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La Sorciere adventures 2022

La Sorciere is a Najad 400 built in Sweden in 2004 and is very comfortable to sail by two crew.
This is our first owned yacht that we bought in Herkingen Holland in October 2019; bringing her across the North Sea in March 2020 just as lockdown commenced. This involved 15 hours motoring to Ramsgate, got as warm as 6C and wind on the nose of up to 34 knots; so a great introduction to Alison of foul weather sailing - not quite how l suggested it might be - a calm, easy sailing voyage. Not being put off by this experience……
We saw a number of interesting talks advertised at WPCA including Chris and Tess Reid’s adventure around the UK. We were welcomed as potential new members and subsequently joined.
Our first cruise organised by Chris and Tess took us to the Channel Islands. Following indicating we wished to join the cruise, or should I say two  cruises, a planning meeting was held to confirm which boats would be joining the cruise as the dates various boats could make enabled for two cruise plans. The first group of Monterey, Aquilo and La Sorciere planned to leave Weymouth on 13th May returning a week later and the second group of Border Reiver, Eleanor and Pied Piper leaving on the 24th May, also returning a week later.

Our plan straddled both cruises, going out with the first and returning with the second.

We arranged to join up with Monterey and Aquilo somewhere near the east ships exit of Portland Harbour at 6 am. With the best of intentions we awoke early, but it was one of those mornings where time just disappeared - suffice to say we didn’t make the rendezvous, but were rather cheekily called up to ask if we were still in bed or coming on the cruise. We responded carry on we’ll catch you both up. We had an excellent close hauled reach in about consistent 18kts of wind from the West all the way over to Alderney. We caught them up and all arrived safely in Braye Harbour picking up mooring buoys. We went ashore by dinghy and had a well deserved pint and dinner at the Braye harbour hotel.

The following day we headed to St Peter Port Guernsey. There was very little wind so motored all the way with a good tide helping us along the way. The Harbour Master greeted us like long lost friends and arranged for pontoon moorings close to each other. We stayed for four nights exploring Guernsey, (top tip if you use the bus, buy a puffin card). We met up in the evenings for pre dinner drinks on board, taking it in turns to host. A great way of getting to know each other and sharing experiences.

Monterey and Aquilo headed back to Alderney and then Weymouth. We then set off to Jersey. We had heard that the marina was closed due to the replacement of the pontoons, but we could raft up on the outside holding pontoon. As it was early May, we thought it wouldn’t be too busy. We had a great sail; the swell coming across from the Atlantic, although large, was well spaced so as not to be uncomfortable.

Having tracked our way through the various navigable routes into St Helier we rafted alongside two smaller French yachts for the night and moved the following day to another group of similar sized English yachts once another boat had left early in the morning.

We had some great walks, even found The Old Court House pub which I had been to before in St Aubin on a “boys away day”. The main dining room looks like the inside of an 1800’s sailing ships captain’s cabin. We had a very good lunch there with great views across the bay. After four nights, we thought we would rather like to go to St Malo - we worked up a passage plan, advised Jersey CG, and we set off.

Another great sail across to France - we completed a French online entry form, and arrived in St Malo about 20 mins before the lock gates opened. We entered the lock and a very helpful English speaking Frenchman took our lines to his yacht and explained where the visitors berths were. The following morning, loaded with all the boats documentation, we eventually found the police station where we had to present our passports. They didn’t want to see any of our documents, just to confirm we had emailed the entry form, and stamped the passports. We had a lovely five days exploring St Malo and being very close to the walled town made for easy access.

Leaving France, or rather getting the passports stamped for leaving, was not as straight forward.Basically we gave them too much information, so we turned up the day before leaving, saying we’re leaving and can you stamp our passports, not actually saying when. Hey presto it worked.


The actual departing the lock was made more complex with the Condor fast catamaran leaving and the Brittany ferry arriving at the same time just as we came out of the lock. We circled around until it was safe to leave the inner harbour. In an odd way this actually helped as we were able to take a better course than the yachts that made it out just in front of the ships manoeuvring. We arrived in Guernsey ahead of this group, felt very pleased with ourselves at beating the French and arriving so the harbour master could find us a suitable berth. The same helpful Frenchman
we met going into St Malo, came out of the lock with us and rafted in front of us, good banter all round.

The second group had just arrived before us, so we were very kindly treated to drinks onboard Eleanor along with the other crews before going out for dinner.

Eleanor and Boarder Reiver sailed over to Sark and stayed a couple of nights. The weather window for us meant a sail to Alderney around the east side then into Braye, leaving for Portland the next day. Two good days of sailing. Pied Piper motored across the following day, although they lost the use of one engine. We followed them on AIS; they made it safety back to Portland as well.

Our next WPCA cruise was to Lulworth Cove; an enjoyable day cruise where the wind increased significantly for the afternoon return. Made for an interesting and demanding but fun sail back to Portland.

Our next cruise organised by Nick and Tracie Critchell of Mojito was to the West Country. A number of boats indicated they wished to go, however, as the time got nearer to departure some dropped out and others joined the group. The flotilla comprised of Mojito, Caley, Osprey, Pamino,
Aquilo and La Sorciere. Our departure was delayed for two days as there was a Classic Yacht race leaving Dartmouth for France and all the surrounding harbours were full and couldn’t accommodate our group.This meant that Aquilo couldn’t join us as planned but Border Reiver could.

We all made it to Brixham in very light winds; bit of a disappointment rounding the Bill in glassy seas. We all came for supper at Simply Fish after being hosted onboard Mojito for pre drinks. The following day Border Reiver set off for Falmouth; we stayed, picked up some lovely fresh skate wings from the fish market, and met our friends on Seahorse on their way back to Portland.

The group set off for Salcombe - another good day of sailing. We moored in “The Bag” on a pontoon, rafted up. One of Alison’s school friends lives in nearby Kingsbridge, so it was great to welcome them on board and catch up. Nick and Tracie kindly invited us for supper and introduced us to a game called Rummikub - a numbers game, takes a bit of working out but great fun and keeps the mind active.

The plan after Salcombe was to sail to Plymouth Mayflower marina, which some of us did. Osprey had a delayed start due to a fouled prop, however being a bilge keeler was able to beach and clear the prop. The harbour master and an engineer were most helpful. Mojito didn’t fair quite as
well with hydraulic problems, but managed to leave a few days later.

After exploring the delights of Plymouth, including the renowned Cap’n Jaspers cafe, on one of the hottest days of the year, we sailed for St Mawes. We had a great sail over; however unfortunately the wind had gone easterly, making St Mawes very sheltered and popular, and we couldn’t get in. Plan B, the Helford River. Reeds advised it can get roly in easterly winds. It’s not that windy! We’ll give it a go. Entered the river, motored up to Helford and Helford Passage, quite a long way up, picked up a mooring buoy and saw the harbour master. We checked with him about the conditions and he assured us we would be ok.

We slept well, a bit roly but not enough to be concerned about, explored the beautiful village of Helford and enjoyed the views from the sailing club balcony whilst drinking an excellent pint. We had one of the best fish and chip lunches on the opposite side at the Ferry Boat with the best
seats in the house. Proper spoilt we were.

Early evening, with wind over tide, moored yachts started moving in conflicting directions. Some yachts came together and one even tee boned another, all whilst on a mooring buoy. The Norwegian boat next to us came very close and I had to fend it off. When the skipper came back from the pub, I told him what had happened and strongly suggested he shorten his mooring line as he had a long loop through the chain riser with the mooring buoy that had drifted two thirds    down the length of his yacht. He understood the situation and shortened his lines; an immediate improvement and much reduced risk of clashing. We decided we would move the following morning and had a brilliant sail averaging over 8.5kts over 3 hours to Fowey.

We rafted up to a Hallberg Rassy the same length as us. They went the following morning so we moored directly onto the pontoon, with great views out to sea with Fowey one side and Polruan on the other - best seat in the house that had the evening sun.

After three nights we ventured out to Dartmouth to meet up with Osprey and Mojito. We managed to get onto the town quay and even better on the inside the following morning. The three crews had a most enjoyable Sunday lunch and a couple of beers at Dartmouth Yacht Club. Fortunately
Alan on Osprey had booked the Dittisham ferry back, so no worries over drinking & boating, whilst we could walk back. More rummikub was played - don’t wish to boast but someone won four out of the five hands played. Sail training ship Tenacious berthed on the outside.

Departure beckoned, so we took our leave and headed back to Portland. Not a lot of wind to start with, we had to motor for a few hours to make the tide gate at the Bill, but the wind did eventually fill in and we sailed around the Bill and into Portland Harbour. Another great cruise and kind warm
weather with some great sailing as well.

Although not in our plans, we had a few days come unexpectedly clear… what to do… go sailing of course! A triangle - from Portland to Dartmouth and then Guernsey Beaucette, where Mojito had ventured to meet up with two other motorboats belonging to old friends from Chatham. Sailed out of Portland up to the Bill, then the wind died, a long motor to Dartmouth; disappointing, journey but managed to get moored on the town quay for two nights.

Sailed over to Guernsey via the south side before heading up Little Russell to Beaucette due to the direction of the tide on springs. Beaucette is an old quarry with a narrow hole in the side at the entrance. We made it in and had a lovely welcoming party with a reserved mooring space; a little bit tight but with some gentle manoeuvring we managed to get securely tied up. What a welcome: “dinner is ready” - freshly caught lobster supper on board a 60ft motor boat which was beautifully fitted out. Washing up? No problem - “got a dishwasher, washing machine and air conditioning”. What a treat!

Sailed out of Beaucette heading toward Portland with the genniker up. After about an hour the wind died so we motored again; de ja vu of our travel out. A busy and enjoyable five days. 

After flying to Cyprus for the week for our grand daughter’s christening, we got home on the Wednesday evening, and were back on board on Friday afternoon for the end of Portland week and Portland Yacht club pontoon drinks party. We then had a great sail to Teignmouth on Sunday - navigated our way into the harbour, closely checking the depth over the sand bar. The tide does whoosh in! With a sharp starboard ninety degree turn, we made it in with plenty of people watching on both sides of the river. We moored on a pontoon a short dinghy ride to the beach. Lots of visitors enjoying Teignmouth music festival and Shaldon regatta week; good music and fantastic fireworks. We were privileged to be enjoying all of this sitting on our boat with G&Ts on a warm sunny evening. We enjoyed ourselves so much we stayed for four nights before heading to Dartmouth once more for two nights waiting for the wind direction to change from east to south for another good sail back to Portland. We were met by our friends on Seahorse who sailed with us down the east side of Portland.

What’s next on the agenda? Southampton Boat Show, sailing to East Cowes and getting the ferry
over. And next year - ah that’s all in the planning and no doubt much discussion