• Welcome to our blog!

    This is our first full season on the good ship Ruby. We bought her in August 2021 with the intention of sailing around the UK in her over the course of several seasons. She is a 40 foot Marex 375, Norwegian design and built in Lithuania. She has twin stern drive 320 HP Volvo Penta D4 A-G engines and will travel at 36 knots if asked. She is most economical somewhat slower than that!

  • Honfleur – June 14

    Fecamp to Honfleur – 35 miles

    A few years ago when we cruising in the Baltic, we took the piss out of our neighbours who would fire up there vacuum cleaner daily and clean their yacht. What sort of person does that? Extraordinary behaviour! One of our first purchases for Ruby was a ‘Hetty’ cleaner, delivered direct to our pontoon by Amazon in Poole harbour and we are now just another of those extraordinary boat owners. Ruby is vacuumed at least daily and that’s how we like it! I’m sure other long term cruisers have their creature comforts too. Linda would like to emulate our friends, John and Anne, currently cruising towards Norway in their Hardy 42. They have a washing machine. Well it’s just practical but we have insufficient space. Robin and Rachel are now exploring Dutch waters on their Broom 450. They have a vacuum cleaner too besides and I’m sure a range of other luxuries too. I bet John and Linda don’t have these refinements because they have remained proper sailers with mains, jibs and spinakers. They made rapid progress to the Baltic and are now in the Gulf of Bothnia in their lovely Najad. We are all in regular contact either through social media or through the technology of AIS. With our Marine Traffic apps, we all know where each of us is at any moment. How boating has changed!

    Today we are in Honfleur, a few miles up the Seine from Le Havre. A bit busy for our liking, partly because 2 large cruise ships had disgorged their human cargo and let them loose on the town. We elected to stay out of the main basin in the town center and tie up in a quiet area. It is very picturesque. The impressionists loved it. Getting here at the right time when there was minimal current in the river and the lock gates open meant another early start. But summer is here and we’re loving it!

  • Honfleur – June 15

    There is no argument. Honfleur is a beautiful place but it’s picturesque harbour is spoiled by too many people and too many cafes. Behind the harbour meander many well preserved streets and alleyways that take you away from the hubub of the quayside with the old wooden church to admire and the Eugene Boudin gallery to enjoy. Honfleur was a favourite amongst many artists but especially with the Impressionist movement. As well as Boudin, there were works by André Hambourg, Courbet and Charles Mozin. But on a hot day, our pleasures were simpler. Sitting in the conservatory area of Ruby (as Linda would have it), sipping wine and beer and watching life as it passed. Inland cruise ships, fishing boats and cormorants. One even had a battle with an eel before it finally slithered whole, and alive down it’s long neck. How nice it has been to be in the town but at the end of a long pontoon in peace.

    The old port
    Inland cruise ship
  • Dives sur mer – June 16

    Honfleur to Dives – 20 miles
    Ruby on a quiet pontoon!

    With settled weather, light winds and calm seas, now is the time to bank a few miles. With such a large tidal range, many ports are only accessible for a couple of hours either side of high tide and timing is critical. Heading west is a disadvantage too as we are generally punching into the tide. The tides can be ferocious. Today, Dives-sur-mer was our best option. At high tide today, our route in would be over sand which would dry out at low tide but today we had a full 5 metres beneath us as we approched the port a little after high tide. When we returned by bike later in the afternoon to look at the entrance, the buoys marking the entrance were largely high and dry on the sand. The marina here is excellent, but the town rather less inspiring. We’ll move on tomorrow.

    Jostling with the fishing boats to leave Honfleur
    Fishing boat in a hurry
    Ruby in a hurry
    Starboard marking post leading into Dives
    Port hand marker, aground later!
    The final approach
    Making way for the lifeboat as we enter the tidal gate
    Tied up in the marina
    The entrance at low tide
    The old wooden market hall in Dives
  • Saint Vaast la Houge – June 17

    Dives to Saint Vaast le Houge – 51 miles

    When we were proper sailors, on boats with sails rather than just engines, I think we sneered at motor boaters. Actually, we really did sneer at them. They were the enemy. They would cut us up and the wash would rock our boats emptying our sails of wind and in so doing, we’d spill our tea. They saw themselves as superior even though they probably came from Romford. They’d arrive at their destination early and by the time we arrived were pissed on cocktails and too much gin. In short, we had little time for them and were unlikely to ever talk to them. In our eyes, they were outcasts. So the tables have turned. Now we’re the motor boaters. Surely sailors can see that we are really one of them? We’re not from Romford. We give sailors a wide berth at 30 knots so to prevent their boat from wobbling and reducing their speed from 4 to 3 knots. When we arrived at St Vaast la Houge, we reversed into our slot. All the British sailors looked the other way with no intention of lending a hand with rope management. To be honest, we prefer it that way. We don’t really like other people to be involved in the muddles that we create. But it is a sign of friendship, none the less. To start with we were at the end of a British dominated pontoon as the outcasts, but it is now clear that we are all in it together. We’ll be here for a few days of bad weather that is coming our way and are going to have to make the best of it. Slowly, people have started to look for things we might have in common. One person even has a relative that lives in Essex! One lady actually admitted she liked the look of Ruby. By next week I expect that we will all be the best of friends and have laid any prejudices to rest. Maybe.

    51 miles to St Vaast seemed a long way. 10 hours sailing in a sailing boat against the tide. Only 5 hours between the tidal gate opening at Dives at 1100 and the tidal gate closing at 1600 at St Vaast. No problem in Ruby. Half throttle, 25 knots and we’re there at just after 1, even if the reception had been far from rapturous on the British pontoon. The hottest day of the year. Over 30C. No wind, but apparently just the day for a meander around the shops. So I carried on smiling, -quote Leonard Cohen, I smile when I’m angry – and found shops that kept Linda amused. St Vaast is said is supposedly the most loved village in France. Really? The harbour is attractive. The town is nice but not amazing. Linda liked some shops such as Gosselin, a really old fashioned grocery cum deli cum all sorts of quality tut. The market today – the day after our arrival – was interesting. Typically French, I believe. The temperatures today have been far better. Cool enough to go running. But a cool northerly is brewing and building. And that means time in port. Time to do washing, ironing, cleaning and boat maintainence.

    Approaching St Vaast
    Shelves in Gosselin
    Inside the harbour looking out
    Amphibious vehicle taking passengers to a nearby island
    Bored men outside Gosselin
    The market
  • Saint Vaast la Houge – June 19

    The wind started to build yesterday lunchtime. Not too much. Just enough to take the edge off a warmish day. It gathered strength during the afternoon and by early evening, Ruby was yawing from side to side increasingly violently. A revision of our mooring lines placement settled that. As the winds strengthened further, the rain descended in torrents and lightning filled the sky. I find it rather cosy to be safely tucked up in bed with all that noise going on. We downloaded ‘House of Gucci’ and that entertained us until sleep took over. By this morning, the rain and storm had passed, but not the wind which has continued to blow relentlessly all day. Too wild a day to find a patisserie, so coffee and biscuits sufficed as breakfast as we finished the film. We thought it was a good watch. The marina restaurant seemed like a good lunch option. Prawns followed by ‘Marmite’, a local dish of smoked salmon on top of potatoes in a creamy, fishy sauce washed down with a little Sauvignon Blanc was all that was required to put us back to sleep for the afternoon. We must decide now on our next film!

    Le Phare cocktail (the lighthouse)

  • Barfleur (by bike) – June 21

    To Barfleur and back – 18 miles

    On rising this morning, everything was quiet! The ferocious wind had been tamed and our neighbours had fled! Barfleur is another fishing town. The quay doesn’t cater for visiting boats so we decided to cycle there. We followed the green signs with a bicycle and Barfleur written on it in the expectation of an attractive quiet ride, which in part it was, but mostly on dirt tracks and with no inclination to deliver us to our destination speedily. The Moules et Frites followed by Calvados was a winner though. Also, most interesting, were the oyster beds covering many hectares, covered at high tide but revealed at low tide where an army of tractors and workers could be seen collecting their produce. It seems that everything to do with fishing in Normandy is done on a massive scale. Not only is the oyster farming on a totally different scale from Mersea, probably Whitstable too, but the size and number of fishing boats also dwarfs anything we have seen in the UK.

    Oyster beds
    Oyster beds
  • Cherbourg – June 22

    Saint Vaast la Houge to Cherbourg – 31 miles

    The weather for nearly a week has been iffy. Often very windy and looking ahead, it will be windy again. Today seemed a good day to go to Cherbourg where we can get our passports stamped and tomorrow head for Guernsey. We are on neap tides at the moment, so tides less problematic and the wind should be behind us. After quite a rough passage off Barfleur, we turned west, the seas settled, we powered up the engines, and we were soon in Cherbourg. It’s a massive marina. Lots of Brits, and the usual complement of Germans and Dutch. Oh, and French. Our German neighbours are heading for the Canaries in their new Dehler 38 SQ.

    We can spend 90 days a year in the EU. Or is it 90 in 180? Whatever it is, you need to get your passport stamped, otherwise the clock keeps ticking and could prevent trips later in the year. We presented ourselves at an office in town. It was very informal. No computer checks. Just a rubber stamp and we were off. We fully intend to leave tomorrow but would anyone know if we stayed weeks, months or years?

    Linda’s loving her electric Brompton. She found another chateau (Chateau Ravalets) and garden to visit at the top of a very long hill which she accomplished with ease where we had our picnic lunch.

  • St Peter Port, Guernsey – June 23

    St Peter Port – 45 miles

    The Channel Islands have always, to me, been synonymous with fearsome currents, big tides and liberally strewn rocks. Lovely when you’re there but it’s the getting there. The ‘Alderney Race’. The very name strikes the fear of God into me. There’s no easy way to avoid it. This tidal stream, starting at the North western corner of the Cherbourg peninsula, can run at nearly 10 knots in spring tides. When there are strong currents, there are often rough seas. Fortunately we are on neap tides at the moment so the tide should be less fierce. Consultation with Reed’s Almanac confirmed that today at about 0900 was the time to arrive there when the tide was slack, then gradually building in strength to sweep us down to Guernsey. With light winds, this had to be a golden opportunity. And so it proved to be. A smooth trip almost all the way at 20 knots. We had to wait for enough tide to come in before crossing the sill and entering the marina where we were tucked into our own quiet little corner of the harbour. Early impressions of St Peter Port are good! We’ll be here a few days.

    Early departure from Cherbourg
    Western end of the Cherbourg breakwater
    The sill at the entrance to Victoria marina, St Peter Port
    Ruby tucked away in our own corner
    Hauteville, St Peter Port
    Hauteville, St Peter Port
  • St Peter Port – June 24

    It is always interesting to visit local yacht clubs when ‘on tour’. They almost always welcome visiting yachtsmen. Just sign yourself in and make yourself comfortable, often with a great view of the local waters. More often than not, good value food and booze too. Sometimes you meet interesting people as well. Linda spotted a couple of girls wearing ‘Spirit Yachts’ T shirts. They were busy preparing for some sort of event. Spirit Yachts are partners with James Bond films and one of them features in the most recent film, ‘No time to die’. They represent the last word in luxury cruising and combine high tech with traditional design. Linda felt the urge to speak to them. I think the conversation went like this. ‘Hello. I’m Will Fox’s mum’. ‘OMG, not the Will Fox?”Yep. I’m his Mum!’. Anyway it turns out that they do know him because Will has been working on some structural engineering aspects of a new boat for them. Starting at the weekend, there is a Spirit Yacht regatta being hosted by none other than the Guernsey Yacht Club. There will be a full program of racing and apparently most of the 60 yachts ever built by Spirit over the last 40 years will be here. There are a few in the harbour already. With the start line at the castle by the harbour entrance, I think we can expect to be entertained over the next few days.

    But it’s not all fun on Ruby. There are a list of maintenance tasks to be undertaken. This afternoon, it was window cleaning. By Bobby of course. Linda gave explicit instructions from a semi-recumbant position and appears to think that I did a good job. Beer and steak pie was the reward.

    Linda with Elena and Helen
    Some of the Spirit Yacht early arrivals (blue hulls, massive flags)
    Letter boxes in Guernsey are blue
    It rained after I cleaned the windows

  • St Peter Port – June 25

    Saturday is parkrun day. Mandatory activity for the obsessive parkrunner. So off we we cycled to Guernsey’s event. Linda tagged along with the promise of coffee and breakfast at the café next to the start. I feel that I’ve become flabby and unfit since we left home. A diet of pain au raisins, pastries and baguettes is the cause. So a time of 27 plus minutes was better than expected for the 5k. A beautiful course it was too along the dunes overlooking L’Ancresse Bay. We lingered over coffee afterwards and then Linda plugged her battery into her bike for our next coffee and lunch stop at another glorious location. Cobo bay. Heavy showers interrupted our ride back to St Peter Port via Waitrose (in the absence of Lidl and Asda!) to top up on provisions.

    The Bobster
    L’Ancresse Bay
    Cobo Bay