Militant French fishermen see sense and release British yachts

British yachtsmen trapped in Cherbourg for over a week by militant French fishermen protesting against fuel prices have been released. Fishermen finally caved in to pressure from local and national governments on Sunday night and agreed to lift the underwater cable that has prevented any vessels’ arrival or departure from the Normandy port.

‘They’ve given in, we’ve defeated them,’ Paul Heysom, 60, told The Times. The 60 year-old skipper ofHermione, from Lowestoft, added ‘We’ve been sitting around here for seven days and been treated disgracefully,’ referring to intimidation by French fishermen including the throwing of bottles and the torching of sails with flares.

Also in The Times, Mike Waters, Dartmouth-based skipper of theSamphire, condemned the behaviour of the French fishermen as ‘downright criminal’, adding ‘the authorities would do nothing to help us so we were ready to take matters into our own hands.’

Hugh Duncan, 48, of Lyme Regis said that, before the French capitulation, British patience was approaching breaking point. ‘We didn’t want to sit around in a French marina forever and we had nothing to lose. The fishermen managed to deal with one boat trying to escape (it was rammed) but they wouldn’t be able to deal with dozens. This is what you might call our Trafalgar moment.’

Fortunately the blockade was lifted before Nelsonian tactics were brought to bear on the Napoleonic strategies employed by the fishermen.