the visit. We drove back to Arromanches to view the new 360 degree Cinema D-Day movie. Once again the sun came out in the afternoon.

We visited the American Cemetery and War Memorial Museum above Omaha Beach. It's about the same size as the one in Nettuno, Italy and spectacularly maintained. It is very impressive as it is overlooking Omaha Beach.

Our last site of the day was Ste. Mere Eglise where the paratroopers landed. One paratrooper was caught on the church steeple and hung there several hours before being rescued. Now a mannequin dressed as a paratrooper and in a parachute are hanging from the church steeple in memory of their liberators. Before taking the car back we went shopping to stock up before heading to England. We plan to stay in Cherbourg another day or two. Our roller furler will be here and Al wants to get it installed to make sure all fits properly. So far the weather looks good for a Friday passage to the Isle of Wight. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Channel Islands | Guernsey | St. Peters Port | Artemis

September 22, 2012

Hi Everyone, We had a great time in Guernsey. We arrived on Saturday and stayed 5 nights in Peters Port. It was an interesting marina as we had to wait for the tide to rise and cover the sill by at least 2m before we could go in or go out. The marina itself was dredged to 2 meter which meant that when it was low tide Artemis sat on the bottom showing 8 inches of waterline. The first night I complained to Al that we needed to fill our water tanks as I felt like I was rolling out of bed. Then the next day we came back at mid day low tide and saw how high she was out of the water... Not a problem but unnerving to see her sitting on the bottom and wondering if she could fall over? The sill had a waterfall during low tide Then when reaching toward high tide the water would come racing in to fill the marina again. We had an additional 9m of water at Spring high tide:-) We were able to get duty free fuel at 80 pence a liter. (about $5 a gallon)

Our friends Ginger, Dick, Al and I went a couple of different hikes while there. The coastal bus costs 1 pound. We walked out to Island L'Eree during low tide one day and some cliff trails another. Al and Ginger were keen on seeing a Guernsey cow. It wasn't until our third day that while riding the bus to the German Occupation Museum that Al spied a herd. It made his day. Ha. The museum was very interesting with many artifacts left behind on the island nicely displayed and labeled.

Our social life has improved tremendously the last weeks. Speaking a common language ENGLISH has opened many opportunities for shared cocktails, meals and dockside discussions. Alchemy had us for dinner and we had a chance to reciprocate a few days later. Met up with our Guernsey friends for a couple of short visits but missed out on a longer visit as we had a previous engagement and we were leaving the next day. But as we told them... We'll be back! We made new Brit friends through Dick and Ginger and enjoyed a meal aboard their Hylas 46 Mussetta of Hable. Also had cocktails aboard Amusant powerboat shipped over from Florida. David and Wendy will also be spending the winter at St. Katherine's Dock in London.

France | English Channal | Cherbourg | French Coast guard and Artemis

Yesterday we motor/sailed 42nm to Cherbourg, France. Not too long after leaving the harbor we picked up 2 kts of current with us and eventually building to 5+knots of current. Artemis was going 11.6 kts! Then about 8 miles out of Cherbourg the French Customs boat circled both Alchemy and Artemis checking us out. After about 10 min. of slowly following us they dropped their Rib into the water and boarding us for inspection. We had been boarded in La Rochelle while in harbor but never while undersail. They asked us to reduce sail as they were coming aboard!

Last night we went to dinner with Alchemy and Musetta. Roz, Alan, Pam and Malcolm head for England today. Alchemy and Artemis plan to stay longer and visit the Normandy beaches and War memorials. Lots to see in this area so I'm sure a week will fly by quickly.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

September 15, 2012

Dear family and friends,

We stayed at Port Vauban, St. Malo for 5 days and left this morning at 0630 for Guernsey in the Channel Islands. We arrived about 1430 local time. The seas were 1.5 with 2m swells yesterday. The winds 20kts gusting to 27 mostly the direction we wanted to go. So when we woke up Friday morning and it was drizzling we turned off the clock and went back to bed. Today we had flatter seas but then very little wind so we ended up motor sailing. We had to wait at a waiting pontoon outside the harbor for a couple of hours before we could get over the sill that maintains the water level of the marina. The sill dries at 4.7m but high tide is 11.7 meters right now. Our lines were taken on the marina pontoon by our friends Ginger and Dick on "Alchemy". We haven't seen them since Spring of 2010 when we left Kemer, Turkey. It was like we had just been together last week:-) We are invited aboard for dinner tonight and we'll begin the swapping of cruising tales. Ginger and Dick are wintering in London again this year so we'll have lots of time to reacquaint ourselves and share stories.

France | St. Malo | Artemis on Harbor quay above the locks

France | St. Malo |walking the ramparts around the city

Back to St. Malo! What beautiful city. It was bombed heavily during WWII but the old town has been restored to reflect what had existed before. We did laundry on Tuesday and walked the ramparts while we waited for wash and then drying. Beautiful views of the town and coast. They made a low tide swimming pool. When the tide goes out this pool stays filled so visitors always have a swim area handy:-) Later we walked the narrow winding streets and did a bit of grocery shopping.

France | Rennes | lunch with David and daughter Amy

Wednesday our friend David came to St. Malo and picked us up to go touring for the day. He and god daughter Sian came by around 1030. We visited Cite d'Alet and walked the ramparts. Al and I decided we would come back another day to do the WWII museum. Then we drove to Rennes the Medieval town near where David lives to pick up his daughter Amy from work to join us for the rest of the day. We parked near old town and the city market where we wandered old town. Neat old town with lots two big churches and lots of old board and plaster buildings that appear to be settling and bulging which gives them character. We found a Creperie for lunch. We had local cider, galette complete (ham, egg and cheese on a crepe), caramel dessert crepe and coffee. Very tasty I can't believe it was our first time eating a meal at a Creperie:-) After lunch we drove to Dinard and Dinan a river port to have a look around. Brittany is beautifully green, rolling hills with lots of farms. Great day but it only wetter our appetites to want to go back someday and see more.

Thursday we caught a bus to Mont St. Michel. Miss Krayka my HS French teacher had a poster on her classroom wall. I had always wanted to go and now I have:-) We did an audio tour of the Abbey and went to mass. After our picnic lunch we went out onto the tidal beach to view the Abbey from the sea.

Yesterday since we decided not to leave for Guernsey we went back to Cite d'Alet and toured the Memorial 39/45 and Fort de la Cite. The Fort was constructed in mid 18th century and was used as a German base during WWII. The Memorial tour includes a movie and then a tour of the German bunker. St. Malo was liberated by the US in August of 1945 by Patton's 83rd division.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

September 10, 2012

Dear family and friends, We ended up staying in Port Launay up the River Aulne until Friday. We had a great time biking along the river towpath, walking and visiting with some Brits each evening. There was a picnic table by our boat and they came to enjoy the sunset and evening. We walked one day and biked another to Chateaulin further up the river. I even got my first haircut since Barcelona in Chateaulin. This should hold me until I come home in December:-)

France | Brest | Aulne River | Artemis Port Launay through thick fog down River Aulne

We left early Friday morning in thick fog to navigate the river back to Brest. All went well and after 2 hours the fog lifted to a beautiful sunny day. Unfortunately no wind so we motored 11 hours to L'Aber Wrac'h. We picked up a mooring buoy and left early the Saturday for another beautiful anchorage outside of the river leading into Moriaux.

Sunday we left early with the tide for an anchorage along the River Pontrieux leading into Lezardrieux, France. We finally got some southerly winds and actually sailed 3 hours before motoring to our anchorage. Beautiful coastline, farmland, cows but rocky a long ways off shore. We got a few sprinkles on Sunday afternoon after we were anchored.

Today we sailed about 48nm to St. Malo. We arrived with the locks open so we motored right in and were tied up to the wall below the old city by 1600. Had showers and now heading out for a walk about the city. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

September 5, 2012

Dear family and friends, We met some more fun Brits David Nixon and Duncan. They shared a wealth of information with us, both cruising and navigation of the English Channel. David has sailed the English channel since he was a child and is now a retired London policeman living in a small village near Rennes, France in a 400 year old house. It was interesting that both Brits we met this week had retired in South Brittany, had 400 year old houses in small villages and own a Morgan car. The Morgan is built on an ash frame, and is the only car built in England by an English company and by English people. They build less than 8 a month. Cute old fashion styled sports car.

We had an easy trip through the Raz de Sein (notorious for it's tidal current)following David and Duncan to Cameret-sur-Mer near Brest. We met some sailors from Guernsey, John, Kate and frequent crew Claire. They had cruised down to Baiona, Spain this summer. We had a fun evening out to dinner sharing cruising stories.

France | Brest | Aulune River | old military ships graveyard near Brest up River Aulne

The wind has turned east for a few days so we decided to go up the River Aulne. Oh so glad we did. We almost skipped it! It's a beautiful narrow river channel up from Brest navigatable for Artemis up to the town of Chateaulin. We left Cameret about 1400 and rode the tide all the way up to Brest and then the River Aulne to Port Launay. At one point we came upon a French boat that quickly went below and came out with a trumpet. He proceeded to play the Star Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace as we passed by. Then later as the canal passed along a four lane roadway cars and trucks beeped and waved:-) Sometimes people on Briton boats (French) saluted our flag. In the Med Artemis was one of the small boats. Here we are referred to as that big American boat:-) We passed the "ship graveyard" where old military boats are put to rest.

France | Brest | River Aulne | Port Launay| Artemis

At Guily Glay we locked through about two meters up to the town of Port Launay. It was a gorgeous trip. The banks of the river are mostly steep to and tree lined, a very sheltered journey. We had a few scary moments when the depth sounder hit 9 ft and we draw 6.5!! We pulled in along the town quay with flowers growing out of the wall beside a park. Some Brits vacationing here were having a picnic supper in the park near Artemis. After dinner we joined them for a beer and shared stories. It wasn't until we got to South Brittany that we started meeting English speaking cruisers. We realize that this won't be unusual now that we are in the English Channel.

France |Brest | Aulne River | tow path from Port Launay to Chateaulin

Today we took out our bikes and rode further up river to Chauteaulin a bigger noisier town so we're glad we left Artemis in Port Launay. We did enjoy visiting the town and had a filet mignon and fries that was melt in your mouth delicious for only 7.95E. Then we rode our bikes further up the river past four more locks for another hour before turning back toward Artemis. It is amazing how peaceful it is here. We've decided to spend another day and just enjoy. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

France |Brest | Aulne River | Chauteaulin


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