Last weekend, I found out firsthand just how demanding crossing the English Channel really is. My journey took me from Studland Bay in Dorset to Alderney in the Channel Islands. I was aboard Cherish, a glorious 46-foot Oyster. Oh, and did I mention, I’m no sailor?

I was awoken by the incessant rattling of our mast at 5:30am. My initial frustration was quickly snuffed out when I stepped foot on deck. Not a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect start to the day. We were moored at Studland Bay – a popular destination for those looking to escape the city for a weekend here in the UK – alongside a 5km, glorious sandy beach.

While sipping on my single estate Nicaraguan brew, my shipmate and friend Anthony Gray pointed out an enormous chalk formation at the southern end of the Bay. It is one of the most famous landmarks on the South Coast – known affectionately as Old Harry. Old Harry is a single stack of chalk, which stands proud out to sea. Until 1896 there was another stack beside him known as Old Harry’s Wife, but sadly, erosion had caused her to decompose into the sea, leaving just a stump. I know what you’re going to ask, why Old Harry? Well, it’s up for debate as to how he got his name. Local seamen say the Devil once took a nap on the summit, others say the chalk stack was named after Poole pirate Harry Paye who, in the 14th century, brought havoc upon the English Channel.

Now other than Mr. Gray, my friend, and Cherish, our vessel, I had with me on my trip one other companion, which I would very much like to tell you about. It was the watch on my wrist, an IWC Aquatimer “Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau” Edition. But before I get on to the watch, a little history first.

The first IWC Aquatimer was launched in 1967. It was pressure-resistant to 200 meters and featured an internal rotating bezel to display dive time. I have long been a fan of the Aquatimer Collection. Mainly because the watches have this incredible, bulletproof feel about them. When you have one on the wrist, there is no doubt in your mind that it will withstand any treatment (or perhaps mistreatment).

Last year IWC extended the collection to include an “Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau” Edition in honour of the undersea explorer, researcher, photographer and filmmaker (he even invented the Aqua-Lung). The watch has the smallest case in the current Aquatimer Collection at 42mm.  Housed inside is an automatic ETA-based IWC Calibre 30120 offering a power reserve of 42 hours.

The reference I had was the non-chronograph version, which I must say I prefer, as I find simpler dive watches far more appealing. From a design perspective, it’s worth mentioning this Aquatimer also has the innovative external/internal rotating bezel with SafeDive system.  Basically the internal bezel is controlled using the external bezel – which doesn’t have any markings. On the dial, the contrast of the orange triangular tip on the central seconds hand against the blue dial is darn right cool.

But before we set off from Studland Bay I went for a dip off the side of our tender vessel to check on the lobster pot we dropped the evening before. To my surprise there were a fairly substantial number of crustaceans awaiting my arrival. Having used the Aquatimer underwater, the bold baton markers were immediately visible ­- in water that can only be described as murky, at best. It’s a shame, but I didn’t get a shot of our catch, however I can tell you it tasted magnificent on deck before our departure – even if it was one mouthful among the three of us.

We left Studland Bay at 1000hrs. Our crossing took 10 hours in total. We were 6 nautical miles off the needles in a fresh breeze. The majority of which I spent feeling rather unwell below deck. Never, I mean – never, attempt to read Tolstoy while doing 7 kts for 55 nautical miles nonstop! You WILL regret it.

Regardless, it was worth every second when we arrived at 2000hrs in Alderney’s historic and stunning bay.  A crossing I would tackle again in a heartbeat. I may never go on to be an icon like Cousteau, but strapping the “Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau” Edition on my wrist certainly made me feel as though there was a chance.