Highway robbery

Divers on Muesday in Le Havre, Honfleur and Trouville

11th August 2011

 

Le Havre, Honfleur and Trouville

 

Le Havre


In Le Havre it is Muesday, our name for when we have no idea what day it is. We think it is Sunday but we cannot be sure. That means we have been in France for a little over a week and already our faculties are decomposing quicker than Amy Whitehouse. On the other hand does it matter what day it is?

We left off from our last blog when we were in Fecamp but we have moved on since then. We went from Fecamp to Le Havre where believe it or not we spent more time than we would have liked. I know it is a reoccurring theme but there has to be some sort of link between these blogs.

 

Diving to clear Cygnus III’s propeller

On our journey to Le Havre the engine was vibrating like a washing machine on steroids which is not good. To make it worse a sunny day brought a sea mist thicker than Mother Teresa’s chastity belt.

diving in Le Harve

Diving in Le Havre

When we got to Le Havre we decided to investigate the engine problem further and I did my Jacque Cousteau underwater diver bit.

It was hilarious and kept all the other boats amused for the 3 seconds I was in the water. It was also colder than an Eskimos fridge in winter! I did pluck up enough courage to get back in but for the life of me I could not find our boat let alone the propeller. I was just too buoyant and could not dive down deep enough. All I kept hearing was the “Jaws” theme tune playing in my ears. The kind Dutch man on the boat next to us eventually stopped crying with laughter and offered to lend me some diving weights. After a milliseconds consideration and a mental picture of me with the weights sinking deeper and deeper I declined the offer.  There was only one thing for it. Call in a diver.

 

We need a diver

Dick the diver Turpin in Le Havre

Dick the diver

I spoke to the pipe smoking and moustached marina manager, Eric who came to our boat for a beer in exchange for a French lesson each day. He arranged a diver who appeared armed with hack saws, knifes and all the gear in the biggest bag you have ever seen.

He dived and spent 15 minutes cutting away before recovering a large piece of polyethylene that had entwined its way everywhere. Now I know why divers wear masks. He may not have had a gun (although I am pretty sure he could have hidden an anti tank missile in his bag) but we were well and truly legally mugged of 120 Euro’s. Now that is a lot of beer tokens and if I could afford a drink I would be crying in it.

 

Le Havre is a bit bland but the British are to blame.

Le Havre to be honest was not our favourite place unless you liked a world made from concrete. Everything was bland and made from the stuff. Even the people were a bit concrete although they may have been statues. Whoever designed the wall around Brighton’s marina must have won the contract to build Le Havre port. We did go into a huge church which was made of; you guessed it, concrete and found part of the reason. The good old British had bombed the place during the war. There was nothing and I mean nothing including most of the inhabitants left standing. It was a time when we felt truly ashamed and embarrassed to be flying the British ensign aboard Cygnus III.

 

Sailing to Honfleur

It was certainly time to make a hasty exit. We decided to go to Honfleur which was just across the river Seine but because of shipping lanes it was a three-hour journey. I did at this point want to jump in the river so I could say with hand on heart I was “IN SEINE “ but remembering my diving experience I thought better of it.

Honfleur raft

Rafted in Honfleur

We rafted up in the middle of Honfleur which is a small goldfish bowl of a harbour. The town was heaving with gongoozlers around the entrance as you can only gain access when the bridge opens every few hours. There were so many people the only thing I could do coming through the narrow entrance was to let go of the wheel, stand on the cockpit and do a rendition of a sailors jig. I don’t know why but it seemed appropriate and brought a round of applause.

To say Honfleur was beautiful would be a total understatement.  Praise where praise is due this was truly wonderful with buildings all around dating back centuries.

You were part of a living history and the town itself was breathing and oozing atmosphere. Going there was priceless and a memory we will never forget. Whilst we were there a market sprung up overnight and the following day there were stalls everywhere along the cobbled streets. A rainbow of colours from vegetables and fruit, the smell of freshly baked breads and enough sausages to keep Americans in Hot dogs for at least ten minutes. We really splashed out that day and bought half a Kilo of carrots.

All too soon it was time to move on again and I certainly picked the best day for it. It was teaming down with rain, there was no visibility but we were going to another new place, Deauville/ Trouville, two towns either side of a river and where we are now.

Again a five-mile sail was four hours because of the sand we had to go around and a drying entrance at low tide. The towns are the seaside playgrounds of rich Gay Parisians (maybe not gay but it sounded better).

 

Deauville/ Trouville

If clothes have a designer label then they have a shop here. One side of the town is lined with million pound mansions which are only used for a couple of weeks in summer.

Trouville

Trouville

The restaurants team onto the streets selling lobster, caviar and snails. The other side of the town, across the river is the old ornate town. This is my side of town where you can get a Kebab and chips (which is probably grilled town snails on a skewer). On one side you wear your best glad rags and designer sunglasses every day where as the other you wear shorts, t-shirts and national health specs held together with Elastoplast. One thing I do know. The credit card is being left on the boat.

France is more expensive than we had envisaged and we need to move on from the exorbitant marina fees. Everyone eats bread and fish as meat is so expensive. I tried to sell the boat to buy a roast chicken but they would only give me a leg for it. Even a sausage will take the shirt off your back. That is why the French emblem is a cockerel. No one can afford them cooked.

Our French is coming on in leaps and bounds after our lessons from Eric, the harbour master in Le Havre even though our beer levels were being depleted. Apparently Eric tells me there is no French equivalent for “No, I couldn’t possibly take another of your beers”. Angelina has surprised me at just how quickly she is grasping the language and my vocabulary has now reached two words. I jest really; it’s three, OK four if you count the occasional shrug.

We were going to move on tomorrow but the British have sent across high winds and rain so it looks like we will be true to form and staying here longer. On the bright side three British boats have just come in alongside us and they have a barbecue. Time to get better acquainted with Trouville Sur Mer and our neighbours me thinks.

 

Swan

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