Got through the Kiel Canal and the last sluice

Where am I now? At the waiting area next to the Holtenau sluices.

Yesterday I got into the Canal at Brunsbuttel after a long wait for the Alte schlusse. From there I was basically the only sailboat going to the Baltic. All other smaller boats went toward the Elbe. Some huge ships passed by, but most of the time I had the Canal to myself. It was hot both yesterday and today. The sunroof and extra sheet saved my life. I spent the night in the short canal at Giselau locks. Woke up to the hammering and sawing of the jetty repairs. Then I realized it was a Monday. Workday for some people.

Today I went out through the huge sluice at Holtenau all by myself. Made me feel kinda selfish. What excellent service, free of charge this time.

Now the wind is going to blow from the southwest. Still little wind tomorrow, but in my sails. Great! I am sailing home.

Back in the Elbe after surfing the tide

Where am I now? VC Cuxhaven marina

Yesterday was another beautiful sailing day. Sunny and warm, relatively steady wind from the northeast. It took me a good 13 hours to sail the 70 nautical miles from Norderney to Cuxhaven. Quite a few boats were on the passage. Not too many big ships while doing the river arm crossings. The Jade entrance had most traffic, just past Wangeroog island. Timed the tide right and kept on my preferred schedule. Coming up the Elbe from the fearful German Bight (bend) the current helped me along, clocking a 9 to 10 knots speed over ground. Still, it takes four hours to here.

Once you see the harbor entrance, prepare for a sideways motion and steer into the starboard wall. The current may make you miss the entrance. It is a bit like whitewater rafting. Fun to see yourself ripping past the buoys.

Once I got into port it was dark and I found a spot to press into. So this German neighbor tells me to move, because I am pressing on his boat. I tell him to stuff it. You don’t argue with a person filled to the brim with adrenaline from surfing the Elbe. My other German neighbors, a kind elderly couple, offered him to borrow some thinner fenders. He had mega fat fenders out. He would not change HIS boat or setting. So I just let it go. Went to sleep. All in all, progress is good.

Rolling along the North Sea coast

It is going well. Still warm and sunny, and the sea is not too rough. Wind is blowing from the east or northeast. Since there is so little wind,that is in my advantage, although the engine has to help at times. I covered IJmuiden to Borkum (140 nautical miles) in 29 hours. Night sailing made possible by enough wind to steer with the vane. A few other sailboats that kept out of the way, as did the numerous fishing trawlers. Getting to Borkum was a shock. Earlier I visited Norderley, where it was so nice. This place, Borkum, is the uggliest place I have visited so far. Large concrete buildings, and totally unplanned. The harbor is a hole in the shoreline. There is a cosier private harbor just west of the sea port, but it is shallow, and dries out at low tide. I met some more nice boat neighbors and that made it more pleasant to be there. This morning it rained and thundered a few hours, but before lunch it cleared. I set off with high tide and had the positive current with me the whole time. It turned out a great sailing day. Got to Norderney a good few hours earlier than expected. I got the bike out and filled a spare can with diesel at a nearby gas station. Just to be safe. So I am in Norderney again. No touristing this time. I catch the tidal wave early tomorrow and sail to the Elbe at Cuxhaven. Grateful for it going well.

Haarlem, North Sea kanaal and back on the North Sea

The past few days have been hot. Inside the boat it is above comfortable temperatures. Outside the sun is ruthless. Coming from Leiden I again passed the Kaag lake, and decided to hang out there on Sunday. Did some sailing, filled up the diesel tank and anchored in a windy place. Still it was so warm that I went swimming in the lake. The next morning I continued on my canal tour, basically alone. I have understood the reason why. Lots of problems with the bridges. The heat has expanded the decks of the bridges to the extent that they are not closing after being opened. They sprinkled water on them everywhere. Waiting times were long for a few bridges. But I got to Haarlem and moored in the middle of the old town. Beautiful. Then, today I continued along the river Spaarne to the North Sea Canal, much like the Kiel canal. It took me out to the North Sea at IJmuiden. Now I am in the Seaport Marina, and have prepared for the sea voyage. Early tomorrow I am heading out to sea and sailing north. Wind is blowing from the east, so that is good. Will see how far I get.

Tropical heat in my former home town

Sitting in the shadow I am sweating bullets. Still in the harbor of Vlietopper boating club, near the town of Voorschoten. Actually, the town is just across the canal that separates the recreational area of the Vlietlanden from the town. Voorschoten is the birthplace of my mother. I lived here while trying to grow up. Since my mom comes from a large farmer family I have a load of cousins and nieces (34 I believe) from my mothers side. Many of them still live around here, so it has been cozy and hectic with all the visitors that come to say hello. In between, I have cooked dinner for my mom and myself every day and I visit her for short periods. A lot has changed since I actually lived here, which is about 40 years ago. But some things are still the same. Especially a lot of the people I once knew, but the strange thing is that they have all become so old…

The weather has basically come to a halt, hardly any wind, and a whole week of tropical heat. Between 32 and 38°C, even during the nighttime temperatures are unusually high. For me that is fine, since I will not have to continue further south to find summer weather. It makes it easier to actually start sailing north and east again, homeward bound. That is going to happen tomorrow. I will take the standing mast route up to the seaport sluices of IJmuiden, and from there sail the North Sea to get to the Elbe, and the Nord Ostsee Kanal (Kiel canal).

Let’s hope I can get out of the harbor tomorrow, without using too much violence. As you may remember, I am stuck in a thick muddy bottom slurry in the harbour. In the boat everything is in good shape. The refridgerator is drawing a load of electrical power, and to minimize losses of cold I have packed it in blankets and pillows.

Common harbor birds of The Netherlands

In each harbor that I have visited some kind of birds always seem to be present. I will make a short list of the most common ones. Think this is funny, since the common birds in Swedish or German harbors are different.

  • Crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  • Common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • House martin (Delichon urbica)
  • Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  • Eurasian coot (Fulica atra)
  • Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
  • Black headed gull (Larus ridibundus)
  • Eurasian widgeon (Anas penelope)
  • Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegypticus)
  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)
  • Mute swan (Cygnus olor)
  • Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  • Lesser cormorant (Ph. pygmaeus)

Last southbound leg of this tour

Today is the last day of sailing South. I will have to start my way home in a couple of days. From Leiden, where I will be joined by my cousin Renate, we are boating to my former hometown Voorschoten. Here is the turning point in the trip, and lots of people to visit. The weather is fantastic and Leiden has turned into a rather charming city. Well worth a visit.

This evening my position is 52°07.4’N 004°27.8’E yacht harbor Vlietopper Leidschendam, the Netherlands.

Since Cuxhaven the engine has run 50 hours. The sails have been up 38 hours since then. I have fulfilled one of my dreams and sailed 970 nautical miles to get here. And concluded that 1) this place is damn far from my home in Sweden, 2) I have to sail the same distance home, 3) I am still enjoying myself, 4) and in a few days it is time to sail home.

Right now the temperature in the boat is 32°C, outside still 25°C. As we got our appointed berth in this harbor, they forgot about the necessary depth to hold a sailboat with deep keel. The first place I got was nice, just missing half a meter of water depth. The second place was almost deep enough. Only missing maybe 10 cm of depth. But with full throttle and two strong men pulling lines from shore I got into the place… The way out of the mud will probably be accompanied by some violence as well. We’ll see in a few days. Goodnight!

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 Sixhaven 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, Westeinderplassen. We drop anchor in 0.5 m water, leeward 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.