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A race against time....

Our next stage, four, starts in Cherbourg the closest French port to the central south coast of England and a major ferry terminal for those starting their holidays in France including those joining Snark. We are off around the rest of Normandy to the start of Brittany at St Malo to celebrate Bastille Day.

But first we have to weather the notorious waters off Cap de la Hague and the infamous Raz Blanchard, or Alderney Race. The tides here can run at over 8 knots and if there is any opposing swell, the sea can be very dangerous. The solution is to sneak around the French coast as the tide turns. There is an inshore counter current along the coast west of Cherbourg and we will leave around mid day and carry this around the Cap turning south into calmer waters to our next port of Dielette. Arriving at around 16.30 we will be close to to low water but there should be just enough water to cross the bar into the harbour.

This coast dominated by nuclear power stations though there are ambitious plans to harvest the un-ending tidal water power to create more ecologically acceptable power. This is difficult but not half as difficult as running a nuclear reactor safely. If only a fraction of the investment spent on nuclear was put into the tidal energy plan it would have been fully operational years ago.

The village of Dielette is tiny and has an 'edge of the world' feel to it so we will not linger but set off early the next morning to catch what we can of the south going tide as we head for Portbail, an even smaller drying harbour but a much more interesting historic town. We should arrive just after noon close to high water when access across the off lying sand banks is easiest. That will give us plenty of time to wander around the town or for the nature lovers to explore the drying sand flats and dunes, a haven for waders and sea birds. Portbail is difficult to enter in a strong onshore wind in which case we will head across towards Jersey to anchor in St Catherine's Bay for an afternoon and night on board. We hope to avoid having to clear immigration in and out of Jersey for just an overnight stopover.

We can't leave Portbail until an hour or two before HW at around 10:00 as we set off south again for Granville, arriving early afternoon. Granville was founded by the Normans and is a real French town with all the attractions you might hope for including a fortified citadel, cathedral, and a flourishing fishing fleet. Historically it was an important port for both legitimate and piratical vessels, typified by the newly built bisquine La Granvillaise.

There will be plenty of time to explore in the afternoon before we set off the following morning for our last days sail to the walled city of St Malo. We have a day in hand which we might spend exploring the Baie de Mont St Michel if the weather is calm or just have an extra day to enjoy the delights of St Malo before the finale of the trip, the Bastille Day fireworks over the harbour and city walls!

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