As we approached the Essex coast we ran out of fuel. Well, we didn’t run out of fuel, the second tank wasn’t feeding fuel to the engine for some reason. With this in mind the skipper wasn’t happy sailing all the way back to Burnham with no diesel so we made a detour up the Orwell with the aim of pulling in to Levington to refuel. It was closer and the wind was in our favour. Or so we thought. Are you ready for this?
We left Ijmuiden and got about 5 nm out when I spotted a ‘water-issue’ in the aft cabin. When I say ‘water-issue’ I mean there were gallons of water coming in from somewhere. The skipper and I got to and started bailing as the others turned the boat around. We must have done at least 10 full bucket loads and we got back to the marina on the sea side of the lock. After confirming that there wasn’t a fatal leak (we decided it was a build-up of rainwater from the last week) we headed back to sea again, but the winds of 30kn and F6-7 made the crossing a little uncomfortable.
More rain. We dropped the ladies off right by the station in Amsterdam who bottled the crossing back to the UK. The forecast was anything up to a Force 7 so it was hardly surprising they took the easy route back, but that’s not what sailing is all about! Instead the rest of us waited in Ijmuiden for the bad weather to pass. De ja vu from a year ago!
Rain, rain and rain. Thunderstorms and lightning. This appears to be the weather for this trip. Enkhuizen boasts a fascinating museum and model village. Unfortunately all the museum plaques are in Dutch but the village is amazing. When I say model village I don’t mean Legoland. Each building is genuinely ancient, moved from a random location across the Netherlands to … Read More
I came up with a great theory today. If you’ve ever noticed the Dutch are a very tall race. This is because they cycle big bikes, which stretch their legs. Also because they live below sea level they are always having to stretch themselves to see over the dykes. That’s why they’re so tall. All that stretching.
After fuelling up we picked up a strong northerly on the Ijsselmeer with winds of well over 20kn. This gave us a beam reach with a speed of over 7knots, enabling us to overtake pretty much every sailing vessel in our path. We toasted this achievement in the evening with a fantastic dinner in Hoorn, served by a beautiful waitress. Puns on the name of the town have been withheld.
After leaving our yachthaven in Aalsmeer, not forgetting to give the middle finger to the hairy, cigar-chomping Dutch twat who told the skipper off for borrowing a hose (that wasn’t even his), we headed towards Amsterdam. Of course this involved negotiating a number of bridges which meant either approaching very slowly and hovering backwards and forwards until the bridge opened, or, more sensibly, tying up to the posts provided on the side of the canal.
Early next morning the eldest crew member (let’s call him Dave) and myself went in to town to do some shopping and get chatting to some very friendly Dutch girls behind the fruit and veg counter, quipping that we’d sailed a long way to sample their melons (you had to be there). Dave was getting a little over-excited at their friendly demeanour so we pushed on back to the boat
With strong gusting winds we found getting out of the pillared berth a real test of lateral thinking. If you imagine the boat tied bow-to, but with three 10ft high wooden pillars down each side of the boat, we were continually blown side on to one set of pillars. With some very careful manoeuvring and pushing against the pillars from all sides we eventually managed to reverse our way out of the mooring back into the main canal – straight into the path of an oncoming barge one way and a container ship the other! Quick! Slam that motor into forwards and get the hell out!
We arrived at the Hoek of Holland early Tuesday morning but we still had a long way to go down the Nieuwe Waterweg. This is Blade Runner on water. It is pure industrial mayhem with many commercial ships chugging up and down the water way. Thumbs up to the Dutch for utilising their waterways properly.
Unfortunately I was made to sleep in the saloon, which was odd since there was a spare bunk at the back of the boat. It didn’t really bother me until I realised I hadn’t brought any sleeping gear with me! Ooops – school boy error. The one pain in the ass feature with the drop keel is the big column that sticks up in the middle of the saloon – the drop keel. And when I say pain the ass I mean it. The first time I eased myself down the steps backwards into the saloon I dropped straight onto the steel column, smashing my coccyx. Another school boy error!
This trip was a very odd one. For starters I’m not sure I was invited. It was skippered by an old boy who, despite lots of experience, should not really have been sailing. But more importantly with hindsight I realise that some of the mistakes that happened could just have easily been blamed on myself. Let me explain some more.