Guernsey to Roscoff

Ok I’ll admit it- our long stay in Guernsey was mostly due to us trying to get our heads around the fact we’d be sailing.. on our own.. over the channel.. to France!

It’s hard to put into words how intimidated we felt during the days leading up to our departure. I’d often through about the time when our great support network provided by Pete and his guys would be gone and it would be just the two of us. Sure we’d done the training, read all the books and blogs, etc, but let me put it this way.. neither of us got any sleep the night before we set off.

Our exit from Guernsey at daybreak the next morning was less than elegant. We thought everything was setup correctly but a few fumbles with lines as we motored out meant some quick blasts of power were needed to correct for a wildly swinging stern that hit the wind at just the wrong moment. I also needed to race from the wheel down to the bow at one point to yank poor Helen back up onto the boat via her life jacket after she hopped off to fix a snagged line (I thought she’d chickened out and abandoned ship for a brief moment!) We got out of it without any harm but still not a great boost for our confidence levels. The amazing sunrise almost made up for it. Almost.

Guernsey Sunrise Once out of the harbour things settled down quickly. We’d timed the tidal streams correctly so didn’t point south but head north (score!). We got the sails up and didn’t have any issues getting to the south of the island and then out into open water.

We didn’t really say much for the next few hours. I remember looking over my shoulder time and again to see Guernsey becoming smaller and smaller until it was lost in the morning sea fog.

Although we were still very tense, things started to become quite enjoyable from there onwards. We had a great sail in good weather, watching the miles tick down on the plotter.

The trip over to the French mainland took around nine hours. It was an amazing experience seeing the shoreline come into view, knowing we’d made it here ourselves was really was a moment I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m sure once we’ve done these voyages more we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about but I honestly did feel an amazing sense of pride and achievement in what we’d just done together.

Only thing left was the docking.. Ugh. Luckily though, after radioing the marina as we approached Roscoff, a guy quickly came powering out to greet us. He explained where we’d be heading once inside of the breakwater walls and to wait for him to get ashore so he could help with our lines. Not sure if this level of service will be the norm as we continue or if he just read the terror on my face and decided his pontoons would be safer if he lent a hand? Either way we headed in behind him then around to our berth (which even though was quite roomily felt like I was trying to park a yacht in a car park sized space). I remembered everything Jamie had taught us back in Hamble – checked the wind, didn’t turn too quickly and managed to line up Interlude pretty much bang on as we entered our space. Once my work was done (I just point the thing and hope really) I saw Helen and our very helpful marina hand quickly tie off lines in all directions until Interlude was secure.

The engine was turned off, sails bags zipped up and we gave each other a massive hug of relief before tiredness hit like us a sledgehammer and we collapsed into bed.

We’d made our first crossing together, solo.


So in Guernsey we said goodbye to all the help from the Halcyon guys and were finally on our own. It was a pretty scary and yet liberating feeling.

Guernsey 1

After a cold and wet crossing to Guernsey it wasn’t surprising that we spent eight days here, that and the buy three get one free offer that the marina gave us. And it wasn’t a bad spot to spend a few days!

Guernsey 2

The weather wasn’t that great either, with wind and rain most days but then the sun would always peek out in the evening just to tease us.

Guernsey 6

We had plenty of things to keep us occupied. Customs, the chandlery, the post office. Oh and then there was the shops, lovely cafes and plethora of pubs. Well what else is there to do in Guernsey on a wet and windy day?

Guernsey 7

One night the wind really did start howling with gusts up to 35 knots. It turns out the Guernsey harbour is not actually that sheltered and so the waves started rolling in and knocking us about big time. At 2am in the morning most skippers were out on deck adding more ropes and checking fenders. Our fenders were getting squished to within an inch of their lives – literally. They were ready to pop.

Luckily the nice man on the boat next to us was kind enough to lend us a couple of his meatier fenders, well at least until 7am when the wind had died down a little and he headed back out. So first stop the next day was the chandlery again for extra fenders. We’d seen a special offer earlier in the week so we were kicking ourselves for not picking them up earlier.

When the sun did come out there was lots to do. We finally got around to putting the name on the front of the boat, both sides. This mean’t turning the boat around in the pontoon, and back. Pretty hair raising stuff! No really it was. And the application of the names was a bit tricky too so we’re saving the big one on the back for another day.

Interlude I

We also got the dingy and electric motor out. We each took a tour of the marina – not sure why they give lady drivers such a hard time?? We’re not going to win any races but the convenience of an electric motor definitely gets the thumbs up.

Guernsey 11

We also did some exploring, taking in the cobbled and steep streets of Guernsey. It would make a great location for a car chase in a movie if there are any budding directors out there? And there are plenty of young chaps hooning around on motorbikes if you’re in need of some extras.

Guernsey 3

Guernsey 4

We also took a few walks and runs around the harbour – to burn off those scones with yummy Guernsey cream.

Guernsey 5

On one especially nice day we went for a long hike across the cliff tops, through a wood littered with blue bells and down to a lovely bay with a beautiful cafe – that one ended with drinks and cake. I definitely recommend this if you’re ever in St Peter Port.


Guernsey 8

Guernsey 9

All in all we found lots of things to do to keep ourselves distracted and to ignore the fact that we do need to cut those apron strings eventually and head out on our own. There’s only so much procrastinating we can do and actually by the end of eight days we were ready to leave St Peter Port behind us and head for pastures new and hopefully sunnier!


Crossing the English channel

After the setbacks in Hamble we were very pleased to have Interlude back in the water, fuelled up and ready to go. As we’ve registered the boat as Australian (more on this another time) we had to visit somewhere outside of the EU to take official ownership. Until this point we’d been basically crewing for the dealers.

Pete Green, the owner of the delivery company Jamie and Peter worked for, was kind enough to skipper the day hop from Hamble over to Guernsey. We’d done a passage plan for this complex route which Pete had checked over so in order to catch the favourable tide out of the UK we needed to set off at 6am. I’m not known for being a morning person but after all the morning watches coming over from Germany I knew the routine well. At least it was warmer on this leg, well to start with…

Pete had mentioned to us the weather might turn a little nasty and in turn create lumpy seas during the day. We got a large taste of both. The sea was pretty rocky and soon enough a cold rain was hammering down on us. This kept on during the morning so by lunch both Helen and I were feeling pretty rotten. Feeling sea sick is horrible. I hate it. You just feel useless. It’s like being on a ride you can’t get off three hours after it was fun.

Hamble Rain

We’d both taken seasickness tablets but that just made us both feel very drowsy.
Without going into too many details it was a pretty crappy day in terms of how we felt. Pete really helped though by keeping the mood fun and sharing some of his vast experience. One of the best things I love about the guys from Halcyon yachts is that they all seem keen to share and help wherever possible. You can see they take great pride in this and I think it flows from Pete the owner. I wish more companies showed the passion he does and to anyone reading this who needs a delivery company, you won’t find better.

After a late afternoon sail through the ‘Alderley Race’ where we reached over 12knots SOG and were heeled so far over I felt like I was sitting on top of Petes head, we approached Guernsey.

Pete wanted us to effectively bring Interlude in as if he wasn’t there so we got our passage plan sorted for entering St. Peter’s Port, got the sails away and started picking up the lights as darkness set in. Navigating at night can be very confusing, lights everywhere, some of which are moving straight for you (other yachts leaving), some of which are cars on land, etc. It took a lot of concentration, and I probably relied on the plotter too much but we got into port just as the tidal stream was really pushing against us around 10:30pm.

6:00am to 10:30pm is a LONG day in the conditions we faced so we all crashed out for a very well earned sleep.