Vive la France

Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Thu 31 May 2012 17:45
50 43.496N 1 35.966E
At last, we have crossed the Channel. Although this morning in Dover there was less visibility than we had expected, there was a good breeze. We left at 1030 in F3/4, but the wind picked up to SW F5/6 almost as soon as we were in the shipping lanes. We put in the first reef, and raced across at 5 to 6 knots. As soon as we were across the shipping lanes, we turned south to fetch Cap de Gris Nez, close hauled. Beating into an F6 with wind against a ferocious tide was wet and tiring, but the tide helped us make it to Boulogne without having to tack. We entered the outer harbour at 1530. Although it was only 30 miles and 5 hours, it felt like a full day's sail, partly perhaps, because of our apprehension about the crossing. As it turned out, we only came close to two cargo ships, and the visibility at 5 miles or so was enough to make it safe. Faith used the AIS to good effect to predict potential collisions, and we adjusted our speed by spilling the wind to avoid them. Mid Channel we saw Gannets feeding. It is sadly grey and cold in Boulogne. For some reason we expected sun and Mediterranean cafes. Was this where Oscar Wilde lived out his years of exile? If so it was a grim punishment. But we are happy and pleased with our achievement, and looking forward to warmer days along the French coast. T