Night convoy through Amsterdam city center and going south

We are going to sail the staande mast route during the night. Announcement of our intent to join was necessary but not possible. Our Six Haven neighbors decided to join us on the same route. We get ready and leave the dock at 22:30 hours. It’s a full moon. Clear skies and still warm. On the way to the convoy starting point in the old Westerkanaal sluice we picked up Armin, who had been working until 22:00 at Amsterdam CS. Seven other boats are waiting for the event. My sister Corine and Armin sit and eat crackers and cheese while the captain takes a nap. At midnight we are notified that the first bridge will open at 01:35. After sleeping a bit we get on our way. Bridge after bridge show us the green light and we’re moving forward swiftly. The lights on the water surface and the boats around are beautiful. At 03:15 we reach the lake Nieuwe meer, and are out of the city center. After another fifteen minutes we come to the bridges across the main highway and railroad tracks. It’s not opening until 05:00. We go to sleep with the radio on to listen when we’re back on track. At five minutes to five o’clock we get the green light again. Armin and I drive the boat until we get to a lake, Brasemmermeer. We drop anchor in Lee of a park-like patch of land, and go to sleep.

After we wake up at 10 am, eat breakfast and get going to the city of Leiden. It’s raining and we are pretty much by ourselves as we putter along. The bridges open quickly and efficiently. We’re in Leiden before short. The electronic signs at the bridge into the center tell us the harbours are full. We find a small marina at Waardeiland. Here we leave Isabell and go into town. It’s been great.

Actually got sailing wind – we are rolling along

Hello again! Now I am sitting in the Sixhaven marina in the center of Amsterrdam. Position 52°22.5’N 004°54,2’E

I sailed away from Lemmer on Thursday morning and got a fine sail down to the sluices at Enkhuizen. A good few boats are out, but the IJsselmeer lake is huge and there is plenty of room to navigate. Get the windvane to steer and the sun comes out along the way. Great to finally be sailing with all the sails up. Get to the sluices just after lunchtime. It is warm (27°C) and the wind dies down a good bit after the sluices. I motorsail down to the little harbour at Wijdenes, where I will be getting some company. I visit the Church of Wijdenes, where my brother in law runs a music studio. He is a producer and musician. Isabell is anchored just outside the harbour, since the harbour is very tiny and there are lots of people bathing and celebrating the sun. I take a bike ride through the countryside on Friday, and after that we take a super nice sailing round of the Markermeer. Reyn and Cloutilde are enjoying the sail as much as I am. They were afraid that I would be tired of sailing by now. No way! It’s great.

Then I dropped them off at Wijdenes and continued alone to the town of Hoorn, where I went in to the Grashaven, a super nice marina just outside the old town. This town is a must see. Surprise, surprise, the boat spot I was appointed to is right next to two (TWO) other Monsuns. The folks are on their boats and we have a nice chat. Here we are, Isabell in the company of Thalia (#716) and Pelagos (#706). In this same harbour also Monsun Pandorak 2 has its berth, but she’s not in the harbour.

After a good rest and some early morning shopping and sightseeing, my sister Lisette joins me at the dock. She took the train here, and will follow along on our sail to Amsterdam. We leave just before lunch, the sun disappears behind a haze and some clouds, but it is still warm.

We sail with a full sail setting and get to Amsterdam way ahead of the schedule I set. I had missed that there are a bridge and sluice to cross before Amsterdam. Luckily we got the fenders out and some lines just in time for pulling through the well-filled sluices. We got through very smoothly. And then we motored into the center of the city. Crowded as ever, but there is a berth in Sixhaven harbour. It is close to everything, and a good place to sit to wait for the night time convoy through the bridges of Amsterdam.

We take the ferry (free of charge) into town and go for dinner somewhere. At the Central Station we are picked up by the police. Actually is my brother in law who works for the Amsterdam police force. He takes us on a private tour through the city center, driving across tram tracks, over the Dam square and Rembrandt plein. Lots of people, since this week was supposed to be Pride Festival week here. Although it is cancelled, the people are here. We go out and eat on the Zeedijk and then my sister takes the train home. I take the ferry back to Isabell. What a wonderful day it has been.

Today my other sister will come aboard and follow along to Leiden. Her partner will join us through the Amsterdam canals, since he has been a water policeman here in the town and knows the routine. I am going to do some shopping and rest a bit until this evenings event. The night time sails through the Amsterdam canals. Cheers!

Large convoy swiftly puttered along to Lemmer to come to a halt completely

Sure enough, I got up the anchor at 09:00 am and motored to the next bridge to conquer. There were already lots of boats waiting for the opening. As we waited, more boats gathered up. By the time the convoy got moving we were at least 20 sailboats and about 10 huge motor yachts. Several of the sailboats were the traditional dutch flat-bottomed beauties. And we moved along fine from bridge to bridge. Before I knew it we were in the last town before coming out on the large inland lake IJsselmeer. I found a harbour spot and went shopping in the town Lemmer. Also had my first damage report of the year 2020. Going into the berthing place I did not see the pole to which the rear of the boat is to be tied up. In tidal water these poles are very tall. But not here. They are only about a meter above water level. Bam! Struck it with the bow anchor. The pole got a huge dent and my anchor roller got bent out of shape. Shit happens once in a while. Anyway, the town is very nice. Busy with tourists. It rained during the night. In the morning I biked around the place.

In the afternoon I got ready to go sailing on the lake and after slowly making my way through town, more bridges to open and a nice old sluice to be lifted up with, I got out on the lake.

And yet I am still in Lemmer. After plowing the waves with a 25 to 30 knots wind coming straight at me, I decided to turn back. My theory is that the province of Friesland has paid the weather gods to prevent tourists from leaving. You can get here, easily. But not leave. Of course another theory could be that I deserve more head wind, since I have not turned around yet, to sail homeward bound.

Now I am in another harbour, along the beach walking boulevard of the town. Just in front of the local casino. Lots of people walk by and have positive comments about Isabell. They know Hallberg Rassy here. Some even notice the “Nacka, Sweden” on the back of the boat and then seem to be impressed. Fun to sit inside and listen to the comments. It is still raining now and then. So I stay at home. Tomorrow is another day of touristing then. I will keep you posted on my non-progress.

Dokkum and Leeuwarden on one day

Last night it rained a lot. Great! Washed away all the North sea salt and other grime off the boat. Isabell is all white and shiny again. This morning I took a long bike ride along the fantastic bicycle paths in this country. Biked all around Dokkum and along the canal that I came on, the Ee, and it was a nice trip that recalled many childhood memories. Since it was a Sunday, similar to Germany, everything is closed. So, in the afternoon, when the boat convoy passed by, I followed along and continued to the big city of Leeuwarden. It is fun to keep meeting the same boats in the convoy or moored along the route. We are all heading the same way.

When I got to Leeuwarden, all the berthing places where occupied. Tons of tourists in town. So I kept going further until 19:00 hrs, when the bridges are closed for the day. I sneaked into a small side water in the local business park. I scraped bottom of what looks like a decent ditch. Dropped anchor, which did not take much chain. I am basically sitting in the mud anyhow, so I will probably be here still in the morning. The surrounding area is green and relatively quiet. Continue when the bridges are manned tomorrow. Good evening!

Convoy motoring through the canals on the staande mast route

Yesterday I sluiced into the Eems canal at Delfzijl. We were three sailboats and one big motor yacht. After sluicing, we kept each other company on the way. Max speed we may go is slow, to minimize erosion of the canal sides. And there is a shitload of bridges to open, for us to pass through. Pretty cool, when we keep the ordinated speed, the bridges opened each time we are just in front of them. It went very smoothly, until we came to the bridges in the highway around Groningen. Those only open after 18.30 on weekdays. We all waited, and waited, and waited some more. I had moored on the outside of a german Hallberg Rassy. Got to talk with the couple, and they were so nice. They just started their holiday. Were going a little sight seeing here and there. They had done this route before, and I got a lot of practical tips. As the bridges finally opened, we could not get into the city by boat, because the other bridges only open between 9:30 am and 18:00 pm. The germans showed me into a tiny little guest harbour. It was a good place. They were in the same harbour, only two other boats between us. In the evening they invited me over and we sat and chatted for quite a while.

Then, this morning, we got out in time for the westbound convoy of masted boats, starting at 9:30. The other boats from yesterday were there, as well as five other yachts. In a long line we puttered along slowly. Sometimes, the distance between the bridges was too short for us to fit. But everyone took it slowly and carefully. No more than a continuous adrenaline rush. The same man operated a bunch of bridges. After he had closed the one behind us, he hopped on his Vespa brommer and rushed to the next, to open it. And so on. After the so manieth bridge I lost count.

Well out of the city, the surrounding areas were mostly the typical dutch pastures. The smell of cow dung hung heavy in most places. But then there were windmills, fishing gear, horses, many birds, and much more to enjoy. The further we got along, the fewer boats were left in the convoy. After passing the town of Zoutkamp, we were only two boats going further. The other boat I lost on the Lautermeer, a lake. The last few bridges and one more sluice I was all by myself again. And I came as far as the old town of Dokkum. Tired, a bit hungry, but very pleased with the whole experience. In spite of the occasional rain showers it became a fun day. Tomorrow I am going sightseeing in town. Goodnight.

Sailing the Waddenzee was a great experience

Where am I now? Position 53°19.8’N 006°55.9’E guest harbour Neptunes in the sea habour of Delfzijl, The Netherlands

Today I have sailed across the shallows of the Waddenzee between Norderney and Delfzijl. Made a record speed and it was a great experience. The waves are small as there is only a few feet of water to sail in. In the morning I raced out on the high tide current. In the afternoon I picked up the ingoing current of two knots and hardy southwesterly breeze to help me along. Saw several seals, and passed right by some trawling fishing boats. First I was lucky to follow the island ferry boat as my guide, later I caught up with another sailing boat, of which the crew seemed to know the way past the shallows.

Now I am here, the harbour is deep in the seaside port. But very close to the old town. You go under a medieval city gate in the sea wall, and you are there.

Now the canals are next. Tomorrow morning I will go through the seaside sluices and I am on my way. Until then, I need a rest.

Hello and goodbye North sea

Where am I now? Guest harbour of Norderney in the Waddenzee.

Yesterday I sailed away from Cuxhaven with the turning of the tide, at 4.30 am. It was just becoming light and the wind low from the northwest, direction I was going to. A lot of big ships going every direction. With the outgoing tidal currents I made my way fast out of the Elbe, averaging 8 knots. Then I came around the infamous bend, meeting the North sea. The sea went nuts, waves steep as walls, coming from everywhere. Currents ripping the boat out of course violently. I was warned for this place. But it still scared me. This was a true test for Isabell’s capacity. She handled well, in spite of the shaky pilot at the helm. It was hell. Same thing as I sailed past the mouth of the Weser and Jade rivers, but less intense currents. On the North sea small boats have to follow a small area near the Waddenzee islands, the inshore traffic zone. I kept coming into very shallow water, since I was tacking against the wind. There the waves break violently. It was a battle with waves, wind and the sea bottom. Twice I took down the sails, before squalls hit me. I saw them coming. Sea spray whipping across the boat sent tears to my eyes, of course not because I was sad or happy, but because of the salt. When I got to Norderney in the evening, everything on the boat has a white salty crust.

Now I am in the Waddenzee, great. Tomorrow I will sail the flats at high tide. From here to Delfzijl is a route with two dry areas at low tide. So timing is the key to making it across, or fall dry in the Memmert flats. I am doing the calculations from the tidal table now. Also will be looking for boats to follow across. Until then I am touristing the island.

Germany on a Sunday, Cuxhaven

Where am I now? Position 53°52.3’N 08°42.18’E. Cuxhaven guest harbour

So I got up at 4.30 am and was ready to go. It is a Sunday in Germany. No sluicing before 8 am. Sure enough, I got out of the canal at eight. All by myself in the big lock. Then out on the Elbe, shipping highway to Hamburg. A lot of shipping. But I got to Cuxhaven quickly. Bunkered diesel, and found out that I had 70 liter left in the tank. All of yesterdays worries were unnecessary…

It is a challenge to get to sail in tidal water. I have a lot to learn. Here is another monsun in port, and the owner recognized me from the website. Always great to meet Monsun sailors. On the way here I saw several seals swim by. They looked at me from very close to the boat. Other than that, I am a bit tired. I will continue to Delfzijl tomorrow. Cheers.

Motor sailor Isabell

Now I have reached the end of the canal between the Baltic sea and the north sea, which is actually the start of it. They start counting kilometers from here, Brunsbuttel. On this trip the wind was low and the weather fantastic. Warm, sunny. Traffic on the canal varied between the moments I felt I had it to myself, and sometimes ships and yachts came from both sides at once. Then the canal suddenly felt small and too thin.

The whole passage is 98 kilometers of motoring. And there was not a single tank station along the way. I was uncertain about how much fuel I had and it was stressful to worry about the consequences of a fuel deficiency. Ahhgh! But I got here. Then in this huge harbour there is only one gas station for yachts. And it is closed most of the time. So, upon my late arrival last night I took my spare gas can and biked to the nearest gas station in town. Now I feel better. Don’t want to run out when there is no wind.

At the moment I am waiting for the sluices to wake up on a Sunday morning. Not much happening here. Patience. See you on the other side.

So long Baltic sea, I will be back

Where am I now? Rendsburg, Germany

So much has happened since I left Sweden. I had a tough sail through Danish territory. As I approached the cliffs of Mon I was stopped by the Danish coast guard. I told them my destination and sailing plan. They informed me about the area being unsafe for night sailing due to the construction of a huge wind power farm and because the pilons still were unlit. They said they would follow me through the area and direct me to safe water. They escorted me for a couple of hours and we held radio contact all the time. They were quite nice and gave me some good advice.

It started raining and the shipping was intense after dark. The radar alarm kept setting off. Not much sleep that night. When it became light it became less traffic and stopped raining. I could rest some then, while Isabell sailed on with the wind vane steering down to Gedser. Got around the getser reef early in the morning. As I crossed the shipping lanes between Denmark and Germany it was easy. Not much traffic. At lunch time the wind died altogether. So down with the sails and the autopilot took the helm. Many hours of motoring due west. I reached Fehmarn later in the afternoon. Crossed under the bridge there with the wind picking up from the northwest. Up went the sails and I had six hours of good wind going due west. At two in the afternoon the sea went smooth as a mirror and I motored six more hours. Sunny, warm, and relaxed. Got to Kiel in the evening. I looked around for a guest harbour. Then my sister called and we met at the mouth of the sluices at Holtenau. Went to sleep a few hours and then motored to the waiting area for the canal sluices. Slept some more, paid the canal fees and my sister came aboard to accompany me through the canal on the first section down to Rendsburg. It was sunny and warm. Not much ship traffic. Sluicing went smoothly and we motored along with a friendly german couple who gave lots of great advice. In Rendsburg I parked in the guest harbour near the town and we walked to a campsite where my brother in law already set up camp and started the barbeque. It was nice. Now I am alone again, back in the boat. Tomorrow I will continue the canal to Brunsbuttel. 35 NM to go. Now I need some sleep. Goodnight.