Well, hello again. This time I'm writing from a different point of view, as since becoming a mum I'm more of a passenger than a sailor and now have to take orders from the skipper! Painful as this is, he does seem to be doing a good job.
On July 31st we slipped our mooring in Braye Harbour at slack water in order to catch the start of the Southwesterly current down The Swinge. Tidal currents run hard here, in fact there are plans to install a one gigawatt tidal turbine to harness the power. We tacked our way south to Guernsey and down the Little Russell channel in the company of a few other sailing boats, passing a large cruise ship anchored at the entrance to St. Peter Port.
Victoria marina was full thanks partly to an influx of motor boats. We saw them racing past us several hours earlier while we were happily making way on the breeze without the need to burn hundreds of litres of diesel! The waiting pontoons outside the marina were filling up fast with sailing boats and we had to find a place quickly. Unfortunately Lewis woke up and made it quite clear that he wanted feeding. Trying to find a berth while avoiding other boats criss-crossing everywhere to the sound of a screaming baby was a little stressful. Eventually we found a place and coincidentally another Sadler 34 from Brighton came and rafted up next to us a few minutes later.
The next day we set about exploring Guernsey. For the princely sum of 60p we were able to catch a bus around the whole island. On the way we stopped on the Southwest corner and took a stroll up to one of the many German observation towers. These are really quite scary concrete structures that dominate the landscape with a commanding view of the coast. Guernsey, like the other Channel Islands was heavily fortified due to its strategic position, both by the British during the Napoleonic wars and the Germans in WW2. The latter occupied the Channel Islands from 1940 to 1945, the only British soil to be invaded. The islands were to be part of Hitler's "Atlantic Wall". I had never really appreciated how close the Germans got to the UK during the war. Earlier, in Fecamp, just a 10 hour sail south of Brighton, I was struck by just how close we were. Having visited the brilliant occupation museum in Guernsey it would appear that as long as you were born on the island, didn't paint 'V' for victory signs on rocks or release carrier pigeons, you would be treated fairly well by the occupiers. However, a grim fate was promised to non islanders and those who engaged in sabotage who were deported and interned in camps on the mainland. 12,000 troops were stationed on the island and an army of slave workers from across Europe and Russia were brought over to construct the numerous military installations including the underground military hospital. Here we found 75,000 square feet or 1.25 square miles of concreted tunnels excavated from granite. In the end the hospital was only used for about 3 months to treat casualties resulting from the D-day landings in 1944.
Lewis learns to navigate on land
Coastal Watch Tower SW Guernsey
Despite all the military history, Guernsey is beautiful, with a lush rural landscape and contented looking cows. We took a stroll through country lanes to find the Little Chapel which is very pretty, decorated entirely with shells, pebbles and broken china. On our way we bought lovely tomatoes and beans from one of the honesty stalls which can be found outside many people's houses. Speaking of cows, the milk here is 4.8% fat and is really rather tasty. Likewise the butter is a delicious creamy yellow colour. We have a theory; that this fat content is partly due to the fact that rather than being penned in by a fence, many of the cows are chained by the horns to a spot, and don't appear to walk around very much.
View from La Grêve de la Ville