The Normandy Trader set off from St Helier bound for the fishing port early yesterday morning, with the vessel’s captain saying he felt nervous about the reception he might receive.
But Nathan Ollivier said that apart from a couple of fishermen in the harbour waving their arms in the air they were able to load their ex-military landing craft unimpeded.
‘I must admit I was nervous on the way down and not 100% sure what reception we would receive,’ he said. ‘We had been contacted by a few fishermen who said “we won’t block you” but that they were not able to speak for everyone. The whole fleet was in the harbour as the scallop season has just ended and they were taking all the gear off their boats.’
Mr Ollivier added: ‘As we were coming in, the Harbourmaster, port authority, the chief docker and the old Harbourmaster, who is now a director for La Manche, started walking over to where we were mooring up and a couple of fishermen started waving their hands in the air but the Harbourmaster calmed them down.
‘They have got their extension now, so I really hope that an amicable solution can be reached. We could really do with it not all blowing up again.’
Mr Ollivier added that they were anxious to get to Granville to bring back a cryogenic chamber which had to be back in the Island in time for the British and Irish Lions’ visit. And he called on those in Jersey and in France to stop trading insults and threats.
He added: ‘We need everyone to back off a bit. Everyone has got their own opinion and I would not say it has been fair on either side but I would say it would be nice if people would calm down, let us get on and earn some money again.
‘We are all fathers, mothers, we have all got mortgages to pay and children to feed and when we cannot go to work we cannot do that.’
The skipper added that he was also hoping to get clearance to take local shellfish, currently stuck in tanks in Jersey, to St Malo next week to be landed.
Meanwhile, the Thora – another small cargo vessel which operates between the Channel Islands and Normandy – is due to travel to Granville next week.
Its captain, Peter Crafter, said he had been trying to get into the port town since the protest last Thursday and had a backlog of passengers and cargo to clear.
‘We have got 50 tonnes of cement with a limited shelf-life, two boats on the way that we managed to delay and 80 tonnes of granite coming from Belgium.
‘I also expect that we will be taking about six to eight Polish people over to Granville and taking the same number here on the way back.’