Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Murkily across the North Sea

In the ultimate triumph of patience over technology I am posting this from my Kindle. You may ask why. It`s because I get free  3G access from anywhere including IJmuiden i the Netherlands where we now are. Typing letters is ok but punctuation is a real pain so do not expect many commas.

On Sunday morning I suddenly found a weather window for the N Sea crossing if we left that very evening. We were pretty much ready except for the insides of our heads which are always the last to be prepared. We feared a bumpy passage after the weekend winds but the winds were due to be mostly SW three to four. Tuesday looked windier, Wednesday no wind at all, and on Thursday the winds are due to go NE, ie on the nose.

So at eleven in the evening we headed cautiously out of SYH, trying to remember how to do night sailing, always a challenge off the bright lights of Felixstowe. The winds had dropped as forecast and once we were past the choppy entrance to Harwich  Harbour the seas were quite manageable. We motorsailed through the brief hours of darkness, snatching odd bits of sleep.

At dawn it was bright for a while and by 6am we were able to kill the engine, but sadly at that point visibility also deteriorated to at its wordt only half a mile or so. Fortunately  we have a new toy, an AIS receiver, which combines with the radar or chart plotter display to show you the exact position of nearby ships, their name, sixe and type, and teir speed and course. It even estimates the closest point of approach so you know if a ship is a threat or not. This invaluable tool was our best friend and on several occasions we were able to change course in plenty of time to avoid a ship which was only visible at the last moment, or in some cases only audible.

My Kindle fingers are wearing out here so suffice it to say we only got about six hours of good sailing and the rest was a bit of a slog. By around eight in the evening the Netherlands welcomed us with better visibility and pouring rain. We reached Seaport Marina about ten UK time, tired, wet, cross but very pleased to be here. Tomorrow, Amsterdam.

No comments: