Hamble to Alum Bay, Alderney and Jersey
Friday was a leisurely day starting off with a walk into Hamble le Rice village to stock up on provisions and a walk back carrying the supplies. The plan, gang aftly, was that I would get a cab back with the load but I gave up after the first 3 taxi firms I called could not provide a car until later. Oh poo. That walk, though, on the edge of Hamble Common (that name is an oxymoron. As if anything in Hamble would be labelled ‘common’ !) was pleasant enough.
After that, we prepared the boat for sea and set off at around 11am. This passage was to be made through Pilotage alone, with no electronic aids. Simply put, that means that we went buoy hopping down the western Solent. A fine, warm day again and very many yachts out on the water, most of them practicing for Saturday’s Round the Island Race. Good luck Alan Krasno, and his team, and Merv and his team of racing pro’s.
So, buoy hopping was quite simple and vastly aided by the high number of buoys in the Solent. Aided also by the fact that this is, as mentioned, my home turf so I know where they are and what they look like. Although a couple of Yellow Special Marker buoys have, through age and neglect, turned a little grey.
A short 4 hour journey saw us anchor in Alum Bay, immediately to the east of the famous Needles. Alum Bay has its own fame in that one side of its cliffs of sand are multi-coloured. I recall school trips and family trips there and to come away with a glass ‘lighthouse’ with clearly defined layers of many different coloured sand, was a trophy indeed. (It was only later that I only realised that the lighthouse was an inverted test-tube with a cork stopper. But it has remained a lighthouse to me. Goodness knows what happened to it). There are a couple of pictures in the Gallery of Alum Bay.
So, from Alum Bay we made a late (11:00pm) start and headed out of the Needles and south (heading 220 degrees) toward the Channel Island. Watches were split into a ‘2 hour on, 3 hour off’ structure (very nice!) and we settled into a night-sail routine – essentially watching out for large, big, very big, and huge ships that may, were they not to sight us, cause substantial damage.
We arrived in Alderney in the early hours and quickly pumped up the dinghy and got the, erstwhile troublesome, outboard motor attached and working to everyone’s delight. Using that we made several foray’s ashore. Once showered, I took an early walk into Alderney town. Later I met up with a friend, Richard Ward, who took myself and Allan on an informed tour of the island to see the highlights. Unfortunately we were due to have lunch first but, it seems, nearly all stop serving at 2pm and we’d missed that deadline by only a few minutes. Still, a ‘Becks’ and a slice of chocolate cake were most welcome and compensated well. After the tour we went to the Braye Beach hotel and imbibed in some more beer and a fabulous Pimms – first of the season. The rest of the team joined us at the hotel and we went on to the First and Last Restaurant just over the road – run by a fearsome matriach, Rita and her team – for a very fine dinner.
I found Alderney to be absolutely delightful. Maybe the sunshine and warmth of the day, maybe the pretty location, maybe the lack of sleep… whatever influences were at work, they worked and I now love the place. I will come back with Moyna.
Alderney has a sad history and was decimated during the Second World War. It’s worth doing some reading on its history as I’ve no intention of giving a précis in this blog. Its fascinating.
Allan and I woke early on Sunday morning (5am) to take the boat of it’s mooring buoy and set the course to go to Jersey and St Helier. Another windless day and a motoring journey during a warm and sunny day. We practised hoisting the storm sail and did some whipping before arriving around mid-day in Jersey. A D-Day commemorating service was being held on the quay-side as we arrived and brought home the enormity of the occupation in these islands.
More later. Out of humour on this one.
June 20th & 21st Day 76/77