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.
Crew of Voyager, October 2003