Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Going the Wong way

St Peter Port, Guernsey
N: 49.46
W: 2.53

"Social prosperity means man happy, the citizen free, the nation great."

Passing by the weather worn facade of a Guernsey building once housing French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, one imagines this line, from Les Misérables, written with the spirit of the island in mind.

To travelers passing through, Guernsey appears a paradise island, a refuge from the politics of the land, the problems facing Europe and the world. It is the kind of place where, if you had the fortune (in every meaning of the word) to live, you would spend Saturday mornings at Farmers' markets, volunteer in the beach kiosk and never lock your front door.

After five days on the island the politics of this nation is still a mystery. Not really part of the U.K, but with a member of parliament in Westminster assigned especially to keep an eye on Guernsey and her neighbors. With the power to create her own laws but, to make things simple, almost without exception following the legislation of the U.K. With her own currency which does work on other islands but not in the U.K. Her own flag that, when flown from the roof of the harbor office, proudly carries the Union Jack in the corner but otherwise settles for resembling England's red cross on white. They seem to root for England in the World Cup, but then again Guernsey didn't qualify this year. They don't pick up on phone signals from neither France, nor U.K, but have their own Channel network and phone numbers are happily handed out for free (+44 778 14 41 823, for another couple of weeks, if you wish to chat). But the most talked about distinction between the Channel Islands and the mainland has to do with tax, and both Guernsey and neighboring Jersey have become psydo tax havens. For Nuthin Wong all this comes down to curious confusion, cheap diesel and the notion that were we ever to beach her permanently the Channel Islands would compete with Honfleur as the place to do it. (We should probably stop toying with the idea of the land by now. Partly because our flings with the hard are one-night-stands better left veiled in romantic mysticism, and partly because Europe just seem to get more beautiful the further south we go and the list would just be too long and confusing to keep up with.)

The waters around the Channel Islands are known to be among the hardest in Europe to navigate, with the largest tidal differences in the world. All but one basin in the marina dries out twice a day, but being refused a place there this is of no concern to us. Refused might be a bit harsh but after running us aground while directing us to the waiting pontoon the Harbor Master declared that all free moorings had been allocated for the year but we were welcome to submit an application form for a free berth next year. While this is extremely generous we decided that we might give it a miss and go on the anchor instead. Guernsey Yacht Club proved more generous supplying internet connection, coffee and great books for token donations (Kipling's Captains Courageous and a vegetarian cook book have been added to the library).

John and Faye have left us for the U.K but we have incoming company from U.K tomorrow. An update from the other islands, some photos and a presentation of our new crew member will follow shortly. As will an article about us in the Guernsey Press today (and the one from Honfleur).

Berths are still available throughout the summer - welcome new friends and old!


1 comment:

  1. hazardbodine3:44 AM

    Hope to be able to meet you upon reaching the US!