Back at Sea and the Keystone Cops

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 7 Aug 2009 14:41
Position at 1500: 52 24.0 N 004 25.4 E
Course: South sou'west Speed: 6 knots
Wind: West nor'west, light
Weather: Hazy, warm

After a good nights sleep, the crew - what's left of it - was called, a leisurely breakfast was enjoyed by all hands, then it was time to weigh anchor and proceed to sea. But first we had to motor about 19 miles of canals from Durgerdam to IJmuiden. I was soon back into the swing of coming alongside single handed again as we tied up to a waiting pontoon for a bridge and a couple of locks, fortunately the wind was light so it was a relatively easy re-education. All was going very well, we were over half way through and making good time when a Dutch police boat started tailing me and a little while later one of the crew indicated they were going to come alongside me and told me to hold my course and speed. They were quite a deal bigger than me, about 20 odd meters I would guess, and I thought this is going to be interesting, in the not so good version of the expression. It seems they thought better of this particular manoeuvre because they then told me to divert into a side canal and for me to come alongside them. This we did and I had just tied up to them when they decided this was not such a good idea either as the wind was blowing them and Sylph onto the nearby bank. They threw my lines back to me after having deposited one of their number on board and left me to my devices while they tried to extricate themselves from a self induced sticky wicket. I tried to back out but it was obvious that now I was aground. Great! The Keystone Cops would have been proud of this little debacle. I had the engine full astern and for a while nothing happened but think the larger police boats wiggling back and forth actually managed to help dislodge Sylph, and we slid backwards along their black rubbered side, leaving some nice untidy marks along Sylph's topsides. Now they wanted me to tie alongside a nearby pontoon where they would complete their investigations. I asked if I had done anything wrong but I was relieved to hear that no, just routine check. Well we all checked out OK, I suspect they did a less than thorough examination based on a little deserved embarrassment on their part. One advantage of it all is that the inspecting officer said that I did not clear out of Holland and I was good for Belgium, my next destination as they are part of the Schlengen agreement. I am not sure whether this accords with my information being a non-EU citizen but who am I to argue with the police.

With a few further marks to my topsides to scrub I am really going to have to find a nice quiet little bay where I can spend a few days painting.

Now we have cleared the last large lock at Ijmuiden and are back on the salt bitter sea. Next stop, God willing, Blankenberge, Belgium, 90 miles and hopefully an overnight sail away. So far so good, we are on a close reach with a light breeze making good six plus knots - a fair bit of push from the tidal stream but this will change in a few hours and undoubtedly average out to little advantage. It is quite hazy at the moment so I need to keep a good look out. For now I am relying on a kitchen timer to ensure I look around at regular intervals; the glorified egg timer, ie the 'Watch Commander' having given up the ghost back in Scotland. I need to find an electronic store to see if I can get some parts.

Back at sea with the wind vane steering I was free to re-assemble the salt water pump having allowed some glue to dry overnight. Unfortunately my repair was a failure, and the pump leaked as soon as I reconnected the water and tried to pump. I doubt whether I shall be able to find a replacement diaphragm for this particular model in this part of the world, undoubtedly will have to buy a whole new pump - bother!
Minor issues and .

All is well.

Bob Cat

Meeeowarrgh!! That's what I think. Back to the sea berth, bouncing around again. No Thomas and no suitcase to sleep on. Nothing heard from Elbourt either, though as skipper Bob was re-assembling the salt water pump I am sure I heard an gleeful, evil little chuckle from somewhere.
I'd best sleep on this .. Zzzzzzz.