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!
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
They certainly like to commute on bicycles!
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!
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.