England to Channel Islands | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

England to Channel Islands

June 20, 2010

Vlieland Jachthaven
Vlieland, Frisian Islands
The Netherlands
Latitude: 53º 17.877 N
Longitude: 5º 5.154 E

The last few months have been busy and exciting ones with the commissioning of our new Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, so over the next few newsletters I will be catching you up on all that's been going on...

We flew to England in early March after completing post-production on season 6 of the Distant Shores TV series and while in London visiting family we also spent a day at the Travel Channel studios where we filmed a number of promos for the new season and did an interview with Gareth Davis and Ginny Buckley, hosts of The Holiday Show. This is a great new weekly talk show on Travel Channel and this summer as we travel to countries of the Baltic filming new episodes of Distant Shores we will also be recording on-location interviews from time to time via skype for The Holiday Show. So if you receive Travel Channel check the schedule online for both Distant Shores and The Holiday Show at www.travelchannel.co.uk

After a few days in London we drove down to Itchenor on Chichester Harbour on the south coast of England. This is the location of Northshore Yachts, the manufacturer of Southerly yachts and it was here that we took delivery of our new Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, on March 11th.

The weather was still pretty cold and gray in March so until we got moved on to the boat we stayed at the lovely home of Itchenor friends, Nigel and Elizabeth Pattison, who we'd met when taking delivery of our Southerly 42 a few years ago. We met up with them again while they and we were cruising in the Caribbean and stayed in touch. They are life-long sailors and delightful hosts who helped make our transition on to the new boat an easy one. They also introduced us to many of the their friends at the Itchenor Sailing Club and we especially enjoyed an evening there where one of the members gave an excellent presentation on his voyage to the Baltic which provided many useful tips and suggestions for our voyage this summer.

We had planned a month to complete additional boat projects we wanted to do ourselves, to have the factory fix any snags we came across during sea trials, and to move on board gradually so that we could really sort things out before beginning our summer voyage. But there were many delays primarily because the shipment of all our gear, bedding, cooking utensils, clothing and safety equipment from the Southerly 42 was delayed by several weeks! However the ship eventually came in and all our stuff arrived in good shape so by April we were enjoying exploratory sailing trips around the Solent area and several friends came to join us on weekends.

April 12 was Paul's 50th birthday. Starting another cruising adventure on a new boat was a wonderful way to celebrate it! He received many phonecalls, cards, e-mails and lovely gifts that day. Sailing friends, Vicki and Per, of SY Sunray arrived with a box of Baltic birthday goodies as a present. It was a great start to our summer's voyage and we had a fun weekend partying together and showing them around Chichester Harbour.

On April 28 we made our first night passage with the new boat, crossing the English Channel from Chichester Harbour to Guernsey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. We had to time our departure and arrival carefully to work with the big tides and strong currents especially in the Alderney race where there can be currents of 8 knots!! There is also a lot of heavy ship traffic in the English Channel which we really had to be careful of so it was a challenging passage and good shake-down for testing out all our safety and navigation equipment. (See Paul's New Boat Blog for technical details).

We arrived in Guernsey in the late afternoon and spent only one night there since we were on our way to the next island of Jersey to participate in the Jersey Boat Show May 1-3rd. We would come back to Guernsey again afterwards to see more of this beautiful island.

It's just a half-day sail from Guernsey to Jersey but once again we had to carefully work out the tides and currents for departing and arriving. The tides in the Channel Islands are among the largest in the world with a range up to 11 m (40 feet)! The St. Hellier Marina where the boat show was to be held has a sill to keep enough water in the marina to keep the boats afloat at low water so there are only certain hours in the tidal flow that there is enough water to get over it. We timed our arrival a bit early so tied up at the waiting pontoon outside until the tide rose high enough for us to get into the marina.

The Jersey Boat Show is a small but very well attended show due to everyone's affinity for the sea in these islands. There were 5 Southerly yachts represented at the show including our 49 and Paul and I had an enjoyable time showing people our new boat as well as meeting fans of the Distant Shores TV series which has many followers in the Channel Islands.

Following the boat show we spent a few days exploring the lovely island of Jersey, famous for Jersey potatoes and Jersey cows (good ice cream here!). We especially enjoyed the many coastal walking paths, the Maritime Museum which had many creative and interactive exhibits, and the excellent War Tunnel Museum which told the story of the World War II occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans.

After a few days we sailed back to Guernsey which also has a sill to be negotiated to get into the marina. We had just tied up when Adrian Heyworth, a fellow Southerly owner who lives in Guernsey, came by to say hello. He introduced us to his brother-in-law, Rupert Dorey, who is in the process of buying a Southerly so there was much talk of boats and cruising. Rupert and his wife, Rosie, and Adrian and his wife, Penny (the women are sisters) became our hosts and took us on a very fun outing to the nearby island of Herm.

Rosie's and Penny's parents bought the lease to manage the island of Herm which they did lovingly for many years before Adrian and Penny took it over when the parents retired. They are now retired and the island is being managed by another family. We saw puffins and sang to a seal and discovered the best place to dry out at low tide – Shell Beach. What a paradise! For more info visit www.herm-island.com

Returning to Guernsey we concluded our visit filming the Liberation Day celebrations which marked the 65th anniversary of the end of the German occupation. The parades, bands and choirs were spectacular with the crowning glory being a cavalcade of almost 100 privately owned beautifully restored military vehicles from the period of the occupation. The owners were in period costume and had come from all parts of Europe, including Germany, to participate.

It was a really great to visit the Channel Islands as a good shake-down for the boat. We look forward to the chance to return here in the future to do some more exploring and perhaps visit the island of Sark and Alderney which we missed on this trip.

From Guernsey, we sailed back to England and our base in Chichester Harbour to tend to a few tune-ups before the summer's voyage east. Next, I'll write about our voyage from England to the Frisian Islands where we are currently filming.

Until then,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II

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