Landfall The Netherlands!
29 June 2011 – Breskens, The Netherlands
Arrived Breskens at about 5.15pm BST, with Dutch courtesy flag flying and all fenders and lines deployed. The welcome pontoon had loads of space, and Roger reversed in to ensure we faced head to wind. But the Dutch neighbours directly behind us assured us that there would be no problem, and we would not be moved on… and the harbour master was not about when I called in (a 20 minute round trip on foot from the visitors pontoon! And signage saying no bicycling although this rule is disobeyed by the harbour master. At 5.45 we set off back to the harbour office but were overtaken by the harbourmaster on his bike (sic) who asked that we move to another berth as he was expecting 60 boats from the UK tomorrow. He directed us to Echo 11, which he described as a box berth. Roger was not happy, fearing that the paint might get scratched. As we motored to the berth he directed me to pull in all the fenders, as he expected the berth to be too narrow. But Oh Joy, Oh Bliss: these box moorings turned out to be “vingersteiger” finger pontoon, so we are moored most snugly, with a full set of fenders. Separated by a similar language – but not quite similar enough! One bonus of being in “near” Europe: Radio 4 on 198 LW on the transistor radio in the cockpit as I write.
We left Dunkerque at 8.30BST and got through the harbour entrance at about 9am. The wind was a very favourable north westerly and Magnetic Attraction scorched up the inshore coastal passage on a beam reach. Not too sporty, although two eggs got broken as I opened the fridge door as we hit a wave and the eggs bounced (literally, I fear) on to the floor. A speedy passage, with favourable tide: off Nieuwppoort by 10am, and Oostende by midday. Because the wind was from behind, it was sunny and warm: no oilskins needed. After Zeebrugge (c2pm) the tide slackened off and moved adverse – in consequence the iron tops’l went on as we took the sails down and by the time we reached Breskens we had a 2.5kn tide against us in the Westerschelde.
The marina, municipally run, is quiet and peaceful. It’s surrounded by a high sea wall. As we sailed in, it felt so like Norfolk! The wide skies and flat terrain, the sea walls and the wind farms. Big Skies!
We plan to stay 2 days and do some cycling. The harbourmaster requires attendance tomorrow morning: and have been advised by the neighbours that we can buy live lobster from a local fisherman on the town quay. They bought a whopper, @ 1.7kg and were worried that their pans weren’t large enough. I can’t manage one larger than 1.5kg but Hey! Tomorrow’s supper, spoken for!