Friday, June 19, 2015

Dutch treat

With a forecast of 1.2m waves and NW4-5 I really wasn't looking forward to today. We had already decided to forgo the "blue wave" of opening bridges up the Kanaal door Walcheren in favour of making the most of the tide from Zeebrugge round the corner into the Netherlands and the Westerschelde. From the marina in Zeebrugge, around 2 miles inland from the harbour entrance, it is very difficult to judge conditions. So when we left we were pleasantly surprised that the wave height was actually less than when we arrived two days ago, there was some sunshine, and we were on a broad reach.

As ever the tide was slow to arrive but with one reef in the main and a full jib we were making good speed. The WOA was running a competition to guess your time from a buoy outside the harbour to the entrance to the Kanaal, but as we left the harbour a dredger and barge left with us and forced us hard round to the right, so we decided to forgo the competition and not round the crucial buoy.

It was nice to see our old haunts at Breskens as we hurtled past at 8 knots, desperately trying to duck astern of a MSC container ship as it dawdled to pick up a pilot. Eventually we made it into the entrance to the Kanaal and were lucky to go almost straight into the lock with five other Westerlys, and we then formed our own blue wave with very little wait for the bridges, thank goodness.

Even better, when we reached Middelburg we explained to the lady from the harbourmaster's office that we would rather not raft up as we had a disabled person on board, and she said "ah, in that case you must go into box no. 1 which is for disabled people". Hooray! So we are in a very nice box with a finger pontoon, next to two other Westerlys instead of being rafted four deep with the rest of the fleet on the other side of the harbour.

Tomorrow Guy is leaving - from Middelburg there is a train direct to Rotterdam and then to the ferry at the Hook, so it's much quicker than going from Zeebrugge and much cheaper than getting the Eurostar. It will be a struggle without him but hopefully Ben can step into the breach. Other than that it's a rest day so we will be shopping at supermarket and chandlery, exploring the town and cleaning up the boat.

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