First grounding in the Havre de Carteret

Mhhhh?! A Boat.... some sand.....some trees... even some grass..... Find the error!!!!

Mhhhh?! A Boat…. some sand…..some trees… even some grass….. Find the error!!!!

For those who doubted about the capacity of our boat La Nomade to ground and stay straight on the ground even with strong winds…. this is the proof that she can do it…

Normandie-Bretagne-2

Well ok it can happen that the boat does not stay straight, especially with 2 novices like us … 🙂 If that happens I can say that it is the most uncomfortable place to be living in 🙂

Normandie-Bretagne-1

St Peter

Guernsey is one of the Channel islands located in the English Channel between Normandy, France and England. We decided to dock at Beaucette marina which is located northeast of the island. The principal two ports are located at the biggest “city” of Guernsey, St Peter’s Port. Even though we are a bit far away from St Peter, Beaucette is surrounded by quaint little stone cottages with stone hedges. It was really interesting, aside from the quaint houses, there are a lot of greenhouses scattered about. Thanks to these greenhouses, on every other corner of the “ruette” (little road), there are little wooden crates propped up on the stone hedge called “hedge veg”. In these crates, you can find vegetables, strawberries, fresh eggs…lots and lots of potatoes!

The day after we arrived at Beaucette, we decided to explore the coast and walk to St Peter. It was a good hike down to St Peter where we passed an ancient castle (Vale castle) on the way. As we walked, I was reminded that we were definitely NOT in France as cars whizzed by on the left side of the road with the driver on the right side of the wheel.

St Peter is really a lovely port, not very big but what lacks in size, made up well for it in charm. We moseyed around the main streets, ate some delicious ice cream, and then tried to burn those calories by walking of flights and flights of stairs that gave way to a beautiful view of St Peter and the seaside.

St Peter was worth the excursion but it was nice go back to Beaucette marina.

Going to Guernsey

Guernsey island is part of the Channel islands or also known as les îles Anglo-Normandes. It took us about 8 hours to sail to Guernsey island from the port of Chanteryne at Cherbourg. However, this trip is a bit particular because as we edge closer towards Brittany, the coastal landscape changes from sand to rocks. This can be slightly nerve-wracking for sailors since rocks are not our friends. What else can be nerve-wracking? Freaking strong currents that could push you to those rocks! And that about sums up what our sail to Guernsey would be like. YAY!!! What?! We have strong winds too?! Oh, this is going to be an easy-peasy trip.

In the end, we had good winds, the water was quite choppy in the first half of the journey and much calmer for the latter part. We were both concentrated and alert to make sure that we stayed clear of rocks and that we were going with the current and not against. We arrived safely at the Beaucette marina. I was pretty proud that I stayed calm and even though I was a little, a very tiny bit scared in the beginning, I started to enjoy the ride. I imagine that riding choppy waves might be a little like riding a bull in a rodeo?

 

Stopover in Cherbourg

Even though the journey to Cherbourg was not as long as our previous ones, this particular sail was another difficult one. With the winds picking up and the sea becoming more agitated, the boat wobbled from side to side the entire night. Needless to say, we did not get a good night’s rest. I was anxious to head to Cherbourg in order for us to stay on schedule and be able to head out to the Channel islands the next day. Despite our fatigue, we prepared the boat and headed out into the sea. This was definitely not an easy navigation. The water was more agitated than what the weather forecast had predicted and without proper rest, it was difficult to stay on top of things. It was one of those days where nothing seems to go right and I truly wondered what was the whole point of sailing…just like when we went to the Bay of Somme. And then…Yves cried out

Look! Over there! Dolphins!

A friend when needed!

A friend when needed!

It was amazing! We had heard from a couple in Ouistreham that they had seen dolphins but I never thought we would be able to too! It was wonderful and, at that precise moment, I said to myself “Ok…I can handle the bad AND the good.” After that, the sea was still choppy, we were still tired…but we felt like it was all worth whatever we were feeling. The icing on the cake (la cerise sur le gateau)? More than just spotting dolphins? The next morning after a wonderful night’s rest, we were greeted by a friend from Dunkirk who also arrived the night before. It was so nice to see a familiar and friendly face! We felt pumped and ready to attack our journey towards Guernsey…and we needed as much energy as possible if we were to cross Raz Blanchard!

 

St-Vaast-la-Houge


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Our next stop from Ouistreham was St-Vaast-la-Houge. We had heard plenty about St-Vaast-la-Houge from various people that we had met during our sails. Both of us had separate but definite desires to go to this place. For Yves, it would be our first opportunity to be able to moor La Nomade (1er mouillage) and not have to dock at a marina. For me, well, on two different occasions, I was told that not only could one eat one of the best fish and chips (especially if we decide to anchor our boat and save on marina fees) but that oysters at St-Vaast-la-Houge were just out.of.this.world delicious! How could I NOT want to go here?!

After a pretty easy sail to St-Vaast-la-Houge, we arrived late afternoon into the area just in front of the entryway of the port. For our first try anchoring our boat, there were no complications and all went smoothly. After going back and forth to check with our GPS whether or not the boat moved with the anchor down (it did NOT move!), Yves breathed a happy sigh of relief and quickly set about to get our inflatable kayak to see what was around.

St-Vaast-la-Houge is part of the UNESCO heritage and is a very picturesque little port. You can see the neighboring small island of Tatihou which I have to say is quite cool to have in the background while we take our apéro as we watch the sun set. I apologize…we were too busy drinking rosé to take pictures but I will work on the picture taking especially since I received an AWESOME camera from my dear friends not too long ago! (Encore merci merci merci! 당신이 엄마 아빠 감사합니다!)

The next day, we took our kayak and went to visit the small town of St-Vaast. Although I am not the biggest fan of the kayak, I must admit that it was good to know (and feel!) that my muscles being used. We were able to “park” our kayak at the marina without having to pay fees (phew!). St-Vaast-la-Houge is another quaint little port with lots of charming rock cottages strewed all along the port. I could easily imagine renovating an old abandoned cottage and building a beautiful garden. For now, I am quite happy living on our “movable” home, La Nomade. One of the impressive things about St-Vaast-la-Houge is their oysters. The port is surrounded by oyster “parks” where oysters are very meticulously cultivated.

Oyster parks at low tide

Oyster parks at low tide

It was a long and lovely walk around the port but after four hours of walking, we decided to rest our feet at an old chapel just in front of the port. Lo and behold, we looked out into the sea where…our La Nomade was moored! Can you spot our boat?!

I spy...La Nomade!But the very best end to this day…definitely…without a doubt…had to be our dinner. There was no question, we were going to eat oysters AND fish and chips! I mean, if people go out of their way to point you to delicious food, are you not obliged to follow through?! We were both very very happy to be able to taste the famous “delicacy” of St-Vaast-la-Houge. However, before I make any judgment, I will have to taste many more oysters in Brittanny!

Miam miam! Yummy yummy!

Miam miam!
Yummy yummy!

After dinner, we kayaked back to the boat in record time and went promptly to sleep very full and VERY SATISFIED!

Voyage La Nomade Manche-27

What to do in Ouistreham

After a long and, at the very end, pretty scary sail into the port of Ouistreham, sunny warm weather convinced us to take a little break in Ouistreham before our next destination.

On Sunday, we had a lazy morning and not in a real rush to do any activity. However, I had a nice chat with one of the port agents who suggested that we rent bicycles and bike up to Caen, a fairly large city further in from the port of Ouistreham. After a little apprehension of maneuvering a bicycle once more, I quickly got my rhythm with my bike and we headed towards Caen. It was a wonderful ride and we passed by the château de Bénouville where the French president had world leaders for lunch on D-day. We then passed the famous Pegasus Bridge that had been liberated by the Allied forces. As a little souvenir of the historic event and more importantly, in the event of future difficult passages on the sea, I decided to buy this little flask that just might help calm my nerves.

Emergency use only!

Emergency use only!

We arrived at Caen where the skies started looking dark and ready to pop with rain at any moment so we decided not to explore Caen but headed back to the port before we would get caught in any rainstorm. Just as we were arriving to the port, we saw a HUGE and very royal looking boat with a sailor in uniform guarding the plank entry. I didn’t dare take a picture, but it was impressive! After a little fact-checking, we discovered that the boat belonged to the King of Norway who came to take part of the D-day commemoration.

Overall, I am pretty happy that I was able to continue biking in spite of my tendency to fall and discover a little bit of Ouistreham’s surroundings.