Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cruising the Dark Sky Country

While Jersey and Guernsey islands are rich in history and culture (you’ve all read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, right?), the memories of our short visit have been quickly reduced to scones with clotted cream and jam, carrot cake, fish and chips, cheddar cheese, swanky shops along winding pedestrian streets, bus tours, rugged coastlines and lush hilly farmland with some of the most beautiful cows you’ve ever seen producing some of the richest ice cream you’ve ever tasted, and tax-free diesel for the boat.  

Sad, really.  Because we’d visited the islands only 2 years ago, there wasn’t much of a sense of discovery. 

But this time around, armed with a swing keel boat, we spend 2 days anchored off Sark Island.  In the mid 1500s, the island was granted as a fief to a Jersey nobleman by Queen Elizabeth I with the condition that he manage to keep the island pirate-free.

Mareda anchored in Derrible Bay (click on the image to see the panorama).
What makes a great pirate hide-out?  Bad weather, difficult navigation, numerous coves for anchoring with narrow passages protected by hull-shredding rocks, high cliffs to provide look-outs and strategic outposts, fresh water, game (rabbits and pheasants abound) and the all-important caves to hide booty.  Sark, in other words.  

The new Sark pirates (tougher than we look...)
Mareda in Derrible Bay, Sark.
As we wandered around the island, we kept seeing signs saying "welcome to a Dark Sky Community."  Strange, I thought, to actually advertise to tourists that it's always grey here.  After digging a bit deeper, we discovered that this distinction is given to communities with no light pollution, allowing for great astronomy. When the cloud cover permits, that is.

Mareda (2nd from left) in Dixcart Bay.  Derrible is prettier, but Dixcart is easier to debark with the dinghy.

Mareda goes it alone for the night in Dixcart.  Who's afraid of a little swell?

The cliff path up from Dixcart Bay.
We spent two days in lovely anchorages with few neighbors.  Apparently, the anchorages here are well-known to be a bit rough (swells), but we found it to be more or less comfortable in Derrible and Dixcart Bays with winds from the West to Southwest.  Next up:  the Chausey Islands and then on to St Malo for Mareda's first 50 hour motor tune-up and rigging tune-up. 

Havre Gosslin, the other good mooring on the island (but not good for westerlies)

Good place to hide booty.  Location undisclosed.

Local fishermen.

Local horses.

The precipitous pass between Sark and Little Sark.

This is what they call the main port.  I'll anchor out, thanks.

Town with ubiquitous tractor.  They pride themselves on not having cars on the island, but the bloody tractors are everywhere.



Unknown said...

Wow it looks gorgeous!
We are off to the Sydney boat show next weekend, and they have SO379 on display for us to pore over! Can't wait!