Left London and Jammin’ in Jersey (the old one)
Since our last post we had a few more highlights in London which included a trip to the Warners Brothers Studio where all of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. If you love Harry Potter – and even if you don’t – it is a must see destination for any movie lover’s itinerary. A short hour long train from London – the set is full off costumes, a complete backlot with absolutely everything that you would have seen in any of the 8 films taped here. In addition to the memorabilia, there was a very complete staff ready and willing to share tons of info with visitors including the “how” the incredible series was made.
Jack is headed to Hogwarts!
While awaiting the weather to leave London, we made use of our remaining time by taking a trip to the Lego store to exchange a birthday gift Jack has received and no trip to London is complete without a trip to the largest wall of chocolate at the M & M store. Additional museums visited were the Guildhall Museum where the Magna Carta is displayed. A very cool discovery made while undergoing renovations to expand the museum was this Roman Amphitheater pictured below. Immediately upon it’s discovery, all construction came to a halt and archeologists were involved in the excavation. Following the discovery, new plans for the renovation included making the Amphitheater a part of the newly renovated Guildhall Museum.
One of the boating nuances different from home is the incredible tidal ranges here. As mentioned in my earlier post, London deals with this by “locking” into the marina. Pictured below you can see us Locking out of St. Katharine’s dock.
But another way to handle the 30-40 foot tides are the sills pictured below in Jersey. As you can see one photo shows the meters above the sill and the other photo shows “0” above the sill. On that shot you can actually make out the sill. The sill holds all of the water in the marina in which Gratitude is moored. On the next photo you can see the neighboring marina where no such sill exists. Twice per day all of these boats are literally high and dry as pictured. Its really an ingenious way of managing such huge tidal variations and something that requires more than a little planning. Before leaving London, we knew we could only leave when the lock opened (a range of 3 hours at high tide). Upon arrival into Jersey, we knew we could only arrive when there was high tide also with a minimum of 2.3 meters above the sill. Transiting the English Channel we knew that an adverse current could take our trip from 34 hours to roughly 54 hours! Thats an enormous penalty for choosing poorly. Additionally, the current that passes adjacent to Alderney (one of the Channel islands and where we would have to transit in order to get to Jersey) is best to traverse on a slack tide as an opposing current/wind would create hazardous seas. So as you can see, there is more than a little planning that goes into a passage. Initially we planned it as 3 separate trips in order to work out the timing. As luck would have it we were able to make the passage non-stop which is always our preference but as we made the turn South the seas did pick up and the final 12 hours was very uncomfortable. Thank God Jack slept through the whole thing but it was very difficult for me to keep my eyes open as sea sickness hits me like a ton of bricks with fatigue being the most notable of my symptoms.
We made it to Jersey though and it is here we sit while awaiting the next weather opportunity for travel.
So here we enjoying Jersey – Before I get to some of the highlights of our week here I would like to give a little shout out to Denis – a blog reader – who suggested this stop. While we were planning a visit to the Channel Islands for fuel, we thought that Guernsey was the place to go. While Guernsey may be the stop headed back North, for this trip Jersey was a much better idea. Guernsey has already pulled up the pontoons that connect the visitor pontoon docks from the city. We certainly could have put the dinghy in the water to travel back and forth to town but the weather has not been ideal and doing that sometimes 2 times a day would have been a pain. Additionally, while I can’t speak yet about Gurnsey, Jersey is fantastic! It is the largest of the Channel Islands and dripping with History! This week has been so full learning so much about this island’s cool past.
We spent the better part of a day crawling all over the Elizabeth Castle, a tidal island built in the 1500’s. Because it is tidal we were able to walk to the castle but needed to take a boat/bus back. We got the side benefit of a little science lesson on the ocean floor walk to the castle. More examples of this amazing tide are below – Jack is pretending to hold his breath and swimming on land well below the high water mark on the rocks to his right. We also enjoyed an island tour, and a trip to the Jersey War Tunnels. Purported to be a hospital but more likely an underground fortification for the German V2 bomb, this series of tunnels underground were built by Eastern European slaves and local workers during the 2nd World War during German occupation of this island. In fact, the island has paid tribute to that time in her history through so many tourist stops including the Tapestry below commemorated by the artistic and beautiful needlework of women who made panels depicting many facets of life under occupation. This can be found at the Maritime Museum. Here only a week, we have many spots left to explore on this next week coming up and with a wonderful bus system we should be able to see it all.
As the weather is showing NO SIGNs of abating, we may be here awhile. There is a saying in aviation that I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air than in the air wishing I was on the ground. Same goes here. We would much rather stay safely tied to the dock patiently waiting for better weather than to head out in seas that may make for a miserable trip. We are considering a ferry trip to St. Malo, France, a short 1 hour 20 minute trip away. St. Malo has been recommended by so many people, I hate to miss an opportunity to get over there if only by ferry. We had considered heading over yesterday but there was no dockage available. Still hoping to make it to Portugal by the end of the month. All indications are that once we are South of the Bay of Biscay our weather picture will improve significantly.
Thanks for reading
Laurie, Alec and Jack