Dieppe, Haute-Normandie, France.
Latitude: N. 49.9275
Longitude: E. 1.0879
We're in France! There's no limit to the excitement of having crossed the Channel safely and be in the land of wine, baguettes, small dogs and fine art.
We took of from Dover with a crew of five and had great conditions for sailing. Dover is a cute little town with the friendliest marina officials we've encountered so far. It's interesting to see how the perceived value of gadgets changes when space and finances are limited. The things you thought you couldn't go without are quickly forgotten about and some things you never used on land becomes crucial survival tools. Then there are the things in the middle. The inventions you really can do without but which, at random appearance, makes you tremendously excited. For me (Hanna) a laundry machine is one such devise. I have more than once been caught by yachtis smelling towels and sheets fresh out of the machine, smiling at the absence of diesel fumes. To find that the facilitles at Dover Marina includes not only a laundry machine but warm showers and hairdryers was like Christmas in May.
Despite the luxury we were all very keen to tick U.K off the list. England is a great place where we've made many friends, but we have lingered long enough in the country where summer appear to have forgotten to arrive this year.
The actual crossing went smoothly apart from the top panel on the mainsail ripping due to the weight of the three panels underneath. The panel was one of the new ones we made in the loft at Greenwich and a risk from the get-go, given it was a bit too thin for it's purpose on our heavy rig. After reefing up to three panels we soldiered on and arrived in Boulogne Sur Mer (we have a reward out for anyone who can teach us the pronunciation as our at least five different attempts have failed ridiculously) in late afternoon.
Ian went ashore to sign us in and came back with company in the shape of four French custom officials. I'm not sure these men in blue are particularly hilarious to encounter anywhere in the world, but the French ones seem to have an especially humorless aura about them. After an hour's interrogation, presentation of papers and passports and some smooth talking from Clive we were given permission to step ashore.
Boulogne is a rather industrial town but still France and the croissants and wine were on the table within the hour. Contrary to the myth, French people are incredibly friendly and helpful (the fact that we're all totally and absolutely helpless with the French language is beside the point). After a long day at sea we were all pretty flat but enjoyed a nice meal in town (cheese, bread and some more cheese) before turning in to be fresh for the next day.
Up in the morning and off to Dieppe in the province of Haute Normandie. Instead of customs Dieppe greeted us with dolphins upon arrival. It doesn't seem to matter how often you encounter these beautiful animals, they are just as amazing every time.
From Dieppe the real world called on Ian, Sean and Paddy who all had to make their way back to the U.K. Despite agreeing that Dieppe is one of the most beautiful cities any of us have ever been to we are tied up in the yachtie Marina, out of our price range and too far from the street to sell books and practice our French. We will need to set sail west a.s.a.p. Shame really, we could all stay here much longer...
Au revoir amis!