Highs and Lows

Toodle-oo! and her crew are back where the voyage started 2 1/2 years ago – at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth, RI… Having had a wonderful 2 years here are some of the highlights:

First some Voyage Statistics:

Year

2013 2014 Total
Miles Covered: 4,604 3,499 8,103
Days Voyaging: 142 145 187
Hours Motoring: 213 297 510
Fuel Consumed: 132 148 280
Approximate Miles per Gallon: 35 23 29
Number of Waypoints: 60 760 820
Number of nights spent at Anchor: 8 13 21
Number of countries visited: 5 8 13

 

The Best and Worst:

So, after a drink or three, Laurie and I sat in the cockpit one evening reviewing the highs and lows of the voyage…  Went something like this:

Favorite Destination:  Sao Jorge, Azores. Runners up: Dupjviken, Finland’s northern Fijord and Långskär, our first landfall in Sweden.   There are many other places that were favorites for other reasons – we really had some fantastic destinations throughout the voyage.

Favorite City: Gdansk, Poland

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Most Stupid Event

  1. Hitting the rocks in Lagavulin
  2. Encouraging Bertie to tow us off the rocks in Lagavulin

Lagavulin - Not so good on the rocks! (Still a favorite.)

Lagavulin – Not so good on the rocks! (Still a favorite.)

Best sail: Mariehamn to Swedish Island Långskär (Closely followed by Kaslteholm to Mariehamn)

Favorite Anchorage: Enskär – the “Lost” Island

Dinner on the barbie

closely followed by Bergskär – First island in Finland (even if we did go aground!)

Most relaxing day:

Alone on the “Lost” Island – Enskär

Friendliest Nation: Scotland – hands down!

Nicest person/people we met:  Tough. We met so many really tremendous people all through this voyage. Tony and Rachell helped us into the ‘slip’ in Flores – and have become lifelong friends. Jenny and John of the OCC, John and Val on the Isle of Man who introduced us to the Green Flash. Tony at Adrfern who was always there, all the lock keepers along the Caledonian Canal, Leslie and Adrian aboard Lalize who will become lifelong friends, but the award goes to Gus and his team on Islay – who made a really nasty situation a really quite enjoyable event.

Gus, with Alec at the helm, towing Toodle-oo! up Loch Craignish

Gus, with Alec at the helm, towing Toodle-oo! up Loch Craignish

Lowest Point: For Laurie this was sitting in the cockpit in the car park at Ardfern, discussing the real possibility that we would not get to the Baltic.  For me: Our gybe between Fowey and Dartmouth – when I thought I’d ruined all chances of Laurie coming cruising with me because the whole event was so traumatic! (It’s not one of her high points either!)

Biggest Surprise: The long days and short, almost non-existent nights this year in the Baltic – which completely altered our cruising plans and enabled non-challenging overnight passages.

Biggest frustration:  Sevenstar Yacht Transport! However, in the end they came through and Toodle-oo! arrived safely in Newport – and on time.

Don't drop her please!

Don’t drop her please!

Best Harbormaster: Kastleholm in Finland, but Whilehills in Scotland gets a special mention as does Tony at Whitehaven who watched over Toodle-oo! last winter. Kastleholm won it though – by lending us the much needed Swedish Hook to allows us to secure to the Stern Mooring on our first attempt and by serving almost the best cinnamon buns in the morning. Which leads us to:

Best Cinnamon buns: Harlingen, Netherlands – special mention to Kastleholm!

Scariest Moments:

1. Out on deck in the middle of the night when running down wind in the Atlantic with poled out headsail, the boat started yawing side to side, threatening to bury the end of the pole in the water. We had to adjust the whole set-up on a pitching deck at night – and it was none too pleasant.

2. Day one on our passage from Boston to the Azores when sailing close hauled, we came upon a Fishing boat that we had real trouble making room for. Our mistake in not giving them room.

3. Mid North Sea Crossing (which we both thought was much easier than it turned out to be) had an interesting log entry: 15:00UTC on June 18th: Laurie’s comment in the log: “Flying and Scared Stiff” Sea height: “Big!”

Biggest Pain in the Butt: Getting laundry done

Worst general fear: Falling off the boat

Most enjoyable social event: Tony and Rachel’s OCC get-together in Dartmouth – small affair with current cruisers of great experience.     Runner up: Impromptu get together in Toodle-oo!’s cockpit in Dover with Dutch boats Bojangles and Wildeman – great fun!

Most expensive Harbor: Stockholm (Also had the worst harbor master!)

Best walks: Up Helvellyn in the UK’s Lake District

P1010702

and also Sao Jorge, a great downhill walk to meet Mike and Jane at an isolated restaurant.

P1000976

Least Expensive Harbor: Weymouth (given a freebee!)

Best Parallel Parking: Christianso, Denmark – coming alongside the harbor wall into a 48ft space – without hitting a thing!!

P1030142

Visby was actually just as tight – between two very expensive boats – but in fact one of them had to move a little to provide sufficient breathing space between it and our solar panels (which sit about 15 ft off the water – so you can tell how big the other boat was).

Best Cocktail:  Caipirinha in Sao Jorge – every bit as good as are found in Brazil!

Prettiest Sea:  Azores. Clear Blue – and full of Dolphins!

P1000804

Ugliest Sea: Irish Sea – grey and grows into a washing machine at the drop of a hat!

Worst Weather Encountered: Mid Atlantic we had the most dramatic – with 20ft following seas, however the Irish Sea was consistently the most uncomfortable sailing.

 

I’m sure there are many other highs and lows – but all in all, we’ve had a fantastic couple of years traipsing around at our own speed.

 

Not Quite Done…

The Hamble and the Royal Southern Yacht Club turned out to be an excellent stopover – and Tim (OCC Port Officer) was a tremendous help in securing a berth at a very good rate for us and ensuring we had everything we needed.

We cycled up to the Southampton Boat show and met the OCC crowd (John, Jenny, Rachel and Tony) once again and also visited various vendors – and spent a little too much!

What we really needed was confirmation from Sevenstar Yacht Transport of when Toodle-oo! was to be loaded and was she really going to Newport (as opposed to Baltimore as originally thought). Our answer came on Monday that we’d be loaded on Tuesday morning and would be sailing for Newport! – so we finished preparing her for shipment – removing sails, canvas and generally packing everything away.

We made it!

We made it!

On Tuesday morning we motored up to the ship and tied up alongside and watched a big power boat get lifted up. Our turn next – and it went as smooth as clockwork I’m pleased to report. Before saying goodbye to the ship and hello to a rental car, I confirmed with one of the crew that yes indeed the next port of call is Newport, with anticipated 12 day voyage…

 

Up Up and Away!

Up Up and Away!

Don't drop her please!

Don’t drop her please!

Quite a view from the stern!

Quite a view from the stern!

Now where? We have about 5 days before our flights out of the UK – me to India, Laurie back to the US to receive the boat. Hell, let’s go visit Stonehenge!

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Dorks at Stonehenge!

Dorks at Stonehenge!

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

OK, now where? Oh – let’s go and climb Snowdon – highest mountain in Wales. So we did!

 

It's that peak on the right? Ouch!

It’s that peak on the right? Ouch!

Placid lake

Placid lake

Our Route

Our Route

Another Summit!!

Another Summit!!

You mean we could have taken the Train???

You mean we could have taken the Train???

Take the money! Marker with coins...

Take the money! Marker with coins…

Ballerina Bill

Ballerina Bill

After Snowdon, we drove into Llanberis and found ourselves at a large old Hotel and were in the bar preparing for our dinner reservations when I got an email from Sevenstar. The ship is headed for Baltimore instead of Newport! This, 24 hours after she sailed out of Southampton!! Furious does not begin to cover how we feel – but we both know that the contract that we signed was so one sided that in reality they could drop her in Australia and we would have no comeback!

We started emailing around to locate a possible captain to meet Toodle-oo! and bring her to a suitable mooring – all rather difficult at short notice.

We headed north to Steve and Sue’s which we’d use as a base for the last couple of days in the UK – and from where we’d head to Leeds to meet sister Kate for lunch. Husband Dustin was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and has just undergone a massive chemo treatment. It was while waiting for Kate at the designated meeting spot that we got another email… The ship is going to Newport after Baltimore!!! Obviously this is great news – if we can really believe it – but it rather begs the question can Sevenstar plan their way out of a wet paper bag???

We’ve not heard any further information from Sevenstar – so today, our last full day, we’re headed off to see other sister – Ann – again for lunch! Yes, waistbands are once again expanding!!!

An interesting last week methinks!

 

And so we conclude…

We ended up staying in Yarmouth for over a week – a delightful town where we enjoyed some good entertainment – especially at Salty’s, a tiny little pub restaurant with a resident DJ who had the crowd dancing on the tables!! We cycled to Newport and Cowes and also over to the Needles – where surprisingly there’s an old rocket launching test site!!

Yarmouth's bustling downtown

Yarmouth’s bustling downtown

The Needles - From Land

The Needles – From Land

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) - in Newport RI - so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight...

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) – in Newport RI – so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight…

Tony and Rachel stopped into Yarmouth on their way out to Southampton for the boat show and then dragged us (very willingly) up the Solent to Newtown River – a bird sanctuary – where unfortunately all the moorings were taken and the anchorage was too tight. I did however try anchoring, but when I realized that at low tide we’d be high and dry, we upped anchor – unfortunately by hand since the bloody windlass gave up the ghost again!

We left Newtown and battled the current up to the Beaulieu river and gained a slip alongside Saltwhistle III for a couple of nights at Butler’s Hard, a few miles downstream from Beaulieu..

Beaulieu is a beautiful little village and we dingied up to tour around Lord Montague’s place – and the National Motor museum. Beaulieu is in the New Forest, where horses and donkeys range freely – buggering up traffic and scaring the visitors (well, Laurie at least!) – all good fun!

Pretty Beaulieu

Pretty Beaulieu

 

Typical house

Typical house

Lord Montague's Place

Lord Montague’s Place

 

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) - in Newport RI - so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight...

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) – in Newport RI – so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight…

Sweet!

Sweet!

Biters and Kickers!

Biters and Kickers!

Withies - navigation aids are painted twigs stuck in the river bank!

Withies – navigation aids are painted twigs stuck in the river bank!

The National Car Museum had a Top Gear section!

The National Car Museum had a Top Gear section!

Bloody Ponies

Bloody Ponies

Tomorrow we move to the Hamble River – having secured a berth for the next few nights at teh Royal Southern Yacht Club (don’t you know) courtesy of Tim Harrington, OCC Port Officer for the area – what a service!

In the Hamble, we’ll prepare Toodle-oo! for shipment by Yacht Transporter, back to Newport – where she will likely arrive before I return from a business trip to India.

 

We therefore conclude our cruise shortly – but look out for a list of the greats and not so greats of the cruise coming up!

 

Heading East

We dropped Steve and Sue off at the dock in Fowey where they had looming a rotten drive back to the Yorkshire Dales. Meanwhile we set plans to take advantage of the mild weather for a trip to Dartmouth – about 7 hours East of Fowey.

We came out of the Fowey harbor – into a grey day but very moderate seas and light winds on the beam. We were able to sail towards our destination – always a good thing! The winds were expected to die off considerably, so we were initially delighted that they stayed fresh for longer than expected. So much so that we arrived at the headland ‘Start Point’ 2 hours before the change in the tide – so we had adverse current against wind and therefore steepening seas, forcing us to go further offshore than planned. Then the winds got fresher – until we were fully reefed down and with reefed jib, in 33knots of wind and 6-8ft seas! It all rather got the better of us and we were forced to gybe in 30knots – a really scary prospect, and the execution was equally daunting, Laurie getting her hand bruised when it got trapped in a line. We finished the trip with just the reefed down main, doing 8.5knots – and arrived in Dartmouth as the evening closed in around us.

Dartmouth was in full swing for the annual regatta – and the harbor was packed. We took up a place on a raft of 5 other boats on the mid-stream buoys, lying alongside a 53ft Jeaneau, and licked our wounds. That had been the worst sail of the entire 2 year cruise!

 

Dartmouth was great! What a pretty town. In the morning we watched a tug of war between two row boats, in the afternoon we attended a really nice luncheon catered by OCC Port Officers Tony and Rachel and later watched some really good aeronautic displays, and then had the cat-bird seats for a fantastic firework display in the evening. The barge setting them off was just a couple of hundred feet from Toodle-oo!

 

Viewing Airshow from Dingy -  Toodle-oo! right behind the helicopter!

Viewing Airshow from Dingy – Toodle-oo! right behind the helicopter!

Picking up crew - RNLI fashion

Picking up crew – RNLI fashion

Raft-up - half of it!

Raft-up – half of it!

Dartmouth

Dartmouth

Dartmouth by dusk

Dartmouth by dusk

Paddle Steamer

Paddle Steamer

Leaving Dartmouth

Leaving Dartmouth

Pretty Town

Pretty Town

After Dartmouth, we headed further east towards the Solent, stopping at Weymouth for a night. Turned out to not be such an interesting town as the pilot led us to believe so in the morning we set off for Poole in Dorset. However, half way to Poole, I realized that by pure luck we had a fair tide that would carry us right into the Solent if we so choose – which indeed we did, passing by the Needles in the early afternoon with a 2 knot favorable current – and came into the delightful harbor of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight – where we have remained for the last few days! It’s a very nice little harbor and town and we sit in the cockpit watching boats coming and going constantly.

Laurie wants to clean up the dirty lighthouse!!!

Laurie wants to clean up the dirty lighthouse!!!

The Needles - guarding the entrance to the Solent

The Needles – guarding the entrance to the Solent

English Channel

Sorry – it’s been a while… where were we?

Unlike the US, in Europe and the Baltic, the VHF radio is hardly used – so when on passage from Amsterdam I had spotted Bojangles’ AIS signal off our port side, and heading in our general direction, I had hailed them for a chat – to find out where they were going. Unfortunately the response was unintelligible due to interference from the large wind farms we were close to…

We had a memorable evening in Dover when Rob from Bojangles came to visit in the cockpit with his wife Baudine. They had been planning to sail on to the Isle of Wight, but had been turned back by the strong winds. Rob told us that he had thought we must be drug dealers or something and had warned Baudine to keep an eye on us during her watch! Then Coen and Harow came aboard from Wildeman – a boat we had met in Amsterdam while waiting for a lock – they were over ostensibly to talk tactics for heading west towards Falmouth – and the evening turned into a spontaneous drinking event – much fun for all!

The following day, all three boats waited till 6:00pm for a favorable tide to help us en route east. We came out of the harbor and the waves were still pretty steep from the previous day’s storm and we all set off close hauled, into the waves and had quite a time of it. Fortunately, the wind soon veered as forecast and we were able to make good progress east. The currents run pretty fast in the English Channel (2+ knots) and so we were going to enjoy them and hate them… On the morning of the second day, Laurie took her shift – at a time when we had an unfavorable current and the wind was from the west, so we were not able to make any headway towards our destination. I was awoken mid morning with the start of the engine – Laurie had had enough! In the 4+ hours she’d been at the helm she’d only made 9 miles good – so goddamit we were going to use the engine to make some progress!

Thanks to the non arrival of some strong westerlies (and use of aforementioned engine!), we arrived in Falmouth almost a day earlier than expected and after a brief attempt at anchoring in a stupidly constrained anchorage, we took a mooring for the night – alongside Rachel and Tony’s Saltwistle III, whom we’d last seen in the Azores!

We were in Falmouth for several good reasons – it’s the usual jumping off point for boats travelling across the Bay of Biscay – or to the Azores (our planned next passage). It was also where the OCC was having a celebratory dinner – and Steve and Sue were joining us for a week aboard.

Plans change and it was on our second day in Falmouth that I came to my senses and realized that it made much more sense to have Toodle-oo! shipped back to the US rather than take several months to sail her back in stages. She is our home – and having her available to us while we go back to work in the US this winter makes more sense… So we started investigating shipping companies…

 

The OCC event was at the Royal Cornish Yacht Club (don’t you know) – and was all rather laa-di-da – but it was great to catch up with Commodore John and his wife Jenny whom we’d missed in the Baltic.

Steve and Sue arrived with the rain – but it didn’t dampen our ability to enjoy the week and we took a double tandem ride around the coast and also utilized their transportation to visit Port Isaac – location of Port Wenn for any watchers of the British serial ‘Doc Martin.’

We sailed with Steve and Sue to Fowey (pronounced Foy!) in relatively light winds which forced us to motor about half the way but we enjoyed the very pretty little town for the remainder of Steve and Sue’s visit and also took a ride to the Eden Project – some bio-domes with rain forest and Mediterranean environments.

The Cornish towns are very picturesque – tucked along the shoreline with tiny winding streets and odd angled cottages stacked one on top of another – we had great fun exploring each of them.

By the end of the week, we had established a plan to ship Toodle-oo! home – so will now head back east(!) to Southampton when she’ll depart from.

 

Cornish Village

Cornish Village

Tiny bay - water is COLD!!!

Tiny bay – water is COLD!!!

Big Tides (16ft)

Big Tides (16ft)

Falmouth Harbor

Falmouth Harbor

Grey day in Falmouth

Grey day in Falmouth

Windy!

Windy!

Amsterdam

After Harlingen, we motored out into the Ocean into the first possible wind window – it would only be building to a little over 15 knots instead of the 25 knots it had been blowing – directly on the nose. I say Ocean with a little tongue in cheek – we had to go at high tide in order to be able to sail/motor the narrow course to the lock opening for the Ijsselmeer some couple of hours south. The wind made everything a little lumpy but we managed.

Once we locked through into the Ijsselmeer, we found ourselves sailing close hauled doing 7.5 – 8 knots in just 2.3 – 3.3 meters of water – all rather scary, but one gets surprisingly used to it! The weather was good so it ended up being a very enjoyable sail – and as we approached Amsterdam, the wind conveniently shifted to allow us to sail pretty much as far as we would have wanted to.

We then motored up the somewhat deeper canal to first a bridge – at which we had to wait, immediately followed by a lock – where we had to wait again. There were hordes of boats waiting to lock through – and in the end when they started letting everyone through, it was a mad dash to get in – but we didn’t!

Crush to get into the lock

Crush to get into the lock

We made the next lock however and made the biggest hash of it you can possibly imagine – failing to secure lines to the windward wall – despite the “help” of a lock steward (who was completely f&*%ing useless!) – we were immediately blown onto the tinniest little boat leeward of us and had no chance of making everything right – and the Steward apparently thought all was good – anyway, we held on for the 10 minutes or so (felt like hours) that it took for the lock to finally open and rushed through with tail twixt legs.

We were going to try to moor in the famous Sixthaven marina but took a quick look at the tight entrance and decided prudence dictated we should head for the “New” marina up the way. So new in fact that they show up on the chart as 4 meter deep clear water! Turned out to be the best marina we’d stayed in all year with fantastic facilities and a free water taxi ride into Amsterdam – and cheaper than most marinas we’d been in all year!

We only had one evening in Amsterdam – but we made the most of it. What a great city – but crowded like you cannot imagine. We wandered the canals and of course the Red Light zone (though Laurie wouldn’t let me go there after dark!) and after an OK meal we ended the night at a tiny little pub ‘Olofspoort’ where they were playing live jazz – reminiscent of what you’d hear in New Orleans. The place was dated as 1610, but apparently the cellar dates back to 1300! I enjoyed some Scotch while Laurie sampled the Dutch equivalent – all very entertaining! https://www.facebook.com/Olofspoort/photos_stream

Crowded Amsterdam

Crowded Amsterdam

Interesting Canals

Interesting Canals

And Architecture

And Architecture

Amsterdam3 Amsterdam4

Ahh - how sweet!

Ahh – how sweet!

Amsterdam5

 

They certainly like to commute on bicycles!

Multi-story bike park

Multi-story bike park

Enjoying Whisky of one sort or another at Olofspoort!

Enjoying Whisky of one sort or another at Olofspoort!

Unfortunately, once again our visit to an interesting spot was cut short due to weather considerations – a window was opening the following day for the trip to England – if we didn’t go now, we’d be stuck for more days than our GRIB files covered… So reluctantly we pushed off the following morning at 10am – after a quick sojourn to the city again for breakfast, some bread and the posting of Matthew’s postcard!

 

The passage to England was tiring. We had to negotiate the shipping lanes while sailing in pretty heavy weather (20 – 25 knots, 6 – 8 ft seas) with two reefs in the main and our small jib furled. As we passed Rotterdam we were in touch with their Pilot Control – who had us follow a specific course – and kept the big guys off our tail. I wasn’t too thrilled with their directions – but in the end they certainly proved correct. During the night we had to thread our way between two wind farms – which turned into three wind farms as we approached – we got waaay too close to the uncharted windmills of the third farm – scary stuff!

We crossed the busy shipping lanes in the early morning with not much fuss – with another sailboat ‘Bojangles’ close by. I managed to take a nap and when I got back up after a couple of hours, was delighted to find that Laurie had managed to keep Bojangles behind us!

White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

Ok Honey! - it was a long night last night...

Ok Honey! – it was a long night last night…

Unfortunately we only made it as far as Dover, with heavy wind on the nose forecast, there wasn’t any reasonable chance of us making Southampton. We’re now in the Marina and will be here while a Force 8 gale blows through today. Hope to leave Monday evening for a 2 day trip west to Falmouth – into the wind the whole way, but hopefully able to sail a close-hauled route most of the 300+ miles.

 

1.95M Canals with a 2.0M deep boat…

Photos Added

Dutch Sailing Barge

Dutch Sailing Barge

So, we set off on Sunday morning down the ‘Standing Mast Route’ of the Dutch canals. The good news here is that at every bridge you come to, they’ll pretty much open on demand – they see you coming – unless of course it’s elevenses, lunchtime or tea time – in which case you can wait an hour! The bad news for us is that the canal is maintained at 1.95M – 5cm short of our 2M draft – but we’re told that today the water is supposed to be 2.01M deep! Yippee!

We found ourselves being escorted – by a German boat in front of us and by Peter Paternotte behind! Our first event was to travel through the first lock – about 5 miles inland – which used to be a sea lock! The rise in water level was almost undetectable, so the locking though was a non event.

Our plan was to take it easy and head to Dokkum about 15 miles along. Supposedly a nice little town… When we got there it certainly appeared nice – but it was not possible for us to stop because the depth at the canal side would not support Toodle-oo!

On the way to Dokkum, we’d touched bottom about 3 times – but it was all very gently and hardly slowed us at all.

Canal Horses

Canal Horses

Canal-Side refreshments

Canal-Side refreshments

Followed

Followed

Wating with gateway

Wating with gateway

We motored on towards Leuwarden – another nice town that we had planned for day 2’s stop. We got a little delayed when we arrived at a bridge at lunchtime – and there were boats crowded around the only available moorings – so we had to hang around in the canal – with a 15knot breeze blowing. So, I learned a new sailing technique: reverse the boat towards the side of the canal and wait until you get stuck in the mud! It would hold us for about 10 minutes and slowly release us – so we’d reverse again – and so on – passing the 45 minute delay in a rather unique manner!

We continued on, skidding our way along the bottom of the canal – all a bit tense – but nothing too serious. Laurie recorded the biggest bump – maybe someone threw out their old toaster?!

Approaching Lewarden we encountered another bridge with a delay (we think for traffic) – so we once again moved towards the canal edge – and actually managed to get there and tie up – with the mast stuck up in the trees!!! Oi vey!

Once we finally got to Leuwarden proper, we found a likely place for us to stop in the crowded canal – though we’d have to ask the little power boat to move forward a bit – which we did. Unfortunately, we got stuck in the mud trying to get there and so once again were forced to move on. The same story at the next town too!

Narrow Dutch street!

Narrow Dutch street!

Rotating bridge

Rotating bridge

fancy lifting bridge

fancy lifting bridge

Parked

Parked

The last town before the Sea again is Harlingen – so Laurie called them and secured for us the only remaining berth with 2M depth! When we finally arrived, we found our German lead boat friend had pinched our spot! Fortunately they were already on the move – but they had plenty of time since I’d run aground at the entrance to the marina – and was having a tough time getting off. When we finally got unstuck, we managed to pull into the slip and sink gently into the 1.8M depth!!

Halsingen Lion

Halsingen Lion

Barges

Barges

? Narrowest street so far!

? Narrowest street so far!

Fancy door

Fancy door

A Dutch street

A Dutch street

Canal living

Canal living

No right angles here!

No right angles here!

Cute little bridge in Enkhuizen

Cute little bridge in Enkhuizen

A couple of years ago we started thinking about our next boat – once we’re done with ocean voyaging – and selected a sailing barge so we can travel the European waterways. Today’s excursion reinforced that choice – our day was very frustrating in that we kept going through these beautiful Dutch villages but couldn’t get out to enjoy any of them – it was a tease!

Next boat?

Next boat?

Harlingen has proven to be a nice little coastal town with lots going on. We’re waiting now for a bit less wind (currently force 7!) so we can make some progress towards Amsterdam.

Fast Trip South West – Weather Avoidance

We left Visby early on the Monday morning and had great wind that took us right to the Danish island of Bornholm. We resisted temptation to revisit and carried on towards Keil – hugging the southern coast of Sweden before the winds changed direction completely and we set off south west towards the German coast. Eventually, and as predicted, the winds finally died but during our second night at sea we were able to motor sail quite effectively.

The shipping lanes were quite interesting – at one point on Laurie’s watch she was faced with two large ships bearing down on us – one overtaking the other and both coming within just 100’s of feet of us. We talked with them on the radio, and they were very amenable to making changes to get out of the way, but in the end it was prudent to just slow Toodle-oo! down and let them pass half a mile off.

As we motor sailed west, we started seeing tall ships heading towards us – their AIS signals indicating a destination of Rostock. Turns out there was to be a big regatta there. As we approached Keil one tall ship came very close to us, with full sail up in the early afternoon sunshine – except it had just one sail furled – the upper rear Mizzen. This was particularly curious so we called them up to find out why bother to raise 14 sails but not the remaining 15th sail. The answer came back from her captain that her guests complained that the sail was blocking their sun as they enjoyed their drinks on the rear deck! Best excuse I’d ever heard!

Missin' Mizzen

Missin’ Mizzen

We arrived in Holtenau at the eastern entrance to the Kiel Canal on Wednesday afternoon and tied up – exhausted after the 2 ½ day passage.

The following morning we took things easy as we were planning to head to a marina at Rendsburg, just a few hours into the canal. We set off at about 11:00 and lined up with about 15 other sailboats waiting to lock through. As we were waiting, we suddenly recognized ‘Believe’ a US flagged boat that was part of the OCC cruise with Rick and Julia aboard. We locked through with them and then followed them all the way to Rendsburg where we enjoyed an evening drink together aboard their beautiful Hylas 49.

Weather was beginning to play a big part in our planning now, with the remnants of Tropical Storm Bertha approaching, bringing strong south westerly winds to the North Sea. If we don’t make fast progress west, we’ll be stuck in the Keil for probably 5 days.

Believe left early the following morning but we had to wait to fuel up – we’d been on minimal fuel for a while now and with the expected motoring coming up to get through the canal and then head west into light winds (before the heavy winds) we were in desperate need of a top-up. We therefore found ourselves in familiar territory – altering plans at the last minute again – and set a target of the Dutch Canal system – which was never even on our radar!

We managed to leave Rendsburg before 10:00am having brought 525 liters of diesel aboard and headed west. It was a painful passage – managing to exit the canal in the early afternoon and then motoring and motor sailing all the way down to Lauwersoog, one of the entry ports to the “Standing Mast Route” within the canal system.

This was another painful overnight passage – dodging shipping the entire way. At one point in the early hours of the morning, an approaching Indian freighter decided to turn right across ourpath in order to enter an anchorage area, forcing me to slow down – and then we got hailed by a ship coming out of that same area (at 15 knots) – indicating that they would turn to avoid Toodle-oo! At least we didn’t hit or get hit by anything…

The guide book we have is pretty explicit in saying that we should follow the buoyage rather than follow the charted information – since the sands shift quite significantly. No kidding! We reached the entry point for the channel into Lauwersoog mid-morning – to find that not one of the expected buoys was there! This was a pretty major channel… We scoured the horizon and saw a bunch of buoys off to the east and motored towards them. Sure enough, it was the new channel – which had been moved no less that 1 1/2 miles due to the sand movements.

The remaining trip amounted to a 2+ hour motor sail against a 2 ½ knot current into Lauwersoog – but we got our first glimpse of some Dutch Sailing barges – which are just spectacular.

Dutch Sailing Barge

Dutch Sailing Barge

There’s a lock one has to navigate through to get into the canal system – or there’s a marina on the outside where one can take refuge. We arrived at low tide and the charts indicated that we were too deep to get into the lock – forced therefore into the outside marina. Tight! Very tight! We called up the harbormaster and he came out to help – but it was clearly going to be very difficult to find a berth for Toodle-oo! Laurie persisted with the harbormaster (read that as regaled him!) and found out that actually there was enough depth for us to lock through and get to a calmer and hopefully more spacious spot within the canal system.

We extricated ourselves from the marina and then followed a large barge and a small barge into the lock – whose keeper apparently spoke no English. Tight squeeze indeed! We were behind the big barge, next to the small one and a motor boat tucked in behind. Laurie was tied lines to everything in sight and fending off from other boats, expecting the torrents of water as we’d experienced in the Caledonian. She was asking the lock master for assistance in taking yet another line when he said “It’s all over – the doors are open!”

We motored out into the calm and found a nice little marina with a spot just right for Toodle-oo!

Later in the afternoon we were visited by Peter Patternote – the Regional Rear Commodore for the OCC! HE was very helpful in explaining the canals foibles and found out that yes, we should be able to navigate down the ‘Standing Mast Route’ – which has a depth of 1.95M but will be plenty deep enough tomorrow – when it will be at a level of 2.01M – Great we’ll be able to do 7 knots with out keel at just 2.0M!!!!

The adventure continues!

 

Visby, Gotland

Visby, capital of the ‘Pearl of the Baltic,’ Gotland, is a wonderful place to visit. A small walled medieval city with very quaint streets and ages old homes surrounded original fortress walls, ruins of various descriptions and lovely cobbled stone streets.

Visby1 Visby2 Visby3 Visby 4 Visby 5 Visby 6

Work got rather in the way for me and I was only able to spend two half days exploring the town, and while we’d searched out a good restaurant with lovely outdoor seating in the one of the town’s squares for our Saturday evening outing, when it came time, the heavens opened, making the outdoor arrangement impossible and they were fully booked for the remaining seats. We ended up enjoying a more casual dinner at “The Black Sheep Inn” – which unfortunately didn’t serve Black Sheep, my favorite bitter – but they did a great line in Fish and Chips!

Visby was to be our last hurrah before setting off on our return trip – so it was really disappointing to have to leave the place much earlier than expected due to favorable winds immediately, and totally unfavorable for the next several days if we were to delay. So sadly we left Visby far too early to be able to do it justice – with The Keil Canal in our sights, some 350 miles to the south west. Making it more painful to leave, we ended up leaving at the start of their Medieval week – where everyone on the island is expected to dress up in period costume – some restaurants apparently refusing service if you were not appropriately attired… Rats – missed it!

To Gotland

We left Stockholm on Wednesday, bound for Gotland by way of an outlying island in Sweden’s archipelago “Huvudskär”. We decided to take a bit of a short cut from Stockholm along a really narrow and shallow path. Lalize had decided to follow us a couple of hours later – and were interested to hear how deep the water is – since she draws about 30cm more than Toodle-oo!

We turned onto this narrow section and everything was great – and then a storm decided to hit us. I thought about waiting in a relatively wide section for the storm to pass – but quickly decided to press on as it looked short lived – which thankfully it was. 30 minutes later we came to the narrow/shallow bit. We were following a power boat at the time – who had stopped ahead. A sailboat then emerged from the channel and the powerboat moved through. At this point we couldn’t even see the channel – which was entered after a 90 degree turn – which once we made looked somewhat daunting. We could pretty much lean off either side of the boat and touch the trees – and the mast followed the clearing at the top of the trees and the depth gauge plummeted – but fortunately to just 2.8 meters – giving us a full 80cm clearance. The channel remained exceedingly tight like this for a couple of miles and we raidioed back to Lalize that they’d be fine (and crossed our fingers!).

The rest of the trip to Huvudskär we were threading our way between islands, sailing when we could, motoring when straight into the wind and arrived at the island in late afternoon – just in time for G&T!

We anchored out in the center of the lagoon and marveled at the Swedish rock moorers as they pulled up and tied themselves to the rocks using mountaineering kit which they hammered into any available crevice. I still don’t get the need to be able to step off the boat…

Lalize joined us about an hour afterwards and we had dinner aboard Toodle-oo! followed by an excellent tipple of Caol Ila whiskey – one of the good bottles from our trip around Islay!

 

4:30am and all hell breaks loose in the anchorage. A wind shift accompanied by a nasty wet squall means that Lalize has turned and is very close to another boat. I watch Adrian and Leslie upping anchor and moving to better spot.

I then look behind me to see one of the rock moorers has now moved off the rocks – but has left a crew member on the rocks – in his pajamas! He got left there for about half an hour in the pouring rain and driving wind until the crew could launch the dingy and mount a rescue! About half a dozen rock moorers ended up moving into the anchorage – so I rest my case about the whole thing being a rather silly exercise – and I went back to sleep – soundly!

When we finally got up, Lalize had already buggered off – heading for Öland – a large island further south and west on the Swedish coast. We departed about 9am and enjoyed a really nice sail all the way down to Fårö – just off the north tip of Gotland doing 8+kts most of the way. Lalize decided the wind direction wasn’t good for their destination – so they headed to Fårö also. On the way we sailed through some thick algal blooms – and the photo shows the distinct boundary between clear and blooming water!

Sailing out of the goop and into clear water

Sailing out of the goop and into clear water

Unfortunately when we arrived we were unable to get a good set on the anchor in the bay we’d intended so we ended up moving a little, following Lalize into a well protected area – where we set first time.

The following day Lalize headed off for her original destination while we had an absolutely rotten trip down to the capital of Gotland, Visby – motoring the entire way straight into pretty strong winds and lumpy seas. We were really glad to arrive in Visby and get relief, tying up to the dock with the “big” boats.