A Break in the Cotentin

My wife and I are off tomorrow morning (after an early Mass of the Ascension) for an extended weekend until Sunday night. I’m taking the boat but the weather forecast looks dicey. Friday looks OK for the moment (16 to 18 knots) and I might have to shorten sail, especially the jib which is on the generous side for this boat. The sea will be to lee of the land, so there will be little swell, but I’ll have to get back to the beach close-hauled.

Here’s where it is:

gatteville-map

This area is full is maritime and World War II history. Sainte-Mère Eglise was capital for D-Day on 6th June 1944, when so many men perished under the German machine guns. Cherbourg was the first I saw of France in August 1966 as a small boy, coming off a ship from Southampton and disappointed that France was not like the African Savannah with lions and elephants. It is a fine coastline full of fishing ports and oyster growing. There are also many Vauban and Napoleonic fortifications against – guess who – always the same enemy!!!

Here is a nice summer view of the camp site and coastline:

gatteville The famous lighthouse of Gatteville (top of this photo) marks a very dangerous part of the sea, where tidal currents can be stronger than 9 to 10 knots. In bad weather, the combination of wind and waves creates a true ship-eating maelstrom. I will stay south of our beach and near the shore. With a ten-foot dinghy and no engine, to venture near the Raz de Barfleur would be madness! That is unless I want a very quick trip to Cherbourg on the outgoing tide, or an even faster journey to Davie Jones’ Locker!

I hope to have a couple of nice anecdotes and photos when we get back home.

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