Southampton to Honfleur, France
7th to 10th June 2005
The start of the trip all fresh and with functioning livers. We left in the morning of the 7th June for Gosport where we planned to leave to cross the channel the next morning to Honfleur.
Putting the mast up in Southampton
The Milenium tower at Portsmouth
Running repairs on the crossing
We left on schedule next morning at 4 am :-/. The forecast was for force 2 all the way. Everything you could ask for in a forecast! High pressure and almost no wind with sea state slight! The plan was to leave the main down as with this little wind there would be little chance to sail. The middle headsail was up for stability. The wind was forecast for southerlies so no chance of sailing. The plan was to have the middle headsail up to stop any roll oscillations as all barges are prone to this as they don't have a keel. The ballast gives them plenty of stability so all that is needed is enough sail area up. The middle headsail is just big enough is light conditions.
Strangely enough the wind was quite fresh as well left the I-o-W behind.
The wind was more south-westerly the southerly and about a force 4 so we put up the main. It was not up just so we could sail but to give us the necessary stability. The main up------ all was going well! Making 8 knots for the first 7 hours. The sea state was more a moderate than a slight but the boat was handling well.
With a forecast like the one we had there was nothing to worry about! Hmmmmmm!!!
No more pictures were taken on the crossing from here on as the wind increased to a force 5 and the swell increased to 2 metres. We left the main up giving us a little more stability but........ it still was rolling like a pig. None of us had any real idea how far she could roll adding to our general unease.
Then one of the main halyards chaffed through on a sharp piece of metal on the gaff. A problem which I thought I had solved. This left us with one main halyards holding up the leech of the sail. Eventually we opted to lower the main as is was a possibly with only one halyard that it could give and send the gaff crashing to the deck........ Not good!!!!!!
With only the middle headsail the boat rolled even more and to add to my feeling of unrest every item that could work free down below had and was sliding around the floor. :-/
At last we entered our first lock of the trip. We were tucked up safely in the outer harbour at Honfleur!
The poor boat had taken a pounding but give her her dues, she just went through everything the weather gave and 20 tons of ballast seemed to give her ample stability. On the way back we had both the main and middle head sail up but reefed to as small an area as possible. With less sail further up the mast but with sufficient area to give stability the boat handled beautifully all the way back with a consistent force 5 and a good swell up all the way! -------Great to see the boat do what she was designed for! After all------she was meant to operate in rough seas!!!
Up the next morning and at last some food! Jennie, the only French speaker in the group popped to the port office and was told, at 3pm the bridge would open and let us into the inner harbour where we were instructed to moor up against the steps outside the port offices. A strange building built on an outcropping of rock with a little courtyard about two storeys up.
What an amazing place!!!! and we had pole position!!!!!!
The trip to the port office left us slightly confused as they seemed completely uninterested in taking any money in the way of a mooring fee??? It wasn't until a day later we met a local who explained that Honfleur doesn't charge gaff rigs. I like it!!! :-) Apparently we're referred to as camera fodder!
Out of the whole months holiday we only paid mooring fees on 3 nights. Pays to be self sufficient. All we needed was several likely looking trees.
The previous day at last caught up with us!................or maybe it was the beer!
The next morning and up the mast to run a new halyard and then whip the area on the gaff that had chafed.
More repairs to the engine
Fishing boat!!!!!!! Good idea!!!!!! Fish for dinner! That was the start of many an amazing meal. We hardly suffered for a month! ;-)
We left all the bits that we didn't like!!!!! Just the bones!!!!
Our first meal out in Honfleur!
No question what starters to order!
At last Jane arrived! She had quite a trek to get there; Heathrow to Paris then in a rental car for a three hour journey. Jane also came out when we were in Paris! Honfleur and Paris were two of the highlights of the trip. She couldn't have joined the trip at better times!
Olivier Fisher, a local artist with a gallery in the town joined us for a few glasses one evening
The clock tower in the centre of town. I don't think that we would have normally have been allowed to climb the tower but as we entered the chap running the place had just allowed his friends up.
Made the error of heading up nearing the hour and got caught as the bells started ringing! I'm amazed none of us fell down the rickety steps when the bells started!!