Friday, May 21, 2010
Holiday in Honfleur
Honfleur, Lower Normandy, France.
Latitude: N 49.4195
Longitude: E 0
While life is well aboard the Wong there are certain places we pass through that makes life on land seem very attractive indeed! Honfleur is certainly one of them. This picturesque town just outside the busy port city of Le Havre is a buzzing tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over Europe and the world. The town has a population of 8178 but attracts thousands more in the summer.
The sail down from Dieppe was uneventful (for which we are thankful since we were a crew of two and are happy to save unexpected dramas for when we have more assistance aboard!). We were keeping close to the coast the whole way and were able to see some nice French countryside. Normandy is an amazing part of France with green hills, white cliffs and the most amazing architecture. 12 hours out of Dieppe we hung a left at La Havre to enter the river mouth of the mighty Seine river. We were battling a strong tide going out and thought at first that we would be too late to enter the lock to Honfleur some 15 km into the river.
We don't know whether it was lucky timing or standard procedure but after calling in on the radio (the VHF has been a somewhat monologuesqe exercise since entering France; "Honfleur sluss, this is Victor Delta 3875, do you copy?", "French french french.... french", "Okay, when is the next sluss opening please? Over", "French french. French, french.... french", "Okay, merci monsieur, over and out") the lock opened up and we entered the first lock of the trip! It is fascinating to see the very smooth procedure of the 'sluss' and after fifteen minutes we were in! After a 14.5 hour day it was nice to motor into town again. We had heard from other sailors in Dieppe that there were still free places to moore in Honfleur and we had our fingers crossed that they were right. As it was getting close to 9 pm we took our chances and tied up behind a fishing boat with this view from the galley:
It is exciting to be a stone throw away from the main tourist street around the harbor with all its restaurants, galleries and boutiques. It is also excellent for meeting people and we had barely tied up the spring lines when we were boarded by a lovely British gentleman who happened to have family in Vancouver Island and had seen the Wong back in Canada twenty years ago!
The following day's rondez vous was of a different nature with the Harbor Master knocking on the hatch to inform us that we had to move. Being kind and understanding people they sent us some fifty meters down the wall next to a walkway leading to the beach where we were allowed free mooring for two weeks (and the young Harbor Master's assistant bought a copy of 'No Fixed Address')!
Being on the boardwalk is hardly bad for sales and recruiting and we can barely go out on deck to brush our teeth before curious strollers starts inquiring about our mission to get the Wong back to Canada. One night we had the pleasure of meeting Michael and Hillary, father and daughter on bicycle holiday from Adelaide, Australia, who came aboard for tea and a chat. The pleasure of being able to hold a conversation without a dictionary was huge! The following day the odyssey of perfectly understandable lingual exchange continued over wine and a traditional Aussie bbq on the aft-deck. We hope to see these new friends again later in the summer!
We are very happy to have chosen such a wonderful place for a mini break to catch our breaths, pick up some crew, unload some books, wash the salt and diesel off and mingle with the sophisticated people of Honfleur. A couple of interesting historic footnotes about Honfleur is that it was the port of departure for French explorer Jean Denis as he set out for Newfoundland, Canada, in 1506 as well as the 1608 expedition that ended up founding the city of Quebec, Canada. It is also bound to go down in history as the very favorite French port of the Nuthin Wong on her way to Montreal!
Dolphins of Dieppe
Slussing into Honfleur