Perfect sailing conditions this afternoon, reaching across the Channel in 10-12 knots of north-easterly breeze, making 7+knots through the water and a handy 2 knot tide also pushing us in the right direction.
Sunday 24th June 2018
We didn’t leave Ramsgate until midday as any earlier we would have had the tide against us. After a fairly leisurely breakfast we strolled into town to pick up a few provisions. More in hope than expectation I took the faulty cable with me. Under the arches in the harbour wall we found an old fashioned chandlery. Stepping inside was like an Aladdin’s cave. In fact stepping inside was quite difficult because of the amount of stuff lying on the floor; it would have been impossible to actually find anything, although there couldn’t have been much that wasn’t there. The owner appeared out of the back to find out what we were looking for. I showed him the battery cable and asked if he was able to crimp it. He disappeared out the back again and returned a few minutes later waving a huge set of crimpers. A few minutes later the job was done. “Not surprised it fell off” he said, “50mm crimp on a 25mm cable. Put the right size on for you now. £4.” Bargain!
On the first leg south from Ramsgate towards Dover the wind was light and just aft of the beam, so Tim decided to put up our spinnaker. We’d only tried it once before, but then we didn’t have a spi pole, so this was a first. Once we’d sorted out all the bits of string it went up fairly easily and was pulling us along very nicely until the wind dropped as we approached Dover.
Crossing the Dover Straits is always interesting. Not only are there ships going up and down the Channel but also the ferry traffic between Dover and Calais. Dover Coastguard put out a warning about cross channel swimmers in the shipping lane, but we didn’t see them. Visibility was good and we had no problem avoiding the traffic. We started off motoring but by half way the wind picked up and we had a super sail all the way across to Boulogne in time for dinner on board and a bottle of wine found in the bilges that we bought last time we were here – a very nice St Emilion.
Monday 27th June
We decided to spend the day in Boulogne. The tide isn’t overly helpful this week. We can only get into some of the more interesting smaller ports around high water and this week that’s in the morning, so to get into St Valery-sur-Somme we’d need to leave at 4am and no one was very keen on that.
Like many of the channel ports, Boulogne is an odd mixture of old and new. The ferry service to here closed a few years ago and the ferry terminal now stands derelict and rusting next to the marina. The more modern part of the high street has its fair share of closed shops as you might find in many English towns. But go up the hill to the old town and it’s delightful. There’s a high walled town with a large cathedral, a chateau used by Napoleon and during the Second World War and some very nice restaurants. Each year in the square they build a themed garden. When we were here two years ago it was a ‘garden of the senses’ with areas dedicated to smell, sound, vision, taste etc. This year it was themed around French fables, such as The Fox and The Bird, Town Rat and Country Rat and so on. Beautiful planting (I’m told).
The day off also gave us chance to try out our new folding bikes which we carry on board. Riding up the hill out of Boulogne proved to be exercise enough for Elizabeth’s dodgy knee, but it was nice to be able to cover a little more distance than we would on foot. The day was rounded off with a super meal at the Restaurant de la Haute Ville in the old town.