Photograph by Benh Lieu Song
What is planned, hopefully for most, is a 48 hour + stay in St Vaast with the highlight being Saturday 14th which is Bastille Day. This is France’s biggest, most celebrated, day of the year and the atmosphere in St Vaast is superb, as my crew and I discovered last year for the first time.
Galaxy of Down is on holiday in France the 8 days 6th – 15th July. We’ll be doing a few places but expect to arrive in St Vaast on the 12th, ahead of what I hope will be a nice gathering of club boats. If you fancy the whole week in company you know how to get hold of me.
I’d hope most vessels will set off overnight 12/13th to arrive during the morning lock opening on the 12th .. 07.34 – 13.00 local .. ( 06.34 – 12.00 BST ). The lock reopens 19.52 local, 18.52 BST. I’ve done Haslar to St Vaast, pontoon to pontoon in under 12 hours a couple of time.
Friday I’d suggest is a relaxed day, with maybe a little pontoon party in the evening for those boats that have arrived with the morning opening, with a free choice of the many restaurants that are close to the port.
Le Debarcadere ( known as the Deborcherie on Galaxy) is a cheap and cheerful place to go and eat. I know it’s a crime to say so in France, but their Pizzas are just amazing.
La Marina, which is on the side of the marina down by G / H pontoons is very pleasant, with views across the bay from the rear of the restaurant.
La Bisquine is a fairly nice place to eat with views across the port.
Le Chasse Marée is possibly the best food in town .. but at eye watering prices and the chap who runs it isn’t terribly friendly .. I went once about 20 years ago .. never again !!
Saturday is normally market day in St Vaast, and to be honest I’m not sure how that will be affected by Bastille Day. Last year, with Bastille day being a Friday, most businesses seemed to be “business as usual”. The market is great for restocking those cheese boxes and getting fresh produce at knock down prices for the coming lunches.
A trip out to Tatihou island is possible if people want to explore pre / post lunch.
An early, say 16.00 – 17.30 , hopefully not to boozy pontoon party will I hope be followed by a boozy special thing I’m going to try and arrange. I’ve done it before for a party of 17 we took to St Vaast in a fleet of cars, so I’m sure I can persuade that person to do it again for us, I suspect we’ll need 45 – 60 minutes for that. It’ll be free ( was last time ) but I expect a few will be following up to buy Sunday morning .
19.30 local on Saturday night will be the formal dinner in Les Fuchsias. Now the Fuchsias is not a budget place to eat really. Last years meal for my crew, 4 courses with many extras thrown in, with wine was about 55€ per head, but there are cheaper menu options and one might get away with 40€.
Post dinner, we need to take in the atmosphere of the massive street party that happens, with live performances from bands and dancers in the little “square”, then make sure we are back at the top of the pontoons to our boats by 22.30 for the firework display that happens from the spur behind the lock and Capitanerie .. then it’s back to a pontoon or group party on our boats. As the lock will reopen at 21.31 we may have to walk the long way round ( 10-15 minutes ) to get back to the visitors pontoons.
Sunday folk are free to nurse hangovers and do as they wish. I plan to leave about 13.00 – 13.30 following an early lunch to get the tide offshore to throw us out into the channel, hoping to be in Gosport by 2am Monday to siesta and brunch at our leisure.
I’m sure many of the club have ventured across to St Vaast La Hougue. I consider St Vaast to be my home away from home and have visited the place so many times, that by car we’ve stayed in the Hotel de France et Restaurant Les Fuchsias enough to know ¾ of the rooms. So I’m known in many places in St Vaast and get instant recognition with a knowing smile in a lot of places.
S&CA Bastille Day Rallye to St Vaast 13-16 July 2018 – Skippers notes.
Crossing times to St Vaast from my experience on Galaxy and another Corsair is anything from 11hrs in Northerly F5 to 15 hours sailing and motor sailing against a Southerly F5 pontoon to pontoon. If I were leaving Gosport Thursday night I’d try and be away from the mooring by 21.00, hoping to be at St Vaast for the local high water.
Through a 3rd party app, it’s now possible to advance book berths in St Vaast, fully refundable up to 24 hours before arrival. Last year we were paying about 40€ a night and the showers are now free.
As this is Bastille day weekend it’s bound to be busy so an early decision and booking is imperative. The staff in the Capitanerie know me now and I’d organise a reserved block on either B or C pontoons so we can all be together. B pontoon is a long longitudinal pontoon where they raft up to 4 deep either side. C pontoon is individual fingers, replaced a few years ago so they are more stable.
There are no real issues with the approach to St Vaast from the north other than it is worth staying at least 2Nm off Barfluer, especially if you’ve got a strong wind against tide. Once abeam Barfluer you can set course for the two small cardinals that mark the channel from the bay round behind Tatihou island. You must go past the island, do not try and cut the corner if late for lock.
Arriving in the dark there are leading lights from the bay into the area behind Tatihou, then a sectored light on the end of the long south sea wall.
The St Vaast website has good information, as does Reeds.
There are quite a few fishing boats that operate in the bay between Barfleur and St Vaast. At night they often work in pairs with a net between them, and they change course often, so a good look out is wise and give them a very wide berth.
If you are late for the lock the anchorage behind the long sea wall offers good holding. We sat out a 5 hour wait on holiday last year in a SE 5 and didn’t budge on Galaxy’s CQR hook.
It is a high spring weekend as per the information in the other document.
The French do require skippers to have recognised certification, and vessels must have necessary safety gear for crew, including a life raft. Having said that, only once in 30 years of sea crossings have we had a visitation from the Gendarmes in St Vaast to inspect papers and passports, and that was 25 years ago or so.
Don’t forget your passports! Ed.