Our exit from the K.Y.C.N marina in Belgium wasn’t as complicated as our entry. We left at night, after dinner, with the tide sucking us out to sea. Conditions were off-shore, which made for a pleasant down wind exit and a reach along the coast. We headed towards the Straight of Dover, the narrowest bit of sea of the English Channel between Great Britain and continental Europe. We rounded the point of Cap Gris Nez, a cape in France from where on a clear day, it is possible to see the white cliffs of Dover on the opposite coastline of England with the naked eye. At night we could see lights along both coastlines and for a moment you forget you are in the North Sea, the proximity of the coasts disorients you a bit. The shortest distance across the strait is 33 kilometers (20 miles) and this is where cross-channel swimmers take their challenge. The first crossing dates back to 1875, now there is an association which authenticates and verifies crossing times, the record is held by an Australian at 6 hours 55 minutes.
During this passage is when the idea of our video rhyme “I see London, I see France, I see .is underpants” came about. As we were sailing Jay was in one of his “life is the lesson” moments telling the girls all about the Strait of Dover when the rhyme came to his mind, “I see London, I see France, I see [anyones name] underpants”, we all played along for a while and this is when the idea popped into Jay’s mind, to create this fun video with the rhyme for our sponsor.
After rounding Cap Gris Nez we headed south to Boulogne-sur-mer. At the entrance there was a big barge dredging the port, via the VHF radio we were cleared to pass behind the barge. We weren’t sure where to go, as a small fishing vessel passed us on port I yelled out, in what I thought might be unrecognizable French, “où est le ponton visiteurs”, they pointed up ahead on starboard which, to my surprise, meant I had been understood, or not and they just deduced that as a foreigner I was asking for the visitors dock. About 50 meters further ahead of the marina’s floating docks, there was a lock from where water was rushing out of. It had been rained a lot, therefore the river was flooding, so they had to let some of the water out which was creating a very strong current. We made it to the dock just in time, 10 minutes later and we wouldn’t of been able to reach the dock, the current would have pushed us back out to sea.
Boulogne-sur-mer is France’s largest fishing port, specializing in herring. Here we experienced the most drastic tides we had ever seen. After a long journey from Iceland, having crossed many miles in the last 4 months and “winter” conditions upon us, we felt a sense of accomplishment. Though we still hadn’t arrived to our final destination, we had at least made it to France, which was our plan. We still had a way to go but in a way we felt as though “we made it!”