Fécamp to Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue

Anchorage, Sailing, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue

This was a longer leg, across the Baie de Seine, a couple shipping lanes and upwind all the way to boot. We had originally planned to set off from Fécamp very early with the morning tide. However, the marina had developed quite a nasty swell over night, which made for poor sleep and dangerous conditions in the entrance channel, so we decided to take a nap and wait for the next tide in the afternoon instead and then sail through the night. This turned out to be a good call, as even with things having calmed down somewhat by the afternoon, the swell coming into the channel made for a pretty exciting goodbye to Fécamp. You could probably ride a surfboard all the way into the marina from the harbour entrance. In fact this seemed to be what some of the more daring local fishing boats were doing on their way in.

leaving Fecamp
Leaving Fecamp

One good thing came out of being knocked about getting out of Fecamp - the little log paddlewheel that is supposed to measure our speed through the water shed whatever marine life was clinging to it (last time it was a stylish red frond) and started working again. Fenders and lines stowed, the deck thoroughly wet and several items below rattling about, Elvyra had the glorious idea of cooking a two-pot meal while sailing upwind in fairly bouncy conditions. She soon appeared again and asked for the bucket on a rope, which quickly filled with fish fodder. I concluded it might be time to refresh our dose of Kwells (a motion sickness drug). Much to my surprise, she then went back below and finished producing a delicious dinner for us. Must never underestimate that woman.

We tirelessly beat upwind until reaching the busy shipping lanes off Le Havre, at which point we motorsailed through anchored ships, ships underway, ferries and fishing boats as night fell, taking turns with watch-keeping. This resulted in me getting somewhat less sleep, as Elvyra dutifully woke me whenever some radar echo or navigation light wasn't quite clear. She did a great job though, considering this was her first time keeping watch alone at night. At least I don't remember hitting any ships.

Sunset in the Baie de Seine

The wind then started to shift this way and that, which made for more tacks (and sleep interruptions) than it was worth in the dark, so we furled the sails away and pointed the bow straight at Saint Vaast as the wind slowly died off by dawn. The engine RPM counter was working well now, so it seems my poking around had found the loose connection. A quiet anchorage beckoned with the promise of sleep. We arrived at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue about 9:30 in the morning, dropped the hook, dug it in and pretty much went straight to bed. With all the upwind tacking we had done just shy of 100 miles in 20 hours.


The anchorage was quite a distance from the harbour (which is only accessible through a lock near high tide) and we didn't fancy rowing in the strong tides, not to mention were quite happy to take it easy for the rest of the day. So we never made landfall in Saint Vaast. Instead we enjoyed the sunshine on the boat and watched the mad dash out of the local marina when the lock gates finally opened. A regatta passed right by us. We had the anchorage all unto ourselves until later that day, when one other boat stayed for the night, whose distinctive red canvas covers we spotted again later in Cherbourg.

Life at anchor is great.