Dunkerque (Dunkirk)

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October 3rd 2014
Published: November 9th 2014
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3rdOctoberDover to Dunkerque (Dunkirk) 45nm

So..we're now in France...yesterday we crossed the English Channel....big move!! We departed Dover marina at 0230 - in order to have the tides and currents with us for most of our journey. We got out of the harbour and made a bee-line for the other side. You must cross the shipping lane at a 90 degree angle. The first part (ships moving south) had a few ships coming - we set our course and other than having to speed up to get in front of one ship and then slow down in order for another ship to pass in front, we didn't have to alter course at all. Then in the middle (separation zone) we saw that the closest ship coming north was 15nm away - travelling at 13kts. We were hiking along at 5.6kts. After that first ship....there were another 10!! Amazingly, that first ship was on our side of the channel, and we got in front of it...with a mile to spare, and then got all the way across with the other ships passing behind!! An easy, but still nerve wracking trip without having to change course once...couldn't believe it. As Phil correctly mentioned - it was quite easy going across in the dark as the nav lights on the ships clearly indicated our position in relation to crossing their paths. Also AIS (ship tracking system on our plotter) was very accurate and informative in regards to distance, speed and track of ships. We continued up the now French coast to Dunkerque (Dunkirk) about 5nm out we were boarded by French border control (customs). They stayed on board for at least half hour, checked out boat - lockers, cabins etc (but we didn't have to pull everything out like others have had to) asked all the questions, and gave us a customs clearance form. On arrival in Dunkerque we were directed to the police station for Immigration, but they didn't know anything about it, so sent us via bus and a 4km walk to the Car Ferry in another town. Very long story short....eventually we were checked in, our passports stamped and given a ride back to boat in the back of a police car!!! (Thank goodness as by this time it was 6:30pm) A very long day, but now we're here and free to explore Europe!!! Uhm...communicating extremely difficult as the only French we know is hi, thanks, bye, cheese, ham, chicken and small!!!! Can get us lunch, but not helpful in sorting immigration!!

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