This time it is unbelievingly nice to be in harbour! We arrived yesterday,
2000 UTC - 2200 local time (CET). Friendly people helped us with the lines,
and I practiced a few words of French. (I only know a few words...) Then we
had a glass of red wine and went to bed.
On the way in, just after passing Alderney, we were met by French costums.
First they had observed us by helicopter, then they passed us a couple of
times with their boat. After obeserving us for some time, they asked us to
listen to vhf ch. 8. After a few questions, they decided they would come on
board. They launched their RIB, and three people came on board, while one
was back in the RIB. They were very polite, and very thorough. They checked
papers, identity, asked a lot of questions. They were very interested in
where we had been. And they searched the boat. Two of them spoke good
English, and were very friendly and open about their methodes. So we learnt
that going by motor instead of sailing made us ineresting. (There was a
little wind, but going against the current, we would have gone backwords
over the ground!) We also had tried to avoid the worst of the tideal stream,
so we gave Alsderney a wide berth. Also interesting! When they learnt where
we had been with the boat we became even more interesting. But they did all
the paperwork themselves! They try to stop drug smuggeling of course, and we
are quite happy they do.
After the costums people had left, we talked about the experience, and other
experiences wit officials. And we concluded that we never had bad
experiences with authorities abroad. They do their job, and if met with
friendlyness and openminded, they have always been nice and helpful. We
often ask some questions about the places we arrive to, because they know
the area. They are usualy more than willing to give good answers. This time
we asked about the routines in the marina, and they knew about them, checked
a few things and told us.
We write this because we often read and hear from aother sailors about bad
experiences with the authorities. Of course there may be a little too much
bureaucracy at times, and you may wander what it is for. But the people
working with it has always been friendley (at least correct) to us. We
always meet them with respect and try to be a little humble, and sometimes
give the impression of beeing a littel helpless. Then we find that they are
human beeings, even with smile and humour, most of them.
This morning there is no wind. The sun is shining. It is summer in Europe.
Continental Europe. It is good to be back. We loved the tropics and the
Carabbean, but we could not stay. And we could not go further. We also liked
the Azores. But we did not always like what is between these places, the
sailing, very much. Here in Cherbourg we have completed our circle. This
time we got into the marina. No fishermen were blocking it. We have sailed
more than 12000 nm the last 14 months. Only about 850 miles and one month
left of our journey. We have loved this life. And all the people we have
met. And now I am going to sip my coffee in morning sun, in the cockpit...