Cuxhaven, Germany 53:52.089N 008:42.372E
Frans & Sarah Toonen
Thu 25 May 2017 19:00
Thursday 25 May 2017. 154.5nm. 9.0 engine hours. Weather: W3 on departure building to NW4 overnight, gusting 5. 11-15°C, Overcast with some sun and a big fog patch. Passage 24.75 hours - jolly fast.
We departed West Terschelling by the Schuitengat channel at high water. This is a short cut to the open sea and we have not taken it before. In preparation, Frans asked several local skippers, the Harbour Master and the chandler who all said it was 2m at half tide and so we set off at high water and the short cut saved us an hour. The least depth we found was 3.2m at the SG5 buoy per our Navionics chart.
Our passage east past Terschelling was downwind and rolly but the cruising chute gave us good speed all day and we took it in when we saw a cloud bank approaching around 1800. Sure enough, the wind speed built so we were timely. The batteries were struggling to hold their charge and so we had to use the engine from time to time to charge up as Frans does not tolerate the noisy wind generator very well sometimes. The AIS was playing up with the connection dropping out. Frans reconnected the unit late in the evening and this seemed better.
The lazy crew had retired to bed around 8pm and at 2am Frans had to get her up because a fog bank was building right at the shipping channel junction where the commercial vessels turn in and out for Bremerhaven across our track. There is an anchorage for the ships near the junction as well and there was plenty of traffic. Sarah dressed as quickly as her 5 layers allowed and took her post at the chart plotter on deck. Frans is the night eyes and watches the ships in real time whilst Sarah reports their speed, CPA (closest point of approach) and size. This information helps Frans decide whether to slow down to pass behind them, speed up to go in front or just get the hell out of the way. All rather tricky if fog builds. At one point there were 50 contacts on the screen, a range of about 15 miles. The fog bank passed thankfully and the adrenaline woke Frans up a treat - not sure if Sarah has any.
Both crew on deck we continued to the mouth of the Elbe. This wide and shallow river mouth (used by commercial vessels to reach Hamburg and the Baltic) set in the SE corner of the German bight can create dangerous seas due to the currents created by the tide and wind. Our passage planning showed that we had to be there at 7am to take the tide with us up river. Although we were on time and double checked everything we had as much as 3 knots against us and unpleasant seas for a time. The current did not turn until 2 and a half hours later as we reached the harbour entrance at Cuxhaven. This was just as well as getting in a small hole with 4 knots across it is a challenge. Phew, we were glad to get through the road bridge and inside the old harbour.
We moored up alongside and couldn’t find the Harbour Master. Unfortunately he turned up just as we were walking out sleep deprived to find breakfast and we had to move to another position. Although it was a holiday weekend the town was deserted. We found an Italian place and were their first customers for pizza and wine for breakfast at noon. Cuxhaven is quite modern and a bit scruffy in places. The streets are lined with red hawthorn which was in flower so that cheered it up no end. It has a very long promenade and sandy beach protected by breakwaters parallel to the shore to stop the sand being washed away no doubt. There were thousands of double beach chairs made of wicker (plastic wicker) with sides, hoods and reaching the ground so wind from 3 directions could be stopped. Essential in the German bight perhaps.
Friday was chores day as we cleaned and tidied the boat ready for our guests. There were still several bags to unpack and stow and the forward cabin had to be emptied as all boaties know that ones kit expands to fill the space available. Frans had to install a new shower/sink tap in the forward heads as the old one had corroded solid over winter. The new one had been delivered to Ma and Pa so it caught up with us in Terschelling. The tap in connected in a small cupboard in the tiny round shower cubicle and so Frans was on his knees in the passage bending into the heads past the loo and around into the cubicle - nasty. The hose tails were a different length of course but the chandlery had everything he needed and the en-suite facilities were fully ready for Jan and Deb’s arrival.
Thick fog descended on Friday evening, really thick with only 100-200m visibility. The forecast was for it to linger the next day - yuk. The morning brought clear blue skies however and yet another treat, we found a Lidl and loaded up with as many provisions as we could carry. We also treated ourselves to a new winch handle at the nice chandlers. It’s now a favourite item and really does wind at lot easier than the old one.
Pa & Ma came to see us off as the fast boat arrived from Harlingen.
Pa & Ma with the Brandaris in the background.
Having to motor for the first 6 hours we alleviated the boredom with looking for the AIS contact of the Terschelling ferry on which Jennifer & family were heading home.
Moored on in Cuxhaven.