Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to Breskens

Internet access has been erratic over the past week so our exciting progress has not been updated as we might wish.

From Middelburg we headed up to the Veersemeer and a pleasant lunch on one of many moorings on the islands in the lake. Our plan was to head for Wolphaartsdijk, where our sailing club used to go for its summer cruise but we have never been. Our lunch-stop neighbours warned us it might be very full however, and the forecast was looking a bit iffy, so we headed instead for a marina north of Veere at Oostwatering. They managed to find us a berth for a couple of nights. The first day (Sunday) was windy but quite pleasant, and we headed into Veere to join the tourists and see the sights. Monday however was utterly vile, with gusting rain all day. In the morning we moved the boat about 30 metres across the marina, and in 15 minutes we all got soaked.

Windy Veersemeer

It was good to see a better day on Tuesday - the wind was strong but fortunately behind us, so we hurtled along the Veersemeer with just the jib out, rounded the corner of the Oosterschelde and headed up the canal to Goes.

WV de Werf in Goes was our favourite Dutch mooring ever when we went there in 2004, and although the roads are a bit busier now the marina is just the same. Trees overhang the box moorings, old machinery furnishes the quays, and the little lighthouse at the end provides a small but perfectly formed lavatory.

the path to the loo

In the town, once more we were greeted by a funfair - what is it with the Dutch and these terrifying rides? But the excellent outdoor shop is still there, and numerous bakers' shops, plus - heaven for Ben - an extremely high-end hi-fi shop stocking real examples of some of the headphones he has only dreamed about up to now. We also discovered, on the edge of town, an excellent park with adventure playground type stuff around and over a little lake - enough to make us all behave like 10-year-olds.

Possibly more manageable than Kalessin

On Thursday we walked up to the station to explore the stoom trein (steam train to you). We only planned to look, but somehow we managed to let ourselves be persuaded to buy excursion tickets. We grabbed the first-class accommodation, which was absolutely straight out of Harry Potter - red velvet seats, only four to a sliding-door compartment. We chugged slowly through the Dutch countryside behind a small but magnificent red steam engine, with lots of people waving to us.

our locomotive

Epic journey...

... in first-class comfort
After 40 minutes we arrived at a small town with unpronounceable Dutch name somewhere on the Westerschelde, walked down to look at the river, had a cup of coffee, and then chugged back again. It was a really excellent afternoon which we all enjoyed very much.

From Goes we determined to visit Zierikzee. We originally planned to head further north, maybe to Willemstad, but we wanted to meet Guy at Breskens before he heads off on his first delivery trip to Valencia, so that cut short our plans a little. Zierikzee is part of the classic circuit enjoyed by British boats, famous for rafting visitors seven deep. We went there once in 2003 and didn't care for it much, so wanted to give the place a second chance. It is a very pretty town, with a great sailing atmosphere, but it still didn't quite enthuse us as much as Goes. However, we had an excellent and unexpected meal - walking into an eetcafe we liked the look of to discover it was Thai night, with a no-choice, three course meal. Service was a bit slow, but otherwise a real pleasure.

On Saturday we headed back into the wind for the first time, a bit of a slog from Zierikzee back to Middelburg. And here we are today, back in Breskens, only to find that Guy isn't here at all, he is in Marina Stellendam which is 32 miles away in a straight line and god knows how far by boat (not that we plan to sail there). The weather, which was looking promising for the long crossing, is now very much not - pleasant and peaceful today, but the Met Office forecast for Thames says: "Southwest 4 or 5, becoming cyclonic, then west later, 6 to gale 8, perhaps severe gale 9 later."

So the curse of Breskens strikes again - no Guy :-( and no way we will be able to sail home before Wednesday, with a possibly even worse storm now expected for Friday.

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