Ship’s Log: Provident #2

17 Jul

Monday July 14 07:00hrs
Quiet night in Alderney harbour. Another gorgeous day. Ashore at 7:30am to explore St Anne and breakfast by myself. Rest of my shipmates come in to shower and then breakfast on board. Nice to have quiet time. Sea legs feel rather odd…I feel I’m careening down the road.

Locals don’t seem to rise early here, most shops don’t open until 9am and some at 10am. Newsagent concurrs, he said people don’t venture out until 9:30am. The first newspapers arrive with the 8:15am flight. When I pay with sterling the change comes in Guernsey pounds. Thought I’d best check they are legal tender back in the UK. Answer is yes, at a bank, but not in stores. I politely request they be changed for Sterling. No problem.

St Anne’s bunting festooned cobble stoned main streets are lined with pastel and white painted terrace houses. A well maintained old stone church is sadly locked. Cricket pitch has the most scenic view in town. A plaque recognises the evacuation to Weymouth of the entire island in 1940 at the onset of the second world war. They were allowed back in 1945. Imagine the stories and heartache that precipitated.







A bronze memorial on the waterfront records the names of the 75 sailors and marines who drowned on the Royal Navy submarine Affray in 1951 when she sank in the channel on April 16 during a training exercise with the loss of all lives on board. The vessel wasn’t located until June 14 and the cause has never been confirmed. What’s clear is that for some reason the Affray took on water, possibly through malfunctioning of the snort (snorkel), and could not counteract it. The periscope was extended so it wasn’t diving when it happened.

The Bellevue Hotel is my best bet for breakfast. The full English minus the meat means tomato juice, grapefruit segments, poached eggs and toast with coffee. I catch up on yesterday’s papers then pick up today’s. No royal baby news yet. Hang in there Kate!

Departure is 12md, we need to refuel and top up water tanks. Interesting manouvre to tie up at the wharf. We wait for the deisel tanker to arrive so it’s 2pm before we leave port.

Katie is bowthruster this time.

My watch

Andy off duty.
Very little wind means we motor for a while then hoist a couple of sails to give us an extra knot. It’s an easy four hour passage to Sark Island. Only one other boat comes near, a small yacht under sail that changes course to photograph us. We have a quick chat as we pull alongside.

20130717-133436.jpgBarry at the helm.



Land ho! Sark.

Barclay Castle, Sark.

I’m told Sark Island is owned by the Barclay Brothers who’ve built a castle on the bluff. It looks like something out of Walt Disney. Our anchorage is by a natural harbour. Toni runs some us round in the dinghy to a small pier that leads to steps up the cliff face. Plan is to walk to the pub for a drink and be back before dark for the pick up to return to Provident for dinner.




The climb proves challenging for some and there is concern about venturing on when we realise the walk will take longer than expected. We soldier on and find a guesthouse set in a rose garden, Le Vieux Clos, run by salt of the earth Sally Hutchins, who takes pity on us and serves us beers even though her licence doesn’t permit it. The red sunset on our return is magnificent and the half moon lights our way back to the boat.

Provident is the dot in the middle.







Back on board before dark and Cat has cooked up a brilliant vegie curry from scratch with naan (and prawns for the meat eaters).

Tuesday July 16th 07:00hrs
Wake to dense fog. Eerie. No chance of it burning off so we proceed at 9:30am with only 50 to 100 metres visibility. I’m second watch – three hours to read and rest but I am aware of the tension on board.

My turn on watch at 1pm. Fog requires port watch, starboard watch and lazy bastard (substitute for loo breaks) with the fourth crew member on helm. I take port watch. The radar shows up some of the boats near us but there will be others it doesn’t pick up. We have about ten seconds to spot them to avert disaster. For three hours I scan the water and twice see shadowy shapes moving fast away from us.




Happily there are no close encounters and we finally spot rocks at sea and land – Brittany and offshore islands – at 6:30pm. Six hours of controlled anxiety……

Anchor down, sails stowed, dinghy launched and the first group ashore at Brehat Island by 7:30pm. I go in the second group with Toni, Katie, Sue and Fiona. We are in need of red wine to replenish supplies so I ask in my best French at the first hotel. We’re too late for the shops but they will sell me a bottle. Problem solved. The others explore the town but I’m content to sit on the bar terrace of the Hotel Bellevue with my Ricard on ice and soak up the atmosphere. As I bought the wine they don’t charge me for the Ricard. Sweet! It feels good to be back in France, oops I mean Brittany.



Anchorman Neil.

Anchor ball goes up!

Old school sailing – sail stops



Caroline and Andy sweating.

Barry tailing


Fiona helming.

Cat swaps in.



Katie tieing mainsail.


Happy sailors

The cook multiskilling.



Back on board Cat has made vegie risotto topped with chorizo for the others, followed by a kind of Banoffee Pie. Food never tasted so good.

After dinner Toni shared photos of last night’s sunset and previous fishing and boat photos. He also shiws us some of his artwork. Talented guy. We learn we are in the presence of the star of the TV program ‘Fish Town’. Along with Tony, his son Peter and daughter Jessica feature in the documentary. A fisherman’s lot has always been a hard one, physically. economically, and personally.


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