Trying to make plans for the winter is always tough. I always see myself asking the same questions. When does the boat come out of the water? Will I stay on Alderney? Can I afford to travel or am I looking for work?
Most years I find myself with work commitments at some point during the winter season, meaning that I have to be back in Alderney for a specific date. This year I didn’t, so I decided that this year I could finally go and do a winter ski season in Meribel- France.
It just so happened that the week I decided my winter plans there was a guy who was visiting Alderney who was involved with running a popular bar in Meribel Village called Lodge Du Village. I had a meeting planned and before I knew it I was asked to attend the second interview in London.
For every other person attending these meetings was possibly a train into London, or a tube across to Chelsey Chloisters where the interview was held. For me, living on a small island in the English Channel meant either pay £300 return flights to London (before hotel costs) or the obvious option, to sail!
http://www.barefootboatbums.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/img_0153.trim_.movSo on the 14th September Lucie and I left Braye harbour, cruising chute up heading 10ºT for Poole. It was Lucie’s first sail to somewhere that we would lose site of land for the duration of the sail. We had a great start with excellent conditions, dolphin spotting just 10 miles off Alderney.
Not all went so smoothly, the crossing from Alderney to Poole passes through some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Huge ships towering above us with little manoeuvrability. We navigated forward and astern of many of the ships before we found ourselves cruising chute up, on a collision course with a very large container ship. I altered course but between moving the sail and changing course I was still worried about how close we were getting. In the attempt of trying to change how we had the sail set I managed to catch the sail and POP! The sail got a tear in it followed by it being caught on the bow and tearing some more. Very quickly we had the engine on battling to get this torn sail down and avoid the approaching ship.
After the rush of trying to get the sail down we raised the main and Genoa and carried back on course to Poole, Kicking ourselves for tearing our first sail!
We arrived in Poole after 8 hours and 25 minutes, traveling 60.7nm. Tired, cold, but with big smiles on our faces. We stayed the night in Cobb’s Quay Marina costing £56.88 (2 nights altogether) as all the others were full due to a regatta.
The following morning we got a train from Poole to London in time for the interview. They did say ‘Usually we have a few excuses about trains being late but never someone sailing over to an interview, and even then being on time!’ The interview went well and after seeing some of Lucie’s friends in London we were back on the train to Poole. The following morning we decided to move down to Poole Quay Marina costing £14.51 for the night. Much better Value and past 2 bridges which meant we were ready to leave the following morning. We went to Quay Sails where we would be able to get our cruising chute repaired, the guy could do it that day for £165! Not the cheap sail to the uk we had planned.
We left at 10:30AM sailing for 11 hours heading for Alderney. As we left Poole we noticed some very dark clouds on the horizon, which were not on the forecast. Pushing on we started to notice the odd lightning strike. Lucie getting very worried and me trying not to panic her by showing I was slightly worried myself. By this point we were in zero visibility with the rain coming down like I had never seen it do before. We decided to head for the little harbour just to the west of us to take shelter. For about 45 minutes we seemed to not be be seeing any land in the minimal visibility, getting soaked, with lightning strikes hitting all around us. Definitely got the adrenaline pumping!
Once the bad weather passed we got back en route to Alderney, slowly drying ourselves now that the sun was coming out. With the wind direction changing over the last couple of days we managed to yet again get the cruising chute up, very glad we got it fixed there and then in Poole. Had a few problems getting the sail up but once we did it was plain sailing from there. Oh how I love down wind sailing! We even managed to find the dolphins again just 10 miles off Alderney. Much needed.
Four months later we are mid way through our winter ski season, I am working in Lodge Du Village for that company we had sailed over for that interview for. We had a private function for the owner of the building and business who visits a few times a year, Dennis, great guy. When I first introduced myself to him his first words were: ‘Jake, as in Jake who sailed on a little boat across the English Channel to go to the job interview? I have heard all about you and your sailing’! That makes me very happy that that is what I am known for.
Lucie is here with me working for Fish and Pips, a Chalet company as their Self Catered Manager and all is well and good here, looking forward to getting back to Alderney and getting the boat back in the water to enjoy another great summer season on the water.