We zoomed along in perfect winds and sunshine out to The Needles, but the seas became quite roily as we turned the corner, making me very dizzy. I wasn't good for much after that, so Martin pretty much sailed us single-handed right through the night until we reached the Alderney coast around 5am next morning. Actually we wondered later whether I had a bit of food poisoning, as we had bought takeaway pizzas from Longparish's newly-re-opened pub the night before (Vicki was home for a couple of days) and I had had a headache and upset tummy all night, and felt poorly for the whole of the next day too.
Anyway, we arrived at Braye Harbour on a grey morning, grabbing a visitors' buoy behind the breakwater and tucked ourselves down for a couple of hours.
We had intended to leave the following lunchtime, when tides were favourable for the next leg, but just as the hour drew nigh a thick fog descended. As it turned out it was no bad thing to be stuck on Alderney for another day: we enjoyed a quick tour of French and English lifeboats moored up as part of Alderney Week, took a long walk around the coast to the east where we found a frisbee to play with on the beach, eventually managed to clamber round to a fort on the next headland, and even saw a firework display across the harbour as night fell.
Borrowing M's new sweatshirtIn the afternoon we took a long walk along the south shore to get to Fermain Bay: difficult as it was poorly signposted and we lost our map, but we found our way there eventually after many beautiful sea views over the clifftops.
The following day was Martin's birthday so for a treat we had breakfast at a French cafe in town, followed by a trip to the chandlery. By the time we returned the queue for showers had depleted, and it was time for coffee and presents.
Celebrations over, we left Guernsey next day once the tide was clear of the sill, and Martin navigated us through the rocky waters back towards Herm, where we anchored at Belvoir Bay on the southeast shore in gorgeous sunshine...though still not sufficiently hot for me to be tempted into the water. Martin, however, donned his new shortie and after a relaxing lunch popped over the side to do some bottom-scrubbing.
St Helier is nowhere near as attractive as St Peter Port, especially at night when all you can see is the top end of tower blocks, and all you can hear is the carp and clamour of traffic along the major highways. I was awoken early in the morning by an alarm and remained rawly alert until another hot shower and a walk into town for provisions yielded a boat breakfast of Guernsey milk and fresh croissants topped with Guernsey butter. Jersey had a lot to make up.
Martin eating cooked breakfast aboardIt turned out Jersey's best was not in the town itself, where we wandered together for a while but buying nothing. By mid-morning we felt the need to get away from civilisation, so found the bus station and took the most convenient bus, which turned out to be going North to Rozel Bay.
We clambered over rocks to find a good spot to eat our sandwiches, then Martin swam back to the main beach where I met him for some lazy reading in the sun.
The next morning we left as soon as the water was above the sill, but too early for tides down to the next island, so instead pootled round to the Eastern side of Jersey to Gorey Harbour. Having considered anchoring, we ended up finding a visitors' buoy not far from the harbour wall and took the dinghy ashore.
Sunday saw us sailing from Gorey to Iles Chausey, six hours or so more sunshine and breeze to reach a ridiculous-looking collection of rocks poking out of the sea. According to their tourist website
"Chausey, like the Mont St-Michel just to the south, experiences some of the largest tidal variations in the world. The statistics speak eloquently. The variation between high and low tide reaches up to 14 metres, roughly the height of a four-storey building. Even more amazingly, while only 65 hectares of land stand above the waters at high tide, 40 square kilometres are revealed by the lowest tides – that’s around 100 times more!"
Next morning we had to wait for the tide to come in again over another sill, so having stopped in town for coffee, fresh croissants and food supplies we walked with a delicious picnic around the end of the marina and across the river at the top.
Dielette was a short three-hour hop away in perfect conditions, though you do have to pass the enormous Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant on the coast before reaching the harbour. Yet again we arrived in perfect time for bubbly aboard, followed by moules-frites at the harbourside cafe: rustic yet perfect.
The night was still and sunset beautiful, hard to believe that this tranquil setting was home to such a huge and controversial nuclear plant, though recent controversy over the new buildings has clearly resulted in investment of a peculiarly large sum of money in improving the road surface, providing smart new children's play structures and a broad, blue-lit, two-lane cycle path, all of which ends abruptly at the barriered gates to the plant.
At one stage we passed some fishing boats so Martin dropped the fishing line, but had caught four big mackerel within about ten minutes, so given that we could eat no more that was not an enduring source of entertainment. However, we had also brought a packet of bread mix, which Martin mixed and kneaded from time to time, producing a delicious tomato/herb loaf for lunch.
Thursday dawned sunny once again and we went ashore to explore Yarmouth's pretty village centre, including a visit to the chandlery, bakery and ice-provider. We bought a plastic coffee press as a birthday present for Drifter (who turned 28 on our wedding anniversary) so delighted in proper ground coffee at breakfast.
Martin was keen to see The Needles from the headland, which I thought too far away, but we set off anyway along the coastal path. It turns out we nearly made it, getting all the way to Alum Bay and with fantastic views back along the Solent as the landscape opened, but the bulk of the path went through woodland or rather more trashy bits of coast, so we weren't desperate to walk back the same way, choosing instead to get a bus back from Alum Bay to Yarmouth.
So there was little to do next day but up sticks and go home. We had a day in hand so instead we headed over to Ocean Village Marina in Southampton for a free night, and took ourselves out for a meal at a quiet restaurant. They gave us a strange end berth with fingers on both sides, so we were well clear of other boats and Martin kindly let me manouevre a little to gain confidence.
Next morning it was drizzling so we delayed motoring across the river as we started tidying and packing up. But there was only so long we could delay the end of our holiday, and eventually we trundled the short distance back to Hythe and unpacked in the rain, chuffed that, thanks to Martin's careful planning, this was the first time we got wet in the entire fortnight.
And what did we learn from our trip? How to catch Pokemon, certainly: Max had set it up on my phone before we left, and it gave us a splendid excuse to wander foreign climes, trapping Weedle and Drowsey as we went (and inculcating a fearsome competitiveness which Martin continues to feed).
Hunting for pokemon at sea
Martin even found a real pokeball at the beach, but we never found out what it had caught.
We also discovered you can have too much fresh fish. Martin caught mackerel from our first day, cooking and presenting it beautifully for lunch, but though we ate plenty during the trip we resisted fishing on several occasions so as not to waste any fishy lives.
Most of all, we discovered we can have a lovely holiday in a small space, can cope with wearing ridiculous headwear and sporting red cheeks and noses, that the Channel Islands are a delight... and that I still have no burning desire for a boat holiday of any greater length.