Saturday, April 14, 2012

Across the Sea to Alderney ................Sun, Sea and Diesel

It was the evening of the first Friday in July and as with most Friday evenings I was in the club bar winding down from the usual hectic madness of the weeks work. Well you know how these things happen, the weather was rubbish and beer was flowing so the conversation soon drifted around to sailing trips. It had been a good while since I’d visited the Channel Islands so when Rob the windows suggested that the following weekends weather looked promising and he was thinking of trip across the channel of course I was up for the idea. By the time I left the bar it was all planed with four boat heading off on an 0500 tide the following Friday with the intention of making Alderney for a start and simply making it up as we go from there on in.

Saturday morning and a little sober thought brought the realisation that Epenetus was far from ready for a cross channel trip and the diary was full Monday to Thursday meaning that I only had Saturday and Sunday then I wouldn’t be seeing home again until late Thursday night; preparation time was seriously limited, best get stuck in.

After two days rushing around preparing Epenetus and stocking up with the usual things charts, pilot books, diesel, food, water, Talisker, Plymouth Gin, Red Wine, Beer all of the essentials of life when sailing; followed by four days of flat out work I was more than ready to put to sea.

0400 Friday 9th July 2010

Ondine Dave appears on the pontoon carrying an outboard and looking really rough. He explains that one of his teeth has just fallen and therefore he can’t make the trip, because he can’t find it! Apparently it fell on the gravel path and he had spent quite some time looking for it so that he could glue it back in. I couldn't quite understand the gluing it back in bit but anyway he lent me his outboard to use on my dinghy and disappeared off muttering something about dentists. Shame, so we are down to three boats. 

Leaving the Axe

We departed from the Axe on the top of the tide at 0500, leaving the river mouth to be confronted by a flat sea and next to no wind. Oh well its early yet so we’ll push on under engine for a while and hope that the wind comes in soon.

Goodbye Axe Cliff Hello Sun

Motoring in Epenetus is not the most pleasurable way to travel, in fact its pretty rough on the ears. I should explain, Epenetus has an old Yanmar YSE12 single cylinder diesel which was rebuilt and fitted by the previous owner. It is a good solid old engine and its 10hp driving a three bladed prop will push her along at nearly seven knots, but the problem with it is its height. All that separates the beast from anyone in the cockpit is the engine cover, which consists of a single piece of marine ply. As you can imagine this does nothing to reduce the noise from the engine in fact it probably makes it worse. Due to the height of the engine there is no room to fit sound proofing under the cover without raising the cockpit floor so the noise is just something with which I have to live with until I get around to replacing the engine. I’m not overly concerned about the engine noise as sail is the chosen method of propulsion so hours under engine are normally minimal.

Not a breath of wind

Well our wind didn’t come in at all in fact the only wind we had was the wind which we were making.

We should have gone for a swim mid channel looking at this sea

We motored on and on and by 1115 we had to drag out the first Gerry can and re fuel. By 1225 we had reached the shipping lanes and at least we had something to occupy our minds, ships and lots of them.

They look like small ships from a distance. Don't be fooled

We crossed the traffic separation scheme quite easily with only one minor incident. At 1425 the diesel return pipe fractured spraying diesel all over the hot exhaust elbow. To repair this under normal conditions would not have been anything of a problem but being where we were and given the size and speed of the shipping stopping the engine to fix the fractured pipe was not really an option. With a piece of tube, a couple of small jubilee clips and some very choice language, oh and not forgetting a couple of minor burns and a face full of diesel, the pipe was repaired.

Epenetus at anchor in Bray

We arrived in Bray just after 1800 so we had covered the seventy odd miles in thirteen hours. I must admit it was the first time that I have crossed the channel and had to motor all of the way, I just can not believe that some people do that from choice. No matter, we dropped the hook in the corner of Bray harbour as close up to the beach as we dare, did the necessary paperwork and chilled out. I have to admit, when the weather is settled Bray harbour will always make any trip there worth while.

The view from the bar of the "Divers" 

We spent the next two days relaxing, swimming and exploring the delights of Alderney. As ever when the time came to leave we didn’t really want to go but with 35knts of wind forecast as coming in leave we had to, but that’s another story.

Not sure where the dinosaur came from

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