Channel Island Motor Cruise June 2022

13th to 23rd June 2022

Four boats had planned to join the 2022 Cruise to cross the English Channel. The cruise was scheduled for Monday 13th June to the 24th June 2022 and the 4 boats were Bellissima with Digby (our Cruise leader), Claire and Tilly Armstrong, Jazzbo with John and Kitty Hall, Roxy 2 with Robert and Simone Pass and Delta Flyer with Maxine and Kevin Torode.

Unfortunately, Roxy 2 could not join due to issues with their Bow Thruster, so 3 boats crossed the channel. The plan was to leave Chichester Marina between the hours of 09:00 to 09:30 on the morning of the 13th and cross directly to St Peter Port Guernsey. A total journey of some 110 Nm, with an estimated journey time of approx. 6 hrs including the trip out of the Harbour.

Delta Flyer recently returned from the Weymouth cruise with a reported engine under-temperature issue that Kevin had spent the last few weeks dealing with. Unfortunately, he had no time to run any meaningful tests to see if the issue had been resolved. Jazzbo was also reporting that he had some issues with his GPS connecting to his auto-pilot. There were no known concerns with Bellissima. Jazzbo managed to resolve the Auto pilot issue before reaching the Harbour entrance, so the cruise team gathered at Chichester Harbour’s entrance and set off, passing the West Pole at around 10:40.

For Delta Flyer, the 1st part of the journey, running at cruising speed, would confirm one way or another whether the under-temperature issue had been resolved. If not, then Delta Flyer would need to have turned back. All was confirmed as OK as the cruise passed Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight (IOW).

The weather for the crossing was glorious sunshine with a light NW wind. We had the tide with us for the whole journey, but with the NW wind we found a slight chop as we travelled passed the southern side of the IOW. This lasted for half to three quarters of an hour and did not pose any real issues for the team. Infact the crossing was largely uneventful, crossing the shipping lanes with no major directional changes needed for passing ships

The one area of excitement was when Jazzbo rounded the Casquettes and hit a tidal race with big waves. How John managed to navigate the waves and at the same time call on the radio a big wave warning, is worthy of mention. The issue here was that we probably rounded the Casquettes a little too close, a few hundred metres or so North seemed calmer

We all arrived at St Peter Port at around 16:00, to find a queue waiting to get into Victoria Marina. Infact, the port did seem very busy compared to the previous year’s cruise, but the marina staff managed to get us in and all berthed together, although Delta Flyer did need to raft onto Bellissima.

We later found that our position right next to the Marina entrance, even though ideal to catch both the morning and evening sunshine, proved a little rocky with a slight Easterly component to the Northerly winds when the tide was in. This prompted us to take an opportunity to move back a boat length, especially as the forecast was to expect increasing wind strength later in the week.

On our 1st evening, Bellissima hosted all boat crews aboard for drinks and nibbles before a meal out at a local restaurant called “La Perla”. La Perla was recommended by the previous year’s Delta Flyer crew (Graham Leach), for variety, quality and price. It did not disappoint and can be recommended by all of the 2022 cruise team.

Later in the cruise, Kitty of Jazzbo found another restaurant on her walk from Church, called “The Old Quarter”, run by an Irishman called Paddy Scally. Again, we were not disappointed on variety, quality and price and the team would be happy to recommend this restaurant as well.

During the 1st week of the cruise, the team considered whether to take the boats out to visit some of Guernsey’s Bays and/or to visit Herm and Sark, but due to the very high possibility of losing what we all thought was a prime Marina spot (as we had morning and evening sun and were all grouped together), we decided to stay put and use the buses to visit Guernsey Bays and to enjoy many of the great walks available.

We enjoyed island touring activities both within our immediate boat crews and as a cruise group, with John and Kitty visiting Petit Bot Bay in the south of Guernsey. John wanted to prove that he could still walk up the hill that he had done 60+ years previously. The good news is that he did and went on later to walk, with Kitty, all the way from Jerbourg in the far South East of the island to St Peter Port along the East cliff coastal path. A very challenging walk that Digby, Claire, Tilly, Kevin and Maxine can attest to.

Another challenging walk was done by Digby, Claire, Tilly, Kevin and Maxine along the Western element of Guernsey’s South coast. It unfortunately started with a 40 min walk along roads, just to find the coastal path, due to getting off the bus a little too early. Once on the path, the views were worth all the effort and as expected from a Guernsey Cliff walk. It could be argued that the walk was more challenging than the earlier Jerbourg to St Peter Port walk. Lots of sunshine with virtually no shade and loads of steps up and down, as one may expect on a Cliff walk.

 

Tilly made us laugh with her ability to find and use small streams to refresh and cool down in. We ended the walk almost as started, walking the roads looking for a suitable bus stop from which to catch a Bus back to St Peter Port. We ended up walking to the Airport and waiting 20 mins+ for a suitable Bus. Regardless, it was a great day’s adventure

We did manage some great joint activities including a very sunny visit to Herm, using the Trident Ferry service, organised by Maxine. The trip included some cliff walking, Belvoir Bay (beach relaxation and swimming) as well as lunch at the Mermaid Tavern and Restaurant.

Our trip to Herm on Friday the 17th ended with a Round Table charity event in St Peter Port, known as the “Harbour Carnival”, which included yellow duck racing, ladies dinghy racing, tug of war, man powered flight and finally a firework display. The tug of war and the firework display proved to be the most entertaining. The key for us was the fact that they had closed the Marina during normal sill opening times. Therefore, if we had used our boats to go to Herm, we would have been trapped outside of the Marina for the night, on a waiting pontoon rafted up to loads of other boats. A good decision to use the ferry.

 

We also, on another day, managed some swimming and paddleboarding in Havelet Bay, St Peter Port. One of the few beaches that allow dogs. Tilly again provided some entertainment doing what seemed to be one of her favourite activities, searching rock pools for a quick shellfish snack. She seemed to have a passion for cockles, crunching the shells and swallowing the lot.

 

We had some great evenings together on each of the 3 boats. One such evening was our get together on Bellissima for our non-BBQ, BBQ! Digby fired up his Lotus cooker, John fired up the Lotus cooker and Claire got the boat’s hot plate going. An issue started when John’s cooker began to produce clouds of smoke. So much so that we had to move the cooker to the Pontoon from the back of Bellissima. The smoke started to attract a lot of attention from passer’s by on Albert pier, that included Marina Staff. This resulted in marina staff visiting the boat and asking if we were using BBQs (strictly forbidden in the Marina!). Digby quickly lifted his cooker in his hands and assertively said “No”. The Marina staff immediately looked at the other cooker on the pontoon deck and said that there should be no naked flames and that we may need to be ready for a visit by the coastguard. Fortunately, no further visits occurred and we had a great evening eating a collection of Meats, Fish, Shellfish and Salad. We discussed the smoke issue and decided that it must have been due to fluid impregnated charcoal, rather than charcoal made specifically for use by the Lotus cooker

We had a great 1st week of weather with sunshine and light winds however, this was not to last with high winds and rain forecast to come in on the weekend. The sunshine returned for the 2ndweek, but the winds were higher. It was a good decision to have moved our boats back along the pontoon, as the winds developed more of an Easterly component, which increased the swell effect within the Marina as the tide came up. This did have an impact on all to differing degrees. We all doubled up and tightened our lines, with some adding rubber shock absorbers to lines as appropriate. We felt a little for the 2 rafted boats that took our berths closer to the entrance, as they seemed to be bouncing all over the place, unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to minimise this, apart from them moving

The higher winds got us all looking at the possible weather windows for our return to Chichester. Forecasts were proving to be very variable. Initial thoughts were that we may need to return on the Tuesday. However, this was soon blown out and eventually resulted in Thursday being the most likely candidate. We needed to consider the best time to refuel our boats. The forecast indicated rain for Thursday, so we agreed that Wednesday would be a good time to avoid the rain, although the wind would be blowing straight onto the fuel pontoon outside of the Marina.

As previously mentioned, the Marina is protected by a sill that controls all boat entry and exit times. This was a factor that needed consideration for both Wednesday’s refuelling and Thursday’s departure, which were both around the mid-day +/- period.

Our position on the pontoon guided us on our refuelling sequence, with Jazzbo going 1st, followed by Bellissima and then Delta flyer. The idea being to enable us to return to our berthing positions without too much delay or difficulty. We all experienced difficulty at the fuel pontoon, due to wind and waves blowing directly onto the pontoon, which did increase stress levels a little.

Both Bellissima and Delta Flyer experienced diesel overspill as it came back up the filler tube like a volcano, possibly due to a combination of waves, filling speed and filler tube sizing. Neither managed a completed tank fill – This proved to be more of an issue for Delta Flyer than Bellissima, due to tank capacity and predicted consumption on the homeward return journey. All on our pontoon, as well as the Marina staff, were informed that we were just fuelling up and returning to our berths as previously configured, so none of us expected any issues and thought the worst was behind us!

Jazzbo returned to the Marina and berthed without issue. Bellissima returned and without any further consideration to the contrary, assumed they would get back into their previous position, but unfortunately failed to berth. They tried a number of times and failed, resulting in the gathering of more spectators and the obvious levels of stress increasing in Bellissima’s team. Eventually Bellissima gave up trying to berth in their previous spot and rafted against Jazzbo.

Delta Flyer then entered the Marina to find Bellissima rafted and the pontoon berth previously occupied by Bellissima available for use by Delta Flyer, but in by a depth of 2 rafted boats, both at the stern and the bow. The outer bow boat had not rafted parallel to its rafted inner boat i.e., it was further back. Delta Flyer (a shorter boat to Bellissima) proceeded to berth with all the spectators that Bellissima had unfortunately attracted, watching. This together with what seemed to be a tighter berth than expected, had Kevin (Delta Flyer’s Helmsman) concentrating so hard on berthing manoeuvres that he missed the applause given on his completion of a successful and what seemed to be a complicated berthing manoeuvreOnce Delta Flyer was tied up, a member of another boat on the pontoon came over to Kevin and informed him that the reason for Bellissima and Delta Flyer’s difficulty, was due to the fact that a boat further down the pontoon had taken the opportunity while we were out of our berths, to move their boat forward by about 2.5 metres, taking up what was just enough space for Bellissima to berth in. The American owner of the boat that moved up knew full well that we were returning to our berths after refuelling and no-one saw fit to tell Bellissima’s crew that their berthing space had been reduced and therefore, there was no way that they could return to their previous position. If someone had, it would have removed a huge amount of stress from the team

We had a great last evening gathering on Delta Flyer and eventually opting for an informal fish and chip take away meal aboard Delta Flyer. The Fish and Chips were sourced from “The Chip Inn”, just up from the Marina by Digby and Kevin while the others sorted out condiments, crockery and cutlery from other boats as needed.

Thursday started calm as predicted, but with no rain. Delta Flyer had worked out that due to the lack of fill the day before, they would arrive in Chichester with approx. 15% in their fuel tank. This was a huge concern and so Kevin changed his fuel filter in anticipation of dregs being sucked up from a low fuel tank and wanted to find a way to use his spare canned fuel to top up his tank. However, filling boats with fuel in the Marina was strictly prohibited, so Kevin decided to see if it could be done outside the harbour on departure.

We all left the Marina at around 12:30, as the sill depth allowed. The wind was negligible, it was not raining and the fuel berth was empty. Delta Flyer therefore decided to try and get a top up from the fuel berth’s slow fuel delivery hose. Once berthed, it was found that no-one seemed to be manning the fuel pumps. Rather than spend time searching for someone, Kevin decided that he would syphon the fuel from his spare fuel cans. Jazzbo had taken themselves outside of the harbour, but Bellissima decided to hold station near Delta Flyer in support. This unfortunately, had the effect of appearing like a queue for the fuel berth and triggered some action from the fuel berth attendant.

The attendant saw Delta Flyer and shouted down asking if we needed fuel, eventually putting pressure on Delta Flyer to either buy fuel or leave the berth. A sailing boat then joined Delta Flyer on the pontoon necessitating Delta Flyer to move forward before emptying their last can. The sailing boat insisted on using the fuel hose closest to Delta Flyer, rather than the one immediately available to the sailing boat. Pressure was mounting to get off the pontoon, with the attendant trying to bring to Kevin’s attention the boat queue i.e., Bellissima. Kevin stood his ground, completed the fill and departed with all haste.

The cruise return trip had begun about half an hour later than originally planned, at around 13:00, it was overcast and no rain, wind was light and the sea was flat, great conditions for an enjoyable return journey home. The only real excitement on the journey was the need to make an active change to pass astern of a passing ship. Apart from this, it was largely a welcomed and uneventful trip with calm seas and light winds. Jazzbo did need to make a small adjustment to their course to avoid any concern with a ferry crossing, off the IOW.

We arrived together at the West Pole at around 17:53 and were berthed back in Chichester Marina just after 19:00 with a clear and sunny sky to greet us. It was a great cruise with great company.

Thanks to Digby and Claire of Bellissima for making it happen!