10 July 2011 – Magnetic Attraction, Breskens Marina
Sunday evening, and a bit further along on the homeward leg. As I registered with the harbour master here (the one that is known as being a “wise nose”) he asked why we only wanted to spend one night in the perfect spot – and then spoilt the impression by warning us off the fish merchants where we bought lobster, directing us instead to one of the other (conventional) fish shops. When I said how pleased we had been with the last lobster, he said “well, sometimes you are lucky – but don’t push your luck!” Notwithstanding we went to select Vladimir, who weighed in at just over a kilo and was particularly energetic. He cost a princely 42euros.
We left Wemeldinge at 10.20 local time, and went straight into the canal with high hopes of a swift transit – motoring in behind a barge transporting Mercedes cars. But he was making a better speed than Magnetic Attraction can sustain, and so although the Postbrug was lifted for him about 2miles in, the bridge was closing before any of the recreational boat pack arrived. Two more barges came along, but were low enough to pass under the bridge: the three boats with masts milled around for about half an hour until the bridge lifted again. Then…. Whoosh: the first boat was through before the traffic light turned green! The next bridges were rail and road, built on one pier, that opened differentially. Weird! Here is a pic.
From there it was the approaches to the Hansveert sluis: a massive structure with two big locks into the Westerschelde. We were directed into the eastern lock by traffic control: only for them to change their mind when another barge came up to take the last available spaces. So off we all roared into the western lock, moored up towards the front, and waited for the lock to fill up with commercial traffic. Two enormous barges slid into the back of the sluis, one on each side. Before we knew it the front gates were open and we disgorged into the Westerschelde Roger called traffic control twice using the info practised last night – the first call to Verkeerspost Wemeldinge at the start of the canal, and then Hansveert Sluis; on both occasions getting the respect of a response! It was fascinating – I wouldn’t have missed this leg of the trip for anything!
The wind has been on the nose all the way – even the jib hasn’t had an outing. There was a hiccup with the pilotage – the sands have shifted since 2004, the date of the electronic charts, and although there was a buoyed channel it wasn’t at all clear where the track was leading. So it was a case of watching the depths closely and hoping for the best.
Off to Dunkirk tomorrow. The wind looks like being from a favourable direction until Thursday, but will get up to 30 knots from the NE by then. So the incentive is not to linger.