17 - September 15, 2006: Laboe to Guernsey
17, 2006, Thursday
are back on Impromptu. The flight was uneventful. We even were lucky
enough to find a bus that took us straight from the Hamburg airport
to the train station in Kiel. From there, it was a short taxi ride
found tools and other utensils on the boat, clearly indicating that
the repairs had not been completed. Of course, we were not very
happy about this and straightened things out by learning that the
alternator had to be sent in for repair and was expected back the
next day or so (it finally came Friday afternoon and was installed
then), the 12V battery had been replaced as it was "shot".
The yard could not find the 110V heating unit for our hot water
heater. We suggested to call HR - which the yard (and we) did. It
is to be delivered on Tuesday.
Prautzschs had left an SMS asking where we were. Well, we called
them immediately and agreed to meet on Carola's birthday (August
18) at their place in Heikendorf.
18, 2006, Friday
had slept late as we were totally tired from all the traveling around
and the jet lag and took the 1345 ferry to meet with the Prautzschs.
It was a very long and wonderful day. We celebrated with champagne,
then coffee and cake in a cute little cafe right in the "town"
of Heikendorf and, as of 1800, spent almost six hours over dinner,
with lots of wonderful drinks and wine and excellent food and, most
importantly, terrific conversation. We totally forgot how jetlagged
we still were....
and Albrecht wanted to come visit us on the boat the next day. However,
Albrecht called to cancel the arrangement. Lupus, their dog, got
sick (from getting spicy fish at the restaurant) and so they had
not slept much (as Albrecht had to take him out two or three times
that night) and they expected to have to stop a number of times
on their way home. Of course, we thanked them very much for such
a wonderful day and promised to call again soon.
19, 2006, Saturday
Albrecht called, we had breakfast in the cockpit through it was
a little chilly, but the sun had come out and the rain had stopped
some time during the night. Juergen got the bicycles out so that
we would be a little more mobile. We also needed to do some food
shopping, another reason for the bikes. Mike, the mechanic came
by to check on the alternator. The generator had been running smoothly
this morning and started without a hitch. We turned the generator
off while Mike was working. After his departure, we tried to turn
it back on - it would not start. I ran after Mike to check on the
generator again. He could not fix it either and has notified the
electrician to look into this on Monday. Right now, it is working,
but only after we started the main engine first (though the 12V
battery shows a charge of 13.8V and should be sufficiently strong
to start the generator without the help of the main engine). We
are at a loss...
22, 2006, Tuesday
past few days have been rainy and gotten a lot cooler. So we are
back to warmer T-shirts, sometimes even jackets / sweaters and jeans
- how awful, after such a terrific summer... we expected the weather
to remain as wonderful as it had been. Mike, a mechanic who had
worked on our boat, mostly the generator, last week and who had
visited with us for a glass of wine on Saturday, came by to install
the hot water heating unit and check on the generator again. With
a few little kinks, it all seems to be working - finally. Uwe had
come by to help Mike and ensure that all went well. We exchanged
addresses and phone numbers, talked a little more about our trip
from here to LaRochelle and said good-bye. Uwe will be flying to
Mallorca tomorrow to pick up a boat which he and a crew of two others
will sail to Marseille from where it is supposed to be trucked up
North. He used to be a transfer captain for a bunch of years and
does this now and then on his vacation, just like this time. He
expects to be back on Saturday.
sure would like to see him again and hope that there will be a chance
either in the Caribbean or later on in New York. We will see.
filled the water tank and asked the yard to prepare our bill so
we can depart early tomorrow morning. We will have to go through
the Kiel Canal and will most likely stay in Brunsbuettel overnight
just as we did last year in September and also this May when we
began this year's journey. We expect to be in Cuxhaven in the very
early afternoon. Juergen has already spoken with the harbor master
there who promised to accommodate us though there is a big regatta
with lots of boat traffic in Cuxhaven this coming weekend.
family is eagerly awaiting us though they know that we will be there
for just a few days only as we need to reprovision and then get
on our way as soon as possible. We do have quite some respect for
the North Sea and also the Bay of Biscay - I know you got the picture
already quite some time ago.
morning, the phone rang. Sigi. He was already in Laboe, looking
for us. We were very happy to see him and had a nice chat for an
hour or so before we left to go back to work. It is always very
nice to see him and Biene (this time, she was not with him). We
talked about his family, largely his brothers, plans for the winter
in terms of preparation for Biene's exhibit of her paintings in
the Spring - I think I spoke about that after she had told us about
this terrific opportunity a few weeks ago. I also then spoke about
their terrific hospitality and friendship, and I wanted to show
some pictures, except for some reason I don't find them on my computer.
I hope they are backed up at home so I can eventually insert them
into our website when we are back home in October/November.
Sunday, August 20, 2006, Juergen's family called. They wanted
to visit with us - all six adults and two kids. We had made plans
with our newly made friends from Cologne, the couple that keep their
boat in Baltic Bay Marina, Laboe, right next to where Impromptu
has been docked for all this time, to have dinner together. We tried
to discourage the family as the trip to here is rather long (over
200 km each way), particularly since we would see them towards the
end of the week anyway - to no avail.
arrived around 1400 and after a big hello, we all had a glass of
wine or whatever they wanted on the boat. Johanna was hungry and
restless (it seems to be quite boring to be on a boat, at least
for kids that are not used to being on boats). We all went to the
nice restaurant, part of the Marina, for coffee and cake. We had
a nice chat for a number of hours and, around 1700, they all left
to take the lengthy trip back home.
on foto to expand!
who will start school on 9-04-06
Johanna with Susanne
had promised Wulf and Monika from "next door" to show
them the movie "Around Cape Horn". Uwe, a friend of the
couple and a mechanic here at the boatyard, was there also. He had
been invited for dinner as well. While we watched the movie, a thunderstorm
came up that drenched our friends' boat as they had not closed anything
while watching the movie. I had quickly put the boards into our
companionway to prevent the down below from being drenched. It all
did not deter Wulf or Monika, and we were promptly on our way to
Pankert, a beautiful property owned by the Hesse count, now operated
as a hotel and restaurant and housing a few galleries and small
shops. Unfortunately, they were all closed as we only arrived around
property is gorgeous, and I wished I had taken my camera along,
but I thought there was no need given our plans for dinner there.
The food was delicious, the wine superb, and the conversation lively
Monday, August 21, 2006, Monika and Wulf needed to fly back
to Cologne. So we agreed to share lunch at the marina restaurant
"for a last time" at least for a long time, though they
promised to let us know if and when they are in New York. Monika
wants to take a trip to New York for Christmas shopping, most likely
next year. We will see whether Wulf comes along at the time. Again,
it was a terrific two hours of conversation and laughter and then
we all said good-bye. Uwe had stopped by, shared a glass of beer
with us and promised to come to our boat to check out the generator
and to install the hot water element which had been ordered at Hallberg-Rassy
as the yard could not find a 110V unit in all of Germany.
22, 2006, Tuesday
was a rainy and ugly day, but towards the end of the day the sun
came out. We took our bikes and bicycled to Heikendorf and back,
enjoyed an icecream in Laboe before returning to the boat.
23, 2006, Wednesday
got up early as we wanted to pay our bills, get some 350 liters
of Diesel and get on our way through the Kiel Canal. It all took
longer than expected. The bill came to over Euro 2,200 - vow! But
it seemed that the generator was working - finally. At the gas station,
they only accepted cash. Juergen was offered the attendant's bike
to go to the cash machine and came back unsuccessful. The bank refused
the cash withdrawal as he had used that same bank card for the payment
of the bill at Baltic Bay Marina. So I hopped on the bike and got
the cash necessary to pay for the Diesel. At 0830 we were finally
on our way. The sky looked threatening dark and it began to rain
very soon after our departure. A few other boats were ahead of us
and behind, all moving towards the locks of the Kiel Canal. We were
really lucky. The lock was open as we arrived, over 10-15 boats
tied up already. We tied up to another boat as there was little
room left at the dock. We paid our dues (Euro 35) for the canal
transfer and the lock gates closed shortly thereafter. You should
have seen the mess of boats all rushing out of the lock, and a huge
container ship also came out of its lock at the same time. We all
wrangled for first position, of course the container ship won. We
were next. We tried to go about 8 knots, the prescribed speed limit
but soon noticed that there was some current against us - we think
because of the prevailing Westerly winds.
on foto to expand!
the lock at Kiel-Holtenau around 0900...
never saw the Kiel Canal locks this crowded
reached Brunsbuettel around 1700, called canal 2 and were advised
that they would open the lock for "sports boats" in about
half an hour - and he mumbled something else that we did not quite
catch. Once the signals were such that we were ready to enter, he
called and informed us of the arrival of a tanker (small, mostly
coastal) which was to enter first. After "Time is Money"
was all tied up, another sailboat which we had passed quite a while
ago and we entered the lock. It took about 20 minutes to half an
hour before the lock opened on the other side and we were instructed
to exit first, the Time is Money. We were elated at the current
down the Elbe as we made up to 12 knots, going around 7.5 to 8 based
on our engine speed. We arrived in Cuxhaven at 1830 or so after
checking the current which was enormous right in front of the harbor
entrance and picking the right moment to rev up and enter. Juergen
did an excellent job. I was very proud of him. It sure was not easy.
harbor master had already warned us that the harbor was overcrowded
and that we would have to tie up to another boat as there was no
room at all at any of the docks. We approached a Dutch boat but
were informed that they planned on leaving at 0400 the next morning.
Considering this highly unattractive, we approached the next boat,
British, who informed us of their time of departure, e.g., 0400.
We tied up to them, chatted for a while, then enjoyed a glass of
wine in the cockpit and even supper later on. Before all of this,
as we were in the process of tying up to someone, I lost a fender
and could not retrieve it as there was no loop to hook into with
our boat hook. I pushed it towards a boat docked on the other side
who offered to retrieve it for us. After we were tied up, I walked
over five!!! boats - actually we were the fifth boat outermost,
apologizing for walking over other people's boats. They were all
very nice and told me that it did not matter, or, did I want to
couple two boats into our "package of boats" joined us
for a glass of wine after our supper. They, too, left at 0400 the
24, 2006, Thursday
were awakened by our neighbors at 0400 and quickly jumped into our
clothes so we could take our lines and move out of their way. You
should have seen the number of boats leaving at this ungodly hour.
I would say it was at least ten if not more. So many left that we
even could tie up to the dock before going to sleep again. At 0500
someone knocked on our boat. I had forgotten to turn off the running
lights, they informed us... o well.
breakfast, we went to the harbor master and were assigned a normal
"slip" as we call it in the US, i.e., a dock to ourselves.
They were expecting lots of boats for a race nearby, and he wanted
us to be protected from the traffic and other people, particularly
since he knew we were going to stay for a few days - at least till
Monday, maybe even till Tuesday, weather permitting.
then went into town and purchased / ordered charts, books, etc.
We went shopping and found a nice sweater for Juergen, and a beautiful
cashmere "shirt", all on sale. We had a very late lunch
- actually coffee and cake. Guenter and Waltraut came around 1600
- we had invited them for dinner. We sat on the boat for a while
then went to the hotel where we had our party last year. Well, it
was no longer a hotel but just a restaurant, the ownership had changed,
the menu, the service, all was different. We did not know that until
we sat down to order wine etc. Our experience was anything but great.
The wine list they initially gave us was very small and not interesting.
We asked whether they did not have a more expansive one. They did,
but we were forewarned that they may not have all the wines on that
list as this list was a remnant of the former owners from who they
had taken over the wine cellar as well - or whatever was left of
it. We ordered a certain wine, they did not have it. We ordered
another, the cork broke and this was the last bottle of this kind.
They brought two others for our selection. Juergen did not know
either and just picked one of them - not great but ok.
fish soup Guenter had ordered contained of fish with lots of bones
and muscles that comprised of sand. He complained, got another fish
soup without any muscles but still a lot of fish bones. He returned
that as well. Waltraut, Juergen and I had ordered a North Sea shrimp
soup (those tiny shrimp that do not exist anywhere else in the world
- to our knowledge - but in the North Sea. They taste wonderful).
This soup had barely one spoon full of these shrimp in it, the rest
was all filler - awful. The flounder we all ordered was fresh but
tasteless. We were very disappointed. The worst happened when the
check was presented by the waiter who said that they had cut the
bill for the Euro 56 wine (we had initially ordered a bottle for
Euro 27 and were never informed that the other was as expensive
as he now claimed) to Euro 42 because of our disappointment with
the food. I told him off by not paying a tip (tips in Europe are
always included in the bill and tipping is entirely voluntary as
wait staff receive fixed salaries with the tips being "add-ons"
only) and telling him that I thought it outrageous to present us
with an alternative wine more than twice the wine we had ordered.
We left immediately.
25, 2006, Friday
and Waltraut had brought Marion's BMW for us so we could do some
shopping in the morning and then drive to Isensee to be with the
family. We purchased water and all the heavy stuff (coffee, olive
oil, crackers, cans of oil sardines and tuna, jams, laundry detergent
and so on) that was not "fresh" and could easily be stored
away before our departure. Then we purchased a new propane bottle,
packed some clothes and the gift for Johanna and left around 1600
to drive to Isensee. The welcome was warm and friendly as always.
We had freshly baked plum cake and coffee. In the evening, Frank,
Marion, Marie - the gorgeous little baby born on January 19 this
year - see above, Susanne, Hannes, and Johanna of course came to
have dinner with us. Waltraut had grilled two turkey breasts and
served a bunch of different vegetables and a very nice salad. The
evening was long. We finally made it to bed around midnight.
26, 2006, Saturday
after breakfast, Susanne, Johanna, Guenter, Waltraut, Juergen and
I drove to Buxtehude, a small town about half an hour drive away
from Isensee. It is a historic town. The sun came out for a while,
we walked around, enjoyed the rehearsal of a concert "A Royal
Night" that was to be performed that evening on the market
square, right near a beautiful 13th century church. Later, Marion
and Frank and Marie joined us. They had done some shopping for the
Sunday dinner they wanted to host. We had icecream. Johanna bought
icecream from her own money for Juergen and I. She was very proud
and we happy that she was so generous.
had prepared dinner for Saturday night, a wonderful dish, lots of
work, that included boiled beef, served with "Roesti"
(fried potatoes Swiss style), freshly grated radish in apple sauce,
creme fraiche and chives) and the terrific broth. Dessert was a
poppy seed souffle, perfectly done and delicious, with fruit and
a little bit of mascarpone cheese. And we are supposed to lose weight...
it was VERY!!! delicious, and I cannot wait to try to make the souffle
myself some time soon.
27, 2006 Sunday
has been raining pretty much all day, with very few short breaks
in between. Still, Hannes, Frank, Juergen and Guenter moved one
of Hannes' carriages (he purchases them with the intent to fix them
up and sell them. However, this one he had already fixed up and
used a few times for family outings. It was stored in a shed that
had a leaky roof, and the mice etc. had easy access.) into Guenter
and Waltraut's garage. Then Juergen and Guenter worked a little
bit outside. Guenter has DSL internet access, much faster than his
dial up he had before. We were supposed to be able to access the
internet wireless. This did not work. Frank and Guenter tried to
fix the problem but could not find it. So we just checked our e-mails
instead of also uploading our website - which I had hoped to be
able to do. Guenter and Juergen also cleaned our US propane bottles
which we had stored at Guenter and Waltraut's house. We needed to
take them back to the boat the next day as we will need them in
the Caribbean or, at the latest, back at home in Milford.
on foto to expand!
|Bringing into the new House another Carriage
Beautiful Dinner at Frank's and Marion's
arrived sooner than anticipated. We were supposed to be at Frank's
and Marion's, quickly got ready and were there just a few minutes
later for a super delicious meal. They had grilled pieces of entrecote,
purchased terrific sauces, had a wonderful salad, fresh bread and,
as dessert, tiramisu. It seems all three families are trying to
outdo each other in terms of quality of cooking, variety, etc. We
felt very spoiled.
it was a late night as we sat with Waltraut and Guenter at their
house till about 0100.
28, 2006, Monday
had a relatively early breakfast. Susanne and Johanna came before
Susanne had to start work, to say good-bye. Johanna stayed with
us. Then Hannes came and a little later Marion and Marie. Frank
had left quite a while ago to go to work in Hamburg, a good 90 minute
drive in heavy traffic. They hope to fix up their apartment in the
building where their company is located so that they can stay in
Hamburg for a few days during the week once Marion goes back to
work to the office rather than working from home which she has been
doing since Marie was born. We chatted for a while, made a few phone
calls (to Dockwise, to Hans Nordmann's office, etc.). Guenter and
Waltraut drove us to Cuxhaven, an about 30 - 45 minute drive. We
dropped off all the things we had packed. Then we ran some other
chores before food shopping. We had lunch at the Cuxhaven yacht
club, overlooking the harbor. The food was simple but fresh and
good, the wine tasted delicious. Guenter and Juergen enjoyed their
beer. We said good-bye to Guenter and Waltraut after our food shopping,
loaded everything into a cart and from there onto the boat. It began
to rain again.
started to do navigation, read up on some things and were mentally
getting ready for the beginning of our "return trip" to
LaRochelle with our first stop on the island of Norderney, the island,
where Sigi and Antonia had met up with us as a surprise last year
when we arrived after our transatlantic voyage.
1800 Juergen tried to turn on our instruments. Nothing worked. He
checked all the fuses, nothing. I quickly ran over to the harbor
master to ask for a recommendation of an electrician. Someone promised
to come either tonight still (though he wanted to finish whatever
he was working on) or first thing in the morning. By 2100 we knew
he was not to come that evening any more. Juergen checked the wiring
diagram and saw the switch for the 12V system. He checked. It had
been switched off accidentally when moving something around. Everything
was fine!!! We were so glad though he felt embarrassed.
29, 2006, Tuesday
left at 0700 in windy conditions, gray, rainy skies. The seas were
short and steep, but the tide was with us down the river Elbe. While
we had left about one hour after a few other boats had departed,
we soon overtook them. Thank God for a strong engine. The wind was
on the nose... the story of our life.
70 nm were highly uncomfortable though the rain subsided and the
sun even came out, but the seas became very steep and unpredictable.
I was feeling rather queezy, but there was nothing we could do as
the wind remained on our nose and blew at about 28-32 knots (apparent).
The channel into Norderney is well marked, but it still was a huge
challenge to steer over the shallow sand bar that crosses the channel.
Juergen was glad for every tenth of a mile he made headway. We were
glad when we finally made it into the harbor and were tied up to
a dock - with the help of another boater it was an almost smooth
experience. I say almost smooth as the boat touched on of the pilings
- I could not push the boat off, and our horseshoe ring scraped
by. What I did not even notice immediately was the fact that our
light that had been connected to the horseshoe ring had torn loose
and was floating away. The neighbors came to the rescue again and
returned it to us while we were still tying up to the dock to the
right of the piling which initially had been to our left. It was
too high to go over the bow, and the dock was easily accessible.
fixed whatever had torn loose while I went to pay the harbor master
for our night's stay.
30, 2006, Wednesday
initially wanted to leave for Vlieland, but the weather was anything
but cooperative. People indicated that, at Beaufort 6, boats should
really not travel the North Sea if at all avoidable. The seas are
just too awful. So we decided to stay, particularly since the trip
would have been 100 nm, way too long for this kind of weather. We
had made this distance last year, but with Westerly winds (i.e.,
with us) and a very strong Easterly current. Now, we had Westerly
winds (against us) with the Westerly current bearing only about
1-1.5 knots, meaning, we had little push and, therefore, were limited
in the distance we could travel during daylight hours. We for sure
do not want to have to enter any of these harbors in the dark. We
decided to stay, played Backgammon, talked with people and invited
a German couple for a glass of wine.
and Ilse have a beautiful aluminum boat which he built himself (except
the hull which he had purchased). They had lived in the Caribbean
for about three years, lived in Katonah for a while, near Chicago,
etc. He is a horse rider (competitively) and trainer and had been
working for wealthy individuals both in Germany and the US, purchasing
and training their horses but also competing at the same time. She,
a Viennese, was also into riding - this is how they had met many
had a terrific time together, talking about our sailing adventures,
about horses, their life in the US and the Caribbean, etc. Before
we knew it, it was 2100 (they had come at 1700), and they said good
night. We had all intention of leaving the next day but of course
were waiting for an improvement in the weather for our final decision.
31, 2006, Thursday
again decided to stay. It was raining and ugly out and blowing quite
hard. Friday was supposed to be a little better... We had checked
the wind and wave predictions through a system Manfred had recommended,
called windfinder.de. This system will give you these statistics
and three day predictions for any place in the world. Just type
in the location, and the chart will show up as well as a table with
the details by the half day, i.e., from midnight to 12 noon and
from 1200 to 0000 again.
came to invite us to their boat for 1600. We gladly accepted and
read, played Backgammon. I did the navigation from Norderney to
the island of Borkum, a roughly 40 nm trip that would have us about
22 nm toward Vlieland the following day. Unfortunately, the harbor
is far around Borkum relative to the North Sea, therefore the many
miles for relatively little gain. However, 76 or so miles to Vlieland
from Borkum compared to roughly 100 nm from Norderney sound a lot
paid our dues at the harbor master's office when he suggested for
us not to go to Borkum but, instead, to go to Lauwersoog, on the
Dutch coast of Friesland. The trip from Norderney to there is supposed
to be 50 nm "only" and, the added benefit is a canal that
we could take further South towards the island of Texel or the harbor
of Den Helder, or even further into the Ijsselmeer, avoiding the
nasty North Sea. When discussing this possibility with Manfred and
Ilse, they seemed enthusiastic about it as they themselves had taken
that trip in reverse in some prior year. The idea of going 50 nm
vs the roughly 40 we would have to go to Borkum seemed ok to both
of us. We just still needed to do the navigation to Lauwersoog and
also check into the canal system a little more. For now, we decided
to enjoy our time with Ilse and Manfred, to get a good night's rest
and to determine the next morning whether or not we would depart.
1, 2006, Friday
has been blowing all night and it seems to have rained as well though
we did not hear it. In the morning, the wind sounded a little less
threatening. Still, we were not yet convinced that we should leave.
We checked into a book about Holland which we had purchased last
year but had not found useful for our travels then. It gave us a
little more detail for our intended alternate route now. While we
were reading, the wind picked up again, the sound disappeared, and
it began to be rather foggy, not exactly great conditions for a
voyage into unknown territory. So we decided not to leave but instead
do the more detailed navigation, update the website in the hope
that we can upload it in the internet cafe in town (Manfred and
Ilse promised to check for us whether it is possible to work there
with one's own computer. I am still hopeful....).
had agreed with them to have dinner in the restaurant we had found
last year when we were here with Sigi and Antonia, should we decide
not to depart in the morning. As they told us of their intent to
walk into town, we confirmed our dinner plans with Ilse and Manfred.
Will we be able to leave tomorrow???? We are getting a little antsy.
I even more so, as the Bay of Biscay has a terrible reputation already
for the month of September... and we are nowhere near the Bay of
Biscay yet... This part of the trip is not what I am relishing.
I guess, Juergen is not either. Yes, it is great to meet nice people
and to sit well protected in a harbor while it is blowing, but the
idea of having to cover another roughly 1000 nm before we can consider
ourselves "having arrived" is anything but fun. So, for
all of you who read this log, please keep your fingers crossed that
the weather will improve, we can made great headway and, despite
the winds against us and the current being weaker in the Westerly
direction, that we arrive in LaRochelle very soon without any terrible
2, 2006, Saturday
decided to depart as the weather seemed to have improved significantly.
We left at 0645 and made good speed until about 1400. By that time,
we were just about at the height of the entrance to Lauwersoog,
the better alternative to Borkum to cut the distance to Vlieland
in half. We had hoped to go all the way to Vlieland - until then.
But the weather turned bad, the wind strengthened, right on our
nose, the tide had already changed against us, and the seas started
mounting. Our speed dropped to about 4.4. knots, which would have
caused our arrival near Vlieland around 2100 at best. With the strong
cross currents there and the darkness of night, we decided to turn
was a long way as the channel took us safely through all the shallows.
We finally arrived in front of a lock and a bridge which did not
seem to open and no one in sight... however, eventually, a boat
came from the other side, and we were permitted to enter. The lock
was not difficult to manoeuvre and before we knew it, we were in
even more protected waters. But it was around 1700 by then, the
wind had strengthened further, and it started to rain. We also thought
that we needed to check in with Dutch immigration as we had entered
the Netherlands on our way from Norderney. The harbor master later
on just stamped a form for us and indicated that this was sufficient.
We decided to stay overnight as we were nicely tied up to a dock
with nothing to fear.
on foto to expand!
harbor celebrated its 40th birthday that evening, in pouring rain,
driving winds and miserable cold. People played Neptune from what
we could understand, rescued a maiden and whatever else happened
that our non-existing knowledge of Dutch could or could not decipher.
It all seemed dramatic and people were noisily cheering the actors
and actresses. We had been invited to the event but the lack of
linguistic ability and the cold and wet deterred us. Instead, we
had clam chowder on the boat, played Backgammon and called it a
night early. We wanted to depart the next morning.
3, 2006, Sunday
had been a very noisy night but we slept anyway. In the morning,
it was very foggy and rainy. We still decided to move on. Navigation
through the initial channel was not difficult. It became a little
more complicated as we moved down towards Dokkum Diep, Princess
Margriet Canal, etc. We covered 12 bridges that day and one lock-bridge
combination and arrived in Leeuwarden around 1600 or so. It was
a most picturesque trip through Dutch farmland, country side and
some small towns, all nicely maintained and pretty to look at. We
have not seen as many horses as we did on this trip in a very long
time. We tied up right in the middle of town after we had tied up
to two trees to wait for a bridge opening and were "rained
on" by branches our rigging had torn off. We took a little
walk through town but were warned of theft and vandalism as we were
right next to a park. We still enjoyed a gorgeous dinner and a wonderful
bottle of wine in a restaurant right above our boat. By the time
we returned to Impromptu, daylight had not entirely subsided and
we were safely back on an untouched Impromptu. Earlier, before we
took our walk, an elderly Dutchman came by to invite us to his house
for coffee the next morning. We decided against that as we needed
to continue moving, however, it was quite moving to hear him speak
of all the good America had done for his country.
on foto to expand!
4, 2006, Monday
took the 0815 bridge from our "anchorage" and began moving
through twelve more bridges before the lock in Harlingen. We had
befriended a Dutch couple who took the same route as we did and
followed them through two more bridges into the Harlingen Yacht
Harbor. See for yourself whether we are exaggerating when we say
how gorgeous this little town and harbor was. We shared a bottle
of wine with them, then went to pay the harbor master and to take
a walk through town, of course taking a few pictures. In the evening,
we had dinner with them in a restaurant right across from our waterway.
Noud and Margret invited us for a drink to their boat before we
on foto to expand!
Harlingen, our last Port in the "Waddenzee"
5, 2006, Tuesday
we left to take the 0815 bridge and quickly moved out of the pretty
harbor and into the channel, following the many well-marked buoys
all the way to the island of Texel where we stopped as the tide
had changed against us and the way to Ijmuiden would have been miserable
in a meanwhile foggy and rainy afternoon. The Waddenzee Harbor is
newly built and has comfortable docks for boats our size - how lucky
we are. After lunch, Juergen tightened our fan belt of our engine
and fixed our VHF radio which had made awful sounds all morning,
no matter which channel we dialed. Now that all is fixed, we are
again trying to upload our website and hope to be more successful
this time around.
on foto to expand!
Harlingen, behind us
Harbor Master's Office in Texel, a gorgeous Dutch Island
6, 2006, Wednesday
left Texel after spending a good three plus hours on the internet
the day before - what luxury to sit in this attractive office and
to have internet access with the strongest signal possible, all
that for free!!!, yes, on this small Dutch island, people are more
progressive than in many large cities in Germany, Denmark, Sweden,
... I was in seventh heaven as I not only could upload our website
for the first time in weeks but I also could finally connect to
many of you who have been waiting for news on us. Those I did not
specifically contact that day - I apologize, but family came first
- and that is a growing entity... it seems more and more new partners
are joining "the clan" and more and more babies are born....
very nice indeed.
we left Texel around 0815, after having refueled just enough to
get us to Zeebrugge where the Diesel is enormously cheap for European
prices. The weather was reasonably ok, not great but ok, and we
made it all the way to Scheveningen, an about 70 nm trip, by about
1730. We were assigned a dock in the vicinity of where we had docked
last year. The difference, the weather was nicer, the sun had even
come out this time, it was warm, and we casually strolled to the
harbor master's office to pay our dues for the night and to check
whether the chandlery in town was still open. Unfortunately, they
close at 1800, too soon for us to make it. We nevertheless walked
over, just in case. We needed lots of charts of the French coast
and wanted to buy them here. The same store provided us with lots
of charts last year, and they also helped us gain cell phone service
by letting me use their phone to speak with our German service provider.
The young man even remembered the next day when we went shopping...
had dinner outside, overlooking the harbor, and it was not too cold
to sit there - what fun!
on foto to expand!
a famous Dutch beach and gaming center - we find the structure
built into the sea atrocious (spelling?)
7, 2006, Thursday
would have left this morning were it not for our need of the charts
(see above). It was raining slightly, but not enough to deter us
to venture outside. After a leisurely breakfast, we went to see
the harbor master to pay for the second night. I took all our laundry
(three loads already again) but found both washing machines in use.
I deposited our laundry, and we went off to the chandlery. After
having accomplished that - the store had all the charts we wanted,
a very rare situation!, we went food shopping. Last year, we bought
a bunch of wonderful items including some decent French white wine
in a super market not too far from the marina. We tried to find
it - it was closed for expansion - to open on September 13. Did
they not know that we had been looking forward to shopping there
for weeks??? O well. The harbor master directed us to another supermarket,
further away, much smaller with a very, I mean very, limited selection
of about anything. What letdown. We limited ourselves to the basics
and returned to the boat. Juergen did some chores, I finally did
the laundry. By that time, it was blowing at least Beaufort 6 and
higher in the gusts, and people returned quickly after having gone
out of the harbor. We were glad not to have left that morning -
how nice of the chandlery to close at 1800 and for us having to
wait until today...
8, 2006, Friday
left around 0600 after getting clearance to leave port (we received
clearance to enter the day we arrived) and made our way down the
coast towards Rotterdam (Europort) the shipping lanes of which one
has to cross in a certain spot and in a certain way, all only after
having received clearance. The sea was quite unstable, the waves
unpleasant as we made the about 8 or 9 nm towards Rotterdam. We
received clearance right away, and Juergen steered us safely past
a freighter that would otherwise have been in our way (or we in
his). The waves grew yet further to a very unpleasant and irregular
swell - I felt "great" as some of you might imagine. Thank
God, things calmed down after a while, and the day turned out quite
nicely. We arrived in Zeebrugge, i.e., after another 63 nm. We filled
up our Diesel tank (852 litres at a whopping price of slightly above
64 Euro cents per litre. That is less than is charged to cars.)
We were assigned a very nice dock, conveniently located and easy
to tie up to. For the first time in months, we actually quickly
washed the boat. There was so much salt by now. The boat looked
black. It really needs a polish, but who is inclined to polish when
we have to cover 60 plus nm daily???
harbor master had recommended for us to have dinner in the club
house. Unfortunately, they had a large group of people to serve.
We and a few other couples for sort of forced to have dinner outside,
a somewhat chilly affair. Still, Juergen's sole was excellent as
was my steak bearnaise. The wine was - o well, just some alcoholic
beverage but not anything to write home about.
dinner, we had attempted to call immigration. A police officer came
and stamped our passports - this is what we get for not coming from
a Schengen treaty country. He also indicated that, after our dinner,
someone would come to the boat to ask questions about the boat.
He did not have the questionnaire with him and, therefore, could
not complete the bureaucracy... After dinner, we waited for a while
but were so tired that we decided to go to sleep anyway. That was
a good thing because...
on foto to expand!
behind Zeebrugge - you see the enormous Cranes of this fairly
large Port Operation
9, 2006, Saturday
0520, two police men knocked on the boat. They were from the immigration
office and wanted to stamp our passports for our departure. They
sure were not interested in any details about our boat and explained
that with the requirement applying only to Belgian registered boats.
We left the dock around 0600. It was still dark outside - and quite
cold. The harbor is very large. It took us over 20 minutes to get
to the entrance. Again, we received clearance to depart just as
we had obtained clearance to enter yesterday afternoon. We hoped
for the sun to come up soon as it was very cold, much colder than
on any of the prior days.
the sun came up - see for yourself - a beautiful huge ball of fire,
but it took quite some time to warm us up just a bit. We had about
80 nm to cover to get all the way to Dover. We had the tide pushing
us to speeds reaching 10 knots. Unfortunately, this was not too
long-lived, and by the time we were near the coast of Calais (France)
and ready to cross the channel, the tide was strongly against us.
As the regulations require that we cross the shipping lanes at a
90 degree angle, we could not really make up for the tidal push,
unless we had crossed much further South. The seas started to build
as the wind also increased from about 5-6 Beaufort to 7 at times.
As wind and current opposed each other, the seas became humongous
(spelling?). It took us a very long time for the last 8-10 nm before
we finally got close enough to the harbor entrance that we could
call Dover Port Control for permission to enter through the West
entrance (the East entrance is reserved for ferries and other official
craft, not for pleasure craft like ours). Still, the seas had built
so much that I asked whether we could obtain special permission
to enter via the East entrance. The officer recommended for us to
move a little North where the waves would ease and then to continue
toward the West entrance. We did, and miraculously, things became
smoother so that Juergen did not have such a terrible time steering
Impromptu into the harbor.
harbor master assigned us a dock near the one from last year. In
the end, he asked us to move to our "old" slip anyway.
We paid our dues for the night and asked that he call immigration
for us. We were asked a bunch of questions (over the phone). Then
the immigration officer sent a fax to the harbor master's office
confirming free movement for us - British efficiency.
returned to Impromptu, played some Backgammon, did navigation for
the next day, had dinner and went to bed early. We agreed to depart
around 0800 though this would require battling the tide in the latter
part of the day.
on foto to expand!
the morning we left (September 10)
10, 2006, Sunday
we called Dover Port Control for clearance to leave, we were told
to stand by at the North South towers as a cruise ship was in the
process of entering and needed to tie up to its dock first. A coast
guard launch would advise us further. Another sailboat was also
waiting. After about 10 or 15 minutes or so, the officers on the
launch instructed us to follow them (though the cruise ship was
not docked yet). We did and this way, left Dover harbor around 0810.
weather was gorgeous, the sun brightly shining, there was almost
no wind, the sea was calm - where did all the waves from last night
go -. We had a nice little breakfast in the cockpit while underway
- a first this season. We slowly shed layer over layer of clothing
until we actually wore T-shirts and shorts! We did not see those
in more than four weeks. Life was good. The day was good. The coastline
was gorgeous, with lots of lime stone cliffs and villages along
the way, here and there a castle (or something that looked like
had lunch in the cockpit, the table set as if at a dock - placemats,
silverware, glasses (with wine though not our usual stemware). We
had potatoe salad and some wonderfully crunchy hotdogs and had lots
of fun. We discussed the continuation of our route, the miles still
to cover - we have not even covered half yet but will by the time
we are in Weymouth - about two sailing (motoring) days away. But
the weather seems to deteriorate. So who knows how long it will
take us to get there and when we will be able to leave from there
for the island of Guernsey?
matters stand right now, we plan on stopping in Guernsey for a day
or two, then to cover another 65-70 nm trip to Morlaix, France (Karen,
is that where your family originally came from?). From there, we
hope to do trips of preferably not more than 40 nm a day, in some
cases, we will have to cover around 50. Still, we hope that we will
find weather windows that let us enjoy the French coast of Brittany
for a while before we actually reach LaRochelle. Still, there are
many ifs buts and whens, but the 70 - 75 nm trip from Weymouth to
Guernsey seems doable, assuming we can find a decent day. So, all
in all, We might even still have some fun along the way. We will
keep you all posted whenever internet access is available. We had
hoped to have it here in Brighton. It seems that the signal is so
weak that we cannot even connect. So, please do not be disappointed
if you do not "hear" from us in a while or do not get
answers to your e-mails. It is all a function of internet access
- the story of my life... Be well till next time...
on foto to expand!
to Brighton Harbor - check out the enormous getty walls...
arrived in Brighton, tied up right near the harbor master's office
and were permitted to stay there for the night. We enjoyed the beautiful
sunshine for yet another few hours and went to bed early. The days
at sea wear us out, even on nice days. I guess it is all that fresh
air and the new impressions we gain each and every day, though,
sailing/motoring along the British coast felt a little like coming
home. Familiarity is a good thing....
11, 2006, Monday
chatted with a German couple on "Wanderer II" for a while.
They were planning to go to Argentina, but firswt stop over in the
Canary Islands for a few months, at least till January 2007. They
also admitted that they were exhausted after two or three days of
bad weather (who would not be???) and that they might never complete
the trip, that they already today allowed for the possibility that
they would not like sailing this much and might return home early.
tide was still against us but we hoped for some nice current in
our favor as we would move into the Solent. So we cast off our lines
and Juergen put the engine in reverse. We went for a few yards and
then moved back to where we had started out as if tied to the dock
with at least one line. I double-checked everything. There was no
line attached. Juergen tried again - same story. In the end, we
tied a long spring line to the bow. Someone on the dock tied it
to a cleat then asked Juergen to rev the engine forward full blast.
The stern swung away from the dock. Juergen reversed the engine,
again full blast - maybe not full - we moved right back towards
the dock. We did the manoeuvre again while five people were trying
to push our bow away from the dock. The spring line was thrown back
to us. We barely made it past the dock - but we made it. We have
never experienced anything like that - really scary and somewhat
nerve wrecking as there was a brand new boat in front of us which
we were concerned to run into - so was its owner...
arrived in Cowes in the late afternoon and were delighted to see
some of the sailboats practicing for the next race... We were allocated
a nice and convenient dock, paid for the night and walked around
Cowes a bit. The town is very picturesque, with a small pedestrian
street lined with lots of shops. We even found a wonderful little
restaurant, Murrays, where we enjoyed a nice meal and the first
really good bottle of wine in quite some time.
on foto to expand!
at the Solent
those of you who have their Office Hours, this may be an interesting
12, 2006, Tuesday
had been seeing "flies" in the past few days, flies that
did not exist. I was concerned as I had read about the symptoms
of retina detachment and its dangers, and I was concerned. The harbor
master recommended for us to take a taxi to St. Marys Hospital,
which we did. After the usual paperwork and a brief description
of Juergen's symptoms and a 15-20 minute wait, Juergen was escorted
into an examination room - I in tow. He was interviewed by two "nurses"
or technicians, then a doctor came to check his eyes. He did not
seem to think that it was anything like the beginning of retina
detachment but rather some sort of foreign object that was still
floating around in Juergen's eye which, however, he felt, was going
to disappear, particularly since the symptoms were not constant.
Thanks to the British healthcare system, we paid nothing, called
a cab to go back to town.
rest of the day, we walked around town, had lunch overlooking the
harbor, made some purchases for the boat and retired early. Juergen
also spoke to someone on a German boat that looked like a long-distance
sailor and invited two of the crew over for a glass of wine. They
were planning to take the boat to Falmouth, then move with just
the owner and one of the crew towards Portugal. The owner and another
person of the crew later joined us for more wine. At least we could
sleep late the next morning while they wanted to depart with the
tide at 0500.
13, 2006, Wednesday
had done some navigation and decided not to go to Weymouth but to
go to Yarmouth, still on the Isle of Wight, and to move to Guernsey
from there, hopefully catching the tide at least to a degree. I
went to the internet cafe in Cowes to get the latest weather forecast
and to check our e-mails. Who knows when we will have internet access
again? Juergen, in the meanwhile, checked the tidal charts to ensure
timely arrival in Guernsey. The trip to Yarmouth did not take long
(approx. 10 nm). We were allocated a dock by the "Berthing
Master" who drives around in a Boston Whaler type boat and
greets every yacht arriving in this rather small harbor. We took
a dock from which one could walk into town - for an extra charge
of Pound Sterling 12.50. Had we known... The town was very touristy
and without any personality. We walked around for barely half an
hour and went straight back to the boat. We went to bed real early
as we wanted to depart at 0430 the next morning. We would have about
95 nm to cover...
14, 2006, Thursday
was pouring at 0350 and I was wondering why we would pick such a
terrible day for such a long and somewhat scary trip, scary as the
books write horror stories about the seas and the currents in the
rocky area of the Channel Islands. We almost agreed to depart the
next day only, when the rain stopped. We jumped up, got ready and,
by 0430, we cast off our lines. The first ferry was exiting the
was eery driving out of this unfamiliar place but the buoys were
well lit for us to find our way through the channel out of the Solent
and into the English Channel. It began to rain again, then fog set
in. We turned on our radar as well as our AIS and watched for large
ships as we were nearing the shipping lanes and, a few hours later,
also another Traffic Separation System (TSS) which we crossed at
an almost 90 degree angle. Barely ten nm later, we saw a group of
rocky islands. Was this "Casqets" already?, the island
we had used as our waypoint to find Guernsey? Juergen was convinced,
I was skeptical but agreed in the end. It looked beautiful, but
also threatening as the current ran strong and the waves were crashing
onto the rocks with huge spouts of white foam. We moved towards
the next two waypoints, always watching carefully and adjusting
for the set off of the current. A large pod of porpoises swam around
our boat and enjoyed the bow wave we created. Then they disappeared.
We had seen some seagulls and birds of the size of cormorants, dark
but with nice markings, heavily complaining when Impromptu got a
little too close for their comfort. Those were the only sign of
wildlife on this trip.
speed ferry passed us on its way to England. At their speed, they
would barely take three hours to get there - how lucky. We finally
reached the lighthouse, the entrance to St. Peter Port harbor. I
called the marina for instructions. The tide had run out though
we had terrific currents with us in the past two hours. We could
not enter the yacht harbor but were instructed to tie up to a pontoon
and to await further instructions. Soon thereafter, we were given
custom forms to fill out - to be deposited in one of the yellow
custom mail boxes around the harbor once we were tied up inside.
We were also told that we could not enter the yacht harbor until
2245 that night. I was upset and exhausted and wanted to go to sleep.
Of course, I waited with Juergen till then. An Englishman on his
way back home, came aboard to give us some hints on harbors and
restaurants, also a museum of salvage which is supposed to have
terrific photographs.... He eased my mind regarding the currents.
At 2245, when nobody came to get us, we started moving towards the
yacht harbor. The light was green and the water sufficiently high
over the rock barrier, the natural means to keep the depth in the
yacht harbor at a minimum level.
15, 2006, Friday
a good night sleep, we went to the custom office. Guernsey is not
part of the EU. We wanted a stamp to prove our being here. He gave
us a marina stamp as proof. Then we walked around town. It very
much reminds us of Bermuda, except it has more life, better stores,
lots more restaurants and lots more people, not just tourists. We
already decided to stay for four nights. We found an internet cafe
we will go to so Juergen can finally upload detailed charts of the
French coast, and I can hopefully upload our website and check e-mails.
Thanks to all of you who are writing from time to time!!!
just a few pictures of our first impression of St. Peter Port:
on foto to expand!
Peter Port, a Tidal Harbor
"ledge" to the Yacht Harbor
of the Town taken from Impromptu