I have heard from my mother that Saint-Valery-en-Caux is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Normandy. Probably because of that, our destiny was to stay there very long involuntarily.
Like the other towns in this part of the coast, Saint-Valery-en-Caux is tightly enclosed in a gap between the cliffs. The harbour was well accessible with the waves, which get larger in the confined space, almost carrying us to the dock.
The next morning we woke up early since this would be the only day with weather calm enough to sail. We prepared the boot as usual: Making everything seaworthy, starting the engine and loosing the lines. Simone put in the backwards gear and nothing happens. Thinking that it might be an issue with our transmission, we attached the lines again and Simone took a look at the motor using the flash light. After a while I tried moving the boot a bit with my hands since I was still standing on the dock and we slowly began to realise that we were only able to move the boot itself but the kiel remained at the same place. We were effectively stuck and measuring the depth in the rest of the harbour hinted that the entire harbour was too shallow. According to our calculation our kiel was resting about 40 cm deep in clay.
On the same day the boat to excavate the harbour arrived but promptly after entering through under the bridge it swung its suction point into another moored ship, so there was no relieve from that side. An additional reason why the harbour was so low on water was because of the tides. In the night of arrival there was a first quarter moon which meant the water was on an absolute low during high tide, so even then we could not leave and had to wait until the moon phase changed. Thankfully, there was a lock to protect us from the low tide.
While we became eventually unstuck, we stayed in the harbour for 8 nights because of the bad weather conditions. The city is indeed very nice with mostly personal and local shops. Like many other cities the area it featured a lot of relics from the second world war.