We eased out of Bradwell Marina at the uncivilised hour of 0600 so as to catch the most favorable tide and beat the expected strengthening wind later. The oystercatchers were calling on the muddy banks on a still but sunny morning and despite our fatigue, it felt good to be alive. We waved a final farewell to Mersea across the water and made good progress to Calais at an economical speed in 7 hours. The rising wind whipped up the waves as we approached Calais making for an uncomfortable final few miles and we entered the harbour between an endless stream of ferries. The inner harbour and marina is accessed through the main harbour by negotiating a road bridge that opens hourly between 3 hours before and 3 hours after high tide. Outside these hours a sluice gate closes to prevent the marina from drying out. We arrived at high tide just as the bridge opened, closely followed by the gendarmerie RIB. It was soon apparent that we were persons of interest. Post Brexit, we can no longer enter and leave France on a whim. The formalities include completing a C1331 UK Government form, probably designed on an antique computer using an Excel spreadsheet one night after the pubs had closed. From the French perspective, we are obliged to show all our ‘ships papers’ to confirm that we own Ruby and that we paid VAT. Finally our passports needed stamping to ensure we don’t outstay our welcome. Between the gendarmes and the harbour master they seemed satisfied that we were fulfilling our obligations.
Calais is not a town with obvious appeal, but with a deterioration in the weather forecast, we will have to make the most of it!