May meander around the Baie de Seine

by Ron Parker May 2016
photos Guy Partington

Friday the 13th, we headed for Cherbourg for 10 days afloat on Elfida. Taking the car and the Britany Ferry fastcat made the travelling very simple. The layout of Chantereyne marina made access to Elfida uncomplicated as well, finding her tied up in a visitor berth and in good order. Arriving soon after midday also allowed us to victual the boat with a minimum of effort as well – even the store car park was free.

We, that is Guy Gill Linda and I, had decided beforehand to try and visit Honfleur and Ouistreham during the trip so it was just a question of “order of service” and as the next few days winds were forecast to stay mainly in the North at various strengths, it was decided to make the first step to St Vaast the next day. A 1200 departure would make the most of the East going tide around Barfleur and yet a bit of margin to make sure we made the lock. So after refuelling – wow, how can that be a 4 person job, but it was – we set off in a NE4 for a bumpy ride up to Barfleur where the sheets were finally eased for some downwind sailing to round Tatihou and arrive into St Vaast late afternoon.

New to me, there is a restaurant now in the Marina which turned out to be excellent and the whole town was rammed for a “fete” weekend. So we took the next day off as well, taking in a sea shanty festival at La Houge – has anyone noticed how tired you become after the first couple of days at sea?




















Early start the next day with a wind forecast out of the NW at 10 knots which gave reasonable progress towards a planned Ouistreham but then the Normandy sea breeze kicked in and Elfida “took off” so Honfleur seemed reasonable and indeed it was with much of the passage under gennaker – arriving at the lock close to 1800 and to find it on “freeflow” was also a bonus. This is a charming town and we gave ourselves the whole of the next day to do it justice, staying on the visitor pontoon, close to the facilities and a good bit quieter than the inner basin.


Wednesday now and off to Ouistreham; weather less certain, but we did get a sailing angle, just, to bring us up to the entrance markers with just one short tack but by now in heavy rain and a bit of a blow out of the south, nevertheless, in time for our “back up” lock “closing inbound” time of 1315 – this is not the boat friendly lock that we are used to at Port Solent so we were glad to eventually secure to the visitor berth in the marina and retire from the rain.

Much to do locally as Guy and Gill’s home town of Angmering is twinned with Quistreham and they have developed a very good friendship with Marie Helene who previously has been the local mayor, so together with a bit of social eating and drinking, we managed a walk to Pegasus Bridge and lunch in the Gondree Café which is still run by the same family that welcomed the airborne troops on the night before D-Day, there to secure the 2 bridges – the whole episode is almost beyond belief. Next day we took a taxi to Arramanches and the D-Day museum – I have taken Jocalia into Port Winston on a previous occasion but the anchorage can be very roly.

Wow, 3 nights in one place – feels like a holiday! A Saturday morning with the sun out and a forecast of S 3 got everyone out, circling for the lock but this time with very little tidal differential, the lock was a much more pleasant experience. Once clear of the “Plateau du Calvados” we set full sail and a course for Barfleur, expecting the wind to veer to the West sometime later in the day. In reality, the wind died, killed by a local effect sea breeze I think, leaving us to motor sail around the top of the Cotentin Peninsular and into Cherbourg as the tide was turning foul and the wind beginning to veer to the West with more rain in the offing.

Sunday did not present an attractive day to go anywhere so we repaired to the car to find and visit a local Chateau where the gardens were certainly worth a visit; but they would have been so much more appealing in sunshine!

Of course the sun came out again for our last day of clearing and titivating but then that is also a task best performed in nice weather.







































Do hope this short log helps to entice members across to Cherbourg to enjoy this interesting sailing area. Our plan chose some longish sectors which we were reasonably successful in pairing with some decent wind directions and suitable rest periods. Out of Cherbourg to the West is another chapter.