19th of June 2016
After a few weeks waiting along the Medway for a 3-day-good-weather window that would allow us to cross the English Channel, safely without being caught by surprise with a sudden change of weather, Hamish got a ‘competent’ crew together, Hoawel, Ramin, Ligia and myself and we’re off.
We’ve ‘set sail’ from Ramsgate Marina, down to Dover at 5.30 am to take advantage of the currents and from there across to Calais. When we got to Dover we were approached by a British gun boat, were asked to identify ourselves via the radio and how many onboard. Hamish in control, all good, we’re set to go!
We have an android app that traces all big tankers along the way, their speed and how far they are, a map with the location of all the buoys we need to follow, a compass, and a radar reflector on the roof to make ourselves visible to big ships, 1 person driving, 1 with an eye on the app and maps, 2 on the lookout.
It took us 8 hours to make it to France. The sea was mostly calm, half-meter high waves, a bit of rain, but relaxed so Hamish, that got a bit seasick takes a nap. When we were getting closer to France, the visibility was not great, we lost track of the buoys and decided to follow the Ferries. One of them got confused with this orange lifeboat with graffitied tentacles, stopped to contact us by radio to ask if we needed any help, but our radio didn’t work this time and 20 min later a French lifeboat approached us, ready to save us. Realizing we were just a pleasure boat they started to take pictures waving friendly at us. Bienvenue to France! We made it!
Crew got in touch with Calais asking permission to enter the port. They asked us to wait for the next ferry and then we could get in. Next ferry comes trough, we follow, no one stops us, all gates opening ahead of us, no one asks for passports or check the boat. And we’re in the French inland waterways system.