The first of this year's four Motor Boats Monthly cruises in company, a one-week exploration of the Channel Islands and France, has commenced on schedule.

The first of this year’s four Motor Boats Monthly cruises in company, a one-week exploration of the Channel Islands and France, has commenced on schedule.

A total of 26 motorboats ranging in size from 25ft to 61ft made the crossing yesterday (Saturday) from Berthon Marina Lymington to Cherbourg. Despite the foul weather of several days prior, the Channel served up a mix of flat seas, a light north-easterly and visibility never worse than 1nm for the crossing, which came as something of a relief for several first-timers on this trip.

The two control boats for this event are both new to MBM.

The latestCalm Voyageris the magazine’s recently delivered Broom 39 with cruise leader Tom Gregory and editor Hugo Andreae aboard. The fundamentals are working well on the Yanmar 250-powered boat but inevitable teething snags have emerged in the form of a hiccup with the gas system and a faulty domestic waterpump. Taken in combination this was nothing short of a disaster for the serial tea-drinking cruise leader, calling for urgent action on arrival. The gas issue was soon mastered but the pump was trickier. Once located and removed, it was taken apart last night and the problem finally proven to be a problematic pressure switch, temporarily resolved by a jury-rigged solution to bypass it. As long as someone remembers to stop the water at the breaker rather than the tap all should be well until spares are obtained.

The other boat, a black-tubed RIB from Humber, looks mean and performs well with one of Volvo Penta’s new D3 diesels in the back, an early opportunity for the magazine to monitor this power package over a reasonable number of hours. MBM’s Neale Byart and Guernseyman Richard Poat are the two who have to decide whether to opt for a small padded bolster and drive, or camp out on a canvas-padded coolbox crew station, such are the luxuries aboard this military specification RIB.

Mechanical issues elsewhere were limited to a thrown belt before one boat had even left the Solent, cured underway, and an electrical problem halfway across the Channel on another boat that temporarily saw one of its two engines shut down. Otherwise it was a happy bunch of people that saw their feet nearly get wet on a sinking Port Chantereyne pontoon as they gathered for an impromptu party.

This account is being written the following morning from an oily flat Alderney Race, with blue skies and just the faintest hint of haze on the horizon. This author has decided that age now dictates a comfortable berth and a decent pilothouse to write from, which explains why this report is coming from the Piers du Pré’s Fleming 55Play D’eau. Cruising at a lazy 10 knots, there is plenty of opportunity to glance astern at our partner boat for the day, the Broom 10/70Il Largo, a familiar boat on MBM cruises but with new owners Derek and Margaret Braybrook, who are on their first cruise off river navigations. There is also ample opportunity to look at seagulls painting firework traces across the radar (such is the calmness of the sea) and for the briefest glimpse of a seal’s snout, its periscope search curtailed as soon as it swivelled in our direction.

Tonight should see the fleet secure in St Helier, Jersey. The schedule suggests calls at Binic on the North Brittany coast, St Peter Port on Guernsey and a last night in Cherbourg; the weather charts suggest it will not be all plain sailing.

2004 Channel Islands cruise first day report 
2004 Channel Islands cruise report from Jersey 
2004 Channel Islands cruise Guernsey report 
2004 Channel Islands cruise final report