Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Dover

So after two bites at the passage from Breskens we have made it 36 miles down the coast to Oostende.

The first bite, on Thursday night, was straight into a south-westerly which showed no sign of moderating and going northerly as promised. The tide was with us so our speed over the ground was 5-6 knots, but our speeds through the water plugging into wind and quite large waves were only 2-3 knots, and it was clear that once the tide turned we would be going nowhere. In addition it was bucketing with rain and visibility was pretty poor. So we headed into Zeebrugge and were surprised to meet Skipjack, the UK First 32 with which we'd left, in there ahead of us. They saw winds of 27 knots on the nose and decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

Once more we tied up to the  fuel pontoon and awaited the promised wind change. It wasn't there at 0530, or 0630, but by 0730 the wind had finally dropped and gone northerly, so out we headed.

Turning south-west things looked excellent for a while with a very fast broad reach and speeds of 8-9 knots over the ground. But again the winds and waves were building, and we started to see consistent winds of 23-25 knots and waves up to 2m - not ideal when the whole passage is in water which goes no deeper than 10m. So we headed for Oostende, which turned out to be even braver for a while as the entrance is a big, scarey surf in onshore winds. Probably the new outer breakwaters, currently under construction, helped, but Sam helmed us in brilliantly while I hid below.

So now we have tickets for tomorrow evening's Eurostar and will head home for a while, hoping to collect Kalessin next weekend if wind and waves permit. Yes of course we feel like wimps compared with Skipjack, which carried on, but our excuse is that Oostende to SYH represents the shortest passage home - any further progress down the coast actually takes us away from home.

Meanwhile Guy is completing his second Channel crossing, en route to Brest and due in tonight. Hope he's ok - he said he was sick a lot on the first passage. I want to be there to give him a cuddle - which he would hate :).

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