Friday, 23 May 2008

Yachtsman held captive in French port!


the crew are trapped in the port of Cherbourg

the crew are trapped in the port of Cherbourg

Published Date: 23 May 2008

By Ed O'Mara

A yachtsman from Northamptonshire is being held captive in a French port by local fishermen, after unwittingly stumbling upon a major strike over the price of diesel.

John Shephard had been expecting to enjoy a leisurely boating holiday in the Channel Islands this week, but after docking in Cherbourg at dawn on Monday, he soon found himself at the mercy of the militant workers.
Just hours after the 57-year-old and his crew arrived at the port's marina, striking fishermen strung a thick rope across the harbour entrance and have refused to let anyone leave.
The unannounced industrial dispute has now rumbled on for five days and, according to British diplomats, no end appears to be in sight.
"We arrived at about 5am on Monday anticipating we would stay a few hours, but as we were catching some sleep, the barriers went across without warning," said Mr Shephard, who is a Daventry district councillor and lives in Boughton.
"There are about two dozen British boats here and we have all been impounded since then. At first it was a bit of an inconvenience but now it is getting beyond the joke."
Even though the only barrier between the marina and the open sea is the rope strung between two fishing boats, Mr Shephard said the striking fishermen's intimidating behaviour made it impossible to cross.
He said: "Some people have tried to break out of the harbour but they've had flares fired at them.
"You would normally expect the police to step in and do something about this illegal activity but they are not getting involved. It is absolutely appalling they are allowed to do this.
"Can you imagine the same thing happening in England? If any fishermen tried to put a rope across Southampton harbour they would last about two minutes."
Mr Shephard, whose wife, Judy, is chairman of Northamptonshire County Council, had been due to meet fellow yachtsman Tony Boullemier in the Channel Islands today.
But the return trip to England now appears to be in serious jeopardy, along with the remainder of Mr Shephard's disastrous holiday.
Mr Boullemier, an author and former newspaper publisher who also lives in Boughton, said: "It looks as if the whole weekend has been ruined by this industrial action.
"I'm just flabbergasted that simple English holidaymakers are being roped into this whole process."

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