English Channel – Western Part (26.07. – 02.08.2019)

We arrived on Friday morning in Cherbourg, where Robert has to leave. Mario and Michael arrive the same afternoon to sail with me for the next 2 weeks.

Michael und Mario arrive in Cherbourg

In principle we could leave on Sunday morning, but the weather charts show a big depression entering the Bay of Biscay. We need to wait for it to pass.

Storm in the Bay of Biscay

The situation can be described as follows:
The depression is expected to pass over Cherbourg on Tuesday. The westerly winds increase continuously until then. The harbours around Cherbourg are not perfectly protected for a storm. Braye Harbour (Alderney) is a bay open to the east and St. Peter Port (Guernsey) is always overcrowded. The ships lay side by side up to six boats. The places and harbours in Northern Brittany are too far away.  

We therefore decide to stay in Cherbourg until the depression has passed. The harbour is well protected and safe.

We profit from the time to visit the area. On Sunday we make a bicycle tour to the east of Cherbourg. The weather is perfect and we have a lot of fun. On the way we stop at some little restaurant to eat Galettes. In total we ride 40km that day.

Bicycle tour

On Monday we rent a car and drive to the Mont-Saint-Michel. As expected it is quite crowded, but we don’t really care.


In the afternoon we drive to Dinan, eat some Crepes and Galettes and enjoy the lovely atmosphere of Dinan.


Afterwards we continue to Dinard, which is opposite to St. Malo. The beautiful residences have a very special atmosphere of former times.


On Tuesday we make our provisions with the rental car, in order to be independent for the days to come. The storm passes Cherbourg as expected. In Guernsey there are some damages in the overcrowded harbour. Depending on the person that tells the story, one pontoon broke away with all ships on it, or even turned over. Anyway, we are happy to have taken the right decision. Cherbourg was always safe and we could even sleep well the night of the storm.

On Wednesday we get more and more nervous. We start to be fed up of the situation. We want to continue and all the places I wanted to visit are no more feasible, seen the time that has passed. We need to sail long distances now to avoid that the timetable becomes completely unrealistic. There is still too much wind outside the harbour – in particular westerly winds. The old waves from the storm are still there as well. We decide to start on Thursday. The forecast predicts mainly very light or no winds at all. All in all we have lost almost a complete week in Cherbourg. Planning of a timetable for sailing tour is not really an easy task.

The evening before the start, long discussions of all possibilities lead to one result: we have to sail directly to Camaret or to Brest to start the crossing of the Biscay from there as soon as a favorable weather window opens. That means we have to run approximately 190nm with the engine. Thursday morning we finally start.

Sailing to Camaret

As expected there is no wind outside. We start with counter current from Cherbourg, sail with the current through the Alderney Race, pass north of Guernsey directly to the western end of France. The currents push with up to 3,5kn resulting in a fast ride of up to 10kn over ground. Unfortunately we need to use the engine all the way.

We pass the night and sail directly to Camaret-sur-Mer, where we arrive at 13:30h. On arrival we fill up the fuel tanks and drop the anchor. The harbour is quite crowded but there are enough guest buoys. The cheapest solution is to use your own anchor.


We are quite tired and the forecast for the next days show no wind in the Bay of Biscay. We really do not want another sail of 350nm with the engine for the crossing. But what is the alternative? We discuss all possibilities during dinner  on board – we have only one week left to go to Spain…

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