Friday, June 26, 2015


On Wednesday we left Marina Port Zélande at 1030, giving me just time to pop around the corner for groceries. The nearest supermarket is inside the Center Parcs complex and it was an extremely weird experience to walk in from the marina, around the outside of the villas, through a sliding door and suddenly into the middle of Center Parcs looking just like the one in Elveden Forest. Just like the supermarket there, it was a large shop full of a surprisingly limited selection of distinctly overpriced groceries.

Ben awoke feeling less than wonderful but was galvanised by the thought of raising the cruising chute. It took a lot of thought and quite a few lines but we did fly it for an hour or so until the wind died completely, and then later for half an hour when the wind picked up a fraction.

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening on the tiny island of Mosselbank in the Grevelingenmeer, although sadly we couldn't get Sam ashore as all the jetties are about 2ft wide with posts in the middle. Ben suggested the best option would be a narrow wheelchair with enormous wheels to take Sam over the top of the posts, but in the absence of such a device he stayed on board while we enjoyed a "tastery" organised by our Dutch hosts - an interesting selection of essential Dutch foods and of course drink, including some things we knew about like stroopwafels, gouda with cumin, Heineken and and smoked trout, and some less familiar to us like (raw) nieuwe herring, bitterballs, Dutch pea soup and Skipper's Bitter, a ferocious liqueur meant to be restorative after a long sea passage. (One of the other Westerly skippers said to me "I'm not sure if it's a ladies' drink". He doesn't know how lucky he is still to be alive with his testicles intact).

Ben and I were kept busy running back and forth with samples for Sam - it was incredibly hot in the shelter of the island, where Tjaerke and Gerard had set up their "tastery" under an awning, and much cooler on board where we had rigged our hot-weather canopy instead of the tent so that Sam didn't fry, so deliveries to Sam also helped to cool us down. Later we were very pleased to welcome Lavinia and David from Anrheg on board for a cup of tea, which was about all we could manage after an afternoon of tastery. They made polite noises about the Storm (they have a Discus) but what they were most impressed by was our porcelain mugs. I'd forgotten what a luxury they were to us when we first got them.

Today has been a dull and rather hot motor in almost no wind, through the Bruinisse lock out of the Grevelingenmeer, down to the Zeelandbrug where we had an unexpectedly long wait for an opening, and into Zierikzee where the extremely efficient harbourmaster team had reserved a length of visitor's pontoon for us and made sure that Kalessin was alongside the jetty so that we can get Sam off. (We have three Westerlies rafted alongside us. The first time we ever came in here, in Magewind in 2003, we were rafted seven deep, so we really appreciate the effort and planning it takes to get an inside berth!).

We have a group meal at 1830, so I need to head off into the town for a pootle and some supermarket shopping.

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