Port du Grand Large, Dunkerque
Leaving Dover at 8.30am, bang on time, we got clearance from Dover Port Control to leave by the western entrance. (Port Harbour Control is very slick and respectful – all “Sir” and “Ma’am” all round.” There was no wind. The rule is that you have to cross the TSS (traffic separation scheme) at 90 degrees. The Dover strait is narrow at about 20 miles. We made best speed across by motor – Roger had the radar on and was freaked by the number of shipping movements that we had to avoid. However, and more by luck than judgement, none of the ships held us up, and we got through the TSS to the Calais side in just under 2 hours. Then Roger thought he identified three boats coming towards us outside the TSS. He was not happy. In the end it turned out that all there were anchored in the Calais roads, and so weren’t going anywhere.
The vis was OK but there were, as forecast, patches of fog. There was a yellow/black tinge to the horizon, that reminded me of how the black country used to be driving up the Birmingham New Road (Birmingham’s answer to the autobahns.)
We motored inshore past Calais, then up the coast to Dunkerque. The weather improved and the sun came out. The coast is low lying, and full of heavy industry – the pilot book calls it France’s back yard. Chimnies flaring and spewing out black smoke; blast furnaces and refineries all the way along. Roger was swithering as to whether he wanted to stop in Dunkerque or press on to Nieuwpoort/ Ostende – and in the end was persuaded by the tide changing under us at 2.30pm. We peeled off into the Bassin de Grand Large. It’s a comfortable all tide marina, at modest cost (under 2 5euros/ night for us.) The harbour master was very pleasant and helpful, aided by Bali, a large and very hairy puppy-dog of uncertain genealogy but aimiable disposition, playing with a tennis ball. The marina restaurant was closed on a Tuesday, so he recommended a restaurant in one of the back-streets of Malo les Bains, named Entre Ciel et Mer, where we had the 23.50 prix fixe menu. It was good value. Roger had quiche and I had a terrine of rouget; then we both had an excellent fish pie, salmon, mussels and cod in a thermidor sauce, topped with cheese, and potatoes dauphinoise.
The museum of operation dynamo was shut by the time we arrived (it opens @ 10am, closes for lunch 12-2pm and then shuts for the day at 5pm. It’s located just at the root of the marina, in a casemate near the beaches and the eastern jetty where the main evacuation occurred. Maybe on the way back?
The pictures from the sea of all the heavy industry haven’t come out well, but here is a picture of our view from the berth (it smells fishy, as well!)
And some beach huts on the prom