15–18th July 2016.
Last weekend, nine paddlers from Poole Harbour Canoe Club journeyed to some splendid paddling and social activity with our twinned canoe club in Cherbourg. CKMNC.
Brittany Ferries took us smoothly across the English Channel (La Manche) and came to the rescue when one of our members left a bag behind in France. Five stars!
We arrived at their club at lunchtime on Friday and after a brief meal and re-union, headed out into Cherbourg Harbour, paddling past the forts and the giant breakwater, playing in some tidal races along the way. Returning to hot showers is a novelty for us and we enjoyed pizzas with the club members, before heading off to our hosts for the night.
On Saturday we were up bright and early (France is still an hour ahead) and had some free time with our hosts before returning to the club for some fresh seafood, including spider crabs and whelks, with amazing home cooked flans and cakes. We then joined their club paddle, with 29 paddlers heading off round the harbour. Most did some surfing and a slower group looked at the history of the area with one of our guides. Somewhat tired and sunbaked, we headed back to shore, catching a last few waves.
The club’s president, Guillaume, was getting married and we were invited to the afternoon reception, with wonderful live music, chicken roast and champagne. However, duty called and we returned for an evening BBQ at Barfleur, overlooking the harbour where discussions on Brexit were slowly subsumed as the sun set over the boules court and we headed home.
Sunday morning found us at the club again, preparing a packed lunch, ready to board a minibus for our next adventure. We drove 15 km west, along a beautiful wooded part of the coast, with a splendid chateau to a small harbour called Omanville.
Paddling this part of the coast is normally very exciting due to its exposure and strong tides, but in the calm winds and bright sunshine, our main concern was heatstroke and avoiding the granite rocks, lurking just underneath the still azure waters. Arriving at Port Racine, we headed in to the beach for lunch and a very lazy swim to cool off.
Heading back, we were able to dodge through the exposed rocks and avoid the tide, although we had one or two groundings, due to the low water. Arriving back in the harbour, our hosts soon had the trailer loaded and we headed back for a clean up and final meal at the club house, before finally boarding the ‘Barfleur’ for our cruise home.
Many thanks to our twinned canoe club, CKMNC, our individual hosts and to Brittany ferries for a wonderful weekend.
Poole Harbour Canoe Club