Back Home again!
28 August 2012: 27 Clickers Rd
Well, it’s taken a bit of time to get round to the last blog entry, but here goes.
As planned we left Cuxhaven at 4am on Saturday 18 August. It was dark! The ebb in the R Elbe had been going about an hour – the neighbours left at 3, and there was a fleet of boats that followed us out. The harbour goes straight out into the main shipping channel, and, because it takes time to acquire night vision, it takes time to orient to the navigation lights in the river. Just as luck would have it a big cargo ship, covered with lights, was just approaching to disorient at the start of the passage.
The passage down the German Bight was uneventful. It was hot! And very light winds on Friday. The uncharted wind farm works off the Ems has grown significantly since the passage out, and was very visible in the day time. The only real excitement was the arrival of a fleet of racing pigeons for whom the boat proved to be a magnetic attraction as a rest stop. One arrived, and then another two. They drank large quantities of water, and left mementoes to be cleaned up afterwards. Great reluctance to leave the safety of the boat and carry on – in the end Roger had to shoo them away as we approached Ijmuiden. The journey took 36 hours almost on the nail.
The harbour at Ijmuiden is a good facility. The architecture is determinedly nautical – flats that are designed to look like liners etc.
The harbour master was on the fuel berth (top up of only 150l as the diesel on offer was 50% biofuel) and directed us to a box mooring on the India/ Juliet pontoon; where we moored next to a big Swan named Asia. There was a lovely “Grey Wave” motor boat opposite (Andrew and Anna) who are members of the Royal Netherlands YC and who had links with members of the RNSYC. He was retired, but had some very interesting perspectives on why British engineering had been supplanted. We had a nice evening with them. The weather continued to be very hot – on Sunday the forecast was for the hottest day in the Netherlands since WW2 – 38 degrees, although it was cooler by the coast. The beach was heaving with people, and a forest of bikes parked in the dunes.
The weather had changed and the window for travelling back to Lowestoft had come forward. The result was that we didn’t make it to Amsterdam (a shame!) but Maya and Wil came to visit us on Monday. It was Maya’s birthday on Sunday so we celebrated late. We drank cava on the boat and then went for a “simple lunch” (Wil’s phrase) on the beach. We ate mussels – the first of the holiday.
The plan was to leave Ijmuiden at 9pm, and motor sail back to Lowestoft before the westerly wind filled in on Wednesday. Lowestoft is c 100 miles due east of Ijmuiden. We left on plan, in murky weather which became fog as the light faded. Vis was appalling. Looking forward 10m to the nav lights on the front of the boat you could see the fog swirling round; perversely, looking up, the top of the mast (c20m) was clear. I called the coastguard, who advised that that the forecast for Humber/ Thames was good; locally fog – and that Ijmuiden area was notorious for fog up to 10 miles offshore. Despite these reassurances we had a very uncomfortable three hours (about 15 miles.) Roger worked at the chart table with the radar, AIS and electronic charts to work out how to avoid the myriad of obstructions that we never saw – including a bevy of anchored boats. Usable vis was about 20 yards. Then, all of a sudden, at about midnight, you could look up and see the stars – and then the fog round us cleared. Looking back there was a huge container vessel crossing our stern. Roger had done a grand job.
From there the journey was straightforward, and we got into Lowestoft as planned at 3.30 BST Tuesday. Everyone was very pleased to see us: our neighbours Richard Ashton and Richard (he of the popemobile) took our lines, and Terry across the way came for a cup of tea. Jenny and Bryan came down and joined us in the club for supper. On Wednesday we caught the “fast” 11am train back to Norwich with the bikes, and cleared the boat on Thursday. So, all well, and home safely.