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.

Author: captain

Johannes, born in 1960 at Zierikzee, The Netherlands, and living in Nacka, Sweden. Owner of S/Y Isabell.

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