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Aug 15 Saturday Morning. The Dutchman is home

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Ijmuiden 23.30 hours. We docked in the outer harbor Marina at 22.30 hrs,Friday evening. I am so glad I had cousin Carol’s help on this trip and particularly this evening. The chart I had did not match the harbor entrance and docking in the dark with all the background lights of the smelter was a challenge. Anyway we are safe and sound and I do not know where to start to describe the emotions of raising the Dutch courtesy flag on the starboard yard arm. Today the trek to Amsterdam and then through the canals seeing the familiar sights of the city I grew up in. I am feeling better right now and was tired enough to get a good night sleep.

Wij liggen in vak “EE” helemaal aan het eind, bij de ingang van de haven. De ingang door en dan helemaal links door. Je moet een pasje hebben om door het hek te komen, als er niemand is om om mee door het hek te lopen bel dan Carol op, zijn mobiel is weer geladen 647866238 We vertrekken vanmorgen naar Ansterdam. Dan zal ik beslissen of we door de eerste brug gaan bij de houthaven/Houtmankade en daar liggen en wachten totdat we de Staande Mast route kunen beginnen die om 2 uur s’morgens opent of nog een dag liggen in het Ij. Beste dat je mijn zus belt voor meer gegevens.Mobiel 06-12056233

E.T.A. IJmuiden Fri 14 Aug. Counting down in hours….

Friday, August 14th, 2009

At 17.45 hours I am at 52.15N 4.04E with 23 miles to go. Expected arrival 23.00 hrs. After this morning’s message we have been sailing all day. Great conditions, doing about 5 knots with full main and the old light 150%. Lots of commercial traffic into and from the Scheldt and Rotterdam. Might be better for the welcoming committee to keep their flags rolled up till to-morrow morning at the outer harbor marina. I need clear customs there and then plan proceed up the canal to Amsterdam. It could be that Dirk Jan can see us from Zandvoort after all since I am coming in closer to the coast than I had planned.

The first thing I may need to do is see a doctor. In the last days I have developed an annoying pain from the navel on down. Mostly in the groin, lower back and upper legs. I suspect it has something to do with my kidneys. At first I thought it was the flue. I have to constantly pee. The pain is worst after I drink. Nearly impossible to sleep because the pain is worst laying down. Is there a doctor in the audience? Other than that I feel great. Back to the cockpit to search for the smoke stacks of the Hoogovens. Tot spoedig ziens!!

Friday Aug 14th. Almost Home

Friday, August 14th, 2009

At 8.00 hrs I am at 51.43N 2.58E with 74 miles to go. Just off Zuid Beveland. Right now it looks like we will arrive late this evening in Ijmuiden. I will mail an update around 6 p.m. for het Welkom Kommitee. Carol’s cellphone battery is nearly dead, so we cannot call. Most likely we will spend the night at the new marina on the sea side of the locks. We are coming in from the S.W. and you will not likely see us in the setting sun at Zandvoort. Ik zal Karolien (020-6592321) proberen te bellen vanaf de haven. We were in an adverse tide approaching the Channel for 5 hours and saw Boulogne Sur Mer for ever. Then we flushed through but then were off Oostende, again, for hours crawling at 3 knots, no wind, on the motor. Motor all night. Now there is a little breeze promising a sail. But then the choice is getting to Ijmuiden just before dark or sailing. We ran out of propane and no more hot soup or hot meals, the dishes are stacking up. I still have a few cold salad meals from canned beans and fresh tomatoes, bread and tuna out of the can.

Aug 13 In the English Channel

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

At 9.00 hrs I am at 50.45N 1.10 EAST. 165 miles to go. The second time for “Fleetwood” to cross the Greenwich Zero longitude. Last time was on the way from Cape of Good Hope to Brazil, in 2007. Last night we passed over the track so many brave American and Allied soldiers took to Omaha Beach. We have been staying in between the north and the south bound commercial shipping lanes. A steady procession of tankers, container ships, bulk carriers and an occasional cruise ship. We have not had any problems avoiding the ships. The two lanes get quite close in the narrowest part of the channel, which we are now approaching. We saw the lights of towns on the English South Coast and now are looking at the French coast line. This morning the wind changed from SW to NW and I am motorsailing into the wind because tacking against the current would not get us anywhere. At times we are doing 9 knots with the current and then as little as 2 against it. I’ll be glad to be through the Channel. It is raining and dark. Last night was the best night to see the meteor showers but the sky was covered with clouds. Maybe better luck to-night.

Aug 12 In the English Channel

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

At 10.50 I am at 50.11N 1.31W with 275 miles to Ijmuiden, our entry port for Amsterdam, a 94 mile day. The weather improved yesterday afternoon and we had a beautiful sail. The moon rose in a red ball at 11 p.m. In the last hour the clear skies turned back to normal, dark and threatening a drizzle, low visibility. We crossed the Northbound shipping lane and are now sailing in between the N and S bound lanes. The flood set us sideways, towards the English coast, but now the tide is with us once again. We should be crossing the Northbound lane towards the Belgian coast before dark. We had a flotilla of Dolphins putting on a show around the boat, yesterday evening. The winds have been mostly from the WSW, running or broad reaching. The 140% genoa luff tape is torn and we cannot use this work horse any longer. Most of last night we flew the light 150% with full main but now we are down to just a double reefed main. Voor de welcoming commitee: Depending on the currents and wind we should be at Ijmuiden by Saturday morning. In that case I would prefer to moor at the Sixhaven and bring the boat through the standing mast route on the 2 a.m. schedule on Sunday night or even Monday night. Stay tuned.

Tuesday Aug 11, approaching the Channel Islands

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

At 10.30 I am at 49.11N 3.29 W with 369 miles to Amsterdam. Rounding the Iles d’Ouessant was a challenge. The wind increased and we were fighting an ebb which whipped up mean waves. We were tossed like a cork in this witch’s cauldron. But fortunately the strong wind assisted us to slowly winning over the strong unfavorable current. Then the flood pushed us fast beyond this point away from Bretagne and on our way to Normandy. It has been dreary weather, heavy cloud cover and drizzling. Whatever you touch on deck is wet. Carol has been a great help, he has done a fair deal of sailing. Ron had no sailing experience. I thought that it was not important since I can handle it all but I lack the patience and skills to teach. The wind dropped to nothing an hour ago and we are motoring right now. We should be near Guernsey this evening.

Sunday/Monday Aug 9/10 Off to Amsterdam

Monday, August 10th, 2009

At 9.40 West Europe DST we are at 48.11N 5.09W with 465 miles to go. We have done over 50 miles since we left Sunday evening, around 8 p.m. Right now we are between the Ile de Sein and the ile d’Ouessant. The tides/currents have worked well for us so far. Since I have no internet connection I am unable to check where I left off on the last blog posting. I pulled the one injector and put a new seal in it, but then I could not get the engine to start, after the usual bleeding of the air. Klaus Kroemer stopped by and he saved the day. With a little more thorough bleeding of the fuel lines, he managed to get us going again. Saturday night there was a Crepe Festival on the fishing quay. A long line of ladies making crepes with cheese/ham etc. And the men were barbecuing sausages and serving moules marinieres (mussels) and frites (french fries). I had the moules and frites. Ron and I went to 10.30 mass. Three babies were baptized and the church was standing room only. The sermon was about the Bread of Life. It has been nearly 40 years since we lived in the French speaking part of Belgium but I have been able to retain, by heart, most of the common prayers and liturgy. Another “Home” coming. Cathy (Catherine), with whom we were neighbors for a few days in the Horta marina, found us just before mass. She had promised to come find us in Loctudy. She lives nearby. I had planned to do our grocery shopping on the bicycle after mass, but Cathy saved the departure day, with her rushing me to the super marche before the 13.00 hr closing time, in her car. Ron took the train towards Paris around noon time. Cathy invited us over at her boy friend’s, Francois, home in Lesconsil, a beautiful sleepy fishing town, just to the west of Loctudy. The meal and setting were out of a movie set. An old home beautifully decorated, a court yard garden with honey suckle, pork rib, sausages ( one typical local sausage was made from donkey beef) on the barbecue. Salome, three year old niece, visiting with Francois’s brother from Paris entertained us with a tiny caterpillar she had found. Beautiful big brown eyes, just as irresistible as the biblical Salome who danced John the Baptist’s head away. Carol and I were totally spoiled. The weather finally warmed above the 60/65 degrees we had the previous days. The moon rose in a large red/orange ball. But the weather has turned once again in a cool overcast. But have a good breeze, reaching in a Westerly about 15 knots. The Amsterdam welcoming committee better do their last rehearsals.

Tuesday Aug 4. Landfall for sure to-morrow

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

At 15.35 I am at 47.11 N 5.51 W, with 78 miles to go, a 115 mile day. We should arrive early afternoon in Loctudy. The French courtesy flag was raised on the starboard yard arm, half an hour ago; the last time I got to fly it was in April 2007 on Devil’s Island. I had a threat of cancellation to this blog from one member, because the last ones were getting too brief. These last few days have been boring and uneventful. Running under storm jib with the hatch blocked up for the driving rain leaves little to the imagination. Sleeping, reading, planning, making log entries. The boobies are still practicing their dives on the plastic lures, but we have not been able to get them to swallow the lure so that I could prove, with a picture, to my grand children where the word “Boobie Trap” comes from.

But there will be plenty new experiences from to-morrow on. We crossed the North/South shipping lanes to/from the Channel in the early evening. In a matter of half an hour we counted more than 10 ships. I had some apprehensions but it turned out to be a piece of cake. More dolphins to-day.

Monday August 3rd, just another two days till Loctudy

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

At 16.00 hrs UTC I am at 46.09 N 7.59 W with 186 miles to go, a 113 mile day. That same 20/25 knot S.W. wind is pushing us at a good pace. The weather has been dreary, dark, drizzle, light rain, poor visibility. We are to have the same conditions to-morrow and then light winds and hopefully some sunshine on our day of arrival. We are now starting to get into traffic and should cross the main N.S. traffic lane to-morrow during daylight. Since the wind is practically dead aft the boat rolls a lot and I rolled onto the floor out of my bunk twice, last night. A pod of dolphins showed up an hour ago, a sure sign that we are getting closer to shore. No luck on the trap lines.

Sunday 2 Aug

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

At 19.15 I am at 45.22 N 9.51 W, 285 miles to Loctudy, a 100 mile day. The winds started to steadily increase as of this morning and we are again running down wind with about 20/25 knots from the S.W. under just the storm jib, doing better than 5 knots. It has been a dark cloudy day. And I dug out my warm sleeping bag and wearing my one piece polypropylene jump suit. From what we hear on the radio the home front in the Pacific N.W. is sweltering in 35 Centigrade heat wave and devastating forest fires in British Columbia. This wind and direction should last into Tuesday and will bring us close to Loctudy. We have to cross the shipping channel coming out of the English Channel towards the Straits of Gibraltar. I’ll try to do this in daylight, to-morrow or Tuesday. I usually try to listen to a religious radio program on Sunday but these are scarce approaching this continent… in sharp contrast to the Bible Belt and Caribbean. Ron is cooking dinner, the very last of the cabbage, onion, stir fried with sausage and rice.