day three in the bay, cham­pagne still chilled

230 v ac power on­board all the time

Motorboat & Yachting - - Cruising -

Green­line Yachts of­fer a unique set of ben­e­fits that no other boat in the mar­ket can of­fer today. You will never find your­self open­ing a warm bot­tle of beer or having to serve your friends cock­tails with­out ice. Green­line Yachts of­fer 230 V AC power on­board at all times even with­out be­ing plugged in at the ma­rina or running a gen­er­a­tor. 230 V AC is avail­able as stan­dard, even with­out the hdrive op­tion!

Some courage is needed to en­ter this small fish­ing port and ma­rina, which can only be reached at high tide by a lock that’s barely wide enough. And you have to rely on the har­bour­mas­ter know­ing whether there are any free berths, be­cause you can’t see any­thing un­til you exit the lock. We get a pon­toon num­ber as­signed to us only to dis­cover when we ar­rive that the space is al­ready oc­cu­pied. We dock tem­po­rar­ily along­side a ship called the Eros un­til the lock­mas­ter has time to sort us out. Af­ter re­view­ing the al­ter­na­tives, we re­main here. No elec­tric­ity, no wa­ter and a small climb ashore, but enough depth and a friendly captain, who opens the doors of the Eros’s pas­sen­ger deck to al­low us through. The ladies in our crew are most grate­ful.


Le Tré­port is lo­cated at the mouth of the Bresle river and with its chalk cliffs re­minds of the English coast, per­haps the rea­son why Queen Vic­to­ria vis­ited here twice. You can climb the cliffs on a path of nearly 400 steps or by the less en­er­getic method of a lift hewn into the cliff-face. From the top there is a breath­tak­ing view of the sea, Le Tré­port and Mers-les-bains across the river. Both places share a train sta­tion, which now looks over­sized for the places it serves but acts as a re­minder of the rail­ways’ great era.

The undis­puted star of the area is the light­house, built in 1844, which stands on the top of the west­ern pier at the har­bour en­trance. At high tide it rises im­pres­sively above sea level, but at low tide it has an even greater im­pact. The piers pro­ject­ing out of the sand look like huge cas­tle walls on which the light­house tow­ers like a keep. It is com­ple­mented by an ad­di­tional build­ing that houses a large bell and sev­eral gi­ant foghorns.

It is easy to imag­ine what could hap­pen here in fog but the weather is fine and evening walk­ers per­am­bu­late along the pier to the light­house. The sea is calm sea and the evening sky a deep, silky vel­vet. We take many at­mo­spheric pic­tures. Be­fore we leave Le Tré­port the next day, the wind turns and in­creases in strength. We only have a two-hour pas­sage ahead of us to Dieppe be­fore us but for the first time on this trip things get a bit bumpy. Dieppe can be ac­cessed at any time and wel­comes us with a well-pro­tected large ma­rina in the town cen­tre. We rent a car and drive to Amiens, the cap­i­tal of Pi­cardy, which I rec­ol­lect from my school days – first trip abroad, ap­pear­ances with the school orches­tra, ac­com­mo­da­tion with a French fam­ily and flirt­ing with the daugh­ter of the house!

Of­ten the re­al­ity of the present fails to live up to the mem­o­ries of the past, but here it is the op­po­site. The grey Amiens of my school days has be­come a charm­ing city. The fa­mous Notre Dame d’amiens – along with Chartres and Reims one of the three great cathe­drals of the High Gothic era – has the tallest nave of any French cathe­dral and served as a struc­tural model for Cologne Cathe­dral. It over­looks the old town, where the Somme, with its trib­u­taries and canals, gives an al­most Vene­tian feel.

At the point where the Somme flows into the sea, lies the Baie de la Somme, which is dry at low tide and home to over 300 species of birds. Places like Le Cro­toy, Saint-valery-sur-somme, and Cayeux-sur-mer are con­nected by a won­der­ful steam train and de­spite their at­trac­tive­ness have not suc­cumbed to mass tourism. This is France at its most un­spoilt and al­lur­ing. We cel­e­brate the mo­ment with a plate of fresh moules-frites.

The tide is un­favourable for Fé­camp and Hon­fleur so we opt for all-tides-ac­cess Le Havre. The weather is get­ting more like the Mediter­ranean ev­ery day and a dol­phin ac­com­pa­nies us into the ma­rina. We are al­most alone on our pon­toon and I feel sure the waves of passing ships will soon rock us to sleep. But I am rest­less think­ing about our power prob­lem. The har­bour­mas­ter ac­ci­den­tally killed the power sup­ply and even af­ter restor­ing it none of our 220V de­vices work – in­clud­ing the fridges.

For the first time in nine years of own­ing Azura I have to trou­ble Joe, my Marlow con­tact in the US, as de­spite check­ing all the switches, fuses and set­tings on the in­verter, the prob­lem per­sists. Af­ter much head­scratch­ing and search­ing we find the cause: a trip switch in a hid­den cor­ner that had jumped to ‘off ’. Solv­ing the prob­lem makes the next cold beer taste even bet­ter.

Shortly be­fore I pick up an­other rental car in the morn­ing, the enor­mous cruise ship Mer­av­iglia ar­rives, ac­com­pa­nied by a fire­ship blow­ing foun­tains of wa­ter into the air. Mer­av­iglia was built in St Nazaire with ca­pac­ity for 5,700 pas­sen­gers and 1,500 crew. She is en route to Le Havre to be of­fi­cially chris­tened by the Ital­ian film legend Sophia Loren.

We drive to the Rouen cathe­dral, which partly owes its fame to Claude Monet’s se­ries of paint­ings be­tween 1892 and 1894. Nor­mandy was home to many fa­mous painters.

We want to con­tinue via Ouistre­ham to Caen, but the un­favourable lock times mean a long wait, so we head for St Vaast-la-hougue in­stead. The pic­turesque har­bour sports a va­ri­ety of flags that in­di­cate its pop­u­lar­ity with the Bri­tish.

The nice weather is fore­cast to come to an end, re­placed by winds gust­ing up to Force 10 in a day or two so we leave St Vaast the next morn­ing and make for Cher­bourg. We are as­signed a nice berth at Ma­rina Port de Chantereyne only to be turfed out by the owner. The har­bour of­fi­cials re­deem them­selves by giv­ing us a berth next to the har­bour of­fice and a short walk to the city.

Cher­bourg, at the north­ern end of the Co­tentin penin­sula, is the sec­ond clos­est con­nec­tion to Eng­land af­ter Calais. Its prox­im­ity to Eng­land is why the Al­lied D-day op­er­a­tion in June 1944 took place in this part of Nor­mandy. Utah Beach and all the other main land­ing sites are close by. The for­ti­fi­ca­tions on the huge flat sandy beaches are still vis­i­ble and there are many mu­se­ums and his­tor­i­cal re­minders.

It is the 73rd an­niver­sary of the D-day land­ings and there are cel­e­bra­tions in Quinéville with mil­i­tary per­son­nel and para­pher­na­lia. Speeches in French and English re­call the events and ad­dress threats posed by ter­ror­ism today. Ger­many is also rep­re­sented and its na­tional an­them and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played. This is cer­tainly no tri­umphal­ist cel­e­bra­tion.

We use the storm-en­forced break to ex­plore and a look at the waves off Cap de la Hague makes us happy not be out there. At Nez de Jobourg we en­joy some lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties and spec­tac­u­lar views to Alder­ney. On the drive to Carteret on Co­tentin’s west coast we pass the huge nu­clear plant, which is a stark con­trast to the won­der­ful scenery.

Be­fore World War II Cher­bourg, with its Gare Mar­itime, was the largest Euro­pean gate­way to the New World. In this spec­tac­u­lar ter­mi­nal you could trans­fer from the rail­way onto one of the big transat­lantic lin­ers. The Ti­tanic docked here be­fore em­bark­ing on her fate­ful jour­ney in April 1912.

De­spite the depre­da­tions of the war, much has been pre­served. Today the area Cité de la Mer serves as a mu­seum for oceanog­ra­phy and much more.

Af­ter sev­eral days the storm over the At­lantic sub­sides and we say au revoir to Cher­bourg and allez to the Chan­nel Is­lands. The next leg of our jour­ney to the Med is about to start...

Friends and fam­ily re­gard me as a bit of a boat bore. My fas­ci­na­tion for all things float­ing dates back to my child­hood and a fa­ther who was a keen sailor. In­deed, all the hol­i­days of my youth were spent, come rain or shine, on a com­fort­able 36ft ketch.

Later on as I started to earn money of my own, I was able to pur­sue my in­ter­est more vo­ra­ciously. My first boat was an 18ft Ring with a huge Mer­cury out­board that I used for wa­ter­ski­ing in the Bris­tol Chan­nel. It did al­most 80mph and burnt through a 25-litre tank of petrol in un­der 15 mins. But what a boat! I loved it, even if the girls who were meant to be im­pressed by it were in­vari­ably ap­palled.

It wasn’t un­til my late twen­ties that I dis­cov­ered, thanks to my beau­ti­ful Dutch wife, that there was a whole world of boat­ing fun to be had in the South of France. We rented a flat in Ville­franche and pur­chased a 28ft Cranchi Co­rallo. We had a lot of fun in that boat and man­aged to sell it for more than we paid for it, a no­table but never to be re­peated achieve­ment. Sub­se­quent up­grades in­cluded a Monte Carlo Off­shorer 30, a Cranchi Aqua­ma­rina 31, a Cranchi En­durance 33 (the only new boat I have ever bought), and the then flag­ship of the Cranchi range, the Mediter­ranée 50. All of the Cran­chis were great boats, de­signed for a spe­cific pur­pose, built to a high stan­dard and ex­tremely well priced. Most of the time we used them as glo­ri­fied day boats with friends and my grow­ing fam­ily. The Med 50 was the one boat that we did sleep on oc­ca­sion­ally, but a dis­as­trous week of rain one half-term dented the rest of the fam­ily’s en­thu­si­asm for cruis­ing and we re­verted to day­boat use once more.

A brief flir­ta­tion with a 1986 Riva Bravo proved to me that an old boat was not nec­es­sar­ily a bad boat: the build qual­ity was sec­ond to none and she ran like clock­work. But I wanted to try the ‘cruis­ing thing’ again and for three years I owned a won­der­ful Ferretti 57 that we used to ex­plore Sar­dinia, Cor­sica and the Ital­ian and French riv­ieras. How­ever, as our chil­dren grew older, our time be­came more con­strained and I again found we had started to use her as a day­boat. This made no sense given the costs of running a big boat in the South of France, so my thoughts re­turned to find­ing the ideal day­boat.

It needed to sit eight peo­ple for lunch around a ta­ble, have plenty of sun­bathing space, a de­cent heads and the abil­ity for four of us to overnight as and when. Cru­cially, I wanted more speed to get us fur­ther afield in less time.

Plenty of boats met the cri­te­ria, in­clud­ing mod­els from Windy, Princess and oth­ers but my now boat­ing-wise wife de­creed that she didn’t want one “that looked like ev­ery­one else’s”. I liked the idea of an Ax­opar 37 but she didn’t like the loo be­ing in the main cabin. The Ri­varama 44 was per­fect but too ex­pen­sive. The Mochi 51 was too big. The Ita­mas and Per­sh­ings were only fast enough over a cer­tain size and bud­get. A cou­ple of friends had had good ex­pe­ri­ences with Hun­tons but I couldn’t find a 43 at a price I thought rea­son­able.

In the end, I con­cluded that I couldn’t find the ideal modern boat so I be­gan to con­sider buy­ing an older, less ex­pen­sive one and re­fit­ting it to suit my needs. I looked at Mag­nums and even an OTAM but, again, couldn’t find the right boat at the right price. I ruled out the

I re c a l l a t r i p a b road with my school, s t a y i n g w i t h a French fam­ily, f l i rt­ing with their daught e r The only space left in Le Tré­port was along­side a trip boat A clas­sic Dutch mo­tor-sailer makes a fine sight Le Tré­port at low tide looks an un­likely stop for a 72ft Marlow

The cruise to Le Havre gives a taste of bet­ter weather Azura sits out the high winds in Port Chantereyne, Cher­bourg The vast cruise ship MSC Mer­av­iglia awaits her chris­ten­ing Fort i f i c at i o n s o n t h e h u g e f l at sandy beaches are s t i l l v i s i b l e a n d t h e re are m a n y h i s t o r i c a l re­minders here

Calm seas bode well for their visit to the Chan­nel Is­lands

Words Tom Wig­gin Pic­tures Joe Mccarthy and Jon Bagge

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