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We where awoken at dawn, not by the alarm clock, but by a tremendous clap of thunder, which heralded the approach of what was to be a heavy and spectacular thunder storm.
We all felt very comfortable tied to our buoy in Alderney Harbour, secure in the fact that we where only one of many yachts sheltering there, and the chances of being struck by lightening where remote, however the plan was to leave Alderney and sail to Jersey that morning.
After much discussion and tribulation we decided to proceed with our sailing plan as intended, and waving goodbye to Alderney, slipped our moorings at 5am. And proceeded for the end of the Alderney breakwater.
As if to welcome us to the open sea we had a most spectacular lightning display, which rather than coming to earth, travelled from cloud to cloud and illuminated the early morning scene around Alderney harbour. The trip to Jersey was a very wet affair with pouring rain and driving wind and the whole lot augmented by a display of lighting the like I have never seen before. The flashes where jumping from cloud to cloud as well of earthling on the surrounding islands of Sark Guernsey and Herm.
We had taken the precaution of affixing a heavy pair of battery jump leads from the shrouds to the back ladder, which we allowed to trail in the sea, hoping than any strike would then be automatically earthed directly into the sea. The lighting made magnificent patterns in the sky, while the thunder played a heavy weather rhapsody around us.
The visibility was extremely bad in the rain, and we relied on our radar to a great extent. We where careful to make sure that we missed the Pierre au Vraic rock, which lies in the middle of the Swinge fairway. at An approximate latitude of 49'41.8N and Longitude of 2' 15.6W. Alderney soon disappeared in to mist and we where left with only the thunder and lightning.
Sark came into view for a very short time and we quickly passed it by, the only sound we heard over the storm, was the regular blast from the fog horn on the Sark lighthouse. By this time the wind speed had increased and we decided to take in some sail, harnesses on, we moved to the front of the boat and with some difficulty, and a severe soaking, managed to reef in the main.
By this time the seas had picked up, and became quite lively as we approached the North West coast of Jersey. We rounded the Corbier light and virtually surfed the large waves up the inner channel, passed Noirmont point, and in to St Hellier harbour.
By this time the storm had reached a crescendo, and the lighting following us up the inner channel, had taken on the appearance of a fearsome pyrotechnic display, the sky was black and the sea had taken on a very menacing appearance.
We where extremely great full to eventually tie up in St Hellier Marina, and took solace in the fact that our chances of being g now struck by lightning must have greatly diminished. We eventually Retired to the St Hellier Yacht club, where the members present expressed great surprise that we had travelled down in the storm, and as the night wore on, and the pints flowed, so the storm got worse, and the seas bigger.
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