The next 24 hours became a blue of slamming, spray, 5 metre waves and queasiness. Most of the watches were done in saloon, though I preferred being outside, harnessed in and riding the boat as if on a surf board! It was either feel sick and feel sh!tty, or see it for what it was and make the most of it.
A fellow yachtie we bumped into in the showers warned us of Force 9-10s and 9 metre waves. This didn’t really phase us since Vincent was a grand yacht master (though I don’t know anyone who would want to see him put to the test in those kind of conditions) and the rest of us actually wanted to see 9 metre waves! (How foolish!)
With a high tide and strong winds the cycle ride became a very wet fairground ride as huge waves battered the sea walls, splashing up to 20ft high and spraying anyone in its path. Like four hung-over pratts on bikes. The trick was all about timing, something that Tim didn’t have, unfortunately for him and his clothes.
Expecting an open-armed warm welcome, three men appear on the deck looking a bit perplexed at our arrival, what with our kit and bags. Even an explanation of our presence seemed to confuse the guys on board.
The petrol head from Manchester who now lives in Abersoch, Wales. Dave has owned more cars than I’ve had hot dinners, and he’s owned as many boats as he’s owned cars, so he’s got through more engines than I’ve had hot AND cold dinners. In fact he’s owned so many sea-faring vessels he can even boast to owning a pedalo. Until someone nicked it.
Tim and I continued to chase our dream and as I type the latest plan is to fly back down to Portugal and catch a ride on a cat over to the Canaries. I’m not saying any more than this at the moment as it could all go tits up, but it would be fantastic if we ended up doing this: I got off in Portugal in the first place, so to continue from Portugal would be perfect.
And that was it. The three remaining crew members packed their bags and we hailed a passing boat and got off Voyager. I shook Paul’s hand and wished him luck, vaguely guilty that we had had a good working relationship, but I knew I had done the right thing.
When we got on board Jason helped himself to a beer, which Paul took from him and put back in the fridge. “Where’s my beer gone?” Jason asked. “I’ve put it back in the fridge”, Paul replied. Well, I think you can guess where this one’s going. Before we knew it a huge argument ensued and the skipper was once again screaming at the top of his voice and speaking to Jason as if he were five.
We headed into town and found a Wetherspoons, which was being frequented that night by the locals, dressed as porn stars. This was a visual treat and like a group of school kids we sat there ogling girls wearing nothing but stockings, suspenders, knickers and bra (see what happens when the only female leaves the group?).
Although never part of my original plan I was really looking forward to seeing my folks who had driven down to Falmouth for the week. When I finally spoke to them on the phone they were upon the hill by the harbour, trying to spot Voyager!
With pontoons costing a lot of money we opted to moor up on a floating buoy, which took us about 20 minutes to sort out, fiddling with ropes and boat hooks and spot lights. Eventually we had to hold Jason over the side by each ankle for him to hook the rope through the rusty hook on the buoy! The reason for Jason’s keenness to volunteer for this task had been obvious
The weather continued to amaze us as the sun set in the west and a huge orange moon rose in the east. On the one side was the Kentish coast and on the other Dunkirk, with huge great ships lit up dotted around in-between. We celebrated with a Thai red curry (cooked by yours truly) and ate it outside watching the sunset before us.
The weather was getting progressively worse but everyone was itching to get going and finally hit the open waters. When the green light indicated our turn to enter the lock the sense of nervousness and trepidation increased as the conversation dropped. Once the gates had closed behind us we had a fifteen minute wait as the lock filled and rose to sea level. We were all looking at the red traffic lights and waiting, wondering what the open water had prepared for us.
Back on the Ijsselmeer we continued to get to grips with the boat. At one point I accidentally tacked, which in stormy conditions can be the end of the boat since the boom can swing round the wrong way and put too much pressure on the wrong side of the mast, which could snap it in two. Mistake number one!
Although Ijsselmeer is only three metres deep it behaves very much like the sea. With fairly strong winds we unfurled the mizzen, the sail at the back of the boat that’s used to stabilise it in strong winds. With the slashing rain we were the only sailing vessel on what is normally a busy bit of water, and when the storm that had been predicted by the weathermen finally came over the sh!t really hit the fan!
Sunday was chill out day, our first day off since we started work aboard Voyager last week. This was spoilt, however, by the news that Esther would be leaving us due to some issues between her and the skipper. Not wanting to embarrass Esther I won’t go into the details but the term “a kid in a sweet shop with no money” was used by the skipper with regards to the situation.
The crew was ordered to buy Chinese for the guests so off we went into town again, via a bar for a quick drink. Putting the 180 Euro bill on Michelle’s credit card we took the Chinese back to the boat and served it up to a very ungrateful and unfriendly bunch of Dutch f***ers.
7am and we’re woken up by a very loud Blackadder-like “Wake up ladies there’s work to be done”, followed by stomping on the roof. Immediately my mind was cast back to the early morning starts aboard Ramprasad and for a split second I thought that perhaps I’d made a mistake joining Voyager.