Our Sailing Season 2023


Given that we are well into 2024 it seems that we better recap our amazing adventures from last year.  Our previous post reported on the wonderful land and air travel to Qatar, Vietnam and Cambodia.  We arrived back to Gosport UK where Echo had spent the winter in a yard getting some work/improvement done.  She was back in the water and ready to set out for some new adventures.



Taken from Echo in Gosport Marina

One of the winter projects involved some changes to our sail plan.  We removed and stowed our Jib, had North Sail recut our Genoa to fit on the inboard furler and had them make a Reacher for the forward furler.  We had given lots of thought to these changes and had worked with North to design and implement the plan.  We were very anxious to get sailing and see how things would play out.

That winter had been the first time we took our main sail down.  Very glad to have had assistance from Jeremy at North Sail.  Not only is the sail itself very large, the battons are enormous.  It’s an in mast furling sail with vertical battens which range in length from abut 4 feet in length up to about 60 feet.  They are long and narrow and are quite unwieldy to both remove a reinsert when hauling the sail back up.

The current sail plan includes our in-mast fully battened Main Sail, 807 square feet.  The new Reacher, 1184 Square Feet, and the re-cut Genoa, 624 square feet.  Over this past winter bought a para-sail which is 2487 square feet, this one is only brought out in light down wind conditions.



Bembridge Isle of Wight

We left Gosport May 8 and headed across to the Isle of Wight to stage for a day sail to Guernsey in the Channel Islands.  One more visit to the Isle of Wight proved to be quite pleasant.  We had to time our arrival to the marina at Bembridge for high tide as the entrance dries out at low tide.  Plenty of water in the marina, just have to plan your entrance and exit appropriately.  We exited the next day at high tide and anchored nearby for an early morning departure to Guernsey.  Anchor up at 5 am May 11 and arrived at the Guernsey’s outer pontoon at 7 pm.  Again, due to the state of tide we were unable to enter the inner harbor until high tide which we would do the next day.



Guernsey had so many interesting things to learn about,  the type of government, history, the people, its beauty and its tides.  The Island has a tidal range of 33 feet, so every 6 hours the coast changes dramatically.

The entrance to the inner harbor features a concrete, water tight sill which maintains a sufficient level of water in the marina to keep the boats afloat.  At high tide there may be 20 feet of water over the sill. At low tide, the sill might be 10 feet above the water! To time your entry or exit you need to be certain of the depth of water above this sill, you surely don’t want to hit it.

It should be noted here that all docks in this part of the world are referred to as pontoons and are all floating.  Given the amount of tidal exchange it would be impossible to have fixed docks and their system works quite well.


The people are very friendly and helpful.  As we were tying up once inside we were greeted by a member of the Ocean Cruising Club and learned that our club burgie had in-fact been made by a woman in Guernsey.  We were also visited by the OCC Port Officer who shared some local knowledge.

While we did plenty of exploring on our own, we also signed up for a town walk at the tourist office and met a wonderful local man as our guide.  He subsequently took us to tour some more remote places on the island, Ken Wheeler was a wonderful ambasador for his home.

We connected with a local couple who we had met on the river cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia.  We had exchanged contact information and were very happy to have spent some time with them in Guernsey.  Ann Marie and Paul, Paul has lived on the island all his life and provided such interesting historical insight as they showed is around a bit of the island.  While in the marina we also met Yannie and Terrie from Finland on their Halberg-Rassy along with Paul and Bridget from England on their Fountaine Pajot 46.


The history and government in Guernsey and the other Channel Islands are interesting.  The type of government is called a Crown Dependency, they are independent yet have a relationship with British royalty.  There are two Bailiwicks, Guernsey along with Alderny, Sark and Herm form The Bailiwick of Guernsey and the island of Jersey is it’s own Bailiwick.  Their proximity to the coast of Normandy in France also had an impact on their history and people.  Long ago they were part of Normandy and retain many French customs and a patois from that time.

In addition to the natural beauty of the area there is an incredibly visible impact in Guernsey due to their having been occupied by Nazi Germany from June 1940 until May 1945.  It is an impactful part of their history.  So many museums often located in structures built by the Nazis.  So many stories…

A great film to watch about the war time history of Guernsey is: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


We visited Herm by ferry boat from Guernsey and moved Echo to Sark for a few days.  We also visited Jersey.  So glad we had this opportunity to meander around these islands!

Not surprisingly, we met a friend of a friend in Jersey.  In talking with a fellow OCC member we learned that his friend was the son of a couple we met in 2021 in Florida.  We first met Dale and Katrina on Womble in a marina in Florida and subsequently crossed paths with them a few times in the Bahamas.


Next stop, San Malo France.  We had a great sail, used the new Reacher and were very happy with its performance.  Had to go through a lock for entry, it’s been a while but we did ok.  This was our first entry into the European Union and into the Schengen area.  I have my Irish passport which is just glanced at and Jeff was stamped in.  We had been worried about language but Louie the Dockmaster was fluent in English and quite helpful.

San Malo is a beautiful walled city.  It was almost completely destroyed from bombing during World War II.  It has since been rebuilt and is a popular tourist destination.  The novel and Netflix series All The Light We Cannot See is set in San Malo.  There are many good restaurants and we had one particularly memorable meal, it was amazing.

We took a bus ride out to visit Mont Saint Michel.  It was very crowded but is an incredible place to experience.



Another day we took a train to Bayeux in Normandy.  Although we hadn’t planned it we were in Normandy around the anniversary of D-Day, so many Americans were in the area to recognize this very important time in history.  We rented e-bikes and explored several of the beaches and the grave sites of American and Canadians who died June 6, 1944.  Very powerful…

Our last night in Bayeux we met an American couple, Mary and Jim.  Had a wonderful conversation with them over dinner then stopped in an Irish Pub for a drink.  He is a symphony conductor and she a retired lawyer who leads tours of Gettysburg, interesting people.

We moved on to Saint Quay and yet another amazing meal and more walking along beautiful coastlines.  Sailed up the Trèguier River to the town of Trèguier, more walks and exploring.  On to a nice anchorage in Trèbeurden  then to Roscoff on the pontoon for a night.  One last stop at Cameret-sur-Mer before our arrival in Brest.


We truly loved our time along the coast of Brittany France, the people, the food and the sights were wonderful.  This is the first time we were compelled to fly a regional courtesy flag along with the country flag of France and it was recognized and commented on a few times.  So many things to love about Brittany.



We have also had several great sailing days and have used both headsails several times.  We are very happy with the new sail plan and have seen very good boat speeds.


We continue to do projects as needed along the way and give serious thought to where we are actually heading this season.  During our travels last summer around Ireland we were certain to head to Scotland this year yet we continued to second guess this plan.  From Scotland the thought would be heading into the Baltic Sea, all incredible sailing grounds.  Our final decision would need to be made once we arrived in Brest France.  From there we would either head north to Scotland or south to the Mediterranean Sea.  Heading north would significantly decrease the sailing season due to weather and would cost us possibly 2 years as the season in the Baltic Sea is quite limited.


Ultimately we followed the southerly route.

We will recap more of the season in another post…


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5 Responses to Our Sailing Season 2023

  1. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the update, I enjoyed as much as I could understand of it but your lifestyle has a whole vocabulary of its own. 🙂 I have actually read (and greatly enjoyed) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and didn’t realize it was made into a movie. I plan on searching it out now! And I’m jealous you got to see Mont Saint-Michel; it’s on my bucket list. Looking forward to seeing where the wind takes you in 2024.

    Sharon Weil

  2. Eric Swanson says:

    Great to hear from you guys. Been wondering how the adventure was going. So jealous…

    – Eric Swanson

  3. Tim Pilzner says:

    Hi Jeff/Mary

    Glad all is well, enjoy the adventure and let us know when you are passing by Jupiter!


  4. Janice says:

    Great post as well as to find your blog so bookmarked it to continue following your travels. So glad the sail plan change was a good one for you.

  5. Curt Martin says:

    Hey Jeff and Mary!
    So great to read your post and to know your adventures continue.
    Be safe, have fun and we’ll look forward to the next post!
    Blue skies
    Curt and Mary Martin

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