16-17 juli 2014
Non stop Vlissingen – Orwell river (Harwich, UK) It is around 1100 when I leave the harbour in Vlissingen behind me for the sea lock.
After some delay, I sailed out to sea at 12.30 pm. There is a light breeze 1-2 from west and that is of course exactly my course. So little sailing and a lot of rolling, very uncomfortable.
A sailor with a real sailing boat, would shift his course a bit and cross once or twice, but with the Asmara you can forget that, he certainly doesn’t sail sharply and then not fast, so you have to shift the course so wide that you have twice the time. And if you don’t want one thing for a long time on a knobbly sea.
A little further out the wind increases a bit to 3 but still always from the wrong angle.
The grib files (cards with wind arrows) say that the wind would clear by evening, but that turns out to be an illusion. During the day outside in the sunshine it can be tolerated with a book.
I quickly pass the first shipping lane, the second one is wider (2.5 miles) and busier. A change of course gives me a chance to make the Genoa work, which means less rolling. By midnight the shipping lane keeps me busy on the plotter, which gives me square eyes, but that not only promotes it, but also doesn’t help me against seasickness. I can’t tolerate nausea for a long time, but around two half past two I have to feed the fish twice over the railing, how miserable you feel then, but I have been eating and drinking all the time (water).
When it starts to get light I am in the traffic control system of Harwich. I have decided to follow the shipping lane (main roads with separate central reservation on the water), but it flows very hard and to get outside the buoy I have to steer at an angle of 45 degrees otherwise I will be put away too much. At a certain moment I am called up by a cargo boat; “Sailing vessel on my port side one mile, please respond”. To which I reply “this is sailing vessel Asmara”. He thinks that I want to sail in the middle of the lane and also suffers from the current, so he asks me, “Asmara can you steer to port, to let me pass on your starboard side?
To which I answer again that I will do that and continue to sail on the leftmost side of the fairway. In this way, I have two more contacts with cargo ships about the intentions of one or both of them.
When I am out of this hassle again, I think I am almost there, but that will take another 5 hours and now sleep is going to break me up, because of the hustle and bustle of the shipping lanes and the seasickness, I haven’t had the opportunity to take a nap, so regularly, partly because of the boring last part, I fall asleep nodding and then wake up again from an alarm, I feel like a dishcloth.
As I sail up the beautiful tidal river Orwell, my sleep soon disappears (Harwich is a container port, by the way), I follow the river almost to the end. In the village of Pinn Mill there is a pub called Butt & Oyster, this was the place to be. On the 31st of May every year a couple of crazy solo sailors from the Netherlands go here for a pint, nothing organised, only the first round for the publisher of the digital sailing magazine ZILT. So I thought it would be fun to do that too.
During this last part I hear strange engine noises, the slipping/vibrating of a generator or water pump belt, later on I’ll just have a look. I attach myself to a mooring after 24 hours of sailing.
Now that I am moored, harbours here usually fall dry, sleep is completely gone and I can drop my joll to go to the pub, Butt & Oyster in Pinn Mill, after all, that’s what it was all about. I had a nice pint and a sandwich. Now let’s have a look at the engine, engine room open and yes the smell of burning is coming towards me, it turns out to be the generator belts (there are two), luckily I have new ones on board, so I have to change them first. You shouldn’t think that that happens at sea, working on a hot engine with the seaway. Luckily I heard in time.
Tomorrow morning I will go outside with the tide and that starts at 0300, so if I take about half of it I can go outside with the tide at 0600 and see what the wind is doing. Early in my basket tonight and then On to Lowestoft a daytrip of 8-9 hours.
Wake up in front of the alarm clock, but stay awake for a while. At 0530 I go out and have some breakfast, at 0600 I loosen up for the trip to Lowestoft, about 50 miles. There seems to be no or hardly any wind, but that’s always treacherous, because once outside there is always wind and waves, so outside the river there is a North Wind 2 and a messy cross sea. I adjust the Genoa and the mainsail and set the AP (autopilot) on the route. The first part is going well, we can sail sharply to the wind on the planned route, but by now it is almost 10:00 when the wind rises to 4-5 and clears a bit. I set the AP to “wind vane” and there will then be no more track followed but the Asmara is holding the same angle with the wind. So if the wind clears 20 degrees, for example, then the course of the Asmara also goes 20 degrees. This way you don’t have to adjust your sail every time, but you sail a different course.
Eventually the wind turns further east and increases in strength to 5-6. The waves are now coming in at right angles, which is turbulent, I make some nice hits now and then and yes, a kitchen cupboard knows how to jump open with such a swish and next to the necessary mess two bottles of olive oil, one of which opens spontaneously, I don’t look down anymore. Next time I close the cupboard.
The water is haunted quite a bit and I honestly look up to the return journey, which is even longer than the outward journey, namely 28 hours. But a good thing is the life of a sailor, once back at the destination and behind a pint all the suffering is forgotten again. I don’t yet know whether I will be walking into IJmuiden or Den Helder, in time it won’t matter much. Around 1700 I report to the Port control of Lowestoft, I report that I am at the “welcome” buoy and after I have obtained permission to enter the port, I ask if there are any details. It is now quite haunted, I have put the Asmara on the AP against the wind and start picking up sails on a sea with strong winds and waves. At 17.45 I moored at a beautiful classic wooden sailing boat vs. two Amsterdammers in the harbour of Lowestoft at the Suffolk Yachtclub.
After going out again last night at 0400 to make an extra jump, a thunderstorm passed by, I slept well and had breakfast at 0900. After that I took a nice shower and tidied up a bit. As it looks now I will leave Sunday morning in the direction of Den Helder. First I have to buy Lowestoft some sandwiches for tomorrow. Lowestoft is a typical English seaside resort with piers, fish and chips. I couldn’t pin in a sandwich shop, so I only pulled ten pounds out of the wall, then once back on the boat I made a healthy lunch with toast and lettuce. I also stripped the boat of salt, washed the windows and refilled the water tank.
The weather here is good (except for yesterday’s thunderstorm, which seems to have been pretty heavy in the london area) during the day about 22 degrees. The boat is rolling lightly all the time and the Marina is completely walled in with just a side entrance, but that doesn’t bother me I read a book in the sun.
Tonight I load up the latest weather reports, prepare sandwiches for on the way and clean up the saloon of loose items. On the cupboard that opened, there is now an extra bolt. On my TV I receive a range of English channels, even two German ones. It is now 21.49 hours in the Netherlands an hour later.
It is 09.15 (10.15 in the Netherlands) when I throw loose for Den Helder. I ask permission from Port Control Lowestoft to leave the port, I get it and it goes green in front of me. The barometer shows 1012, it is slightly cloudy, wind is variable force 1. After half an hour there is a bit of wind (2) WZW and all sails are up. There is a straight line to Den Helder, the next waypoint at 121 Nm. My average speed measured afterwards was 5.04 Kts (9.33 km/h)
The sea is calm, the changing winds keep me busy adjusting sails or shifting course. I read on deck and drink a cup of coffee, everything is quiet. During the crossing the weather changes somewhat, around 1300 I see a shower behind me that I had already seen on the radar, it will not reach me. In front of me it is slightly cloudy with a heat front on the horizon, that will be for tonight again. The wind is on me and I take off the Genoa. How small you are on such a sea, with nothing but water, no boat or landmark to be seen around you. And at 4.10 p.m. I hear some splashing and squeaking, look around me one and see 7 floundering dolphins swimming alongside me. They tumble around each other and surface for a moment, what a beautiful creatures and because there is no wind at the moment the water is mirror smooth, you can observe everything very well, I but film it, unfortunately I forgot to make pictures of it in my enthusiasm. After about half an hour they are suddenly gone. The location was 52°44.9N 004°16.5E.
According to the GRIB files I would have to deal with no wind in the middle of the North Sea for some time, I would be just below the core of a small high pressure area and then notice that after a couple of hours the wind would increase and change direction.
At 21.40, the wind picked up a bit and West 2, now rolling straight from behind, is blowing again.
After a couple of hours I get close to the traffic lanes, the daylight goes out and the wind picks up from North to 4-5. Whenever it gets night, the elements also make it more difficult. Now there is also a kind of fog, which reduces visibility to 3 ship lengths
the daylight goes out and the wind picks up now from North to 4-5. Whenever night falls, the elements also make it more difficult. Now there is also a kind of vapor/mist, which reduces visibility to 3 ship lengths, even though by now I am no longer alone, but surrounded by cargo ships going in all directions. The night is so black and dark that it makes no sense to look outside, so I am now sailing as it is called in aviation under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) only on my instruments. I put every potential radar echo in the MARPA list (then the radar keeps an eye on that echo and if it gets too close, an alarm) Also the AIS, another system is now handy, because you can look up the name and details of the other ship and, if necessary, consult with that ship via the VHF on how to pass each other. When traffic starts to decrease a bit because I am now outside the traffic lanes, I only have some trouble with a fisherman who wants to ram through me or maybe catch me in his nets, but here too, after consultation, I go a bit faster and he can pass by with his tow behind me, also solved.
The wind persists and continues a bit to the end of 5 beginning 6, the Asmara sails “sharp” on the Schulpengat, it is now 0500, Den Helder seems so close, but still takes almost 7 hours. Because there is no traffic anymore, I go to sleep on the bench while the Asmara ploughs on in the direction of Den Helder. In the end I make about 7 half an hour’s sleep.
At 10.45 am I sail past Den Helder onto the Marsdiep.
I decided to sail on to Den bank, through the lock and then anchor behind the dike to sleep. At 14.30 I left the lock to come to the conclusion that the wind had become NNO force 5-6 and that it was no longer possible to anchor calmly behind the dike. No other sheltered spot to be found than on the other side of the IJsselmeer. Well, my destination was Friesland, so I continued in a straight line to Stavoren, arriving at 17.00, through the lock and a little further inland just past Warns to a marrekrite (Frisian construction facility). I have been lying here with Luuk before in 2009. As the day is almost over, there is no point in going to sleep, because at 7-8 I have more than enough hours. I take a beer, clean up a bit, throw a wash in the bathtub and reset the TV, watch the news and finally go to bed at 9.30pm. After 32 hours of non-stop sailing Lowestoft – Stavoren I fall into a lovely deep sleep.
Of course, I woke up at 0500, but I stayed awake until 0800. Tasty breakfast, finishing the laundry, rinsing and hanging up. There is a nice wind and it is not cold. Then I go and have a look at the bilge pump filter which is closed again and doesn’t suck anymore. There is still a lot of dirt and lumps of grease, from the propeller shaft, in the bilge. I’m going to clean it tomorrow.
I spent a few days at the marrekrite, tidying up, doing chores, reading and swimming, it’s warm. Today I sail to Grouw where I moor after 5 hours at the Nieuwkade. I did some shopping, refilled the water and reloaded the current to 100%.
After one night I decide to change the paid spot for a free spot (a marrekrite), the plan is to sail via Akkrum in the direction of Lemmer and cross the IJsselmeer to Amsterdam… I’m going to finish a marrekrite PR708 in the direction of Akkrum. I decide to stay here for just a few days.
At 10 a.m. I sail on to Akkrum, over the Aqueduct and through the railway bridge, this last passage is an angled bend through a narrow bridge opening. Here my buttress gets trapped between the boat and the bridge, causing it to break off and fall into the water. A little boy with a speedboat sees it and goes ahead of him. Rubber eye completely broken off, too bad, I’ll keep it for a while but maybe I can fix it. Through the further bridges of Akkrum you still have to pay and you get a Frisian Klumpke in front of you, 1 euro. I stop at the campsite “Tusken de Marrren”, here I stay for one night and Tanja and the kids come to visit me. Cosy, Sibren has broken his collarbone and walks in a sling, but Renske, Kars and Jonna dive into the water between the boats and have a nice swim. Of course Grandpa can’t stay behind and jump in. At the end of the day they go home to Groningen and I’m going to exchange some books to read, deliver 4 in take three with me.
Because there has been an attack on my diesel supply this trip I decide to fill up, unfortunately not tax-free as in Helgoland 1.51 p/litre but 1.51 p/litre, I will put 450 litres in it.
Just a little bit more now. I drop my anchor behind an island on the Sneekermeer at 14.00 hrs. And go for lunch, swimming, reading, etc. I look at the wind reports for crossing the IJsselmeer, the idea was to go through Amsterdam on the 31st, then to Uncle Jan and Aunt Dini in the care home in Aalsmeer, to Sandra (my niece) on the Westeinder and then on to the Kaag. But the forecast for tomorrow 30 July wind NNO 4 and the 31st WSW 4, the latter is not nice because then I have to cross again against wind, so I decide to cross a day earlier. Then I’d better sail in the direction of Lemmer. At 19.30h I pick up the anchor and go via the Margriet Canal to Lemmer with the wind at my back and the Genoa at my side, very relaxed, coffee and liqueur with who cares. At 22.15, just at dusk, I attach a mooring buoy to the “Grote Brekken” a mile before the Margriet locks in Lemmer.
I leave at 0915 and at 10.30 am leaving the lock at Lemmer on the IJsselmeer in the direction of Enkhuizen, wind NNW 3. Genoa and mainsail on and unfortunately sharp sailing again, if I had sailed to Lelystad I could have sailed wider, but then the crossing from Lelystad could only have been done by engine. At 15.00 I arrive in Enkhuizen and at 15.40 I leave the naviduct for the last part to Amsterdam. The wind is now WNW and is clearing to W, which was a good choice. At 19.00 I pass the horse from Marken and at 22.20 I moor at the Houtmankade in Amsterdam, waiting for the standing mast route through Amsterdam. The railway bridge turns at 00.50 and a fleet of 15 ships starts moving through Amsterdam, towards the new lake Sluis. After some delay there I pass the Schiphol bridges and lake at 03.45 in the ring canal at 05.35 for a few hours sleep. At 09.20 I leave again and moor at the garden of the nursing home, I visit my aunt, the only surviving Vredenburger, my mother’s youngest sister. i also visit my uncle who has moved into a nice flat at the Praamplein and is within walking distance of the nursing home. after that i sail on to the Westeinder, my niece is not at home so i dive between one of the islands on the west side of the Westeinder and drop my anchor there in sheltered water. Meet Kees, a retired KLM purser, 71 years old, who is staying there on a 20-metre barge. Help him to rig a 16-square metre barge and together we go sailing on the West Einder. We had nice conversations with the man, who lives in Nieuw Vennep with his wife.
02-08-2014 – 11-08-2014
On 2-8 I sail on to the Kaag to CeesJan and Netty, who are with their boat, on which they also live, at marina Ciego in warmond, we had agreed to go BBQ together with two of his sons and daughter-in-law.
In the afternoon we go with the Boston Whaler with the boys wakeboarding (I don’t) What a power there is in that little ship, without tow it runs at 100 km/h. On Monday 4-8 my grandson Thomas gets on board at the pumping station and together we enjoy coke, ice cream, film and swimming. And of course Thomas has to sail in my jollie for a while. The second evening we go for a swim in the dark, very exciting, the water is 23 degrees and the upper temperature is warm as well. Wednesday the 6th I drop him off again in Aalsmeer and sail back to the Kaag. From Thursday to Sunday I will stay on the Kaag, on Monday I will sail into Leiden because on Tuesday I have an appointment for research in Gronau, after that I will have to do some work.
Total distance travelled 522 NM / 966 KM
Number of hours sailed 149
Average fuel consumption 521 litres
End of a wonderful summer trip