Martin Conway

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Hamble to Honfleur

Crew: John Yates, Martin Conway, Trevor Byrne

Yacht: Rosa Fascia, Dufour 43’

31/May 2006

1645 Cast off from Port Hamble, strong outgoing tide pinning us to the pontoon, got some help from fellow yachties and rigged a rope across to another pontoon to get bows out, John made good job of getting us out.

1830 Started cooking Dinner, concoction of Chicken, chorizo, tomatoes, Jersey potatoes, garlic, red onion, carrots, French beans and leak. Served in bowls with bread, at 2045, not bad.

1845 J &T had problems putting sails up, reefing lines all twisted, came head to wind off Bembridge to sort out mess left by bloody useless riggers.

1930 Engine off, sailing at last, heading 152 deg.

2150 Wind died, engine on, great just as I am off watch and trying to sleep!!

2330 Engine off, winds up again, cant sleep on watch in 30 minutes

0000 On watch with John, sailing is good still heading 152 deg

0200 Trevor comes on watch with me, and John goes to bed. Sailing is really good now, flying along on a beam reach, averaging  7.5 knots.

0400 Bed time, oh bliss, very tired, and a bit cold, soon warm when under quilt in own cabin.

0600 SHIT, 6am already, thought I only just shut my eyes. Up on deck sailing with John, we are flying, regularly hitting over 8 knots, wind now gusting force 5, still got full sails up as Rosa is handling superbly.

Sailing is absolutely tops, steering best coarse to wind.

0800 Entrance to the Seine, sails down and engine on, zoom up the river to Honfleur locks, miss locks by 5 minutes, but great lock keeper opens up for us.

0930 Tied up and along side in Honfleur, what a result, wasn’t expecting to be in until around  lunchtime, feeling really tired, jump ashore for breakfast, another 104 miles in the log book.

1100 Back on board and bed, I know nothing till John wakes me with cup of tea at 1600

1800 Go ashore for a beer and some dinner, end up in a bar for coffee and brandy, then back to bed, good 8 hours sleep had by all.

1st  May 2006 miles in the log to date: 104

Honfleur to Rouen

0745 I go ashore to the bakers for fresh bread & croissants

0820 Cast off and hang around harbour waiting for bridge to lift, motor down to lock and then out into the Seine, this time turning right to Rouen. FANTASTIC I got us out in tight spaces, under engine, no prangs, or shouts to John for help.

1330 Trevor had a brain storming session, and came up with the idea we needed some hot totty, oops meant hot toddy’s. John made sausage sandwiches and we continued to motor down the river, weather still shitty and rainy, but the scenery is getting prettier.

1615 Came alone side at Rouen, putting it mildly, I have been to nicer moorings, Beirut springs to mind! Log reading was 54 miles for today, up a river, a first for me.

1900 John feeling a bit yucky with a belly ache, so I decide to cook! On tonight’s menu  capuche of finest Scottish beef (recipe in my book) and had a few large chestnut mushrooms left over, so made a filling of, pate, very finely chopped red onion, a couple of pickled chillies also chopped and some grated cheese, oh  tsp of Dijon mustard. Mix all together and fill mushrooms, put in oven with some more cheese on top for about 20 minutes. Meal was a good one, but John not feeling at well.

2nd May  Total miles in log to date: 158 miles

Rouen to ????

0530 Trevor and I get up, John feeling quite a lot better, but decides to stay in bed for a while.

0600 Slipped mooring lines  and motored back up the Seine.

0800 The sun has come out hooray! Can’t wait to get back to sea, this bloody river is beginning  to bore the pants off me.

0900 John has come up on deck, I think he must be fully well again, as his first words are “what’s the tide doing?” followed be producing his now infamous “list of things to do“.

We are doing a watch system of 1 hour helm, 1 hour nav, and 1 hour off. Trevor decided on his hour off to do some tidying up, (as I write this up on the following day, Trevor is still hard at it).

1300 I cook up a lunch of prime fillet of beef, very rare, sliced up and put into freshly baked baguettes, with sliced red, and spring onion, topped with sauce béarnaise. This one was a winner, and Johns tummy must be fully well as he has seconds, and thirds, infact finished off the rest of the beef. While preparing lunch the sails went up, and we are sailing again, fantastic.

1400 We are sailing at fair old rate of knots in the La Havre channel, we zoom pass Honfleur and out into the sea and head west, can we make Ouistreham? The last lock is at 1730, Johns ruff secondary port calculations.

1530 A quick check on our progress and looks like we might miss the lock by 15 minutes, shit. I do some proper calculations and find we have another half an hour, (thank god for day skipper theory!)

1845 We are alongside Ouistreham Marina, gin and tonics all round. Another 84 miles under our belts, and the sun is really shining through. Feeling very relaxed, and then the peace and tranquillity of the moment is spoilt, by a very broad Scottish accent shouting across at us inquiring if we had any books to swap. Tom comes aboard has a gin and tonic and starts to tell us all where he had been in the last three years and how much everything had cost him, right down to the 6 euros a beer in Porquerolles 2 years ago, WOW.

3rd May  Total miles in log to date: 242 miles

Ouistreham to Caen

0930 Cast of from Ouistreham Marina, Trevor takes us out onto the Canal de Caen a la mer, we have breakfast going along at a sedate pace, taking in the history of the second world war. We pass under the Pegasus and past the first café in France to be liberated by the alias after the D day landings.

1100 Arrive in Caen, what a brill place, a Marina slap bang in the middle of a beautiful city, inland.

Only 8 miles in the log today, so a bit of a chill day and I think a few local bars may be visited!

4th May  Total miles in log to date: 250 miles

Caen to Port-en-Bessin-Huppain

0830 We cast off from Caen, well John and Trevor did, I just can’t get out off bed, a few drinks with Trevor last night turned into an all night sesh. I vaguely remember seeing some girl collapse in a bar and saying not to worry I’m a doctor (RYA first aid). But I did struggle on with speaking French, think I’m getting better, double espresso, I ordered in my new found tongue, 2 pints of larger and a packet of cigarettes turned up! At this point I’m thinking of starting a separate log for miles walked, looking for somewhere to eat with John. Last night was a particular good one! Lovely restaurants all along the marina front, but John thought there might be better ones some place else, 5 miles later, perspiration coming out of pores I didn’t even know I had, we end up in a restaurant back at the marina. Now my wife does that when she is buying clothes, finds something in the first shop, but spends all day looking in every other shop she can find, and then goes and buys from the first shop she visited. Could I have found a family trait, cause my wife happens to be Johns (lot younger) sister . I think that is enough said about last night.

1315 We exit the lock at Ouistreham, bit like the Hamble scramble, loads of boats leaving.

1400 Sails up nice breeze of the port beam sailing along at 8.5 knots, the sun beating down, and taking in the sights of the beaches that were used during the D day landings, doesn’t get much better than this.

1430 Having been a wet blanket all day, thought I would try and redeem myself by making a nice lunch. No shopping has been done and supplies are a bit short. 1 day old French stick, John suggest tuna mayonnaise sandwich’s, great but no tuna or mayonnaise on board. After raiding the ships stores I find a pot of sun dries tomato pasta sauce, and some left overs, Idea, French bread pizzas. Cut the bread into 8” chuncks and slice down the middle. Spread the tomato sauce over the bread, great some cheese up and also sprinkle over the bread. I found a chilli, half a chorizo sausage, a few olives, and half an onion. Slice all these up and put on top of the cheese, a good go over the top with the pepper mill and into a hot oven, 20 minutes later, hay presto, plate de jour, and happy chappies all round.

1500 Still sailing along nicely, time for a sun bathe on the foredeck.

1715 Through the gates at Port-en-Bessin  and tie up alongside the quay wall, fantastic little fishing village. Today we covered 36 miles and mostly under sail.

1900 Out for a nice quite meal tonight and early to bed for an early start, and Trevor’s birthday tomorrow.

2200 Had a very nice meal at a little restaurant on the front, good food and very chilled out. As I’m writing this,  I’m sat on the back of Rosa, shorts and shirt sleeves, John and Trevor have gone to a bar for “one or three for the road“. Family’s walking by the quayside, lots of admiring glances and comments, I hasten to add for Rosa, not me. But I’m feeling like something special is happening, doesn’t get much better.

5th May  Total miles in log to date: 286 miles

Port-en-Bessin to Cherbourg (happy birthday Trevor)

0545 Cast off from town wall “farewell Port-en-Bessin” we all fell in love with it here, charming, quite, and just nice tying up against a town for a change.

0620 Engines off, and we are sailing again very nicely at 6.5 knots, must say we have been most lucky with the wind (Trevor’s had none!!) no I mean the sailing all trip has been tops, regularly over  8 knots, in flat seas.

0900 Going past a lighthouse called Grandcamp-Maisy, now some people get all revved up by lighthouse’s, bit like train spotters, I’m not one of them, but my wife’s got a bit of a thing about them so I thought I’d better give it a mention. I think it looks like it needs a good coat of Weathersheild, very drab looking.  

1130 Blast, spoke too soon, engine on. The weather is not very good today either, no topping up the tan on foredeck.

1630 We are on a pontoon in Cherbourg, I must admit after some of the places we have visited, this was not top of my list, but hay ho, I’m pleasantly surprised, 46 miles logged today. After a very refreshing shower in the new marina facilities (still no loo seats mind) we head into town.

2030 Find a Italian restaurant and have a pleasant meal, the only thing wrong was the sauce with my veal was a bit bland, all three courses for 13.55 euros a head, I can overlook that.

6th May  Total miles in log to date: 322 miles

Cherbourg to Alderney (Bray)

0550 Left pontoon to get some fuel, but automated pump not working.

0600 Motoring out of Cherbourg, it’s a bit like Plymouth sound, with the great breakwater accessible from both ends. There is not a breath of wind, so engine will be getting us there today, but at least the fridge will be welled chilled.

0850 BST Pick up a buoy in Bray 19 miles logged, at this point our miles logged have been through the water and not over the ground. Our miles logged would have been a lot more if we hadn’t got the tides bang on in our favour.

1030 Three men in a boat, become three men in a tender, and set of for some breakfast (English breakfast, yum, yum) After jumping ashore, we walk right passed the little hut doing exactly what we want, and go on a million mile hike up a bloody great hill, then do a full lap of the town before sitting down in a café, to have what we could have got at sea level. Still I must say that the town of Bray is well worth a visit, it’s in a time warp or something, but it has charm all of its own. Breakfast was yummy, now for the hike back, hope I don’t get a noise bleed coming down to fast, still my calf muscles are starting to resemble “Arnies” . Before we tender back to Rosa, we popped into make a reservation for tonight in the First and Last, Rita was there to greet us as usual.  

7th May  Total miles in log to date: 341 miles

Alderney to Portsmouth

0345 It can’t be my alarm, I’ve only just gone to sleep, then I hear Trevor’s and john’s alarm’s in tandem, up we all get, very bleary eyed after a great night with Rita in the First and last. Rita, over a cup of coffee the previous evening, which was only a couple of hours ago, told us about the evacuation of Alderney during the last war. Rita is very keen on preserving the history of Alderney this is why I’m including this. Apparently the islanders were giving just 5 hours to pack a bag and get shipped out to Weymouth. The whole island was evacuated, no one was left at all, and they were all told they would be gone for 5 weeks. After arriving in Weymouth, there was a governmental cock up and most of the islanders were shipped up to Glasgow. The Glaswegians were suspicious of the people from Alderney, and were treated as spies, and had a very rough stay for 6 years.

Anyway we pack away the tender and motor out of bray.

0600 We arrive at the eastward bound shipping lanes in fog, great fun, and still no wind. John does a slight course correction and gives us an ETA at the Needles for 1420

1420 With still no wind and a very cold fridge, we pass through the Needles channel, bloody smart arse!

1700 We tie up alongside a pontoon in Royal Clarence Portsmouth (nice looking marina, and helpful staff). Just before going into RC we topped off the diesel and worked out Rosa does 3 litres of fuel ever hour at 1800 rpm, or £1.50 every 6 miles, John will be using sails even more! The log showed another 74 miles completed, bringing the total for a Normandy adventure to 415 nautical miles through the water.

Just one last thing to do after cleaning up Rosa and giving her a big kiss on her bows for once again looking after us all so well, is to collect my car from Hamble. I then drive back to Somerset, with great memories of our trip, driving far to fast in anticipation of seeing my boys again, and a nice big cuddle of my wife, god I missed them.