The man with no title: No. 2

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Wednesday 7 June, 2017

To Sark, on the morrow

We have reached Guernsey and as soon as we hopped off the ferry from Poole we popped into the Sark ferry office and booked tomorrow’s trip. This all comes hot on the heels of Tuesday’s ferry trip up Poole Harbour to Wareham and return. We are doing ferries thick and fast, just how I like it.

J says I need to put a warning that technical details are about to follow and if you feel some glazed eyes coming on, you need to skip the following paragraphs.

The photo above is a 26-foot Fairy Marine Atlanta. Uffa Fox designed these boats (in a variety of lengths). The original hulls were built as life boats to be carried under planes and dropped into the Channel for downed wartime pilots and aircrew. Fox developed the hot moulded technique where the hulls were planked with three layers of very thin mahogany and then oven baked to produce a strong, light structure that would stand up to being dropped from a plane. After the war, he developed the idea further and produced these yachts. The production method lent itself to mass production. The boats were light, strong, able to be trailered, seaworthy and popular. Fibreglass brought about their demise. It was fantastic to see one, still in good shape. Fox was a genius with his maritime designs. He was, from memory, an Olympic sailor. He also designed the Flying Fifteen, one of the most successful three-person racing boats ever. There is still a world championship for Flying Fifteens. There is a strong fleet of them in Wellington.

Today’s ferry to Guernsey was a trihedral hull fast ferry. This is the one we missed by a whisker on Monday. She is powered by four large diesels operating water jet propulsion squirters out the back. She probably pumps through forty Olympic-sized swimming pools of water every minute. I won’t carry on with these details as they are the same details that caused J to laugh uncontrollably back in 2012 at the Condor reception desk in St Malo.

If you recall, some years back a fast ferry came out to trade Cook Strait. It was rapidly nicknamed the Vomit Comet. Today’s ferry lived up to that name. J found the trip a little tiresome, though she managed to hold it together for the whole journey, so to speak. I enjoyed it. There were about 700 aboard and the company allocates seats. We were seated just outside the wash room door, away from fresh air and with only a limited view of the heaving sea. We shifted soon after the off and found two seats down the back, in a light airy area with easy access to the outdoors. J settled into her seat and read pretty much from the time the crew cast off through to when they tied up again. Meantime I walked for’ard and stood at the locked sliding door to the first-class lounge. When someone came out I slipped through and was able to spend some time looking out the front. I came back aft when the groans of the first-class passengers became prolonged and it occurred to them that sitting at the front in a seaway has a downside. I trundled back aft where the motion was considerably less. Here’s a tip; if the motion is awful, find a place near the stern and lie down. Pretend to sleep and imagine sitting under a tree. Sitting under a tree is the only sure-fire way to cure seasickness. Do not ever listen to blowhards who say they never get seasick. The truth is they haven’t been in a small enough boat in a big enough sea.

Now, enough of this. I loved the trip. The English Channel always throws up some surprises and today’s included military aircraft, a container ship that looked the same as the Aurora (from our Baltic Sea trip), the Alderney race (a tide rip), and a small ro-ro pretty much the same as the Kent (a ship I served on around the New Zealand coast).

Now to finish off, we enjoyed yesterday’s trip up the river to Wareham. We passed a lot of boats moored along the river with some even crowding the channel. There were a number of Hillyards. Hillyard designed boats about 70 years ago. They were pretty much always double-enders with centre cockpits and usually with ketch rigs. Hillyard boats are very distinctive; however, in my opinion, he drew them with too little sheer.

Postscript from J

Just thought I’d be lazy and piggyback on L’s entry rather than doing my own post. The ferry trip was something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I’ve experienced rougher sailings on the Cook Strait crossing but I’d still rate this one worse because the movement was a sort of twisty sideways churning that made me feel queasy rather than outright seasick (though not all passengers got away as lightly). Also it went on for longer — about two-and-a-half hours’ worth of unpleasant motion. The rough bit in Cook Strait usually only lasts about an hour (unless you get one of those rare but horrid go-on-forever trips). Anyway, I’m pleased the sailing went ahead and we’re here in Guernsey for at least two of our four planned nights.

And just to show you there’s more than boats to Guernsey, here’s a couple of small garden shots. One very small — hanging baskets, something they do very well here in Guernsey.

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