Tags: Alderney, Cap Gris Nez, Channel Islands, Fort Tourgis, France, sailing

Date: September 11, 2016

We wanted to keep going rather quickly to get to the Channel Islands since we didn't have time to see them in December when bringing our boat from France to Denmark. We had strong south westerly winds in IJmuiden in the Netherlands, and as usual there were more westerly winds forecast. But we had a couple of days with not much wind before that, so we decided to go straight from IJmuiden to Alderney in the Channel Islands. We motored for 46.5 hours in very quiet weather.

This is Cap Gris Nez which is the corner of France across from Dover in the UK:

It lived up to its name which means gray nose. Here is a picture taken in the morning before reaching Alderney:

It is nice to have radar on board when it got foggy like that. We used it several times on the trip. Just before coming to Alderney, a dolphin swam around the boat for a little while. It was starting to get a little exotic.

We stayed just south of the areas where the big ships go. They follow something called "traffic separation schemes" which are designed to control shipping. They have roundabouts, intersections and everything like roads but are much bigger. Here is a map of the trip:

Alderney is one of the smaller of the Channel Islands. The most well known ones are Jersey on Guernsey. They are somewhat connected to the UK, but also have a lot of independence. It is very complicated and to top things off, they are not part of the EU. This meant that we had to fill out customs forms when arriving.

Alderney has a huge harbor made in the middle of the 1800's. The area has a lot of tide and your can either anchor or tie off to a mooring buoy in the harbor. We tied to a mooring buoy and used the dinghy to get ashore. Here are a couple of pictures of the harbor from a distance:

Amanda is close to the big breakwater in the background.

Here is the next bay:

Big swells from the Atlantic:

An island like Alderney of course has to have a big lighthouse:

There was an impressive number of forts from the 1800's. Here is one:

The Germans occupied the Channel Islands during the second world war. It was the only British territory to be occupied. They built lots of bunkers on Alderney. Today, a many of them are kept clean and have historical information posted in them.

These small rail tracks below were for a 60 cm diameter search light used for finding British planes in the sky at night and for lighting in case of enemy soldiers landing on the shores. The light could be stored safely in the bunker or be rolled out when used. There was a room for the generator as well.

At was impressive that all the bunkers were open to the public without all the warning signs that you would usually see. In one case there were fairly long tunnels that we could just walk freely.

This free approach was also used for this fort from the 1855 with some additions by the Germans:

Again no fences, barriers or warning signs. This is how it looked on the inside:

Félicie is ready to do some cooking:

The fort is called "Fort Tourgis". The Germans gave new names to the forts and other places where they built bunkers. Interestingly, their names sounded a bit similar to the English names, so this one became "Stutzpunkt Türkenburg" and an area called "Bibette Head" became "Biberkopf" which means Beaver head.

Alderney had so many forts that many of them were just abandoned or used as storage facilities rather than conserved and made into museums. Here is another one from a distance:

The main town of Alderney is called St. Anne and is very nice with pubs and restaurants. But I guess we were busy eating and drinking there, so we have no pictures...

This area has very strong tides. The area west of Alderney called "The Swinge" has particularly strong tides with up to nine knots of current at times. So to pass that area, the timing has to be just right. It meant that we had to leave Alderney at 17:00 even though we would then arrive in Guernsey after dark.Here are a couple of pictures from when we left:

Thousands of gannets inhabit some small islands off Alderney: