Of our travels to the Channel Islands this summer our main visit is covered here – destination Guernsey – on Nightingale a Moody 346 belonging to Bob’s son, which he has been extensively refurbishing since buying it last year. It was most generous of Andrew to allow us to share the use of his yacht for the summer, and took us back to the days of our own Moody, Azrar III, which we sold to buy Pipistrelle. Our starting point was Parkstone Yacht Club a very active racing and dinghy sailing club in Poole Bay. For more about Parkstone see www.parkstoneyachtclub.com and our blog links to sailing clubs.
We chose superb weather for the trip which was great for sunbathing but of course no good for sailing – we motored the whole way from Studland Bay where we had anchored the evening before, to Alderney in 12 hours. A breath of wind the following day took us through The Swinge which even on a calm day with currents in our favour was swirling though not boiling and on towards Guernsey.
Judging the entry time into Beaucette Marina is tricky. Knowing we would arrive early we took a mooring and waited until escorted by rib through the narrow 15m wide entrance with 3m of tide over the sill. Beaucette was a granite quarry in the 19th century and blasted by the Royal Engineers in the late 60s to create a marina from about 1970. The last time we negotiated the entrance was in 2008 on our ‘maiden voyage’ on Pipistrelle when the previous owners Katherine and Stephen (Paine) were sitting on the rocks watching our approach! Nothing like pressure to get it right!
For more information about the marina visit: www.beaucettemarina.com and www.beaucetterestaurant.com for the restaurant where we were joined for dinner one evening by Katherine and Stephen who we visited at their home just before Christmas last year. It was at their pre-Christmas drinks party last December that Bob was reacquainted former colleague Karl Symes and his wife Gill with whom we were able to have a very enjoyable lunch at the Guernsey Yacht Club against the backdrop of Castle Cornet. For the time being Andrew and family are still living on Guernsey so we spent some quality time with them and were very kindly lent his car to get around.
Thus mobile on land, from Beaucette we explored parts of the island we did not know, driving south to St Martins, visiting Moulin Huet Bay where Elaine spent a holiday with her family as a girl, and buying ‘hedge veg’ on our way. This is the term for the sale of fresh fruit and veg displayed in stands on the roadside and paid for by means of an honesty box.
We also visited St Peter Port where unknown to us, the annual Guernsey Festival was in full swing with street players entertaining the public at strategic points in town. Among these were Imaginejack with opera singer duo Imogen and Jack, entertaining appreciative audiences with their music, a little theatre and much humour. See www.imaginejack.com for more information.
A day trip by ferry saw us landing on the very pretty island of Sark and hiring bikes to get around. The only other means of transport is pony and trap. We cycled to the La Seigneurie Gardens which were showing themselves to their best advantage. The newly renovated Chapel told us about the history of Sark’s Seigneurs and the Seigneurie itself.
La Sablonnerie on Little Sark was our lunch venue, reached by the narrow causeway that links the two islands. The welcome was friendly, food eaten al fresco delicious, and garden a riot of colour. Elizabeth, the owner of the hotel – one of the two last in private ownership on the island – was also around chatting to the guests. A charming relaxing interlude – we had to peddle hard to be in time for the return ferry to Guernsey.
How this pretty island with its centuries of history has changed since the Barclay brothers built their castle on neighbouring Brecqhou. Such a shame they are trying to ‘take over’ Sark. Google on the subject is illuminating!
On our return trip we again put in to Alderney for the night, not leaving before a walk ashore and dinner at ‘The First and Last’. An early start the following morning saw us under sail for most of the day and having to reef down the foresail later in winds rising to 25 kn off Swanage late afternoon. Studland was our sheltered overnight anchorage in the shadow of the Old Harry Rocks and then it was a mere couple of hours back to Parkstone the next day.