Off to England

Off to England

27. May Cuxhaven

Down the river Elbe to here seemed to me very long this time. But surely that was also due to the weather. The sun slowly roasted my head, for hours there was no chance of shade. Even in the cabin it was still about 30 degrees in the evening at 6 pm.

At the beginning of a trip always I prefer some clouds, or rain, so I can slowly adapt to the permanent stay outdoors. Yes, well, I always sailed half the way against the current, the tidal stream was running too late and from early afternoon it became too hot. So, a stopover in Glückstadt was absolutely necessary.

Now I’m just taking a day off in Cuxhaven, enjoying the quiet — there’s really nothing going on in the harbour yet —, sniffing the sea air and taking care of my head and skin.

01. June Norderney

Things always turn out differently than you plan. If I have planned to come to the west as quickly as possible to take advantage of the east wind, now I’m sitting on Norderney 4 days after Cuxhaven.

Two main reasons:

 — I can’t stand this sun any more, it simply gets too hot if you can’t find any shade. Moreover, there are always thunderstorms in the air. So, certainly it is better to bear this at sea than inland.

—The tide allows only nightly departure or nightly arrivals for long trips. I have no mood for both. In addition, about Helgoland? No, I don’t go there any more.

So, I sail behind the islands again, or rather under the islands. Wangerooge, Langeoog and now Norderney. However, the high water around noon is also very practical, so you always leave the harbour between 10 and 12 o’clock and usually get back in the next at 2 o’clock before it gets really hot. 4 hours of sunshine are just about bearable.

Now the wind turns to westerly directions, and from Tuesday I can continue. I use the time for many errands, it is very practical here and of course, I forgot something (rubbish bags, bread knife…). It is also possible to fix an engine problem. The engine has lost a drop of oil at the drain for the gearbox and the tape seal will not help forever.

So, I enjoy the absolute deceleration here, just like two years ago. Tourist season is not yet started, so everyone here is very relaxed.

Unfortunately, I have not taken any pictures yet, I was not in the mood for it. Although during the passage of the tidal inlet Außenharle near Wangerooge, it would have been nice to take a picture with my Gopro. The fairway zigzags through the banks and at low tide – there are still about 2 metres of water in the fairway – you can touch the sandbanks or get an intuition of the sandbanks by breaking waves.

04. June Norderney

So now, I just took the engine to the workshop. Pulling it off the stern of the boot looked adventurous, but it was quite easy. With the help of the main halyard and the mainsheet tackle I only had to guide the engine, lifting made my “mast crane”. 40 kg are so easy to handle.

So far, I have not missed anything. Since Friday, we have had wind here exactly from the west, that’s I would like to go.

05. June Norderney

Yay, motor on again. Tomorrow we will continue!!!!

09. June Harlingen

Yesterday I arrived in Harlingen. From Norderney via Borkum and Dokkum it was a fast ride. Nevertheless, with sailing it was not much. This extreme early summer is slowly going against my grain. The actually fitting east wind is constantly flapping and the sun is burning pure. From Norderney to Borkum I could sail for 2.5 hours, until south of Juist by foultide I could only see 1 knot above ground on the plotter. No use, the engine had to be started again, near Borkum is still an extremly shoal in the navigable channel (we called it wadden high).

Moreover, Borkum-Lauwersoog? The same game, start at 7am in the morning, it was over again with wind at 8.30. I could not sail against the current in the Hubertgat. So, I sailed down by ebbstream tide to the tidal inlet to Schiermonnikoog, I just reached it exactly by lowwater and could sail by fairtide up into the mudflats. For the second time the fairway in the seegat seems to me to be navigable even at lowwater (I already passed it once last year). Great surf left and right, nothing for weak nerves. But always 1.5 m of water under the keel.

Immediatly the lock Lauwersoog opened, so I decided to continue my journey to Dokkum, all in the blazing sun. It is enough slowly and somebody had heard me. The next day from Dokkum to here in Harlingen there was only a cloudy sky and the last hour since Franeker there was wonderful land rain.

Now a little colourful.

I was berth on the main pontoon and everyone who passed by have a look at the boat. Now you can do it too.

After editing of the videos, now I manage to give some impressions of singlehand sailing.

Cast off with help in Norderney

Setting sails directly in the harbour entrance

In the Norderney tidal inlet between tidalflats it rocks quite very well, in front went left around the buoy and a little later right again into the Memmert fairway.

Berthing on Borkum

11. June IJmuiden

Already the third day more or less overcast sky, that’s how I love it after all the sunshine. Last night it cooled down to 10° C, feels almost arctic.

But one-step after the another. The sailing miles are multiplying, from Harlingen to Oudeschild on Texel I could sail the whole distance, with up to 5 Bft. I have to get used to this again, to push amica through the water with more than 6 kn.

The harbour of Oudeschild is still quite empty, but almost everything is prepared for high season.

This morning at 7am the wind still was sleeping, of course, but everything in the Netherlands is cosy, even the wind. Only from 10 o’clock on there was a breeze from NE with swell from NW, amica rolling comfortably to the south.

Punctually at 13 o’clock, the foultide begins, so the rest of the tour we had to sail against it. However, the day was still longer, so I allowed myself this fun, including little overfalls (wind against the current). At 14 o’clock we enter IJmuiden-Harbour.

Here I even have my personal security guard. When mooring, this seagull just stayed seated, only when I cast out the blue line aft, it pulled 2 m into the water. Immediately I apologized and lo and behold, she came right back. Must be a great place.

16. June Kortgene

Where is that? About 15 nautical miles from Vlissingen, northeast of it in the Veerse Meer, a tributary of the Osterschelde, but closed to the North Sea. Her I dawdle around a little. I need a break from the North Sea. I have sailid downwind from IJmuiden to Scheveningen and from there I had a fast trip with reaching wind to Roompotsluis in the Osterschelde. That is about 50 nm from Scheveningen. I needed 8 hours – including passing the lock Roompotsluis.

According to GPS (and amica run about 10 kn above ground before the mouth of the Maas near Rotterdam. Here the current is also rushing well, because according to the log my top speed was max. 6.8 knots.  I thought the wind force was about 4-5 Bft, but all stations had measured 5-6 Bft. Sailing before the wind you just don’t notice it that way. Well, I partly looked at the top of the wave crest from below. You get used to it quickly, but you have to steer very carefully. I dreamed twice and I had my shower from the side. Unfortunately there are no pictures, I had to steer concentrated. Actually is a pity, I could not show you the “seaworthy” my Waarschip, always on top, like a cork.

I don’t like to withhold this bridge in the Osterschelde from you. The Zeeland Bridge is with a length of 5 km the longest bridge in the Nethterlands with a clearance of 14 m at NAP. At the northern end there is also a lifting bridge for yachties, who really don’t know the high the own masthead. I passed under the bridge at low tide to take advantage of NAP -1.34 m, just in case. Then I passed the bridge full speed, you have to have confidence in the data.

Now I’m on my way to Vlissingen and can take a break there too, because the wind will not be favourable again until the middle of next week. Although I could make several short trips to Calais, but that is not necessary. Besides, I don’t like to reach my destination Brighton until the beginning of July. There Barbara is waiting for me; she will come on board for 4 weeks.

21. June Blankenberge – Belgium

There is not much to tell about the tour from Kortgene via Vlissingen to here, as it was mostly some trips under engine. A sailing attempt on the Westerschelde took 1.5 hours, and then I gave up sailing. By only 3 Bft amica does not sail very well in this sea, there was old wind sea (time before there were wind from SW 6-7 Bft) with crossing of a light current sea. Sailing against it means stop permanently.

I love to observe people and try to get an idea of their mentality and behaviour. Already I have noticed 2 years ago that people in southern parts of the Netherlands are hectic, they always have to be on the move quickly, don’t miss anything. It’s only noticeable again and again when you come from Friesland. I don’t think that you feel satisfied, that’s pure stress.

Positively I noticed this time that young people are very helpful, friendly and respectful. By this, I mean those who are under 30, because I don’t take my age as a point of reference. In contrast, many of the generation 50 plus live a lifestyle that seems to be shaped by “I own the world”. Simply me first. No greetings, no helping hand and no interest in others. In addition a certain ruthlessness, both on the water and on land. I want to be the first in the lock and I own the way, you can still pass by on the right and left.

Mentality of a generation? Result of a society shaped by greed? I will continue to observe and to think, that is why I am on the road, to change perspective, and you need distance from turbo-capitalism.

Now Blankenberge, I am trying to feel well with this place. The marina is nice and easy to approach, that’s why I like to enter here and not Zeebrugge, where you first have to pass through the container port.

The skyline on the seaside attracts me again, maybe because everybody is talking about this typical Belgian development on the sea. By the way, this is the sunny south side, the beach is on the other side, the north side, in the shade of the skyscrapers. Fortunately, the sun is just right in the high season.

The other side of the street looks like this, actually quite pretty. Enthusiasm for football world championship can also be found here. When will the “red devils” play again?

Oh yes, today it’s very windy and not only amica is rocking at sea. Maybe, amica is start rocking a bit earlier.

Empty beach life and a bamboo beach, exaggerated? Exoticism is apparently needed everywhere, but no people from there.

Harbour days always tempt you to work on the boat.

Painting work leads to nice comments from the pontoon. Nice boat etc.

Sewing boat fenders, superfluous? Protetc the varnish and leads to more nightly peace.

There was also a before.

 25. June Calais – France

Before I leave the continent tomorrow, one last message from continental Europe. After a few days of forced residence in Blankenberge, quickly I headed southwest. I did not miss my well-known ports Nieuwpoort and Dunkerque. They are ports for short distances and the current did not allow anything else. From 9 o’clock, the tidal stream always came from the west, not suitable for long trips in this direction.

In Nieuwport I was invited to a jetty party immediately: with wine, baguette, warmed Camembert and quite sweet things. Only 2 people spoke English, the rest (about 10 people) only French, but that was no problem at all, everything was terribly nice and polite. Also with hands and feet you can communicate, petit bateau I still knew, I learned a few chunks of French in the process, and I can really emphasize some things now: merci. The next day I allowed trying soup again at lunchtime.

Sailing to Nieuwpoort I made the mistake going against the current, in 2 hours to cross agaist the wind I made 3 miles in the right direction only. Therefore, it was unnecessary, especially as the wind turned, and I could sail along the coast when fairtide started in direction. 2 hours for 3 miles and for the remaining 14 miles in 3 hours, so the result.

So the next day I sailed the 15 nautical miles to Dunkerque in 2.5 hours in the evening when the current was right. For the last stage to Calais, I opted for the early current, because you have to be at the Calais entrance at 9 am, so I had to leave at 6 am. What can I say, I was awake in time. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, although I kept the engine running most of the time in the light wind. The last half mile I struggled against 3 knots of current, with 2.5 knots over ground, because I can’t manage more than 5.5 under motor. However, I have arrived and now it looks like I’ll have to cross tomorrow, the wind is supposed to pick up again.

A few early morning pictures.

There is also ferry service to Dunkerque

The last dunes before the cliffs that begin after Calais. Distance to the coast about 2 nautical miles, so they are quite high.

Before the lock Hénon Ecluse, the bridge opens every hour from about 3 hours before until about 3 hours after high tide. The rest of the time the gate is additionally closed.

27. June Boulogne-sur-mer

No, now I am not changed the other side. Maybe I shouldn’t publish my plans too early, sometimes they change very quickly. Why I am not in Dover? The stupid Porte in Calais simply is closed at the right departure time. By this wind direction, it would be good first to have the current from the east for two hours first and after that two hours from the west. Then you can keep yourself free of the ferries, because there is quite a lot of traffic here, more than in the lanes of the traffic separation area between Dover and Calais. Yes, but the gate is closed, it only opens at ….., we already had that. Moreover, from Boulogne-sur-mer to Eastbourne is as far as from Dover.

Now I have some nice pictures and clips from my trip to Boulogne-sur-mer.

Sailing at 3 wind forces, wind from back, current from the front. If you look at the horizon instead of the boat, you are able to see how choppy it is. I also sat well wedged, that’s why it looks so calm.

The beginning of the steep coast near Calais on the Côte Sandettie.

One of those notorious, hard to spot lobster trapss with a leash on it, right in the middle of the picture. Hardly visible? So I did, and they were there and gone quickly, at about 6.5 knots above ground. Only the probability counts: not hit. You don’t like to get caught in that.

Cap Gris Nez from north

Cap Gris Nez from West

And here once again sailing at 5 Bft, wind and current in the same direction. This is much quieter and you can see that I am no longer wedged in

29. June Thoughts in the other (sailing) world

The head becomes emptier, was the wind blown through it? The view of the horizon at sea freed it up, or it is the time spent in a simple environment decisive? Similar it feels like two years ago, only now and here I realise that I have arrived completely in another life. I am sure that this has as much to do with the 5 weeks that I have already been on the move. Sure, here in France I also realise, that I am in a foreign country, many things are so different. However, I can also get involved. Overlooking or negating something is just easy, especially if you always put yourself in the centre of attention: I want this, I want that, me, me first, accumulate for his self-esteem. The head must be free to feel the other. While sailing, I tell myself from time to time that the horizon is quite wide here and then there is nothing more to come. It makes you feel quite small, but somehow part of this world, but no longer in a world of plans, goals and procedures. Of course, it is now becoming more difficult to continue the trip. The wind conditions force me to be extremely careful with my amica, no 5 with gusts on top. Between Dungeness and Beachy Head gusts of 7 to 8 are announced until the weekend. It is a very small boat. Others can sail, I can’t. But I don’t mind waiting for the right wind any more. Of course, I have an appointment over in Brighton, but what doesn’t work, doesn’t work. It doesn’t set me under pressure, I can live on board in a relaxed manner and enjoy it. I don‘t come up with an alternative programme, I don’t have to programme myself any more, don‘t always have a plan. Currently I do what is on the agenda. It comes as it comes. I have no longer the feeling of wasting my time. And I do not have the impression of missing anything.

I gain the space to make observations, to interpret them and then to formulate them in texts. A Carrefour is a supermarket like any other in the world. Big and full of many things, always thinking, who really needs this all. Still I like to go to a Carrefour, because it’s the only place that sells Breton butter and Breton cider, which I love both. However, the bananas there come from the Ivory Coast immediately strikes me. You ask yourself which people harvest the bananas there. What they earn? Carrefour is a global player. There are so many contradictions that you have to endure nowadays.

For the first time I notice people on the street, literally people who spend their lives there. Two years ago, perhaps I didn’t pay attention of it, or I can’t remember it.  Already have changed so much in neo-liberal Macron-France? Are there already visibly more losers and winners? That belongs together, because there are supposed to be more winners in economic policy, there must be losers, otherwise the winners would not notice that. Politics are also a very emotional matter.

Fishermen and anglers are not the polite French. There is very aggressive verbal abuse and shouting at each other. If you get too close to them, for example if you get too close to the pier, you’ll get a big load. Good thing I didn’t understand that all.

I dare to tell a different story and so far it is only fragments that hopefully become more and more condensed into a whole narration. For this, I need an open view and empathy, so everything does not always slide into the same meta-narrative, is classified and dismissed according to the same scheme. Everything can open my mind.

29. June Boulogne-sur-mer last day

Today I went on a longer hike, about 3 hours long, until it was unbearable in the sun at noon. I also wanted to capture some nice impressions, like going north, where I have never been before.

View into the marina with amica in the middle and the harbour with the fishing pier.  From here it takes about 20 minutes to the outer mole, which is about 1.5 nautical miles. Nevertheless, here in the harbour the wave of the strong northern wind could still be felt.

South pier and the Trafficcenter, with whom you can make such nice radio calls. Always very nice.

Shore promenade and remains from the World War II

Steep coast, not quite as steep

The sea overlooking the North Pier and the countryside: Boulogne-sur-mer Nord

I spent the rest of the day with mental preparation for the long trip to Eastbourne. As there are still predict up to 5 Bft for tomorrow, I had to memorize all tons, coastal formation and other waypoints. On the way I’ll not have a chance to look this up again.

30. June Eastbourne – England reached

I would rather avoid giving a detailed report of the trip. Simply I’ll list the key data.

First, a Waarschip can resist a lot, this has been confirmed once again. Great how amica rides the waves.

Weather situation: There is hardly anything changing in this permanent northeastern air current. Yes, wonderful summer on land, the high-pressure above England or the North Sea. Surely, I shouldn’t be dissatisfied? After all, the wind is blowing me in the right direction. Only, it doesn’t blow, it blows hard, and it always blows hard. For this Saturday, a weaker phase with a wind of only about 15 knots is announced. After that, it is expected increasing wind up to 20 knots again, especially on the south coast of England. 20 knots of wind is already a strong 5 Bft. Yes, this is dynamic from the hot land, in this case England.

The current goes southwestly from 6 am, so as I have to go west, I was able to take advantage of part of it.

I went a long way on sea through the traffic separation area, but I had only to swerve twice. Otherwise, there was hardly anything going on. At sea my AIS didn’t make me feel so alone, even though I couldn’t really find all the ships. It’s no wonder With a range of at least 10 nautical miles.

I overslept a bit. That meant: I wake up and already 5 minutes later the lines in my hand, drink a sip of water, nothing else. Anyhow I was at the harbour entrance exact 6am. Unfortunately, I missed pulling a reef into the mainsail. Always about 6 – 7 knots speed, well, that’s nice and fast. After the first lane (ship’s way), I managed to pull the reef.

Until here course west, now course northwest, one always have to cross the lanes at right angles. Arrived exactly as planned at the Bullock north buoy, I entered the second lane, Now I clearly could see Dungenes Power Station, a very large nuclear power station at the top of Dungenes.

After this lane, immediately I returned the west course using the remaining tidalstream. It only lasted until shortly before Hastings. But the counter current from Hastings to Eastbourne was only weak, maybe 1 knot.

Coast off Hastings and Hastings itself

Sailed through the water 47.3 nautical miles

Sailed over ground 51.4 nautical miles, that was the detour to Hastings

Straight line 48 nautical miles, but this of course was not possible because of the lanes.

Time: 9.5 hours

Here the next: England