Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End of the canals - for now

For the first time in what feels like weeks I'm posting from a computer, which makes it nice and fast to type. I have a deal with Vodafone where I pay an extra £10 a month on my contract and get 25MB of data a day in the Netherlands and Germany (unfortunately only 5MB a day in Denmark). I've also set up Blogger so that I can post by email. So I compose a blog post offfline on the iPhone using the email app, turn on data roaming and 3G, post the email, check the weather, Facebook and any other emails, check that the post has loaded, and turn data roaming off again. So far I am very well under my limit. Isn't technology marvellous?

Kalessin in Groningen

Groningen was great, except that the place where we planned a quick dinner took almost an hour and 20 minutes to serve the food. If you happen to be in Groningen, avoid De Brasserie on Poelestraat, especially if it looks busy. Enough said. The promised storm broke in the late evening with spectacular lightning and downpour. We were fortunate to be well away from the nearest storm drain - in fact we had avoided it because it smelled a bit. When the rain came down it did a good imitation of Niagara, pouring into the canal. If it had poured into our cockpit we'd probably have sunk.

Today has been mostly on the straight, dull and deep Eemskanaal to Delfzijl, which is the end of the Netherlands for us. Delfzijl is an industrial port but has a convenient marina out in the sea - well, it's salty and has tides but is tucked behind a massive sea wall well up the Ems estuary, so not really open sea yet.

And it's open sea that is the problem. The forecast for the next few days is north-westerlies, anything from a force 4 to 6. This makes all the Frisian islands a lee shore, and even the few entrances which we might be able to get into become unfeasible. From here to Borkum, the easiest island to access, is straight into the wind, so since we have to leave here on the ebb tide, we'd have wind against tide. Under most conditions a force 4-5 is a good sailing breeze. Here it gives us the prospect of a 125-mile passage in lumpy seas with no opportunity for a bolthole. We also have to cross the Ems, Jade and Weser and run into the Elbe - some of the busiest shipping channels in Europe.

Ben arrives by air to Bremen next Tuesday, the 5th, when we must be on the mainland - either here or (preferably) in Cuxhaven on the Elbe. We need 24 hours of SW3-4 and daylight all the time - could someone arrange that please? Failing that, we may see more of Delfzijl than we planned.

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