A total of 23 craft in the MBM Channel Islands cruise in company fleet returned safely to the UK in near idyllic conditions yesterday.

A total of 23 craft in the MBM Channel Islands cruise in company fleet returned safely to the UK in near idyllic conditions yesterday.

The Saturday had provided a very adequate eve of return day in St Peter Port, Guernsey. A passing thunderstorm got its noisy and wet business out of the way overnight to leave a day that just got brighter and bluer as the hours rolled on. John and Dianne Harper’s Broom 42i> and Dave and Sarah Stewart’s Princess Riviera 46Odysseatook the morning tide out to the islands. Not long afterwards Castle Cornet cracked a 21-gun salute in honour of the Queen’s birthday.

The afternoon tide swept in a fleet of lifeboats, old and new, to celebrate 200 years of lifeboat services at Guernsey for the past two centuries. Later on the sounds of glasses chinking and a marching band’s drummers drumming gently rolled across the marina from the RNLI marquee.

For the MBM team it was a day of mostly small fixes rather than having to cope with any major repairs. As is often the case on cruises several boats had been reporting VHF problems and one had a main GPS down. As is also the norm some of these were found attributable to basic wiring faults which in turn might have been avoided had less joints been used in wiring runs and the centre pins on VHF PL259 plugs correctly soldered.

Weather watching had, for once, been similarly easy. A low pressure system parked out to the west was always a threat, but the established high showed a little more determination to stick around than is usually the case and even the visibility looked like it would be okay. The possibilities of sea breezes stoking a prevailing north-easterly on the Channel Islands side pointed to an early departure. The chosen route was due north to a point west of the Casquets, avoiding any wind against tide issues in the Alderney Race and then straight to the Needles. A brace of boats would peel off to Poole further down-track and a further pair would be heading off to starboard towards Brighton.

Two of the fleet’s number, the Moonraker 36Proph-a-Seaand Princess 35Five Bucks, had decided upon extended stays in St Peter Port. So it was 23 that started unravelling from rafts early on Sunday morning.

First away was MBM’s nominated second control boat, Piers and Lyn du Pré’s Fleming 55Play d’eauwith ybw.com editor Kim Hollamby aboard. What was discovered ahead was about as good as one could wish for, with visibility of at least six miles and only a small lop to tease the surface of the waters up to the Casquets and beyond.

The further over the Channel that the fleet went, the glassier the water surface as the north-easterly took a Sunday siesta. Perfect for fast passages on planing boats. Perfect also for spotting a series of three whale sharks mid-Channel, their gaping mouths pointed into tide.

Two boats had slightly livelier passages. The 30ft Sportscraft FishmasterLady Charlottereported possible propeller damage after collecting some rubbish mid-Channel, but was able to press on after checks. Rather more surprised was Roger Carter, singlehanding the Windy Mirage 25Panarrow. He reported a ‘bird strike’, something he declared as being something he expected at 25,000ft but not at sea level. Earlier in the week Roger had lost one of his impressively large cigars to a rogue Cap de la Hague wave, so if nothing else he has plenty of anecdotes to take home with him.

That was the sum of the dramas. Approaching the Solent it was obvious that the coastguard were having a busy weekend with the usual tales of boats broken down in Christchurch Bay and aground on the Winner but the only calls received on MBM’s Sealine F37Calm Voyager, skippered by Tom Gregory and crewed by MBM’s Neale Byart and Guernseyman Richard Poat, were of boats safely logged in. As an exercise in pleasurable cruising the week seems to have been deemed a success, made largely so by new friendships made, old friendships renewed, the hospitality of the Channel Islanders and perhaps most importantly of all, by moving when it was comfortable to do so and staying put when it was not.

Flexible friends
Motor Boats Monthly would like to thank the teams at Berthon Lymington Marina, Port Chantereyne Cherbourg, St Helier Marina and the States of Jersey, St Helier Yacht Club, St Peter Port Marina and the Guernsey Tourist Board. All had to change arrangements to accommodate the MBM team’s desire to find the most favourable weather windows for moves. We also offer our apologies to Neil and his team at Premier Marina’s Beaucette Marina for not being able to take the fleet in there as planned due to lack of time.

Read previous Channel Island report 

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