Cherbourg, Sailing

We pulled up our anchor in Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue at 5am. It came up with a full scoop of prime quality french clay, showing off its ability to dig in deep for great holding. I grabbed the boathook and poked the clay until most of it oozed back into the depths and off we went. This would be an all motoring passage, but with a huge boost from the fast running tide through the Raz de Barfleur. We arrived in Cherbourg after only 4 hours, hitting over 9 knots SOG (speed over ground) at one point, despite only motoring at a fuel-conserving 5 knots boat speed. Our average speed was 6.9 knots, and that includes the time spent hauling up anchor and finding a berth at Port Chantereyne.

Having arrived in Cherbourg on a Sunday, we went for a walk into town, saw a ceremony honouring french resistance fighters and found a lovely little park created over a hundred years ago by a former mayor who was also a botanist. A suspicious number of people carrying the distinctive french bread came our way, so we followed the trail back to the source and soon acquired our own bread.

nuclear sub
Oh daddy won't you buy me a nuclear submarine.

The next day was reserved for Cité de la Mer (city of the sea), a huge ocean themed museum with multiple exhibits, an interactive show and something about the Titanic. This took pretty much all day despite fast-forwarding through some sections. It was pretty interesting too, especially the French nuclear submarine you could walk through (the reactor had been thoughtfully removed first) and the deep sea diving equipment that could descend over 10km deep and withstand incredible pressures.

On the last day in Cherbourg we realized with shock that we were about to leave France again without having had any crêpes. This had to be rectified immediately, so we went to a local creperie where nobody spoke a word of english, managed to order something and took care of our previous omission. Phew, that was close.

The next morning (well, more like noon really), we managed to fill up at the fuel pontoon and checked out of Port Chantereyne, to find an anchorage to spend the night at. The marina had served us well, with good facilities and annoying wifi that wanted you to log in again every 10 minutes. We sailed out of the enourmous Cherbourg harbour, briefly changing direction to practice picking up what we thought was a fender (a good exercise in case one of us should fall in), but it only turned out to be a floating styrofoam box which resisted rescue and so was left where we found it.

Mowing the lawn, boat hobo edition.

Just outside Cherbourg there was a small bay near a town called Querqueville, where we anchored in pretty rolly conditions to spend a hot afternoon splashing around in the water and me getting the wetsuit on and giving Songbird a much deserved bottom job. Doing this in the water rather than lifting the boat out with a crane saves roughly £500, so I was well determined to get the job done. A clean bottom would make us sail faster and safe fuel when motoring.