Not a Frenchman in sight

John & Susan Simpson
Thu 6 May 2021 22:10
Day 27 in Jersey was a bit different.  Firstly, it wasn’t sunny.  For the first time since we arrived we woke to rain beating on the cabin roof and low grey clouds.  It was gloomy but after nearly a month of wall to wall sunshine we couldn’t complain. 

Secondly, Jersey was all over the BBC News….

As we’d gone to bed the previous evening the story was just breaking: France was threatening to cut off electricity to the island in a row over fishing rights and French fishing boats were amassing to blockade St Helier in protest.  Signing in to as we woke up, we could see that a fleet of French fishing boats was indeed sitting outside the entrance to the port of St Helier - not a mile from where we sat in bed having our morning cup of tea!  A pair of British gunboats had also arrived to add to the drama.  

Given the almost complete absence of boat movements since we arrived, this was big news and we followed the BBC for updates all morning.  That was about as exciting as it got for us really.  According to the BBC, discussions between Jersey officials and representatives of the fishermen took place on a pair of boats located just the other side of the marina wall from where we are, but heavy rain, the low tide and the huge wall between us meant we saw and heard absolutely nothing.  The only reference made to what was going on during the day happened when posting a birthday parcel to John’s Mum.  I asked if standard post would get it there in time and the response was a wry ‘yes, if the French let the boat out!’ By late afternoon the rain had stopped and I climbed the hill to have a look but there was nothing left to see - just the small black speck of HMS Tamar sitting in the distance waiting for further orders.

Meanwhile, John was in the gym.  He’s signed up for a month of Fitness First and had booked a personal training session.  Judging by his slow trudge back down the pontoon to the boat afterwards, it was a tough one!  Can’t fault him for persisting though.  He’s been to the gym every other day since he signed up. 

We’re starting to get used to island life on Jersey and noticing the subtle differences to life in the UK.  The gym is an example - in London you can pretty much go to the gym seven days a week, at any time of day from dawn to late in the evening (certainly pre-Covid).  Here the gym closes early on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and by early we mean 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  On Bank Holiday Monday virtually everything in town was closed, including the pubs, restaurants and cafes that had been open all week when people were presumably at work.  It feels a very different pace of life.

We’re still making the most of our time here to get Casamara ready for our longer trips later in the year.  We took advantage of one day last week which was  forecast to have light winds as we wanted to try out a new light wind sail.  If you blinked you would have missed the sea trial.  We motored out of the harbour towards France for a couple of miles, put sails up, turned engine off and……..drifted on the tide.  There wasn’t even a breath of a breeze to get us going.  The boat turned full circle on the tide and the wind indicator arrow swung round and round at the top of the mast but the sails hung resolutely the same no matter which direction we faced.  So we put everything away again, switched engine on and motored back to the marina in time for our morning coffee.

We’ve also continued with our exploration of the island by bicycle, either our own folding pedal bikes with wheels the size of a dinner plate and gearing to match, or the EVie electric bikes that we can pick up at the roadside like a Boris Bike.  You can probably guess which we prefer!  We’ve covered about half the island so far and looking forward to completing the rest once our tender posteriors have had a few days to recover!