Off Herm - Channel Islands

 By Tim Reader, Parker 275 'Speedwell'

Summer of 2001

We sailed over in very calm weather and motored with the keel mainly up amongst the rocks about 300 metres north of Fisherman's harbour. In about 2 metres depth we found what appeared to be a patch of sand just north of a large rock. We anchored and as the tide went out I got off and checked the bottom for sharp rocks. Everything appeared fine and we settled nicely in a patch of sand that turned out to be surrounded by escapee oysters from some nearby oyster beds.

We had a very peaceful time there being well away from anywhere and surrounded only by oystercatchers and other wild life. I emulated the oystercatchers and ate about 10! Margaret was more reticent but tasted one or two.

The tide eventually disappeared miles out, We went for a walk around the island which was delightful and when we came back I took the picture of Margaret walking across the beach and rocks to the boat. It seemed as if it had been left on a deserted patch of rocky desert as you can see from the photo.

Ken, Sue and family were walking around in St Peter Port and wondered if we had run aground. They recognised us from the red dodgers. They espied us through a commercial telescope and Ken managed to take the picture attached which though very unclear shows us anchored - it is about 3 miles from Guernsey!

During the night I put out a kedge anchor to keep us over the sand, which worked well. I also noted a transit out over the lowest part of the rocks in case we had to leave in a hurry. We spent a very peaceful night in an anchorage which is very sheltered apart from the North West.

In the morning we waited for the tide to reappear and then departed back to the fleet at Guernsey with whom we shared a few more oysters!

A very memorable anchorage.

Herm – July 2001

Jonathan Cunnison (P275 "Alchemist") 

As work commitments meant that we had to leave the Summer cruise early, we decided to visit Herm and Sark on our way back from St Peter Port, as the rest of the fleet set off for Jersey and France.

The passage to Herm is well covered in the pilots and, once you have adjusted to the Channel Islands norm of sailing in water that dries several metres at low tide, is straightforward. We went straight across to Herm Harbour where four or five boats were already moored.

Mooring here is to chains on the sand bottom – be warned, some of the chains were not connected to their sinkers when we visited. The bottom is described as sand, but has scattered pebbles that are apparently thrown up by the frequent ferries using the harbour around high water. The water was wonderfully clear (and warm) so it was an easy job to clear the stones from under Alchemist. After a few hours we settled comfortably on the sand, just below the island office and water tap.

In order to dry out on Herm, you must register at the island office – once completed, this permission remains valid for the calendar year. We were invited to make a payment to reflect our anticipated usage of this facility, and my offer of £5 for one night seemed to be the right level.

Once the trippers leave around six, Herm becomes even more magical than normal. An air of peace and calm descends (though James (7) and Henry(5) set out to change this!). The pub is calmer and child friendly, so a pleasant evening was had by all.

The only downside was that when we dried out overnight, the propeller skeg hit a hidden stone and bent 30 degrees. We left the next morning, but will return to dry out in Shell Beach when the weather is right. Include an overnight stay in Herm in your cruise plans – it is worth it.




Sark – July 2001

Jonathan Cunnison (P275 "Alchemist") 

We spent one night in Sark - with the prevailing North Easterlies we headed for Havre Gosselin on the east coast. We found that the anchorage had been fully occupied by about fifteen substantial visitors moorings, of which less than half were occupied. By some sixth sense, the mooring owner appeared within fifteen minutes of our having moored and sought £12 for an overnight stay! We learned that he has also laid moorings at Greve de la Ville on the west coast.

With the added reassurance of sitting on such a substantial mooring we embarked on a long voyage of exploration ashore, with even the youngest members of the crew managing both the steps and to get all the way to Creux Harbour and back (requiring only a few ice cream bribes en route!)

On sailing for Alderney the next morning, we were able to use the Gouliot Passage, where you feel that you can touch the vertical rock faces on each side!